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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1325. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, 23 May 1807 ⁠* 

May 23. 1807.

My dear Duppa

Your book [1]  & your letter reached me at the same time. I have cut the leaves, collated the prints, & observe many valuable additions, & some great typographical improvements. It was accompanied by a note from Mr. Murray  [2]  of a very complimentary kind. I like to be complimented in my authorial character, & best of all xx by booksellers, because their good opinion gets purchasers, & so praise leads to pudding, which I consider to be the solid end of praise.

I have Walter Scott’s promise to do what he can for M. Angelo in the Edinburgh, – with this sort of salvo, – that Jeffray is not a very practicable [MS torn], but he would do his best with him. My acquaintance with Scott is merely an acquaintance; but I had occasion once to write to him respecting the purchase sale of a MS. entrusted to me, & bought by him for the Advocate’s Library, & in that letter I introduced the subject. [3]  I was greatly in hopes, & indeed expected, that Wordsworth would have done as much in the Critical, by means of his brother who writes the red hot orthodoxy there, he being, if you know, the man who believes in 40 articles, nine & thirty not being enough for his capacious conscience. [4]  Had it not been for this, I might perhaps have done something by applying to Fellowes, the Anti-Calvinist, [5]  – a very interesting man, – such a one, indeed, that, tho I never met him but once, I should could without scruple have written to him. Wonderful to tell, he bears a part in that Review, tho his opinions are as opposite to Hunt’s, [6]  & all his other steeple-hunting whippers-in, as light is xx to darkness. The hostile article I have not seen, – one of the advantages of living here is, that I never see these things till their season is over, – & then, like wasps in winter, their power of stinging is over {at an end}. I should have been angry at seeing your book abused when the abuse could do any xxx hurt, & should {have} felt that sort of heat in my cheek, which denotes the moral temperature of the minute to be above temperate. Now, whenever it falls in my way, which, very likely, never may be the case, it will come as a matter of literary history, – as what was said by some malevolent & ignorant person when the {a good} book first appeared, & so it will furnish me an anecdote to relate when I speak of the book, or if I should ever live to old age, & have leisure to leave behind me that sort of transcript from recollections, which would make such excellent materials for the literary history of my own times.

You are mistaken about Henry White; the fact is briefly this. At the age of seventeen he published a little volume of poems of very great merit; & sent with them to the different Reviews, a letter stating that his hope was to raise money by them to pursue his studies & get to College. Hamilton, [7]  (then of the Critical), showed me this letter, – I asked him to let me xxx review the book – which he promised – but he sent me no books after the promise – which was lucky as when he failed he was in my debt. Well, the M Review noticed this little volume in the most cruel & insulting manner. [8]  I was provoked, & wrote to encourage the boy, – offering to aid him in a subscription for a costlier publication, – I spoke of him in London, & had assurances of assistance from Sotheby, &, by way of Wynn, from Ld Carysfort [9]  – his second letter to me, however, said he was going to Cambridge, under Simeons  [10]  protection. I plainly saw the Evangelicals had caught him, & and as he did not want what little help I could have procured, & I had no leisure for new correspondences – ceased to write to him, but did him what good I could in the way of reviewing, & getting him friends at Cambridge. He died last fall; & I received a letter informing me of it. It gave me a sort of shock, because, in spite of his Evangelicism, I always expected great things – from the proof he had given of very superior powers, – &, in replying to this letter, I asked if there were any intention of publishing any thing which he might have left, & offered to give an opinion upon his papers – & and look them over. Down came a a box-full, the sight of which literally made my heart ache, & my eyes overflow, for never did I behold such proofs of human industry. To make short, I took the matter up with interest, collected his letters, & have, at the expense of more time than such a poor fellow as myself can very {well} afford, done what his family are very grateful for, & what I think the world will thank me for too. Of course I have done it gratuitously. – His life will affect you, for he fairly died of intense application, Cambridge finished him, – when his nerves were almost {already} so over-strained that his nights were utter misery, they gave him medicines to enable {him} to hold out during examination for a prize! The horse won, – but he died after the race! – Among his letters there is a great deal of Methodism – if this procures for the book, as it very likely may, a sale among the righteous over-much, I shall rejoice for the sake of his family – for whom I am very much interested. I have, however, in justice to myself, stated, in the shortest & most decorous manner, that my own views of religion differ widely from his. [11]  Still, that I {should} become – & and that, too, voluntarily – an editor of methodistical and Calvinistic letters, is a thing which, when I think of it, excites the same sort of smile that the thoughts of my pension does, – & I wonder, like the sailor – what is to be done next.

