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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1206. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, 5 August 1806 ⁠* 

Tuesday August 5 – 1806

My dear Duppa

The reason why I have not written to you before, since my return from London, is a very simple one – I beseech you let it also be satisfactory. You gave me a splendid copy of your Life of Michel Angelo. [1]  This book I did not take home with me – because it was a heavy book to bring here, & to take back again early in the next Spring, – I had rapidly read it at Rickmans, & should get a copy from King Arthur for special purposes of half the weight – he having to pay its carriage back. Now this other copy from the King is not yet arrived. [2]  Come it will, for I have not only spoken for it in town, but written for it since, & it shall pass thro nobodys hands but my own. I did not like to write to you till I could have sent you a letter critical, in which I had pointed out every thing which appeared to me capable of amendment; & this as soon as the book comes I will do, – or if you be preparing for another edition, will do it sooner, by sending to Grasmere for Wordsworths. Meantime conscience has been dunning pins into me every day – & I now submit to you the plain case, which will certainly account for a long & unfit silence – & I trust excuse it.

The Printer goes on slowly with Espriella, nor do I hurry him. [3]  but we both are getting on. One of your letters is printed with certain interpolations, it is that about shopping &c. [4]  That concerning Westminster Abbey goes to the press in the next exportation [5]  – I have added to it some catholick falsehoods respecting the history of the church, & some little else. At your leisure, give me an account of the Exhibition in 1803. [6]  a few general remarks will do as to the thing itself – what I most wish is to have said what good the Academy does; if any –; what merit is due the King &c. The merits of Mr Alderman Boydell & the history of his Shakespeare is also another subject which you will handle far better than I – or to speak truly – which I could not handle at all. [7]  And {for} any thing else which occurs to your recollection, be sure that I shall easily find fit place.

My brother Tom arrived yesterday – from sea, & my spirits have not yet recovered their usual temperate tone. – for it disjects me to see him looking prematurely old – to think that in fourteen years he has only been nine months on shore – & that we three brothers who are now in one house have never been together till now during the whole of that time, – & very possibly when we separate again – as in a few weeks we must – never may meet again together again. Family ties, when they are good for anything, grow stronger as we grow older, & as fewer are left us. We then feel how different they are from other friendships, be those friendships never so sincere, – I will never breed up a child either to the navy or army – nor send one to the East Indies. It is very well for birds, whose love is only instinct, to part be turned adrift as soon as they leave the nest, – but it as an evil thing for a family to be scattered.

I was very desirous of getting some live land-crabs for Carlisle – & Tom took on board a fine cargo, – but in spite of all possible care the last died when they were off the Isle of Wight. [8] 

We have the measles in the house – & my daughter is expected to sicken in about a week. Till it is over I shall be more uneasy than is quite reasonable upon the doctrine of chances: – the disorder is {something fatal} & I remember losing a sister to it. In about [MS torn] months I expect an addition to my family – of which I am very glad. [9]  In the spring I hope to effect my renewal to Portugal, bag & baggage – There [MS torn] remain some three or four years. The climate will be of service to me, & perhaps lengthen the lease I have of this body of mine, – a lease which seems to stand in need of a renewal. Nor tho I most truly do hope, trust & believe that whenever the lease be out I shall get into a better tenement, I would yet willingly keep the present one as long as I can.

Tom called on Rickman & was told he was too ill to see him – I rather suspect it must have been Mrs R that was ill [10]  – & in either case am very – very – sorry of the intelligence.

You have probably heard that an Uncle of mine is dead, who if he had made no will, must have left me a rich man. Certainly rather than xx have been born rich, I would always continue poor; but if wealth had fallen in my way now I think it would have done me no harm. However it was no disappointment as I expected nothing.

This is my idle season; tho it must be a short one – for I cannot afford much idleness. I am finishing Espriella, & making a very curious book called The Chronicle of the Cid, [11]  – very curious it will be – but I fear it will get me more credit than money, – & I stand more in need of pudding than of praise. – Thalaba has been published piece-meal in the American newspapers; [12]  – so long a poem was I believe never xxxx before printed in so singular a way. Remember me at Stockwell. [13]  I mean to review Clarksons Book upon the Quakers this year. [14]  – Remember me also at Brixton. I am afraid that family will soon be broken up, & do not like to think so, because I shall never remember old Mr Bedford without remembering many pleasant hours days & weeks which I have past under his roof. God bless you. Do not follow my example, but put me to shame by a letter. Edith & her sister desired to be remembered. The Colonel and Mrs P. enquire for you. Harry & I xxxx on the top of Great Gable [15]  last week – & he would have sent a sigh toward the Isle of xxxxx Man – to Miss Scriggen [16]  – only unluckily the wind happened to be the wrong way.


Notes

* Address: To/ Richard Duppa Esqr/ 51. Great Marlborough Street/ Oxford Street/ London./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [illegible]
MS: University of Rochester, Rare Books Library, A.S727 1:1
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Richard Duppa, The Life and Literary Works of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with his Poetry and Letters (1806). BACK

[2] Southey reviewed Duppa’s book in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807), 411–425. BACK

[3] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807) was printed by Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB), printer and naturalist, who would go on to establish the publishing firm of Taylor and Francis with his son William Francis (1817–1904; DNB) in 1852. BACK

[4] Shopping in London is described in Letters 7 and 11 of Letters from England. BACK

[5] Letters from England, Letter 23. BACK

[6] The exhibition of pictures at the Royal Academy of Arts was not described in Letters from England. BACK

[7] John Boydell (1720–1804; DNB) was appointed Alderman of Cheap ward in London in 1782 and held the position until his death in 1804. He began a large venture to produce depictions of scenes from Shakespeare’s works, exhibited in a Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, London, the publication of an illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s plays, and the release of a folio of prints depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s works. Some of the most illustrious painters of the day contributed, such as Benjamin West (1738–1820; DNB) and Henry Fuseli (1741–1825; DNB). The Shakespeare gallery was not described in Letters from England. BACK

[8] Thomas Southey had promised to bring some land crabs with him from the West Indies; see Southey to John Rickman, 20 January 1804 (Letter 886) and Southey to John King, [1]–5 March 1804 (Letter 904). BACK

[9] Herbert Southey, the Southeys’ first son, was born 11 October 1806. BACK

[10] Susannah Rickman had recently suffered a miscarriage; see Southey to Mary Barker, 26 May 1806, Letter 1187. BACK

[11] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[12] Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[13] Stockwell Park, Surrey, residence of Thomas Woodruffe Smith (c. 1747–1811), a wealthy Quaker merchant, and his second wife, Anne Reynolds (dates unknown) of Carshalton. The Smiths were friends of Grosvenor Charles Bedford and Duppa. BACK

[14] Southey reviewed Thomas Clarkson, A Portraiture of Quakerism, as Taken From a View of the Moral Education, Discipline, Peculiar Customs, Religious Principles, Political and Civil Œconomy, and Character, of the Society of Friends (1806), in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807), 594–607. BACK

[15] A mountain in the Lake District near Wasdale Head, southwest of Keswick. BACK

[16] Untraced. BACK

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August 2013