3043. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 November 1817

3043. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 November 1817⁠* 

My dear Harry

The purport of the letter from my Umilissimo, Ubbedientissimo, e devotissimo servitore, [1]  the Cavaliere Gaetāno Bartorelli x to profer me a vindication of the Prince of the Peace written by his Prince-of-the-Peaceship himself, at the very moderate price of two hundred pounds sterling, – for the use of my history, – in which history the matter which such a vindication could by possibility supply might amount to about two pages. To such an offer what can I say – but that I am his – Umilissimo, Ubbedientissimo e devotissimo servitore. [2] 

I received from Longman the Cromwelliana which you got at Poples, but not the Clarendon. [3]  Let me know whether you got this also, that I may make enquiry about it. –You will I hope soon receive a copy of Dobrizhoffer [4]  for me from Kenyon, which you had better consign to xx Murray magne, that he may inclose it in his next parcel.

When Nash returns I shall take that opportunity of sending Sydenhams papers which I have long since done with, but waited for this safe conveyance. [5] The M. may be very well satisfied with the representation which will be made of his share in the peninsular war. A weeks work would complete the introductory chapter, – but I have a Brazilian appetite upon me (which is the best sign of good intellectual health) & here is the Quarterly season at hand. [6] 

I think Gooch has the two last volumes of Dallas’s historical novel [7]  they had better be sent thro Murray. I shall certainly get something from them as I did from the former, – having the means of ascertaining what is matter of fact.

You will I suppose have asked yourself the question, & been asked by others whether I shall write again <any thing> upon the death of this poor Princess. [8]  Most probably I shall, & if so it will be a mixture of prose & verse, – in this & in one other point resembling Boethius. [9]  Here are some verses which I wrote last night

Tis not the public loss which hath imprest
This general grief upon the multitude
And made its way at once to every breast.
The old, the young, the gentle & the rude:
Tis not that in the hour which might have crownd
The prayers preferrd by every honest tongue, –
The very hour which should have sent around
Tidings wherewith all churches would have rung,
And all our echoing streets have pealed with gladness,
And all our cities blazed with festal fire,
That then we saw the high-raised hope expire
And our bright <Englands> expectation quenchd in sadness.
This surely might have forced a sudden tear;
Yet had we then grieved only for the State, –
Tomorrow would the Sun have risen as fair
And seen upon our brows no cloud of care.
It is to think of what thou wert so late
O Thou who liest clay-cold upon thy bier!
So young & so beloved, so richly blest
Beyond the common lot of royalty, –
The object of thy worthy choice possest; –
The many thousand souls that prayed for thee
Hoping in thine a nations happiness:
And in thy youth, & in thy wedded bliss,
And in the genial bed, – the cradle drest,
Hope standing by, & Joy a bidden guest!
Tis this that from the heart of private life
Makes unsophisticated sorrows flow;
We see thee as a daughter & a wife,
And in our human nature feel the blow. [10] 

If I proceed there may perhaps be about half a dozen pieces of verse, – of various character, – this being the first. – Of the intermediate prose I need say nothing because Bedford can show you what my xxxxx plan is –

You do not mention Mrs Gonne. I hope she escaped peeling. Love to her & Louisa. I am glad to hear that Ham [11]  goes on well. Here we in good order. It is a long time since I have heard any thing of Tom.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 27 Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 1 DE 1/ 1817
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Humblest, most obedient and devoted servant’. BACK

[2] The letter was from Gaetano Bartorelli (dates unknown) offering for sale the memoirs of Manuel Godoy y Alvarez de Faria (1767–1851), Prime Minister of Spain 1792–1798. Godoy, who lived in exile in Rome 1812–1832, published his Memórias del Príncipe de la Paz in 1836 in Paris. Bartorelli suggested the memoirs would be of use for Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[3] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 26 August 1817, Letter 3019. Southey had requested Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609–1674; DNB), The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1816); and James Caulfield (1764–1826; DNB), Cromwelliana; a Chronological Detail of Events in which Oliver Cromwell was Engaged, From the Year 1642 to His Death in 1658 (1810), no. 708 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] The account of the Jesuit missions in Paraguay by Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariae Natione (1784), no. 843 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Benjamin Sydenham (1777–1828), a soldier in India, friend of Marquess Wellesley and Commissioner of the Board of Excise 1809–1819, had sent Southey the papers of his brother, Thomas Sydenham (1780–1816), a soldier who served in India and then Spain 1811–1812, before ending his career as Minister Plenipotentiary at Lisbon 1814–1816. He also was a close friend of Marquess Wellesley, with whom he served in India. The papers were to help Southey with his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[6] Southey was preparing the third volume of his History of Brazil (1810–1819) and reviewing for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[7] Dallas’s manuscript novel was published as Felix Alvarez, Or, Manners in Spain; Containing Descriptive Accounts of Some of the Prominent Events of the Late Peninsular War (1818). It had been sent to Southey via Gooch to assist him in preparing his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[8] The Regent’s daughter, the Princess Charlotte, had died in childbirth, after 18 months of marriage, on 6 November 1817. BACK

[9] Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (c. 480–525), De Consolatione Philosophiae, a dialogue between the author and the character of Lady Philosophy, consisting of both prose and verse. It urged endurance of life’s misfortunes and the certainty of death. Southey’s project eventually became Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[10] These ‘Lines Written Upon the Death of the Princess Charlotte’ were not published until they appeared in The Amulet, or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (London, 1829), pp. 91–92. BACK

[11] Henry Herbert Southey’s infant son Robert, born on 1 June 1817. BACK

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