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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1625. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 7 May 1809 ⁠* 

Dear Senhouse

Your question concerning the Review would have been sooner answered if it had not been put out of mind by a circumstance which for some time greatly alarmed & distressed me. My little boy was seized with the croup – by taking about six ounces of blood from the jugular vein & blistering the throat he has, thank God, been saved.

One number of the Quarterly Review has appeared. it contains a single article of mine upon the Mission in Bengal, [1]  much mutilated by the Editor & much the worse for mutilation. Walter Scott is the projector of the Review. it would be convenient to me to bear a considerable part in it, & I believe all persons concerned would fain have me do so, – but I am afraid it will not be long before their politicks compel me to withdraw. As long as they support the Spanish cause & the war against Bonaparte I will go on with them, – the Whigs too they may abuse to their hearts content & I shall say amen tho they go thro all the curses in Ernulphus [2]  against them, but if they take up the wretched Anti-Jacobin faction I must secede. This I think very likely to happen. Great professions of independence were made to me by Gifford the Editor (the Baviad Gifford, not his Hyper-Anti Jacobini namesake) [3]  – but my last instructions were to send my communications under cover to the Secretary of States Office, & certainly this looks very much like what I from the first suspected, that it was the Government own journal. The article about Spain is by George Ellis, [4]  – bad enough it is God knows, – Ellis in spite of his reputation, his learning in one particular branch, & his colloquial pleasantry, is but one of the sons of the feeble. There is something about painting by Hoppner, [5]  one of the best things in the number. – & a good examination of the real value of Sanscrit literature by Turner, [6]  the Anglo-Saxon historian, – one of the best men whom it is my good fortune to know. Scott has done a good deal [7]  in a good style of caustic pleasantry, good humour tempering severity, – but there are some articles needlessly severe, – to whom they are imputable I know not. The Cid was reviewed by Scott, & is very wretchedly appreciated. he does not seem to know whether he was reading history or romance, – & by doubting the truth of the siege & conquest of Valencia, [8]  he betrays an utter ignorance of Spanish history. – The second number is on the point of publication, – there will be nothing of mine there except a sketch of the literary history of Portugal. [9]  For the third I have a reviewal of some American Annals nearly compleated, an account of the missions in the South Sea Islands, – & shall have Lord Valencia’s Travels if they appear in time. [10]  I have offered also to vindicate Freres conduct as to the advice he prest upon Sir John Moor, [11]  if it be thought expedient: – but this will probably be a state subject, & indeed Frere will be here to do it himself. He was calculated upon from the first as an assistant.

I am as helpless as you about parties, – yet it is a good thing that we should be hopeless about them. – that the people should feel all parties to be alike unprincipled, & work out their own salvation, by forcing upon the Government a parliamentary Reform, as they have the constitutional means of doing. The worst thing about Burdett & his party is that they never let one generous sentiment in hatred of France, nor in sympathy with Spain escape them. Burdett wants a better adviser, & this I think is all he wants. Lord Cochrane has carried a great accession of popularity to that side. [12] Wordsworth is about to publish some remarks on the Cintra Convention, [13]  – after date as to the text, but not as to the sermon, which will expose & enforce the true principles on which such a war as ours can be carried on successfully.

I thought you would be interested with old Desclot. [14]  When you are ready for more Spanish books, here are plenty of all kinds for your choice.

Mrs S & her sisters  [15]  beg to be remembered

Yours very truly

Robert Southey

May 7. 1809.


* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Junr Esqr/ Maryport/ Cockermouth
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Princeton University Library
Unpublished. BACK

[1] 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

[2] Probably written by Ernulf (1039/40–1124; DNB), Bishop of Rochester, the curses appear in a Catholic excommunication document, invoked in chapter four of Lawrence Sterne’s (1713–1768; DNB), The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–1767). BACK

[3] In the 1790s William Gifford had established a reputation as a verse satirist, in The Baviad (1791) and The Maeviad (1795). After the decline of Gifford’s The Anti-Jacobin, or, Weekly Examiner in 1798, John Gifford (formerly John Richards Green; 1758–1818; DNB), a Tory political writer, started The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor, which ran from 1798 to 1821. BACK

[4] George Ellis [with George Canning] reviewed Exposé des Manoeuvres et des Intrigues qui ont Préparé l’Usurpation de la Couronne d’Espagne, et des Moyens Employés par l’Empereur des Francais pour la Mettre á Exécution…; Traduit de l’Espagnol par M. Peltier [alternative title Affaires d’Espagne] (1808) and Pedro Cevallos Guerra (1760–1840), Conféderation des Royaumes et Provinces d’Espagne contre Buonaparte ([1810]) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 1–19. BACK

[5] John Hoppner (1758–1810; DNB) reviewed Anecdotes of Painters Who Have Resided or Been Born in England: With Critical Remarks on their Productions, by Edward Edwards, Deceased, Late Teacher of Perspective, and Associate, in the Royal Academy; Intended as a Continuation to the Anecdotes of painting by the late Horace Earl of Orford (1808) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 36–49. BACK

[6] 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

[7] 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), 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

[8] Valencia was conquered in 1094 after a long siege. The events are described in Southey’s The Chronicle of the Cid (London, 1808), p. 203. BACK

[9] Southey reviewed Extractos em Portuguez e em Inglez; com as Palavras Portuguezas Propriamente Accentuadas, para Facilitar o Estudo d’Aquella Lingoa (1808) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (May, 1809), 268–292. BACK

[10] Southey reviewed in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809): Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands, 24–61; 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), 88–126. His review of Abiel Holmes (1763–1837), American Annals; or, a Chronological History of America, from its Discovery in 1492 to 1806 appeared in the Quarterly Review, 2 (November 1809), 319–337. BACK

[11] The diplomat John Hookham Frere was sent to Spain as minister-plenipotentiary to the Central Junta on 4 October 1808 and when the French marched on Madrid he urged Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), the Commander of the British forces in northern Spain also to do so, despite Moore’s inclination to retreat through Portugal. After the disastrous retreat to Corunna, Frere was blamed for this advice and recalled by the British government. Some of Frere’s and Moore’s correspondence was read out in the Commons on 27 April, and Moore’s side of matters was presented in James Moore (1763–1860; DNB), A Narrative of the Campaign of the British Army in Spain, Commanded by His Excellency Sir John Moore. Authenticated by Official Papers and Original Letters (1809). Frere’s correspondence with Moore was published in 1810 in a work entitled To the British Nation is Presented by Colonel Venault de Charmilly, Knight of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, the Narrative of his Transactions in Spain with the Rt. Hon. Hookham Frere, His Britannic Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, and Lt. Gen. Sir John Moore, K.B. Commander of the British Forces: with the Suppressed Correspondence of Sir J. Moore: Being a Refutation of the Calumnies Invented Against Him, and Proving that He was Never Acquainted with General Morla. BACK

[12] Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB), naval officer and politician who gained renown through his campaign of harassing and attacking settlements on the Spanish and French coasts and was made GCB in 1809. In the general election of May 1807 he stood for the large constituency of Westminster on a reform ticket, and with the support of William Cobbett he was returned alongside Sir Francis Burdett. BACK

[13] At the Convention of Cintra (signed 30 August 1808), British generals allowed a defeated French army to evacuate Portugal. On 27 December 1808 and 13 January 1809 Wordsworth published, in The Courier, an article condemning the Convention. In May 1809 Longmans published the article as a pamphlet: Concerning the Relations of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, to Each Other, and to the Common Enemy, at this Crisis; and Specifically as Affected by the Convention of Cintra. BACK

[14] Bernard Desclot (13th century), Historia de Catalunna Traducida, de fu Antiqua Lengua Catalana en Romance Castellana por Raphael Cervera (Barcelona, 1616). BACK

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August 2013