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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1610. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, 31 March 1809 ⁠* 

March 31. 1809.

My dear Duppa,

I am sorry for your loss, [1]  – a heavy one under any circumstances, and particularly so to one who, being single at your time of life, will now feel more entirely what it is to have no person who intimately loves him. It is not in the order of nature that there should ever be a void in the heart of man, – the old leaves mould not fall from the tree till the young ones are expanding to supply their place.

I have now three girls  [2]  living, and as delightful playfellow in the shape of a boy as ever man was blest with. Very often, when I look at them, I think what a fit thing it would be that Malthus [3]  should be hanged.

You may have known that I have some dealings, in the way of trade, with your bookseller, Murray. One article of mine is in his first Quarterly, [4]  and he has bespoken more. Whenever I shall have the satisfaction of seeing you once more under this roof, it will amuse you to see how dextrously Gifford emasculated this article of mine of its most forcible parts. I amused myself one morning with putting them all in again, and restoring vigour, consistency, and connection to the whole. It is certainly true that his Majesty gives me a pension of 2001. a-year, out of which his Majesty deducts 601. and a few shillings; but, if his Majesty trebled or decupled the pension, and remitted the whole taxation, it would be the same thing. The treasury should never bribe, nor his judges deter me from delivering a full and free opinion upon any subject which seems to me to call for it. If I hate Bonaparte, and maintain that this country never ought to accept of any peace while that man is Emperor of France, it is precisely upon the same principle that I formerly disliked Pitt, [5]  and maintained that we never ought to have gone to war.

I am glad you have been interested by the Cid; [6]  it is certainly the most curious chronicle in existence. In the course of the summer, – I hope early in it, you will see the first volume of my History of Brazil, of which nine-and-twenty sheets are printed. [7]  This book has cost me infinite labour. The Cid was an easy task; of that no other copy was made than what went to the press; of this every part has been twice written, many parts three times, and all with my own hand. For this I expect to get a sufficient quantity of abuse, and little else; money is only to be got by such productions as are worth nothing more than what they fetch per sheet. I could get my thousand a-year, if I would but do my best endeavours to be dull, and aim at nothing higher than Reviews and Magazines.

God bless you!

Yours very truly,

R. Southey.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 226–228. BACK

[1] Whether Duppa’s mother, Susannah (dates unknown), or father, William (dates unknown), had died is unclear. BACK

[3] Thomas Malthus (1766–1834; DNB), author of An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society; with Remarks on the Speculations of W. Godwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers (1803) which Southey reviewed in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 292–301. BACK

[4] 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 (1809), 193–226. BACK

[5] William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), Prime Minister who took Britain into war with France in 1793. BACK

[6] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

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

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August 2013