1600. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 14–15 March 1809

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1600. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 14–15 March 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick. Tuesday March 14. 1809.

My dear Tom

This evening I have sent off a book of Kehama, [1]  & shall follow it up quickly while I fancy myself somewhat at leisure, having no immediate pressure of employment. The 18th section is begun – one & twenty will compleat it. I feel therefore as nearly the end of my journey as we did when we reached Lancaster on our way home, & had the mountains once more in sight. Lorrinite & Arvalan are disposed of in Padalon, [2]  Kehama is come down just too late to save his son, – his offers to Kalyal,  [3]  Ereenias appeal to Seeva, [4]  their journey to the throne of Yamen, [5]  & the final scene before the Throne are all that remain to be written. [6]  And then Tom in what metre shall I write Pelayo? [7] 

The Quarterly Review has been published a fortnight. Scott has been the main contributor, – a good one in the lighter articles of miscellaneous literature, but in prose & poetry wherever it is necessary to see into the life & essence of things there he fails. [8]  He has made poor work of the Cid. Turner has written sensibly upon Sanscrit literature. [9]  It is on the whole a respectable number. I have suffered grievously from mutilation, [10]  partly inflicted to shorten what is still the longest article in the book, far more frequently for the sake of weeding out whatever savoured of heresy, political or religious, no very easy operation to perform upon a man who weaves it in the very warp of his discourse. I amuse myself with writing it into my own copy as carefully as Gifford had cut it out. As soon as the number was published I received a letter of flattery from the bookseller, & a very handsome one from Gifford, inclosing goodly guerdon th in the shape of 21 – 13 – good pay for a single article. I am at work upon the South Sea Missions for the second number, & shall t go to the South African in the third. [11]  If these essays be executed as much to my own liking, & with as much effect as the first, it may very probably be advisable to republish them in a seperate volume.

I knew your motions before your letter arrived. The end of this adventure will probably be that you will blockade the French till your hearts ache, then comes a gale which blows you off, & the F enemy escape.

I do not believe the news that Zaragoza has fallen. [12]  very probably it may fall, but the accounts are not contradictory, & neither of them looks like truth. War with Austria & if not imp (with Russia too perhaps) will do no harm by destroying what is now the worst existing government of Europe (except Sicily) – & will do good by giving the Spaniards time. It is now March, – they will be at Madrid by Midsummer: & we might catch Joseph, [13]  if ministers were not too busy in their shameful & most impudent defence of the D of Y [14]  – to think of any thing else. What a kettle of stinking fish it is! – Do you remember Speddings story? [15]  he never understood the whole history till it appeared in the newspapers.

Thalaba has been finished about a fortnight; [16]  in two or three weeks I expect to see it advertised, & will then order off your copy with the Annual. [17]  This said Annual I expect in my next parcel – on Thursday – & be it known unto you that I have the happiness of expecting three parcels! – theres joy! one from W Scott containing a present of the first volume of Ld Somers’s Tracts [18]  & one from Murray the publisher of the Quarterly, with Vancouvers voyages which I wished to read for my article upon the S Sea Islands. [19]  I am to review Ld Valencia’s Travels for the said Q. when they come out. [20] 

We thought it was all over with poor Jackson, – never did man seem nearer the grave than he did ten days ago, – but there has been an inward abscess, & there is now some hopes of his recovery, – tho I confess I am not very sanguine in this expectation. He is however materially better, – or indeed he would not now have been alive – In the way of improvements, we have ordered stuff the same as my curtains for a bed &c in the wing room. The bordering for the study is come, & I shall write in my next letter to Longman  [21]  for half a ream of such paper as the Athenæum [22]  covers, to paper it with. The next operation will be to build a grand Pavillion at the back of the coal-shed, so constructed as that the winds of Heaven may not visit ones rump too roughly which we <which> Heaven knows they do at present, & I never heard that taking the air at that end was wholesome. I shall be glad when the edifice is erected.

