1971. Robert Southey to John Murray, 23 October 1811

1971. Robert Southey to John Murray, 23 October 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. Oct 23. 1811.

My dear Sir

I know too well the necessity of subordination in a Review, to complain of any curtailment that may be thought expedient in any of my contributions, – however much my opinion may differ concerning the expediency. – Yet upon this occasion the Philistines are so compleatly delivered into my hands, – that it would be unjust to a good cause to let them escape so easily. I have more to say upon the war of Bell & the Dragon. – The best way in which it could be said would be by enlarging what is already written, so at least it appears to me at present. Some three months hence when the present number shall have done its work & had its seperate sale, it would might serve the Review rather than injure it, if the article, enlarged as it would be, were published separately. [1]  The Edinburgh did so with their attack upon Cobbett. [2]  But if you think otherwise, it will not be difficult for me to arrange my materials in some other form. In whatever form it appears it will be the heaviest blow that ever the Edinburgh has received. [3] 

In proposing this to your consideration I must beg you to regard the interest of the Review exclusively, & think nothing of my convenience.

The proposed pamphlett, written wholly new or partly so, may lead to something farther, – for I will throw the gauntlett to the Enemy, & if he takes it up – it is at his per peril. Jeffray little knows of what stuff I am made. If I once grapple with him in controversy it will be to break every bone in his body. Never did men so commit themselves as they have done upon this question, & Copplestones dose [4]  will be but a seasoning to the drastics which I am prepared to administer.

Dr Bell desires me to say that Henry Manwell, Master of the School of Industry, Paradise Street, Marylebone [5]  has 100 copies of the ‘Instructions” [6]  if you will be so good as to send for them; & Perhaps there may be some at Gowers Walk. [7]  He likewise requests that you would send him two copies of this Number of the Review by coach, to Keswick.

Your great parcel arrived yesterday. Iceland had better wait till Sir G Mackenzies [8]  work appears. For the Poor Article I shall want Sir F. M. Edens hist: of the Poor Laws, [9]  & the Reports of the Society for bettering their condition. [10]  There is no hurry for this. My hands are full, but my head is fuller.

Yrs very truly

R Southey.

One thing I have too long neglected to ask. If there be in existence a copy of the article of Pasley [11]  as it was first set up, – or if the MSS. be not destroyed, – I should be very glad to have it in my possession. Because I must say for myself what has been unsaid for me, in the place of the castrations, – & it would save me both time & trouble could these papers be recovered.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 26 OC 26/ 1811
Watermark: shield/ 1806
Endorsement: 1811 Octr 26/ Keswick / Q R – No 12/ Southey Robt/ article on the poor/ Bell & Dragon
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 10–12. BACK

[1] Southey’s The Origin, Nature and Object, of the New System of Education (1812), an expansion of his advocacy of Andrew Bell’s system over that of Joseph Lancaster’s in Quarterly Review, 6 (August 1811), 264–304. BACK

[2] The Cameleon, or, the Cobbett of 1802, contrasted with the Cobbett of 1807 (1807); an expansion of an article in Edinburgh Review, 10 (July 1807), 386–421. This was a determined attack on the radical William Cobbett, pointing out his inconsistencies. BACK

[3] Southey’s book contained numerous attacks on the Edinburgh Review, but not a planned mock-dedication to Jeffrey. BACK

[4] Edward Copleston had engaged in a prolonged public debate with the Edinburgh. His A Reply to the Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review against Oxford (Oxford, 1810), reacted to an attack on ‘classical learning as currently taught in England’, Edinburgh Review, 15 (October 1809), 40–53. Copleston noted in response that no one would ‘apply to the Edinburgh Review for information about the Classics’ (Reply, p. 118). For the reviewers’ reaction see Edinburgh Review, 16 (April 1810), 158–187. Copleston followed up with A Second Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1810) and A Third Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1811). BACK

[5] Henry Manwell (dates unknown), was a protégée of Dr Bell’s and, since 1809, the Master of the Marylebone Day School of Industry, a school for poor boys and girls, founded in 1791 to teach them a trade. BACK

[6] Printed copies of Andrew Bell’s ‘instructions for conducting Madras schools’; see Andrew Bell to Robert Southey, 27 August 1811, in Robert Southey, Caroline Southey, Charles Cuthbert Southey, The Life of the Rev. Andrew Bell, 3 vols (London, 1844), III, p. 630. BACK

[7] The Free School in Whitechapel, built in 1807–1808, to act as a model for Bell’s ‘Madras system’. BACK

[8] Sir George Steuart Mackenzie (1780–1848; DNB), Travels in the Island of Iceland, in the Summer of the Year 1810 (1811); reviewed by Southey alongside Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865; DNB), Journal of a Tour in Iceland, in the Summer of 1809 (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 48–92. BACK

[9] Sir Frederick Morton Eden, 2nd Baronet (1766–1809; DNB), The State of the Poor, or, An History of the Labouring Classes in England from the Conquest to the Present Period; in which are Particularly Considered their Domestic Economy with Respect to Diet, Dress, Fuel, and Habitation; and the Various Plans which, from Time to Time, have been Proposed and Adopted for the Relief of the Poor, first published in three volumes in 1797. BACK

[10] Reports produced by the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. The first of a series of Southeyan articles on the poor appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. BACK

[11] The original (i.e. pre-publication and unaltered by others) MS of Southey’s article on Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810), Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457. The MS article had been deemed by Gifford to be ‘perfectly incorrect and dangerous’. The version published in the Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457, had, therefore, been much altered by Croker, in consultation with Gifford and Murray; see Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 2 times)