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

203. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 6 March 1797 ⁠* 

Monday. March 6th 1797.

I have received an order from Mr Peacock for twelve Poems & twelve Letters, [1]  which as they are for country booksellers he takes of course at booksellers price. it is better to get them from Robinson than pay the expence of carriage, & I should have ordered them this morning but that the weather proved wet. he ordered at first 12 poems & only six letters, telling me he hoped on returning from his next journey to give me larger orders. I lent him my own copy of the letters, which he immediately began to read aloud in the adjoining room, so audibly that I could hear. if I may judge by the merriment it excited the Book pleased his auditors hugely, & when he had got to the Lock of Hair he came in again & desired a dozen instead of six. I then showed him my sketches — he is always in a hurry, writes me a letter to Dr Hunter — the murderer of St Pierre [2]  — begging him to give me some information about engravers (with whom his translation of Lavater [3]  connected him) settles it that I shall have a set of plates engraved for a splendid edition of my letters, that it will be proper to engage subscribers, & determines to make this a part of his business & take orders this journey. all this he tells me by letter last night after I was gone to bed, leaves me his direction & sets off this morning, with my Poems & Letters.

now Cottle I am not always in a hurry. he may engage names if he pleases, but I shall write to him & say, that if ever I get a series of views engraved, it will be to publish such a series of poems as I once mentioned to you. for it would be ridiculous to hold out the prospect of a better edition of a work just published; & on the contrary the poetical volume would be connected with the other.

I shall get his books from Robinson tomorrow — if dry.

I feel inclined to complain heavily of you Cottle. here am I, committing grand larceny upon my time, in writing to you & you, who might sit by your shop fire & write me huge letters, have not found time to fill even half a sheet. as you may suppose I have enough of employment. I work like an negro at law, & therefore neglect nothing else. for xx he who never wastes time has always time enough. Madoc is in a state of rapid progression. I have about thirty lines to conclude the first book. this however must be deferred till I have borrowed certain books, as those thirty lines must concenter much Bardic & historical knowledge. I shall therefore begin the second book this evening. tell Danvers his copy is compleated as far as the work has advanced, but that I shall not send him the first book till I can read the two together, because he is already well acquainted with the old one.

When will the fine copies be finished? let me have them with all convenient speed, & send, at the same time, a common interleaved one.

I have yet many of the London lions, or literati, to see. George Dyer is to take me to Mary Hayes, Miss Kristall Christall, Dr Gregory, & Taylor the Pagan [4]  my near neighbour. you shall have my physiognomical remarks upon them. I am in daily expectation of hearing from you & receiving Foxs [5]  books, not forgetting the profiles of himself & his family.

I hate this city more & more; — tho I see little of it. you do not know with what delight I anticipate a summer in Wales, [MS torn] & I hope to spend the summer of the next year there, [MS torn] talk Welch most gutturally. I shall see Meirion this week, whose real name is William Owen. he is the Author of the new Welch Dictionary. [6]  a man of most uncommon erudition, & who ought to esteem me for Madocs sake. fare you well. remember me to all friends.

I shall write in a few days to Joseph Lovell, & direct the letter to be left with you. parental tyranny is a h dreadful. Ediths love to you & Robert, & your sisters &c.

God bless you.

Yrs sincerely

Robert Southey


Notes

* Address: For/ Mr Cottle/ High Street/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: [partial] BR
Endorsements: Southey/ March 97; 20 (76)
MS: Houghton Library, bMS Eng 265.1 (17)
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), p. 202 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797) and Poems (1797). BACK

[2] Henry Hunter (1741–1802; DNB) had published a translation of Jacques-Henri Bernadin de St Pierre’s (1737–1814) Études de la Nature in 1796. BACK

[3] Johann Kasparr Lavater (1741–1801), Swiss poet and physiognomist. Hunter had published an English translation of his Essays on Physiognomy in 1792. BACK

[4] The writer Mary Hays (1759–1843; DNB); the poet Anne Batten Cristall (c. 1769–1848; DNB); the author and biographer of Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770; DNB), Dr George Gregory (1754–1808; DNB); and the philosopher and translator Thomas Taylor (1758–1835; DNB). BACK

[5] Charles Fox (1740?–1809; DNB). BACK

[6] William Owen Pughe (1759–1835; DNB), Geiriadur Cynmraeg a Saesoneg. A Welsh and English Dictionary (1793–1803). BACK

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March 2009