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670. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 18 April [1802]⁠* 

My dear Danvers

I write because Horace Bedford is going to Bath & can so far frank the letter. Kings did not go by Losh as you imagined but by Mrs Keenan [1]  who I thought would have made Bristol in her way to Exeter. Tell Rex to make his vignette [2]  just what size he thinks best proportioned to an octavo title page. I should object to the youth & scroll because that seems to admit that the papers were found there, which assuredly they were not. a visitor may be put there – he himself if he likes it making the drawing. I have this morning seen his friend M. Voullaire [3]  & as far as half an hours conversation can justify, admire him much. I am going in spite of half a hundred other occupations to acquire by his help a grammatical command of French. On Tuesday evening he commences his visits – & if I do not profit by them – in conscience it will be the fault of the scholar.

Burnett is here. it was a mistake of Jibletts [4]  that he was going to Bristol. Lord Stanhope [5]  has not yet given him the salary – but he will I suppose receive it as soon as they meet. George feels a little too comfortable upon the certainty of a years funds. however I hope that I have found him a job from Longman & Rees – to translate a French book, which will at least keep him two months, & perhaps introduce him to more work till he find a steadier & better employ. – In my last letter to King I mentioned that preliminaries were going on between me & the booksellers. I have undertaken to reduce Amadis de Gaule into three duodecimo volumes for them, anonymously. [6] not like Tressan in his french abridgement has too much modernised the language & Frenchified the feeling of the book. [7]  I take the old English translation, [8]  & compress it, as nearly as may be into the language – which x is by no means obsolete – not more so than the Bible, & this best suits the character of the book. I prefix an Essay on Romance. for this they offered me, with my name to the Essay only, 100 £. It would have been imprudent to let my name appear – because the notion that I am of a man of business may help me on in the world. they then offered 60 £ when the book was done, & when 750 were sold the remaining 40. £. I have bargained for 30 £ more if a second 750 sell. the definitive answer is not yet come – but I have no doubt they will accede to the terms. Rees [9]  said so, & only the formality remains of Longmans assent. Now as my name is not to be publickly known, neither should it privately. I am trying to persuade them to have vignettes, which if I can effect I would beg King to design, & take the fair price for them which the booksellers usually pay. & so sure am I that with the subjects which I should chuse, a print in the title page would encrease the sale of the book, that if they will not otherwise accede, I will propose to them to risque a ten pounds of my own certain profit. There is a farther view in this job. if the book sells which is highly probable from its name & excellence, they will go thro the whole army of Romances in the same manner – indeed this is meant as an experiment with that in view. [10]  Now I believe that Edith can help me at this work, & Mrs Lovell also – whom, if the book sells & the plan proceed I could thus enable comfortably & respectably to maintain herself. you see another reason for anonymousness.

I have talked more with Carlisle about the probability of your brother Johns [11]  setting up in London. he thinks there would be little chance of success. that the trade here is overstocked, & that to succeed many & xxx friends are necessary, & money enough to be able to wait for practise.

Poor Thomas had no partner. he managed all my Uncles church affairs, granting leases &c – which must now be put into the hands of a stranger, instead of a friend. the money which he had in his hands will of course be paid by his Executors – but God knows when – nor can I draw for it upon them.

Elmsley is just called to walk with me to Brixton – where this must go to the Postman. so perforce I conclude. We shall see you in a month – & I hope we sha may find Mrs D. well. I think she will be amused & interested with the progress of Amadis which is truly a delightful book.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


Sunday April 18.

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August 2011