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430. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle [fragment], [25] August 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Cottle –

The books arrived safely. I was vexed to see the paragraph you had added to the Preface [1]  – the more vexed because every person who has yet seen the volume cry out against the folly of it desiring an opportunity of telling contributors their verses are bad. people who wished their peices returned would have said so without being asked. the sentence can only operate to prevent post men of diffidence from sending me anything. I cannot conceive why you added it – to say the best of it it is perfectly useless – & I am afraid it will be mischievous. if it were possible the leaf should be cancelled.

About Beddoes & his soi-disant lampoon. [2]  there is no harm done as matters now are. but in Beddoes after the reason assignd for not inserting it it was very very indelicate. & the arrogance & impertinence of the man have irritated me. I desire that no future application be made to him for contributions. if he sends them he may but I will not be dictated to. nor treated with impertinence by any man. Beddoes has my respect & respectful voice – I look up to him as a useful & benevolent man, the agent of much good – but in this instance he has behaved with an indelicacy of which I could have suspected no one.

The volume is very good. or more xxxxxx it may be xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx it with my xxxxx xxxxxx – xxx xx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxx Robert Southey xxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx.

In the Volume few & trifling alterations only are made. it is always to build a new house than repair one originally ill-plannd. it will be better perhaps at the end to advertise only my books. [3]  but this as you judge best. you will be good to have an equal number of large copies struck off with the second volume & direct Biggs to be as uniform with that as possible.

The frank I spoke of you enclosed to Mr Southey here – & a frank it was. now I am always glad to hear from y[MS torn] but your enclosure only contained notice that you had enclo[MS torn] it, I only mention this to put you in mind that a little thought upon common occasions is very useful. so you must receive it with the same levity that it is written with.

I hope to have the second Anthology out in January – so do you beat up. it will be a better volume than the first. we must if possible go to press at the beginning of November.

If any letters or parcel reach you before you get my direction send them to Coleridge at his brothers at Ottery St Marys – Devonshire – for me. we go to Sidmouth, five miles beyond [half a sheet of MS missing]

examine them. your best poem in the Anthology is Ellen [4]  – of which [MS torn] middle stanza is very striking. xx our next volume will have less dross. but this will do. it must be popular – or my judgement is lamentably erroneous.

kind remembrances from Coleridge. he begs you will not forget the Tragedy [5]  – about which Poole is very anxious.

yrs affectionately

R. Southey.

Sunday. 1799. August.

Edith desires her love to your sister[MS torn]


Notes

* Endorsement: (106) 51
MS: Tulane University Libraries, Manuscripts Collection M 1104
Previously published: Andy P. Antippas, ‘Four New Southey Letters’, The Wordsworth Circle, 5 (1974), 93.
Dating note: In his letter to Danvers of Tuesday, 20 August 1799 (Letter 428), Southey asked Cottle to immediately forward three copies of the recently-published Annual Anthology (1799). This letter is dated by Southey as ‘Sunday’ and thanks Cottle for the books, making its most likely date to be Sunday, 25 August 1799. BACK

[1] ‘Advertisement’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), (unpaginated). The final paragraph inserted by Cottle ran as follows: ‘It is the intention of the Editor to publish annually a similar volume. Communications are to be addressed to Messrs. BIGGS & Co. Printers, Bristol, for the Editor of the Annual Anthology. It is requested that the Writer will enclose his address, that the piece may be returned, if found inconvenient to insert.’ BACK

[2] ‘Domiciliary Verses’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. 287–288. BACK

[3] There were no advertisements at the end of Annual Anthology (1799) or Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[4] ‘Ellen’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. 102–104. BACK

[5] Probably a reference to Coleridge’s ‘Osorio’ (1797). BACK

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August 2011