2931. Robert Southey to [Sara] Hutchinson [fragment], [late February/early March 1817]

2931. Robert Southey to [Sara] Hutchinson [fragment], [late February/early March 1817]⁠* 

My dear Miss Hutchinson

I am very sorry that I should have forgotten to reply to your note, till this day.

I know nothing of Quintanas present condition, – for I have not had no communication with Spain since my poor correspondent Abella was disgraced & banished from Court, in one of those capricious changes of favourite which have repeatedly taken place since Ferdinands return. [1]  One of the last books which issued from the Spanish press while it was free, – or rather while it xxx was <under> the tyranny of the Cortes instead of the crown was a collection of Quintanas poems, – with a preface in which he expresses an ominous apprehension of the coming change. [2] 

You will see that Brougham has attacked me in the House of Commons for having been as erroneous (but more much more sincere) in the year 1794 & at the age of 20 than as he is in 1817. [3]  To what baseness will men descend when they are possessed at the same time by faction & malignity!

[remainder of MS missing]


* MS: Wordsworth Trust, WL MS A Southey 7. AL; 1p.
Dating note: Dating from content, which places this in late February or early March 1817. BACK

[1] The Spanish poet and man of letters Manuel José Quintana (1772–1857) had written patriotic odes and proclamations during the French occupation, but from 1814–1820 was imprisoned by Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). BACK

[2] Manuel José Quintana, Poesías (Madrid, 1813); his prefatory comments ran from pp. i-vi. The volume was no. 3463 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] On 24 February 1817 Brougham, speaking in the House of Commons on the Cabinet’s Seditious Meetings Bill, had contrasted the prosecution of radical writers with the government’s refusal to act against Southey for the pirated publication of Wat Tyler (1817) the radical play he had written in 1794. BACK