3121. Robert Southey to [James Stanger], 13 April 1818

3121. Robert Southey to [James Stanger], 13 April 1818⁠* 

My dear Sir

May I request you to give me, or procure from from any of your friends a letter of introduction to the Bishop of Calcutta [1]  for Mr Homfray, [2] Miss Barkers cousin, – the eldest son of Sir Jere. H. a man for whom nature & education have done every thing, – but who having been bred at Eton & at Oxford with the prospect of an ample inheritance, by one of those mutations to which commerce is obnoxious, has his fortune to seek at the age of six or seven & twenty. – Every thing may be said of him as a man of good sense, good principles, & right English spirit. Indeed I have seldom seen a young man who left upon me so favourable an impression.

He goes out with mercantile views, & will need great interest to be allowed to remain there, while a requisition from a Merchant there for allowing him to settle is sent home. I suppose the place is found by his Uncle Mr Wilson, [3]  an adventurous merchant, who looks for great advantages from the opening of the trade. What however I request is a letter recommending him to such notice & good offices as he may be thought to deserve when he is known.

I mention the Bishop, because I believe you know him personally, & tho I do not, he may be disposed to shew more attention to Homfray from knowing that I feel much interested in his welfare. But if you can favour me with any other letters, so much the better. The only persons whom I know in India are in the other presidencies – Sir J. Malcolm [4]  to whom I could have written without scruple, – & my old friend & schoolfellow George Strachey, who is now I believe Chief Secretary at Madras, & whose superior in all good {the best} qualities of heart & understanding it would have been difficult to find when he xxx went out to India about twenty years ago.

I have not been idle during these dark months. And when my paper upon the means of meliorating the lower classes appears, you will see that among other means of sure, easy & practicable reform I have not forgotten the first thing needful. [5] 

All below stairs desire their kindest remembrances.

Believe me my dear Sir

most truly, respectfully & affectionately your

Robert Southey.

Keswick. 13 April 1818.


* Endorsement: Mr Southey/ 13 Apl 1818
MS: Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles. ALS; 2p. (c).
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Fanshaw Middleton (1769–1822; DNB), first Anglican Bishop of Calcutta 1814–1822. BACK

[2] Jeremiah Homfray (1790–1850) was the eldest son of Sir Jeremiah Homfray (1759–1833; DNB), a Welsh ironmaster and speculator in mineral rights, living in Boulogne since being declared bankrupt in 1813. The younger Jeremiah did go out to Calcutta, where he became a leading figure in the development of the Indian coal industry. BACK

[3] Thomas Wilson (1760–1829), whose company traded from 6 Warnford Court, in the City of London. His first wife was Catherine Homfray (1764–1801). BACK

[4] The diplomatist, administrator, soldier and author Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833; DNB), whose works included The History of Persia, from the most Early Period to the Present Time: containing an Account of the Religion, Government, Usages, and Character of the Inhabitants of that Kingdom (1815), reviewed by Southey’s friend, Reginald Heber, in the Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 236–292. Malcolm had served in India since joining the East India Company’s army as an ensign in 1783. At this time he was at the height of his fame, having defeated the Mahratta Confederacy in December 1817 and he was, in effect, the ruler of much of central India 1817–1820. He was later Governor of Bombay 1827–1830. BACK

[5] A paraphrase of Luke 10: 42. Rickman and Southey’s ‘On the Means of Improving the People’ appeared in Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. BACK

People mentioned

Barker, Mary (c. 1780–1853) (mentioned 1 time)
Strachey, George (1776–1849) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)