1828. Robert Southey to John Murray, 27 November 1810

1828. Robert Southey to John Murray, 27 November 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov. 27. 1810.

Dear Sir

When I answered your note of the 21st yours of the 13th had not come to hand, – the parcel having been detained somewhere on the road by one of those vexatious delays of which I have often had cause to complain, & for which there is no address.

The remainder of the Methodist Article has been sent off. [1]  The beginning was written some weeks ago, & contains some home attacks upon Sidney Smith x in return for his sneers upon the defence of the Missionaries. [2]  But as I should not perhaps have made them had I known he was <to> receive so compleat a coup-de-grace in your last number, [3]  I have desired Mr Gifford to expunge them, if <should> he thinks (as I apprehend) that they would give the review too much the appearance of personal ill-will, if it continued to slay the slain. – He must be a better judge than I can be; – my gall has been eased by the act of writing, & whether what I have written be published or suppressed is to me a matter of indifference. [4] 

I can make a very different article upon Humboldt from Mr Allens, [5]  but it will require a good deal of reading for which I shall not have time till the spring. The Register [6]  occupies me so closely that whatever I do for the Review till that be finished must be upon subjects which require no expence of time in collecting materials – matters of speculation & philosophy rather than of historical fact. Malthus [7]  is of this kind; on that subject I have nothing to acquire; – my opinions are, formed, decided & founded upon argument as clear as day light. – You shall have Montgomery for your next with a few home thrusts at the New School of Criticism, [8]  – & you shall have the S African Mission [9]  as soon as I can compleat it.

The last number would <must> I think materially raise the sale of the Review, – the concluding article is a masterly one, & tho my opinion of Mr Pitt [10]  differs toto cœli [11]  from that of the author, still I was impressed & delighted by the manner of his eulogism. Never had any piece of party-writing so little that could be thought objectionable <by any person>. A few more such numbers, & the public will xxx cease to swear by MessrsJeffray, Brougham & Co.

Thank you for the Talavera, – a masterly poem in its kind, & much enriched by the additional stanzas. [12]  Thank you also for Mr Huskissons pamphlett [13]  – If any thing could make me comprehend such a subject it would be his perspicuous & logical manner, – but I believe I am as incapable of understanding any thing xxx financial, as some mathematicians have been of understanding poetry – At least when I think I have understood it, it lays no hold on me, & is presently, & almost totally, forgotten. – We have no booksellers in this place except an old huckstering grocer [14]  who gets down the magazines three weeks after date, & whose natural sourness instead of being sweetened by his dealings in sugar, is hyperoxygenated by methodism, – but Longman is continually sending parcels to me, & by that channel any thing which you may have the goodness to think worth my perusal may be sent. – By the next waggon I shall return a parcel of your books.

Nelson [15]  hangs – not upon hand – but rather upon my conscience, for it is long since I have touched it, & only the first chapter is done. There are two points connected with his history on which I stand in need of some additional information, – the <previous> state of Corsica, & the campaign of Buonaparte in Italy, without a full comprehension of which x in my own mind, the importance of Nelsons services in the Agamemnon cannot be fairly represented. If you can procure me the history of those Campaigns, & Boswells book about Corsica, [16]  I shall be able to supply my present deficiency of knowledge.

believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey

Lingard, a Catholick Priest, has published the Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, [17]  which you would do well to consign to Turner’s hands


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 30 NO 30/ 1810
Watermark: shield, 1805; JW & BB
Endorsement: 1810 Novr 27/ Southey R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] 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. BACK

[2] Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), one of the founders of and leading contributors to the Edinburgh Review. Southey is probably referring to the review of John Styles (1782-1849), Strictures on Two Critiques in the Edinburgh Review on the Subject of Methodism and Missions (1809), Edinburgh Review, 27 (April 1809), 40–50. BACK

[3] Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 185–194; which warned Smith: ‘whatever disregard … [he] may affect for us, we shall never fail to pay a due attention to him’ (186). BACK

[4] Southey changed his mind when he saw the published article, complaining that many of his more cutting points against Smith were removed prior to publication; see Southey to Tom Southey, 5 December 1810, Letter 1836. BACK

[5] John Allen (1771–1843; DNB), political and historical writer. Southey attributes to him reviews of recent publications by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) in Edinburgh Review, 16 (April 1810), 62–102; 223–253. BACK

[6] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[7] The political economist Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834; DNB). 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

[8] Southey’s review of James Montgomery, The West Indies, and other Poems (1810) and The Wanderer in Switzerland, and other Poems (1811), Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 405–419 (esp. 405–407). BACK

[9] This did not appear. It might have been inspired by accounts of the Moravians’ and London Missionary Society’s work in the Cape of Good Hope. BACK

[10] The review of Gifford’s biography of William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), in Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 207–271. BACK

[11] i.e. ‘diametrically’, ‘By the whole extent of the heavens’. BACK

[12] A new edition of Croker’s The Battles of Talavera. First published in 1809, the 6th edition of 1810 was ‘Corrected, with Some Additions’. It was written in the style of Scott’s Marmion (1808). BACK

[13] The politician William Huskisson (1770–1830; DNB). The pamphlet was his intervention in the bullion debate, The Question Concerning the Depreciation of Our Currency Stated and Examined (1810). BACK

[14] Probably a reference to the firm of M. and D. Crosthwaite of Keswick. BACK

[15] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[16] James Boswell (1740–1795; DNB), lawyer, diarist and biographer. His Account of Corsica appeared in 1768. Southey acquired a copy, no. 122 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[17] John Lingard (1771–1851; DNB), The Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church (1810); no. 1728 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The review in Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 92–107, was not by Turner but by Thomas Dunham Whitaker (1759–1821; DNB). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)