Want of room has obliged me to reserve most of your letters, – which I meant for the latter end of Espriella’s remarks [12]  – but when I came to the latter end – the printing had got beyond my calculation of pages so much, that I was fain to stop. [13]  I have good hope of such a sale as may induce my friend to travel again [14]  – my own stock of matter not being half exhausted, – nor, indeed, my design half compleated. Xxxx xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx xx xxxx xxxxxxx the book ought to be published in a month – Palmerin will appear nearly at the same time, &, perhaps, tend to remove suspicion, if any should subsist. [15]  The reception of this book will determine whether it is to be followed up or not, – but if it be, be assured that you shall have ample revenge upon Fuseli. [16]  I will tell you a criticism of my daughter upon him – I showed her the print of the creation of Eve – in Darwins Temple of Nature & the little one looked up to me & said, why does she show her bottom so? [17] 

I know nothing of botany, & every day regret that I do not. It is a settled purpose of my heart, if my children live, to make them good naturalists. If you come either into Yorkshire or Northumberland, you must not return to the south without touching at Greta Hall, & seeing me in xx {my} glory. We have papered the parlour this very day. It is not so fine a room as yours, Mr. Duppa – but it is very beautiful, I assure you, – & the masons are at this time making a cieling to my study, – & I have got curtains for it, the colour of nankeen, – & there is to be a carpet, & a new fender, & all sorts of things that are proper. – Miss Barker tells me she has seen you – I am in good hope of persuading her to come down this summer, & if she comes, she shall not go till I have a set of drawings for the parlour.

I want to hear, in spite of great trouble, & little profit, that you have fixed upon some a new subject, & are again at work. There is no being happy without having some worthy xxx occupation in hand. – Wordsworths poems I have not yet seen, they will appear I suppose in a parcel of which I am in daily expectation –  [18] 




* Address: To/ Richard Duppa Esqr/ 51. Great Marlborough Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ MY 26/ 1807
Endorsed: x 23 May 1807/ Southey to Duppa
MS: Dr Williams’s Library, London, Crabb Robinson MSS
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 90–94 [in part]. BACK

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

[2] John Murray was the publisher of Duppa’s Michael Angelo. BACK

[3] Southey requested Scott to obtain a favourable notice in the Edinburgh Review in his letter to him of 4 February 1806 (Letter 1152). BACK

[4] A review of Duppa’s book, cavilling at the author’s neglect of orthodox grammatical rules, appeared in the Critical, 10 (1807), 385–399. Christopher Wordsworth (1774–1846; DNB) reviewed for the Critical Review. BACK

[5] Robert Fellowes (1770–1847; DNB) took orders but never held a position within the Anglican Church, though he published several books on religious topics, such as A Picture of Christian Philosophy (1799) and Religion without Cant (1801). He was the editor of the Critical Review from 1804 to 1811. BACK

[6] John Higgs Hunt (1780–1859; DNB) was joint-editor of the Critical Review from 1805–1807. BACK

[7] Samuel Hamilton (dates unknown), owner of the Critical Review 1799–1804. BACK

[8] Southey had favourably reviewed Henry Kirke White, Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems (1803) in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), pp. 552–554. He included the unfavourable review published in the Monthly Review for February 1804 in the ‘Account of the Life of H. K. White’ that prefaced the Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (London, 1807). He also included a letter vindicating Kirke White published in the March number of the Monthly. BACK

[9] John Joshua Proby, 1st Earl of Carysfort (1751–1828; DNB), judge, diplomat, Whig politician and poet; the author of Dramatic and Narrative Poems (1810). BACK

[10] John Simeon (1756–1824), MP for Reading. BACK

[11] See The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (London, 1807), I, p. 58. BACK

[12] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[13] In Letters from England, Duppa contributed to the description of the monuments in Westminster Abbey (in Letter 23) and the discussion of shopping in London (in Letters 7 and 11). Though it was not used, he also contributed a letter discussing an exhibition of pictures at the Royal Academy and material on the Literary Fund; see Southey to Richard Duppa, 5 August 1806 (Letter 1206) and 17 August 1806 (Letter 1212). BACK

[14] There was no sequel to Letters from England. BACK

[15] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). Southey wanted to preserve his anonymity as the author of Letters from England. BACK

[16] Henry Fuseli (1741–1825; DNB), the history painter and admirer of Michelangelo, whom Duppa suspected of writing a hostile review of his book on the painter. BACK

[17] See Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802; DNB), The Temple of Nature; or, The Origin of Society (London, 1803), between pp. 54–55; the engraving was taken from a painting by Fuseli. BACK

[18] Wordsworth’s Poems in Two Volumes (1807). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013