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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1603. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 20 March 1809 ⁠* 

March 20. 1809.

My dear Charles

If your eye has glanced upon the other leaf you will discover the cause of this letter so soon after my last. Two Catalogues have just come to hand, & the readiest way by which I can obtain what I want out of them is thro you, – as the Bristol Bookseller will get the books from the Bath one. Then they may all come in a parcel come together by waggon, with any thing Martha may have to send. I will pay you when you make your appearance, – or send a draft for this & the other disbursements, if you will let me know the sum total, & make it worth sending. The Voyage to Brazil [1]  is what I have been long & earnestly in search of.

What an infamous business is this acquittal of the D of York, after evidence more extraordinarily conclusive, perhaps, than any that ever yet came before a Court of Justice! [2]  The majority of the House of Commons stand now towards the people of England in the predicament of Jurors who have given a false verdict, wilfully & corruptly. They have betrayed their trust, & a dismal thing it is to think with what a dead-palsy it will strike all honest men, except those who are prepared to welcome the day of revolution come when & how it may, The parliament of Charles 2 & James 2. [3]  never discovered a baser spirit, nor has England ever been insulted by the avowal of doctrines more treasonable again her constitutional freedom than Perceval has advanced. As for that blind old man, who came forward to have himself recorded a sycophant & a lyar, when he ought rather to have been settling his account with Heaven for ol[d] crimes, rather than adding a new one to the list, – by the xxx living God, old & blind he is, he deserves to be hung in his Judges robes, & with his wig about his neck. [4]  Danvers this dynasty of ours is in the way to destruction, – & they who do not understand how God could be said to have hardened Pharoahs heart, [5]  need not look far for a practical commentary.

There is little of mine in this years Annual. [6]  The loss of the Aikins  [7]  is a great gain to the work, – Miss Lucys [8]  critiques upon poetry were absolutely nauseating. If the volume comes in your way, alter the word Colonists p. 151 to Calvinists, – it looks now as if I mean the Americans, instead of the worst blight in the country. [9]  P 145, I wrote the King & not a certain high personage – for it is my way to speak plain, & in the same page they have printed Kissareii for Kissarsie, a well-deserved name, which needs no explanation to any who has read Tristram Shandy. [10]  I do not know who reviewed Fox’s history, but it is a very able article. [11]  Sharon Turner did The Cid was done by Sharon Turner, & undone by the Printer who has placed that at the end which ought to have been in the middle. [12]  Reviews are always hurried thro the Press, & thence it is that no other books are ever so incorrectly printed.

Coleridges friend will go to Press as soon as the paper arrives from London – it is to be printed at Penrith & to circulate by the post like a newspaper. I suppose the first number will appear the first week in April. [13] 

Harry is about soon to bring home a wife, if my Uncle has not misunderstood him, for it is by that channel I have heard so. Sir Domine is not a very frequent correspondent, & I have so little time to spare, & so many letters which must be written that I never urge him to write oftener, since if he has found out the value of time a few years sooner than I did it so much the better. I shall go see him as soon as Edith is safely in bed, [14]  – if xxx it please God that that should be the case, – Durham Cathedral is one of the things in England which I most wish to see. – when there Newcastle is at so easy a distance that I shall make a visit there for the sake of seeing James Losh a visit there for the sake of seeing James Losh

Do you ever see a magazine called the Monthly Mirror? – I mention it because in one of the late numbers x a gentleman therein declares that he xxx worships me. [15]  There’s honour for you! – to be sure he has put me in a trinity with Crabbe [16]  & Scott, – but I am the first person in that Trinity by favour of the metre. This is a character in which I have never appeard before, & if this gentleman should make any proselytes to his new religion I shall be at a loss how to behave, if {when} any of these come & say their prayers to me.

God bless you RS

Bryans Catalogue [17] 
147. Atkins Voyage to Brazil. [18]  5–6/
265. Cooke’s Voyages. [19]  14/. N.B. if this copy be sold, the single vol. No 264 will not do instead.
314. Frogers Voyage. [20]  – 5/6


Binns’s Catalogue [21] 
 [22]  429. Avicenna. 4/
440. Paracelsus 7/ ✓
856. Collins’s Miscellanies [23]  1/6 ✓
✓ 864. Hoccleve. [24]  4/.
✓ 891. King Arthur 5/
✓ 1151. Backus’s Hist of the Baptists in N England [25]  7/
1660. Mem. of Peter Henry Bruce [26]  2/ ✓



* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ MAR 23/ 1809
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 505–507 [in part]. BACK

[1] John Atkins (bap. 1685–1757), A Voyage to Guinea, Brazil and the West Indies in His Majesty’s Ships the Swallow and Weymouth (1735). BACK

[2] Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798 to 1809, when it was revealed 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. After a parliamentary inquiry revealed his complicity, a majority of MPs, not wishing to lose the favour of the crown and so jeopardise the ministry and their pensions and sinecures, nevertheless voted for his continuance in office. However, the numbers against him were sufficient for his resignation to be necessary. BACK

[3] Charles II (1630–1685), King of England, Scotland and Ireland 1660–1685; James II (1633–1701), King of England, Scotland (as James VII) and Ireland from 1685–1701. BACK

[4] Edward Law, 1st Baron Ellenborough (1750–1818; DNB), a notoriously pro-establishment judge who had presided over the trial for treason of Southey’s radical associates in 1794. BACK

[5] Exodus 4: 21, 7: 4–5. BACK

[6] 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 (1757–1834), 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

[8] Lucy Aikin (1781–1864). BACK

[9] In his review of the Report of the African Institution. BACK

[10] In Laurence Sterne (1713–1768; DNB), The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–1767), the name ‘Kysarcius’, pronounced ‘kiss-arse-ius’ is used to mock a sycophantic character. Southey uses a similar coinage in his review of Clarkson to designate the toadies of the ‘establishment’ who abandoned their support for slave trade abolition when it was accused of being jacobinical. BACK

[11] James Mill (1773–1836; DNB) reviewed Charles James Fox (1749–1806; DNB), A History of the Early Part of the Reign of James the Second: with an Introductory Chapter (1808), in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809), 99–114. BACK

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

[13] The first number of Coleridge’s new periodical The Friend was published on 1 June 1809. BACK

[14] The Southeys’ daughter, Bertha, was born 27 March 1809. BACK

[15] The Monthly Mirror for November 1808, contained ‘An Invocation’ by Y.G.N., the last line of which stated: ‘‘Mong modern bards, if thou canst give me scope, / I’ll be content; let bigot critics rot! / Spite of my awe for MILTON, DRYDEN, POPE, / I dare to worship SOUTHEY, CRABBE and SCOTT’ (307). BACK

[16] George Crabbe (1754–1832; DNB), poet and Church of England clergyman. BACK

[17] Edward Bryan (dates unknown), A Catalogue of Books for 1809 (1809). BACK

[18] See note 1. BACK

[19] James Cook (1728–1779; DNB). Perhaps An Account of a Voyage round the World ... in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, and 1771.A Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere, etc. Captain J. Cook’s Third Voyage to the Pacific Ocean in Robert Wilson (ed.), Voyages of Discoveries round the World, vols 2 and 3 (1806). BACK

[20] Francois Froger (b. 1676), A Relation of a Voyage made in the Years 1695, 1696, 1697 , on the Coasts of Africa, Streights of Magellan, Brasil, Cayenna, and the Antilles, by a Squadron of French Men of War, under the Command of M. de Gennes (1698). BACK

[21] John Binns (c. 1781–1818), a bookseller of Bath, with premises in Cheap St. BACK

[22] The ticks against items in the letter are likely to have been added by the recipient. BACK

[23] Emanuel Collins (dates unknown), Miscellanies: in Prose and Verse (1762). Collins was a clergyman who kept a school in Shannon Court, Corn St, Bristol. Southey wrote of him ‘his school failed him, not because he was deficient in learning—of which he seems to have had a full share for his station—but because of his gross and scandalous miscouduct.’ Later, he ‘kept something . . . like an alehouse’ performing marriages there for the fee of a crown per couple. See George Price, ‘Emanuel Collins’, Notes and Queries, 3rd series VIII (9 September 1965), 214. BACK

[24] The sale catalogue of Southey’s library listed, as no. 1374, Thomas Hoccleve (c.1367–1426; DNB), Poems, Never before Printed, with Notes and Glossary (1796). BACK

[25] Isaac Backus (1724–1806; DNB), Abridgement of the Church History of New England, 1602 to 1804 (1804), was no. 92 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[26] Memoirs of Peter Henry Bruce, Esq., a Military Officer in the Services of Prussia, Russia & Great Britain, Containing an Account of His Travels in Germany, Russia, Tartary, Turkey, the West Indies (1783). BACK

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August 2013