1761. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 March 1810

1761. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 March 1810 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

Lord Nelson has neither been out of sight, nor out of mind with me. [1]  Mr Stanier Clarkes twenty-pounder indeed is so much of a fixture in its nature that it is not easily put out of sight. [2]  I have thought over the subject deliberately, – & am willing to undertake it, provided you but it will not be possible to get it ready before the end of the year. There is a sheet wanting in this huge copy of Clarkes book, which it will be necessary to have supplied, as it relates to the battle of Copenhagen, [3]  & is therefore essential to the main thread of the history; – it is Vol. 2. xrn 3X.

Your parcel reached me some days ago. I am much obliged to you for inclosing in it some interesting pamphlets which would not otherwise have fallen in my way. The defence of Oxford is indeed as you stated it very very able. [4]  Is it Copplestones? I know not to whom else to ascribe it. I believe if the Edinburgh Review were brought to the touch stone, it might be proved to be as deficient in all other points as he has shown it to be in classical acumen, – except upon those subjects where they have had Playfairs [5]  assistance. Its morals & its politics are equally base, – its principles of taste absolutely below contempt, & notwithstanding Sidney Smith [6]  has sworn anew to every iota in the nine & thirty articles I do so think <suspect> the character of the work for religion will remain pretty much the same as before.

believe me

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

Keswick. March 18. 1810.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 21 MA 21/ 1810
Endorsement: 1810 March 18th/ Southey R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Murray had asked Southey to write a Life of Nelson, published in 1813 it was an expansion of his article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[2] James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809). BACK

[3] The British defeat of a Danish-Norwegian fleet on 2 April 1801. BACK

[4] Edward Copleston (1776–1849; DNB), Professor of Poetry at Oxford University 1802–1812, was engaged in a prolonged public debate with the Edinburgh Review. His A Reply to the Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review against Oxford (Oxford, 1810), reacted to an attack on ‘classical learning as currently taught in England’, Edinburgh Review, 15 (October 1809), 40–53. Copleston noted in response that no one would ‘apply to the Edinburgh Review for information about the Classics’ (Reply, p. 118). For the reviewers’ reaction see Edinburgh Review, 16 (April 1810), 158–187. Copleston followed up with A Second Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1810) and A Third Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1811). Southey was possibly under the misapprehension that Copleston was the author of ‘Replies to the Calumnies Against Oxford’, Quarterly Review, 5 (August 1810), 177–206. He was not. The review had been written by the Oxford theologian John Davison (1777–1834; DNB). BACK

[5] The mathematician and geologist John Playfair (1748–1819; DNB). BACK

[6] Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), Anglican clergyman and one of the founders of, and leading contributors to, the Edinburgh Review. He had been compelled to take up residence near his Yorkshire parish of Foston in June 1809. His Sermons, published the same year, were orthodox in their theology. BACK

People mentioned

Copleston, Edward (1776–1849) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)