1958. Robert Southey to Neville White, 27 September 1811

1958. Robert Southey to Neville White, 27 September 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick, Sept. 27. 1811.

My Dear Neville,

James left us this morning. I went with him a few miles, for the sake of showing him the Lake of Thirlmere, in a way seldom seen by travellers. He was exceedingly delighted with it; and, as he had three waterfalls, all very fine ones, to see in the course of the morning, this day, notwithstanding it is that of his departure, will not be the least agreeable that he has passed in this country. He was very fortunate in the weather, and saw nearly as much as the shortness of the time permitted; but enough has been left unseen to supply a proper motive for another journey and a longer stay. Remember your sisters are to visit us next midsummer, and I hope your excellent mother will accompany them. [1]  When shall we see you?

Thank you for the Buenos Ayres papers, which are to me very interesting and very valuable, but except by your means would have been inaccessible. [2]  I am not yet at work upon the third year’s “Register,” [3]  which is rather owing to the Edinburgh publishers than to myself. The success of the book, as a bookselling concern, seems to me rather doubtful; its failure would make more difference in my emolument than in my occupation, for I am now so sensible of the utility of the book, and so much interested by it, that if this concern were broken up I should continue my labours, and go on with this contemporary history, as one of the most important works which I could possibly bequeath to after times.

What has been the event of that painful business which you communicated to me when last we met? [4]  It would give me very great pleasure to hear that it had been settled as you hoped it might he, and as, indeed, it must be if one of the parties has any right sense either of honour or duty.

Make my respects to Mr. Park, [5]  and tell him I did receive the book he mentions, and that if I did not write to acknowledge it, as certainly was my intention, I take shame to myself for the neglect. [6]  Lovell’s few other pieces which I could not find in time for his purpose, have since turned up, and shall be sent to him the first opportunity that occurs of conveying them.

We had a long and weary round before we reached home. I left Mrs. S. at Bristol, and went to Taunton; returned to her, and went successively to Llanthony in Monmouthshire, to Ludlow, to Teddesley in Staffordshire, to Llangedwin in Montgomeryshire, and to Liverpool, halting a few days with our friends at each of these places. We dined also at Llangollen with the celebrated ladies of the place, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby. The singularity of their history, the highly ornamented state of their grounds, and the elegance of everything about their cottage, made this a very interesting visit.

James will tell you that we are all well, God be thanked. He will tell you also, perhaps, something of my new poem. [7]  I am going on with it in a manner which satisfies me; and very probably the bearing which it has upon the present state of things, and the possibility that if it were published it might tend to excite in others the same ardent sympathy with the Spaniards which I feel myself, may induce me to devote more time to its completion than I otherwise should do. Remember us when you write to Nottingham, and remember me also to Josiah Condor.

Yours affectionately,

Robert Southey.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856)
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 233–243. BACK

[1] Mary White, née Neville (1755–1833). She had three daughters; Hannah White (c. 1779–1813); Frances Moriah White (1791–1854); Catherine Bailey White (1795–1889). BACK

[2] Copies of the Gazeta de Buenos Ayres, which ran from 7 June 1810 to 12 September 1821. BACK

[3] i.e. the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, published in 1812. BACK

[4] Details are unclear, but this was connected to a woman of White’s acquaintance who had got involved with an unsuitable man; see Southey to Neville White, 16 November 1811, Letter 1984. BACK

[5] The antiquary and bibliographer Thomas Park (1758/9–1834; DNB). BACK

[6] Probably a volume, or volumes, of Park’s Sharpe’s Edition of the Works of the British Poets (1808–1813). (Southey’s copy was no. 356 in the sale catalogue of his library.) Park had included a handful of poems by Lovell; Bristol, A Satire (1794) was added to the selection published in later editions. BACK

[7] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), which invited parallels between the defeat of Moorish invaders by Spanish patriots in the eighth century and contemporary events in Spain. BACK

People mentioned

White, James (1787–1885) (mentioned 2 times)
Conder, Josiah (1789–1855) (mentioned 1 time)
Lovell, Robert (1771–1796) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
Ponsonby, Sarah (1755–1832) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Llanthony (mentioned 1 time)
Teddesley (mentioned 1 time)