2706. Robert Southey to John Murray, 31 January 1816

2706. Robert Southey to John Murray, 31 January 1816⁠* 

My dear Sir

In your last parcel there is a packet directed to you, marked private, & bearing (as I believe) Sir Hew Dalrymples initials, – but the seal is unbroken. I shall not break it <reserve it> therefore, till you inform me whether it be a communication intended for my use, – or if it has been inclosed to me by mistake. [1]  – This parcel contained some important documents, – a good account of the Douro campaign in a letter from an officer who fell at Talavera, – & a portfolio of papers from the Portugueze Committee, containing all the official accounts which they received of the enormities committed by Massenas army, & the consequent misery. [2] 

You have sent me the first vol. only of the ‘History of the Campaign in Sp & Port. published by Goddard. [3]  There should be six.

The Catacombs will furnish matter for a short but impressive article. If xx it be not in other hands tell me, & I will write it while the feeling is fresh [4] 

believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

R Southey.

Keswick 31 Jany 1816.


* Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co/ 1811
Endorsement: 1816 Jany 31/ Southey R Eqr
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In his first article on the ‘Life of Wellington’, in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275, especially at 242–243, Southey had criticised the conduct of Dalrymple when, arriving in Portugal as commanding officer, he had, at the Convention of Cintra, signed 30 August 1808, allowed a defeated French army free passage out of the country with its weapons and supplies intact. Now Dalrymple was sending papers giving his version of events; see Robert Southey to Hew Dalrymple, 6 March 1816, Letter 2732. BACK

[2] Murray was sending Southey materials to help his research toward his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). The Battle of the Douro occurred on 12 May 1809 when British and Portuguese troops under Wellington defeated French troops and took the city of Porto. The Battle of Talavera took place on 27–28 July 1809 as Wellington’s British and a Spanish army met the French on the road from Portugal to Madrid. Southey discusses these battles in History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), II, pp. 289–313, 410–418, but the identity of the officer who wrote the account of the Battle of the Douro is not revealed. The Napoleonic Marshal André Massena (1758–1817) led the French campaign against Portugal in 1810–1811; see History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), II, pp. 710–784. The papers Southey had received concerned the £100,000 parliament had voted in 1811 to relieve the sufferings of the Portuguese people following the French invasion. The money was distributed by Commissioners, whose report was placed before the House of Commons on 6 July 1814. BACK

[3] A History of the Campaigns of the British Forces in Spain and Portugal, 6 vols (London: printed for T. Goddard, 1812–1814). The first 4 volumes were no. 530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] Southey’s article, ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’ appeared in Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

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