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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

132. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, [12 July 1795] ⁠* 

Poor Seward! I write to you Duppa with a strange sinking of the heart. he introduced me to you — he purified & strengthened my heart — & he has left a vacancy there which will not easily be supplied.

Of my Joan of Arc. the bookseller who has purchased the copy right will have a frontispiece. [1]  & he talks of about thirty guineas as the expence of designing & engraving. will you get this done for me? you can enter into the design character & conceive my ideas, these are the lines as narrated by the Maid.

Last evening lorn in thought I wandered forth.
Down in the dingles depth there is a brook
That makes its way between the craggy stones
Murmuring hoarse murmurs. on an aged oak
Whose root uptorn by tempests overhangs
The stream, I sate & markd the deep red clouds
Gather before the wind, while the rude dash
Of waters rockd my senses, & the mists
Rose round. there as I gazed a Form dim seen
Descended, like the dark & moving clouds
That in the moon-beam change their shadowy shapes.
His voice was on the breeze. he bade me hail
The missiond Maid — for lo! the hour was come.
Then was the future present to my view
And strange events yet in the womb of Time
To me made manifest. I sate entranced
In the beatitude of heavenly vision.  [2] 

I should give you the lines expressing the character of Joan after she had once been awakened to patriotism.

From that night I could feel my burthend soul
Heaving beneath incumbent Deity.
I sate in silence musing on the days
To come. anon my rapturd eye would glance
A wild prophetic meaning. I have heard
Strange voices in the evening wind — strange Forms
Dimly-discoverd, throngd the twilight sky.
They wondered at me who had known me once
A chearful careless Damsel. I have seen
Theodore gaze upon me wistfully
Till he did weep. I would have told him all
The mighty future labouring in my breast
But that methought the hour was not yet come.

————

shunning every eye
I loved to wander where the forest shade
Frownd deepest, there on mightiest deeps to brood
Of shadowy vastness such as made my heart
Throb fast. anon I pausd & in a state
Of half expectance listend to the wind.  [3] 

Underwood [4]  is in Bristol. & on seeing this subject he wishd Loutherbourg [5]  to design it. the size is quarto. & a good design well executed from such a subject would assist the work.

forgetting your number I enclose this to Bedford. will you be good enough to tell me if you can get this done for me & what you estimate the expence at. for artists use your own judgement & I am sure the design that you approve will please me.

God bless you.

what was it that killd my dear Edmund Seward? I wrote to him immediately on hearing of his illness. & William answerd it — for it arrived the very hour of his death. you know not how I esteemed & loved him nor the deep & lasting impression his death has made upon me.

direct to me at Mrs Sawiers. No 25 College Street Bristol.

the poem is in the press & will be deliverd on the first of January. I am anxious for its success — & a good deal is for Cottles sake the bookseller, a liberal worthy man. type & paper are very splendid. for the poetry I could say much myself.

yrs civically

Robert Southey

I wish to have th a vignette engraved for a volume of poems. the subject from my Botany Bay Monologue. [6]  a female on the sea shore, at New Holland {gathering shells for lime}. Bedford will shew you the poem: Underwood thinks it a very good subject for Stodhart [7]  to design.

this is troubling you — but I believe you will feel pleasure in being busied for xxxxxxxx me

farewell.


Notes

* Address: R Duppa
Endorsement: Southey SD/ Ans
MS: Morgan Library, MA 63
Unpublished.
Dating note: This letter is the enclosure referred to in Letter 131, Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford [12 July 1795], and can be dated accordingly. BACK

[1] The first edition of Joan of Arc did not have a frontispiece, but the second edition (1798) did. BACK

[2] A revised version of these lines appeared in Southey’s Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), p. 33. BACK

[3] Southey, Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), p. 33. BACK

[4] Thomas Richard Underwood (1772–1835; DNB), watercolourist and geologist, who in 1795, advised Southey on possible illustrations for his poems. BACK

[5] Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740–1812; DNB), landscape painter and scene designer. BACK

[6] ‘Elinor’, which was published in the Morning Chronicle, 18 September 1794, and revised for Poems (1797). For the text of the poem, see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford [started before/on 12 May 1795] (Letter 127). BACK

[7] Thomas Stothard (1755–1834; DNB), painter and book illustrator. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009