1771. Robert Southey to John Murray, 22 April 1810

1771. Robert Southey to John Murray, 22 April 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 22. 1810.

My dear Sir

Your letter with its very liberal inclosure arrived a few hours before the parcel with the Life of Tasso &c. I thank you very sincerely for a beautiful book, of which I have seen enough to promise myself much pleasure for its perusal, & you an article that shall not disgrace the Quarterly. [1] 

The Tongataboo-Book has also reached me. [2]  Of this I will send you an account within the month, – perhaps too an article about Grahames dismal book, in which I will endeavour to amuse the reader, keep their <his> attention upon the subject, & yet lead it from the author, – for sorry am I to say that his Georgics are literally good for nothing. [3]  I wish it were in my power to do something more, – but I am close at work upon the Register, [4]  – which tho a very interesting I have found a very laborious undertaking: & I am also carrying my Hindoo poem [5]  thro the press. Both these employments press upon me at present. For your seventh number I purpose to be ready with either the Methodist or the African article, [6]  – for both of which I have collected copious & good materials.

Respecting Malthus [7]  I can speak without the slightest doubt or hesitation. The book is as worthless as it is mischievous, as much to be despised as it is to be detested. The subject will <may> naturally be introduced at the close of the Missionary Papers, – but should there be a new edition of published before that time – I will take the opportunity, & give a death blow to the philosophist, or philosophicide, – the most mischievous of all the breed; – not for his abilities, – but because his system accords so well with the feelings of a selfish & sensual generation. [8] 

Believe me if it were possible I would exert myself for your next number, – for I xxxx feel myself personally obliged to you, & that in many ways.

I should think the last number likely to please every body except those persons whose party feelings make them believe in nothing but the Edinburgh Review. Twice I trace Barrow’s [9]  hand, – that is to say his knowledge, & means of information. But I believe the note p. 195 & the passage referring to it are unfounded, & that they repeat an old calumny which has been disproved. I cannot tell when or where the authenticity of Gemeli Carreris Travels was established, but that it has been established I am almost certain. [10] 

If the sketch of Nelsons life [11]  has satisfied the public I have no fear of producing one which will answer your object & be as regular a part of the young midshipmans furniture as his Hamilton Moore [12]  – It is needless to say that I will do my best, because I always do my best endeavour to do that, – the subject is the best possible & the materials compleat.

Some of your books I shall send off [MS torn] tomorrows waggon, with many thanks for them. Among the rest Azara [13]  & Grahame, [14]  – of both which I have copies of my own.

This Journal of Veesons [15]  is deeply interesting – I will give its whole essence in a condensed form. – If there There is no subject on which I am so well read as in the history of savage man.

believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 25 AP 25/ 1810
Endorsement: 1810 April 22/ Southey R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Black (1777–1825), Life of Torquato Tasso; with an Historical and Critical Account of His Writings (1810), no. 200 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey did not review it for the Quarterly. BACK

[2] George Vason (1771/2–1838), An Authentic Narrative of Four Years’ Residence at Tongataboo, One of the Friendly Islands (1810), used by Southey in his review of Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands, Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61 (esp. 36–37); Southey’s more detailed appraisal of Vason is in Quarterly Review, 3 (May 1810), 440–455. BACK

[3] James Grahame, British Georgics (1809), Quarterly Review, 3 (May 1810), 456–461. BACK

[4] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810). BACK

[5] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[6] Southey’s review of Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. The article on South African missions was not written. It might have been inspired by accounts of the Moravians’ and London Missionary Society’s work in the Cape of Good Hope. BACK

[7] The political economist Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834; DNB). The ‘book’ was his Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798, it had gone into four editions by 1807. A fifth edition was published by Murray in 1817. BACK

[8] Southey used the first of a series of articles on the poor, Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356, as ‘an attack upon Malthus’, amongst others; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 January 1813, Letter 2199. BACK

[9] John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), author and promoter of exploration. A regular contributor to the Quarterly, his articles appeared in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 21–43 and 194–205. The latter was a review of his own Voyage à la Cochinchine, par les Iles de Madère, de Ténériffe et du Cap Verd, le Bresil et l’Ile de Java (1807). BACK

[10] Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651–1725), Italian traveller and adventurer. The authenticity of his Giro del Mondo (1699) was once questioned, but it is now thought to be genuine. Barrow’s note, Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 195 n. *, had repeated the idea that Careri had written an account ‘without setting foot in any’ of the countries he described. BACK

[11] Southey’s review of John Charnock (1756–1806; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of Lord Viscount Nelson, &c., &c., &c.; with Observations, Critical and Explanatory (1806); James Harrison (d. 1847), The Life of Lord Nelson (1806); T. O. Churchill (fl. 1800–1823), The Life of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronté, &c (1808); and 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); see Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. It was later expanded into a full-scale Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[12] John Hamilton Moore (1738–1807), The New Practical Navigator and Daily Assistant (1772), essential reading for any midshipman. BACK

[13] Felix Manuel de Azara (1742–1821), Spanish solider, engineer and naturalist. Southey was particularly interested in his writings on Paraguay and owned copies of his Essais sur l’Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupedes de la Province du Paraguay (1801) and Voyages dans l’Amerique Meridionale depuis 1781, jusqu’ en 1801 (1809), nos 89 and 90 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. He did not review Azara for the Quarterly, but did make use of him in numerous writings, including the History of Brazil and the Tale of Paraguay. BACK

[14] James Grahame, British Georgics (1809), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 3 (May 1810), 456–461. The book was no. 1152 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] The book on Tongataboo by George Vason. BACK

People mentioned

Grahame, James (1765–1811) (mentioned 2 times)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)