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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1142. Robert Southey to Longman and Rees, 5 January 1806 ⁠* 

Jan. 5. 1806.

Dear Sirs,

A gentleman in this neighbourhood, Mr. ——, [1]  is printing some poems at his own expense, which Faulder is to publish; [2]  and he has applied to me to request that your name also may appear in the title-page. In such cases, the only proper mode of proceeding is to relate the plain state of the matter. His verses are good for nothing; and not a single copy can possibly sell, except what his acquaintance may purchase: but he has been labouring under mental derangement, – the heaviest of all human calamities, – and the passion which he has contracted for rhyming has changed the character of his malady, and made him from a most miserable being, a very happy one. Under these circumstances you will not, perhaps, object to gratifying him, and depositing copies of his book in your wareroom, for the accommodation of the spiders. [2]  He tells me his MS. is at ——, if you think fit to inspect it: this trouble you will hardly take: the poems are as inoffensive as they are worthless. I shall simply tell him that I have made the application, without giving him any reason to expect its success. You will, of course, use your own judgment, only I will beg you to signify your assent or dissent to him himself.         .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .

Believe me,

Yours truly,

Robert Southey.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 14–15 [in part]. BACK

[1] Anthony Harrison (1773–1827), a contemporary of Wordsworth in his childhood at Hawkshead and an attorney of Penrith, published in 1806, Poetical Recreations. The book was, as Southey forecast, damned by the critics. BACK

[2] Robert Faulder (c. 1747–1815), publisher and bookseller in Bond Street, London. BACK

[2] Harrison’s book appeared without Longman’s name in the title page. BACK

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August 2013