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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1472. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 23–24 June 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick. Thursday 23. June 1808.

My dear Tom

As I expected Mondays carrier brought the stockings, – & with them the works of Sir Wm Jones with his life by Ld Teignmouth, [1]  – thirteen volumes in all better bound than any others in my whole library. I wanted you here to have been present when the first paper (for they were seperately papered) was opened; – to have joined in the chorus of admiration, – to have presided at a xx cabinet council held to determine where they should be placed, – & then to have picked out the xxxx ricolings from the rico shelf, which were to be degraded for the purpose of making room. They are, in brown calf, almost the colour of Russia, – or rather as dark as Russia, the lettering on the leather, – bands on the back, & a very rich tool. The leaves marbled to the pattern of the inside paper. A less costly binding than that of Lady Hollands present, [2]  but more showy, & equally well executed.

A proof arrived on Sunday – the day you left us, – & at the same time a letter from Wynn inclosing a Bill ‘for the encouragement of literature’ – which proposes to extend our term of copyright. [3]  The Bill is a bad one, & would only benefit the booksellers. he will therefore oppose it altogether, on the ground that it is too late in the session to consider it sufficiently, – & by & by a better one will be brought in. I have pressed upon him the justice of making literary property as inheritable as any thing else, – & of securing to my children as exclusive a right to the works of my head, as they would have to the works of my hands. xx xx xx Sooner or later this justice will be done to men of letters, & then my childrens children will be well provided for. – A second proof is come this evening.

Yesterday Humphrey Senhouse & his family arrived, on their way to Maryport: – how unlucky that that Admiral Ty should have turned you away. He reminded me of our engagement to travel over the mountains, & said he should return here in a few days to meet some friends, – so that I shall be likely to see much of him this summer.

Friday –

I was interrupted last evening by the arrival of the Colonels party of Lakers, whom Mrs Peachey had previously announced. The Calverts [4]  who knew them well brought them here, & we asked them to dine tomorrow, – which they accepted, – & then wrote a note to excuse themselves, having given up their plan of ascending Skiddaw, for the sake of exploring Borrowdale. They come to tea instead, – so we have shown our civility & saved some trouble – for they were a large party – four themselves – & the Calverts. And the new plates & knives & forks must wait for another opportunity before they make their first appearance.

Your little xx copy of Kehama [5]  is in hand. xx xx four numbers were made as soon as I got home after leaving you, & I began the first – but my progress in this & in every thing else is stopt by one of my violent colds, – which was beginning when you went away, & as bad as it well can be. It affects my eyes so much that I can scarcely read or write, for any length of time, – & am condemned to idleness. In consequence of this Edith began yesterday to make preparations for a batch of juniperizing, [6]  – as I could xx superintend that, tho I could nothing else. But it has so happened that she saw something at Miss Crosthwaites [7]  which was thought excellently suitable for a sopha case, & for cushions for my window seat, – a fancy has taken them to have the former ready for our Lakers tomorrow, & my poor books are laid by for this more conspicuous piece of new grandeur.

And now having told you this I must hunt about for something more to tell you. – Oh – by great good fortune we have got rid of our worthless Cook. she walks off on Tuesday, – we have a prospect of another, – but even if no other could be got, it is agreed upon by all hands, mistresses & maids that we are better without her & rather than with her.

At any time I should have mist you such, – but particularly at this time, – when from inability to do any thing I want a companion to walk with, & boat with, & bathe with. I have past the greater part of the day, in my bedroom, to avoid light. It is to be hoped that a few days will remove this – so my eyes be but spared, I xx shall resign my nose to the pocket handkerchief with great composure, & blow away upon my own trumpet as long as the cold lasts. But it is vexatious to have the old affection of the eyes return in this manner, when I believed myself rid of it for ever –

Edith has given me a kiss regularly every night to be sent to you in a letter. they are all well – God bless you – my next I hope will tell you better news of Kehama [8] 

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ Post-Office/ Plymouth Dock/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK / 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Listed in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library thus: Sir William Jones (1746–1794; DNB), Works, with his Life by Lord Teignmouth, portrait, 13 vol. Presentation Copy, calf extra, marbled leaves, from J. Neville White, with an extract from Landor in the autograph of the Poet Laureate (1799–1806). For Southey’s letter thanking Neville White for this gift, see Southey to Neville White, 20 June 1808, Letter 1470. BACK

[2] Father Stanislaus Canovai (1740–1811), Elogio d’Amerigo Vespucci che ha riportato il premio della nobile Accademia Etrusca di Cortona nel dì 15. Ottobre dell’anno 1788. Con una dissertazione giustificativa di questo celebre navigator (1788). BACK

[3] Bill for the further encouragement of Learning in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, by securing to the Libraries of the Universities, and other public libraries, copies of all newly-printed books, and books reprinted with additions, and by further securing the copies and copyright of printed Books to the authors of such books, or their assigns, for a time to be limited. For Southey’s reply to Wynn, see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19 June 1808, Letter 1469. BACK

[4] William Calvert (1771–1829; DNB), who was at school with Wordsworth at Hawkshead, where he later became the schoolmaster. On the death of his father, Calvert became a man of independent means, inheriting, with other property, the estate of Bowness on the east shore of Bassenthwaite, near Keswick, where he lived with his family. BACK

[5] A manuscript of The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[6] ‘Juniperize’ meant to add a gold border and lettering to the bindings of Southey’s books. This is an allusion to Friar Juniper, disciple of St Francis, who cut the silver bells off the gold border of an altar cloth to give to a poor woman begging alms. BACK

[7] Mary Crosthwaite (b. 1771), the daughter of Peter Crosthwaite (1735–1808), a Keswick inventor, mapmaker and showman, who established a museum there in 1780, at which his daughter assisted. She also kept a shop selling paper and material. BACK

[8] For this, see Southey to Thomas Southey, 11 July 1808, Letter 1478. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013