2959. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 29 March 1817

2959. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 29 March 1817⁠* 

My dear Harry

I am writing a Letter to Wm Smith, which will give him the belly-ache. It would have been in the newspapers but for some cross purposes connected with Wynns movements. It will now be a pamphlett, which Murray may advertise as soon as he pleases as ‘in a few days to be published’. [1] 

Senhouse takes our places for the 15th or the 17th therefore God willing you will see me.

Trust me that I shall come off with flying colors, conqueror – yea more than conqueror. [2] 

I have strong ground for suspecting that Winterbottom is dead, & that the affidavit in his name (which is fake from beginning to end, & contains not one single truth upon the matter) has been sworn to by some damned soul in the Lawyers employ. [3]  Should this suspicion be verified, I shall have a fine story to lay before the public.

God bless you


Love to Louisa.

29 March.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 1 AP 1/ 1817
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Smith had denounced Southey in the House of Commons on 14 March 1817 in the debate on the Seditious Meetings Bill, condemning ‘the settled, determined malignity of a renegado’ and comparing Southey’s arguments against radical views in the Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 227, with those expressed in Wat Tyler (1817), Act 2, lines 103–112. In reply, Southey had written two letters which he originally hoped to publish in the Courier: Southey to William Smith, 17 March 1817 (Letter 2943) and Southey to the Editor of the Courier [19 March 1817] (Letter 2946). These two letters were sent to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, on 17 and 19 March 1817 (Letters 2944 and 2948), for him to forward to the newspaper. In the event, Wynn’s absence from home led to a delay in his receiving the letters. By the time he did so, the public debate had moved on and Southey therefore decided not to publish them in the Courier, but instead to incorporate them into his pamphlet A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817). BACK

[2] Romans 8: 37: ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us’. BACK

[3] This refers to Southey’s Jacobin drama Wat Tyler, which he had written in 1794 and sent to James Ridgway (1755–1838) and Henry Symonds (1741–1816), radical booksellers, for publication; see Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part One, Letter 123. Ridgway and Symonds did not publish it and it remained in manuscript until a pirated publication, designed to embarrass the now anti-Jacobin Southey, appeared in 1817. Having taken advice from Rickman, Wynn and Turner, Southey launched a suit in Chancery in order to gain an injunction suppressing the publication, on the grounds that it breached his copyright. The matter was complicated because Southey’s ownership of the copyright was brought into doubt when William Winterbotham swore an affidavit in which he declared that Southey had, when visiting Newgate prison, where he, Ridgway and Symonds were all confined, given him and Daniel Isaac Eaton (1753–1814; DNB), the radical publisher, the manuscript to do with as they liked. When the case was heard in the Court of Chancery on 18–19 March 1817, Southey lost his application for an injunction. BACK