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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2684. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 December 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I am glad to receive your second letter, – an evil well over being very much like a good. – Bakers Chronicle [1]  may be worth 8 or 10 shillings, – not more, being very much the worst book of its kind, nevertheless it is worth having.

There can be no cheaper part of England than the country about Whitehaven, somewhere between this place & that would be the most desirable residence for you. I will make all the enquiry which I can, & you must come & look out yourself in a when you can leave home with comfort. I sincerely wish it were in my power to be of any use to your sisters, [2]  – this is very little likely, – nevertheless you had better let me know what qualifications they have for governesses, & you may be assured that I shall bear them in mind

Part of my books from abroad have reached London, – I believe the Acta Sanctorum [3]  are among them. My fellow traveller Mr Vardon gives them a passage in one of his ships to Newcastle. There are some Dutchmen [4]  in the convoy who may perhaps have some information to your purpose. You ask me respecting Mr Nash. He is a little deformed man, who was a miniature painter (a most admirable one) in India, where he held the office at one time of Sherriff at Bombay, & from whence I apprehend he has returned with a fortune adequate to his wants. A more equal-minded or pleasanter companion I have seldom met with: he was of the Vardons party, & we parted from him at Calais, he taking the road for Paris, from whence he is now returning. The sooner he comes the better, as I wish the drawings to be in the Engravers hands. [5] 

I have written 200 lines of my poem, [6]  – it grows under my hands & will very probably extend to 1000. The notes will extend it to a little volume, & it is likely to do me credit. I call it La Belle Alliance because (between ourselves) the name of Waterloo was given to the battle by the Duke of Wellington in a spirit of the lowest & vilest jealousy, – of which when we meet you shall have damning proofs. Waterloo is three miles from the nearest point of action, & the battle might as well have been called the battle of St Helens Auckland.

Your Durham bookseller talks like a blockhead about editions. If a book purports to be the third in its title & in its lettering, by what possible indication can he judge it to be the fourth?? It is common enough to give the appearance of a new edition – by a new title page, – but no fraud was to the contrary kind of falsehood would be an Irish fraud.

Love to Sarah. I had am too busy to write more.

God bless you

RS.

17 Dec. 1815. Keswick.


Notes

* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ St Helens/ Auckland
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Sir Richard Baker (c. 1568–1645; DNB), Chronicle of the Kings of England, first published in 1643, it went through nine editions and was translated into Dutch. BACK

[2] Thomas Southey’s sisters-in-law, the Misses Castle. Their father, Samuel Castle, a Durham solicitor, had died in 1815. BACK

[3] Southey had purchased a copy of the Acta Sanctorum during his time in Belgium; see Southey to John May, 6 October 1815, Letter 2660. However, this turned out to be a 6 volume edition of 1783–1794, no. 152 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, rather than a complete edition. BACK

[4] i.e. some books in Dutch or on Dutch subjects. BACK

[5] Eight of Nash’s sketches of the battlefield were used as illustrations in The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[6] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013