1963. Robert Southey to John Murray, 10 October 1811

1963. Robert Southey to John Murray, 10 October 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. Oct. 10. 1811.

Dear Sir

A friend of mine for whose genius I have the highest possible respect, & to whom I have dedicated Kehama, [1]  in testimony of that respect, – wishes to publish a tragedy, called Count Julian, [2]  – it is upon the story of Don Roderick which Scott has now made popular. [3]  He applied originally to Longmans house, & they declined having any thing to do <with> it, not from any opinion of the demerits of the piece (which they have not seen) – & certainly not from any apprehension of loss, – for the cost of publication is to him a matter of indifference. [4]  I believe they regretted this when they heard the manner in which I spoke both of him & his play, of which I possess an uncorrected manuscript. – It is rather a fine dramatic poem than a good play, – but its merits are of the highest class, & its it contains passages which for splendour & beauty have never been & never will be surpassed.

I have a letter from him this evening saying he shall be obliged to me if I “can tell him of any bookseller who will print this play, without giving him any more trouble than arises from correcting the sheets.” These are his words. – I should naturally have first applied to Longman, but what has passed upon the subject precludes that. I therefore now apply to you, & request to know if you will be his publisher. –– I will review it, & make it the subject of as good an article upon the drama as I am capable of producing. My advice to him will be to print only 250 copies, because it will be admired by the few, but not popular with the many.

Part of my Essay upon Bell & the Dragon was sent off on Friday last, the conclusion on Sunday, – both undercover to Mr Croker. [5]  I have given the enemy some home-blows, such as he deserves at my hands.

Another subject has occurred <to> me, – taking the Reports of the Society for bettering the condition of the Poor, – to give an account of what has been done in the real cause of reform by the true friends of this country & their fellow-creatures, – & to point out what remains to be done. – an Essay upon the Happiness of Nations. [6] 

Tomorrow I resume my labour upon Nelson. [7] 

Yrs very truly

R Southey


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 11 OC 11/ 1811
Watermark: shield/ 1806
Endorsement: 1811 Oct 10/ Southey R.
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 9–10. BACK

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

[2] Landor’s Count Julian: A Tragedy (1812). It was published by Murray. BACK

[3] Scott’s Vision of Don Roderick (1811). Both this and Count Julian covered similar territory to that in Southey’s Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[4] See Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 19 July 1811, Letter 1940. BACK

[5] Southey advocated the educational system of Andrew Bell over that of Joseph Lancaster in his review of Joseph Fox (1775–1816; DNB), A Comparative View of the Plans of Education as detailed in the Publications of Dr. Bell and Mr. Lancaster, and Remarks on Dr. Bell’s Madras School, and Hints to the Managers and Committees of Charity and Sunday Schools, on the Practicability of extending such Institutions upon Mr. Lancaster’s Plan, 3rd edn (1811); Herbert Marsh (1757–1839; DNB), A Sermon, Preached in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London, on Thursday, June 13, 1811. To which is Added, a Collection of Notes and Illustrations (1811); Reynold Gideon Bouyer (1741–1826; DNB), A Comparative View of the two New Systems of Education of the Infant Poor, in a Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Officialty of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, at Berwick-upon-Tweed, on Tuesday, May 12, 1811 (1811), in Quarterly Review, 6 (August 1811), 264–304. (This number of the Quarterly was published in October 1811.) The article was heavily censored by Gifford prior to publication and personal attacks on the Edinburgh Review were removed; see the account in Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

[6] The Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. The first of a series of Southeyan articles on the poor, which appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356, was intended as ‘an attack upon Malthus’, amongst others; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 January 1813, Letter 2199. It was republished in an expanded, retitled form as ‘On the State of the Poor, the Principle of Mr. Malthus’ Essay on Population, and the Manufacturing System’ in Southey’s Essays, Moral and Political, 2 vols (London, 1832), I, pp. 75–155. BACK

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

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)