1964. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 11 October 1811

1964. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 11 October 1811 ⁠* 

My dear Tom,

I wish when Harry comes to Keswick you could contrive to send those gaiters of mine by him, which were left behind us at St Helens, inasmuch as the pantaloons to which they belong are destined for this winters wear, & without those gaiters I know not how my poor hormangorgs are to be kept warm. – This for a beginning as being matter of business. I will now tell you as matter of hepistolary communication that it would rejoice you to see how I am getting on my with my Dutch. I have attacked the two folios of Peter Kolbe, [1]  & as I can make it out with the dictionary so as to read on & get fairly at the contents, I expect to be a good Mynheer by the time I get to the end. It is a great & important step gained. Xx

Pelayo [2]  also is progressive, very much to my satisfaction. You will be impressed with the manner in which a widow is introduced among the ruins of Orense, – a sort of Judith who makes a vow of revenge. The poem will soon reach 1000 lines, & to attain to four figures is as great an epoch in the progress of a poem, as being breeched is in the life of a man.

We have had two good Lakers. Mr Lowe of Ludlow, [3]  a cidevant xxxx merchant at Middelburg in Walcherin. – Stuart sent him here, – he gave me a lesson in Dutch as to the pronunciation. Wakefield, a son of Priscilla Wakefield was the other. [4]  He has published a statistical account of Ireland [5]  – his letter was from Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd, who besides being a man of very considerable genius seems to have a right honest heart.

Poor Grahame! you give me the first news of his death. I fear straitened circumstances & disappointed hopes may have brought on this catastrophe. His understanding was not equal to his genius, & it required the sunshine of a brighter fortune than ever fell to his lot to counteract a natural melancholy, the constitutional mental disease of men whose feelings are stronger than their intellect. At Teddesley I read his poem on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, [6]  not without sorrow at finding how poor a thing it was, – almost utterly worthless. But his Sabbath [7]  will always remain, – & from all his other pieces, about a few rare passages may be culled which the best of us might have been proud to have written. It was but the other day that I was talking with Gooch about the living poets, little thinking that one to whom I assigned so honourable a place among them, was no longer of the number.

Gooch is very probably drinking tea with you at this time. One of or two books of yours were overlookd I perceive when that parcel was tied up, – some other opportunity will offer of conveying them. I have been busy upon the taking part in the controversy about Bell & the Dragon, as you will see in the Quarterly where I have fibbed the Edinburgh (as the Fancy say) most completely, showing it as little mercy as it deserves at my hands. [8]  For the next number I am going to write upon the Inquisition, – a subject upon which I have a great deal of curious matter to bring forth. [9] 

It will require as much interest to get a ship, as it did to get made Commander. I have no correspondence with Croker, – & if the thing can be done it must be thro the same channel as before, – Herries & Bedford, – upon the latter of whom by the bye you should have called that he might have shaken hands with you upon your promotion, – for it originated with him, & without him would not have been obtained.

Today I resumed the long-suspended Life of Nelson [10]  with which I shall hurry on, that Murray may not lose the spring sale. – Copy of the Omniana [11]  was sent off last week, & more is in hand, so that I shall carry that also thro the press in the course of the season. I suppose Kehama [12]  must be nearly ready. Longman wrote the other day to hurry Ballantyne, saying he had only two copies left. Ballantyne the bookseller is using me unhandsomely, a letter concerning money matters which I wrote to him immediately on my return, & which his father [13]  told me was directly forwarded to him in London, he has not thought proper to answer; – a conduct, which if the proper answer should not arrive & bring with it the proper apology, I shall certainly resent.

We shall see Harry of course before he leaves the North. I was most disappointed that Gooch could not stay with me longer. When we shall see you God knows – all I can say is here is room for you all whenever you can come – Ediths love with mine to Sarah & the young one. All well

God bless you


Oct. 11. 1811.


* Address: To/ Captain Southey. R.N./ St Helens/ Auckland/ Durham
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 229–230 [in part]. BACK

[1] Probably Peter Kolbe (1675–1726), Naaukeurige en Uitvoerige Beschryving van de Kaap de Goede Hoop (1727), no. 1669 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] The early incarnation of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[3] Unidentified beyond the information given here. BACK

[4] The philanthropist, land agent and writer on political economy, Edward Wakefield (1774–1854; DNB). His mother was the author and philanthropist Priscilla Wakefield (1750–1832; DNB). BACK

[5] Ireland, Statistical and Political (1812), no. 3094 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Poems on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1810). BACK

[7] The Sabbath (1804). BACK

[8] Southey’s defence of Bell’s system over Lancaster’s (the ‘Dragon’) appeared in the Quarterly Review, 6 (August 1811), 264–304. It was, however, severely edited before publication, and his personal attacks on the Edinburgh Review were removed; see the account in Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. Southey’s wrath had been provoked by an article in the Edinburgh Review, 17 (November 1810), 58–88, which had criticised Bell and proclaimed Lancaster’s methods superior. Southey’s article in the Quarterly formed the basis of his The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education (1812). BACK

[9] The History of the Inquisitions; including the Secret Transactions of those Horrific Tribunals (1810); Letter upon the Mischievous Influence of the Spanish Inquisition as it actually exists in the Provinces under the Spanish Government. Translated from El Español, a periodical Spanish Journal published in London (1811); Narrativa da Perseguição de Hippolyto Joseph Da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça, Natural da Colonia do Sacramento, no Rio-da-Prata, prezo e Processado em Lisboa pelo pretenso Crime de Fra-Maçon, ou Pedreiro Livre (1811), Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 313–357. BACK

[10] Life of Nelson (1813), an expansion of Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[11] Southey and Coleridge, Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores (1812). BACK

[12] The second edition of The Curse of Kehama, 1811. BACK

[13] John Ballantyne (1743–1817), a general merchant. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

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