214. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 2 May [1797]

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

214. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 2 May [1797] ⁠* 

To my great astonishment I received your letter dated April 22nd — this morning only (Tuesday May 2nd). a strange & unaccountable delay. I have written to you since I received the box. of the parcel I have heard nothing yet — why this long delay? — as for Rosser — I am sorry he has lost the little good opinion I had of him. I care not much about the sale of the wine. he shall not have it at any rate. tell him so from me. when we are settled by the sea we will have a dozen of it there. & the rest on our return. Send me your letter to Herbert Croft. [1]  when it will be a proper time to publish for her benefit — there is no task that I will not gladly perform.

Your news is very acceptable. I shall be ready at any time you think proper; & will send you the corrected copy at a weeks notice. There are some pieces in the volume that might be omitted without much loss to make room for the Retrospect. [2]  but — I do not like giving any thing different in the two editions — to improve what is th in the first edition is due to my own character. however if you think it may be done without propriety we will make room for the Retrospect — & I will correct it. Rosamund does not deserve a place there. [3]  perhaps they had better be where they are awhile. I have not much to alter — the arrangement will be somewhat varied. The Paupers Funeral. M Picture & other pieces of that kind, I shall class together under the name of Musings. Mr Peacock strenuously recommends two or three vignettes — & to make the price six shillings. if you should think seriously of any ornaments of this kind — I would wish the frontispiece to be Gaspar Poussins exquisite landscape. [4]  I am inclined to think that prints help a book. that frontispiece, & two vignettes — one from the Slave Trade Poems — one Elinor would be enough it is needless to add that I am indifferent concerning all this & merely suggest it as matter of consideration in the profit & loss way. I should like a dozen copies struck off on large paper of the very best quality — like Estlins sermon. [5] 

For Joan of Arc. [6]  your news was unexpected. there I have much labour to look on to. but every thing shall be ready I have only strenuously to recommend that the second edition be in two volumes like the Poems, a mode more elegant — & more advantageous.

So much then for business. you will wonder at not hearing sooner. but the delay of your letter is very strange. one weeks notice is all I require for the poems.

I saw Dr Hunter  [7]  yesterday. & like neither him nor his wife nor his son nor his daughter nor any thing that is his. however he can introduce me to Holloway [8]  the engraver. tonight I am to meet Opie [9]  — & I can likewise get an introduction to Westall. [10]  — so you see I shall have some little interest among painters & engravers as well as Reviewers.

I have a treasure in store for you. a little treatise in old English, very short, upon miracles — written by John Henderson [11]  for Coleridges brother — & given me by a pupil of his — John May — a Lisbon acquaintance — & a very valuable one. As we shall be somewhere in Hampshire or Dorsetshire — within a days journey of you — I do not altogether despair of seeing you by the sea; where we may drink the Claret & talk of the second edition of Joan. one week you may spare — & trust to us the care of making it a happy one.

My translation is finished. [12]  & the two first book[MS torn] of Madoc now lie on the table packed up to go to Danvers [MS torn] I have desired him to lend them to you. Thomas desires to be remembered to you from Lisbon.

John May is anxious for a full life of John Henderson. you should get Agutters [13]  papers. you ought likewise to commit to paper all you know concerning him — & all you can collect — that the documents may at least remain even if you decline the task. these documents cannot be too minute.

What news of Coleridges second edition? [14]  I want an answer to this question which is often put to me. you trace me in the last M Magazine on Villegas — & in Aristodemus. [15]  the Sonnet signed B.W.H. is by Horace Bedford. [16]  I am sorry to see a sad plagiarism there in the Anecdotes of the Revolution. [17]  Phillips [18]  has set up a stocking shop.

We dine with Mary Wollstonecraft (now Godwin) tomorrow. Oh he has a foul nose! & I never see it without longing to cut it off. by the by Dr Hunter told me that I had exactly Lavaters [19]  nose. to my no small satisfaction for I did not know what to make of that protuberance — or promontory of mine. I could not compliment his. he has a very red drinking face. little good humoured eyes, with the skin drawn up under them — like cunning & short-sightedness united.