Four & twenty sheets of Brazil are printed [23]  – copy for as much more was sent off ten days ago to my Uncle ; & he as soon as he has looked it thro will send it to Pople. For the remainder of the volume there is scarcely any thing more than mere transcription. it will be a thick book – not less I believe than 650 pages. I have now lying on the table a portion of Arrowsmiths great map of America, [24]  to correct x as much as possible for that which he is about to prepare for me. My map will be the best that has yet appeared of Brazil, & one as beautifully executed as possible, – for this art is now carried to perfection. [25]  Rickman & Capt Burney, both great map-makers take much interest in this part of my business. The Capt. has bespoken place in the Monthly Review for a reviewal of the Cid by Bedford. [26]  Sharon Turner performed the office in the Annual. [27]  Coleridge has promised, & probably will perform something about it in the Courier, [28]  which will be of more effect than either, for no literary journal produces half the effect of a popular newspaper. Is not Stuart doing his duty about the D York? [29]  Love from all quarters & the regular allowance of kisses from your eldest niece

God bless you


Wednesday 15.


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey,/ H. M. S. Dreadnought,/ Plymouth-Dock
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Bertram R. Davis Collection, University of Waterloo Library, Ontario. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 502–505. BACK

[1] The Curse of Kehama (London, 1810). Southey was sending his brother drafts of the poem via Grosvenor Charles Bedford. BACK

[2] Events in Southey’s The Curse of Kehama, Book 17. BACK

[3] Events in Southey’s The Curse of Kehama, Book 18. BACK

[4] Book 19 of The Curse of Kehama. BACK

[5] Books 20–23 of The Curse of Kehama. BACK

[6] Book 14 of The Curse of Kehama. BACK

[7] Southey’s early name for the poem published as Roderick the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[8] Scott reviewed in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809): Robert Hartley Cromek (1770–1812; DNB), Reliques of Robert Burns, Consisting Chiefly of Original Letters, Poems, and Critical Observations on Scottish Songs (1808), 19–36; Southey’s The Chronicle of the Cid (1808), 117–134; John Barrett (1753/4–1821; DNB), An Essay on the Earlier Part of the Life of Swift, by the Rev. John Barrett, D. D. and Vice Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. To which are Subjoined Various Pieces Ascribed to Swift, Two of his Original Letters, and Extracts from his Remarks on Bishop Burnett’s History (1808), 162–177; [with William Gifford] Sir John Carr (1772–1832; DNB), Caledonian Sketches, or a Tour through Scotland in 1807 (1808), 178–193. Scott also had a hand in William Erskine’s (Lord Kinneder; bap. 1768–1822; DNB), review of John Philpot Curran (1750–1817), Speeches of the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, Master of the Rolls in Ireland, on the late very Interesting State Trials (1808), 96–107. BACK

[9] Sharon Turner [with John Shore, 1st Baron Teignmouth (1751–1834; DNB)] reviewed Charles Wilkins (bap. 1749–1836; DNB), A Grammar of the Sanskrîta Language (1808); William Carey (1761–1834; DNB), A Grammar of the Sungskrit Language, Composed from the Works of the Most Esteemed Grammarians; to Which are Added Examples for the Exercise of the Student, and a Complete List of the Dhatoos or Roots (1804); and Henry Thomas Colebrooke (1765–1837), Grammar of the Sanskrit Language (1805), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 53–69. BACK

[10] Southey reviewed the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[11] Southey reviewed Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands in Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61, but there is no review by him of the South African missions. BACK

[12] The second siege of Zaragoza ended, after ferocious defence, great bloodshed, starvation and disease, in the French taking the town, on 20 February 1809. For Southey’s accounts of the affair, see the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 306–321; and Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 508–527. BACK

[13] Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte (1768–1844) was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte who made him King of Spain as Joseph I in 1808. Joseph had returned to Madrid, after French troops put down a Spanish uprising, at the beginning of 1809. BACK

