3149. Robert Southey to John Murray, 9 June 1818

3149. Robert Southey to John Murray, 9 June 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 9 June. 1818

My dear Sir

Thank you for your letter & its inclosures. – Evelyn in a few days. [1]  – Dobrizhoffer has been published far too long to be reviewed as an original work: (1784) there is a German translation, – & a Spanish one is among some manuscripts now upon sale in Parliament Street. [2]  I should think it remarkable that no English translation should have been made, if it were not the case with so many of the very best books of travels, – for instance Chardin, Pietro della Valle, Tavernier, & Niebuhr, have only been translated in fragments, or miserably abridged, [3]  & it would be easy to name many more of inferior celebrity but of great intrinsic worth.

A narrative poem in eight-lined verse has been sent me by a Lady who is not in circumstances to incur the risque of publishing it. The story has few models & is deeply tragical, – there is a great deal of womanly feeling in it, with sweetness of thought & of expression, – & a very striking conclusion. The length about 2500 lines, – it would be the better for curtailment, & has xxx sundry incorrectnesses which require weeding. The authoress is an entire stranger to me, but I have been so much interested by her letter & her poem, that if you think it worth looking at, I will take some trouble in advising her how to correct it. [4]  Give me a line in reply to this, I intreat you, at your earliest convenience.

I have a good many subjects in preparation for you out of the common route. The Jesuits in particular will be well timed. [5]  – I have just received a letter from Wynn concerning the Copyright Committee: [6]  he thinks an article upon that rascally subject in the Christmas number, would be of great consequence towards enabling our friends to take the field with effect in the ensuing session & this I am very willing to undertake, – a clear, plain, pointed matter of fact statement is what is wanted, – something which without using one harsh word or uncourteous phrase toward the opposite part should make every unconcerned person regard the case as it xx really is, – something which differs only from a common robbery in this point, – that the robbers have influence enough to take our property by {stand up} acts of parliament make us deliver xxx our goods {property} by acts of parliament. [7]  For Heavens sake do not suffer Croker to interfere in this matter, – he is on the side of the thieves.

The Monastic ‘British Monachism’ is an admirable text. [8]  Many years ago I began to collect materials for a History of the Monastic Orders, – a vaster subject than I shall ever live to compleat according to my original plan, – but in a more popular form I could make a xx put together some most extraordinary Sketches of Monastic History. [9] 

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 JU 13/ 1818
Watermark: R E & S BATH 1814
Endorsement: 1818 June 9 Southey, R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s review of Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn (1818), Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 1–54. BACK

[2] On 23 May 1818 (Letter 3138), Southey had asked Bedford to examine some manuscripts for sale as part of a large collection of Spanish texts. Bedford had reported that a manuscript on the Abipone tribe of South America was not an original work but a translation into Spanish of a book Southey already owned – an 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 his library. A translation into German was produced by Anton Kreil (d. 1833), Geschichte der Abiponer, Einer Berittenen und Kriegerischen Nation in Paraquay (Vienna, 1783–1784). A Spanish translation was not published and the first English translation was finally made, at Southey’s suggestion, by Sara Coleridge, An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822). BACK

[3] Partial or abridged translations of these travel writers into English include: Jean Chardin (1643–1713), The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East Indies. The First Volume, Containing The Author’s Voyage from Paris to Ispahan (1686); Pietro della Valle (1586–1652), Travels into East-India and Arabia Deserta (1665) (no. 2894 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library); Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605–1689), The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, Baron of Aubonne (1677); Carsten Niebuhr (1733–1815), Travels through Arabia and Other Countries in the East (1792). BACK

[4] Caroline Bowles to Robert Southey, 25 April 1818, enclosing her poem, ‘Ellen FitzArthur’; see Edward Dowden (ed.), The Correspondence of Robert Southey with Caroline Bowles (Dublin and London, 1881), pp. [1]–4. BACK

[5] Southey did not write on the Jesuits for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[6] The House of Commons Select Committee examining the workings of the Copyright Act (1814) reported in 1818. BACK

[7] Southey’s article on the ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’ appeared in the Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213. Southey (and Murray) particularly disliked the legal requirement that copies of all works should be given to the 11 copyright libraries. BACK

[8] Southey reviewed Thomas Dudley Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817) in Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. BACK

[9] Southey did not write this book. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)