God bless you. Edith love.

yrs affectionately

R Southey.

Look at Herbert Crofts portrait in the European Magazine, for the honour of physiognomy. [20] 


* Address: For/ Mr Cottle/ High Street/ Bristol
Stamped: Penny Post/ Pd 1d/ NewingnCausey
Postmark: MA/ 2/ 97
Endorsements: Southey/ April 1797; (79) 26; May 1797
MS: Columbia University Library. ALS; 4p. (c).
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 125–127; Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 210–211 and 212 [in part; as if from two separate letters]; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, p. 306 n* [in part; section of 1 paragraph]. BACK

[1] Southey and Joseph Cottle both disapproved of his exploitation of manuscripts obtained from members of Thomas Chatterton’s (1752–1770; DNB) family. Southey publicly attacked him in a letter to the Monthly Magazine, November 1799. BACK

[2] Joseph Cottle had suggested a second edition of Southey’s Poems (1797). It appeared later that year, but did not include ‘The Retrospect’, which was not reprinted until 1806. BACK

[3] Southey’s ‘Inscription I. For a Tablet at Godstow Nunnery’ was included in the second edition of his Poems (1797). BACK

[4] The French-Italian painter Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), who assumed the surname Poussin when he was adopted as the heir of Nicholas Poussin (1594–1665). Southey is possibly referring to Gaspard Poussin’s The Cascade. The second edition of Southey’s Poems (1797) did not contain a frontispiece, but it did republish his ‘Musings on a Landscape of Gaspar Poussin’. BACK

[5] John Prior Estlin, The Nature and Causes of Atheism, Pointed Out in a Discourse, Delivered at the Chapel in Lewin’s-Mead, Bristol. To Which are Added, Remarks on a Work, Entitled Origine de Tous Les Cultes, ou Religion Universelle. Par Dupuis, Citoyen François (1797). BACK

[6] Joseph Cottle had requested a second edition of Joan of Arc, which was published in two volumes in 1798. BACK

[7] Henry Hunter (1741–1802; DNB), Church of Scotland minister and translator. Hunter’s name is probably struck through in another hand, here and elsewhere in this letter. BACK

[8] The engraver Thomas Holloway (1748–1827; DNB). BACK

[9] The portrait and history painter John Opie (1761–1807; DNB). BACK

[10] Either the painter and illustrator Richard Westall (1765–1836; DNB), or (less likely) his half-brother the painter and engraver William Westall (1781–1850; DNB). BACK

[11] John Henderson (1757–1788; DNB), student and eccentric. Joseph Cottle had attended his father’s school at Hanham, near Bristol, and John Henderson had encouraged his love of literature and urged him to become a bookseller. Cottle celebrated his life and works in Poems, Containing John the Baptist. Sir Malcolm and Alla, a Tale, Shewing to All the World What a Woman’s Love Can Do. War a Fragment. With a Monody to John Henderson; and a Sketch of his Character (1795) and later in an ‘Appendix’ to Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (1847). BACK

[12] Southey translated the second volume of On the French Revolution by M. Necker (1797). BACK

[13] William Agutter (1758–1835; DNB), a Church of England clergyman, political conservative and campaigner for the abolition of the slave-trade. A friend of John Henderson’s, he accompanied his corpse from Oxford (where Henderson had died) to its final resting place, Kingswood near Bristol. He preached Henderson’s funeral sermon. BACK

[14] Poems by S.T. Coleridge, Second Edition. To Which are Now Added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd (1797). BACK

[15] Monthly Magazine, 3 (April 1797), 270–272, 296 (Letter 208). BACK

[16] Monthly Magazine, 3 (April 1797), 296. BACK

[17] Monthly Magazine, 3 (April 1797), 289–293. BACK

[18] Richard Phillips (1767–1840; DNB), proprietor of the Monthly Magazine. BACK

[19] In 1792, Henry Hunter (1741–1802; DNB) had published an English translation of Essays on Physiognomy by Johann Kasparr Lavater (1741–1801). BACK

[20] Look ... physiognomy: Postscript added on fol. 2r. A portrait of Croft had appeared in The European Magazine, and London Review, 25 (1794), [251]. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009

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