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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1290. Robert Southey to Neville White, 18 March 1807 ⁠* 

Keswick, March 18. 1807.

My Dear Sir,

That part of your letter which relates to the booksellers requires immediate answer. Messrs. Longman & Co. are my publishers; and, so far from having any possible objection to their being applied to, it would give me pleasure that this should be the case, and would necessarily be of advantage to the work, inasmuch as they would include it in their innumerable advertisements with the Cyclopædia, [1]  Athenæum, [2]  &c. I should have proposed this had I not conceived that you would prefer Vernor and Hood. [3] 

In one of the letters to Mr. Hill, your brother mentions a very good miniature of himself by Millet, which was taken gratis with the idea that some time or other it might be engraved; you, I am sure, will anxiously inquire after this, (the existence of which you seem either to have forgotten or not to have known): if it be a better likeness than the profile, it may not be too late to engrave it in preference; at all events, while one is prefixed to the book, the other may be engraved for the ‘Monthly Mirror,’ and thus we who wish to preserve every relic may insert both in our own copies. [4] 

Do not be apprehensive of sending me too many materials; a single sentence of his own which can aptly be inwoven gives that sort of life and soul to biography which make it most valuable.

Before Henry went to Cambridge, I spoke of him to Mr. Basil Montague, who then resided in that town, knowing a family acquaintance to be one of the things most wanted in a University, and thinking this would prove a desirable one. Montague entered fully into my feelings, and promised also to interest Mr. Smythe, [5]  of Peter House, in your brother’s favour. You probably know whether anything resulted from this, – for I am not in correspondence with Montague, and only saw him accidentally; but if Henry at any time frequented his house, I would write to him to learn whether he recollected anything worthy of preservation. You will easily perceive that to ask him the question without knowing whether he ever noticed your brother at all would place him, (if that were the case) under the necessity of making some awkward excuse; and this I half suspect to be the case, not finding any mention of him in any of these letters. In all things I had only the will to befriend him, not the means. Now it is otherwise, and I can do what I would: but that this should be the case is regretted almost as deeply by me as by his nearest relatives. It is my full belief that English literature had never a greater loss.

To a part of your letter I have only thanks to give, and to say that as I am so thoroughly acquainted with all Henry’s dearest friends, the intimacy must not always be only on one side. Nottingham is not in my way to London, but assuredly I will one day make it so.

Yours very truly,

Robert Southey.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856)
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 423–424. BACK

[1] Ephraim Chambers (1680?–1740), Cyclopedia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences was first published in 1728 and reprinted many times in the eighteenth century. An expanded edition, updated by Abraham Rees (1743–1825), was published from 1778–1788; the work remained a staple of Longmans’ list. BACK

[2] The Athenæum: a Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information, ed. John Aikin and published by Longmans. BACK

[3] Thomas Vernor (dates unknown), a bookseller; partner in Vernor and Hood, Robert Bloomfield’s publishers from 1798–1812; Thomas Hood (d. 1811): a bookseller in Dundee before 1799; partner in Vernor & Hood, London 1799–1811. The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (1807) was published by Vernor and Hood. BACK

[4] A miniature of Kirke White by an unknown artist is currently in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.No engraving after a miniature was published in either the Remains or the Monthly Mirror. The painter was probably H. Millett (dates unknown) who lived in Bath in 1809 and in London from 1810 to 1817. From 1809 to 1817 he exhibited at the Royal Academy. BACK

[5] William Smyth (1765–1849; DNB), Regius Professor of Modern History, fellow of Peterhouse. BACK

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August 2013