[14] Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798–1809, but was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he had profited by allowing his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB), to accept money from army officers, in return for which promotion was arranged. BACK

[15] For Spedding’s story about the Clarke/York affair, see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 28 February 1809, Letter 1590. BACK

[16] The second edition of Thalaba the Destroyer was published in 1809. BACK

[17] Southey reviewed the following in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809): Tour Through Spain and Part of Portugal, Volume 3 of Richard Phillips, A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Voyages and Travels (1805–1810), 56–57; Christian Augustus Fischer (1771–1829), A Picture of Madrid: Taken on the Spot. Translated from the German (1808), 57–60; Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (1808), 127–148; Report of the Committee of the African Institution, Read to the General Meeting on the 15th July, 1807, Together with the Rules and Regulations which were then Adopted for the Government of the Society (1807); Thomas Zouch (1737–1815; DNB), Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir Philip Sydney (1808), 224–235; Robert Drury (1687–1734?; DNB), The Adventures of Robert Drury, During Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar; Containing a Description of that Island; an Account of its Produce, Manufactures, and Commerce; With an Account of the Manners and Customs, Wars, Religion, and Civil Policy of the Inhabitants: to Which is Added, a Vocabulary of the Madagascar Language. Written by Himself, and now Carefully Revised and Corrected from the Original (1807), 253–263; John Finlay (1782–1810), Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads: Chiefly Ancient with Explanatory Notes and a Glossary (1808), 457–462; Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781?-1851), Metrical Legends (1807), 473–473; Francis Douce, Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manners: with Dissertations on the Clown and Fool of Shakespeare; on the Collection of Popular Tales entitled Gesta Romanorum; and on the English Morris Dance (1807), 554–562; Charles Lamb, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, who Lived about the Time of Shakespeare (1808), 562–570; [Howard Luke (1772–1864)], A Brief Apology for Quakerism, Inscribed to the Edinburgh Reviewers (1808), 354–356. BACK

[18] In 1809 Scott published the first volume of Baron John Somers (1651–1716; DNB), A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on the Most Interesting and Entertaining Subjects But Chiefly Such as Relate to the History and Constitution of These Kingdoms, Selected from an Infinite Number in Print and Manuscript in the Royal Libraries (1809–1815). BACK

[19] George Vancouver (1757–1798; DNB) had been a midshipman on Captain Cook’s third voyage to Tahiti. In 1791–1795 he commanded an expedition that surveyed America’s northwest coast, wintering at Hawaii. His record of A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World, 1791–1795 (1798) was completed by his brother, John Vancouver (bap. 1756–1829). BACK

[20] Southey reviewed George Annesley, Viscount Valentia (1770–1844), Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt in the Years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806 (1809), Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 88–126. BACK

[21] This does not appear to have survived. BACK

[22] The Athenæum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (1807–1809) was edited by John Aikin and published by Longman. BACK

[23] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[24] Arrowsmith’s A Map of America (1804) depicted North and South America. BACK

[25] The second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1817) contained Arrowsmith’s Map of Brazil and Paraguay with the Adjoining Countries. BACK

[26] Southey had asked Bedford to write a review of his Chronicle of the Cid (1808) for the Monthly Review; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 28 February 1809, Letter 1590. The book was reviewed in complimentary terms in the Monthly Review, 63 (1810), 131–144. BACK

[27] Sharon Turner’s review of Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid (1808) appeared in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809), 91–99. BACK

[28] Coleridge did not review the Chronicle of the Cid in The Courier. BACK

[29] Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798–1809, but was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he had profited by allowing his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB), to accept money from army officers, in return for which promotion was arranged. Stuart’s coverage in the Courier was critical of the Duke. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 3 times)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 2 times)
Burney, James (1750–1821) (mentioned 2 times)
Murray, John Samuel (1778–1843) (mentioned 2 times)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 2 times)
Stuart, Daniel (1766–1846) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)
Aikin, John (1747–1822) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)