2045. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 23 February 1812

2045. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 23 February 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby. 23. 1812.

I have a letter this evening from Murray which I would inclose to you, if it were not for the time which would be lost in sending it round for a frank. The sum of it is that it would relieve his mind from some very natural & very unpleasant feelings, if you would allow him to procure another publisher for this Commentary, into whose hands he will deliver it ready for publication, & with whom he will settle for you. [1]  This is purely a matter of feeling & not of fear, – he is, on the score of the Quarterly Review, under obligations to Canning, – & would on that account have refused to print <publish> any personal attack upon him, – this manuscript he never read, looking forward to the perusal of the book as a pleasure. – What he wishes will be no inconvenience to you, & no doubt you will readily assent to it, – “I confess, he says, I hesitatingly propose this, for I fear even you could not now speak of this to the author in any way that would not offend him. I will however leave it entirely to you, & if you say nothing about it, I will publish it without any farther trouble to you or Mr L. however painful, from my peculiar situation, if will prove to me.” – These are his words. For my own part I should feel any fear of giving offence as the only thing which could occasion it. It is but for you to signify your assent to Murray in a single line, & the business is settled without any injury to any persons feelings. That it is purely a matter of feeling with him I verily believe. His not reading the MSS. was a compliment to the author, & a mark of confidence in him. [2] 

I have conceived a poem which will be more difficult of execution than Kehama, [3]  if I should ever feel at leisure to execute it. It is to lay the scene paint such a future state as should be consistent with the hopes & reason of the best & wisest men. An earthly story must be chosen, in order to have the interest of earthly passions, – but the point of view should be from the next stage of existence. Perhaps this is not very intelligible, – such as it is however it is the seed which I a from which I am confident a fine tree might arise.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Walter Savage Landor Esqr/ Bath
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Art Library, London, MS Forster 48 D.32 MS 24. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Forster, Walter Savage Landor. A Biography, 2 vols (London, 1869), I, pp. 365–366 [in part]. BACK

[1] Landor’s Commentary on Memoirs of Mr Fox, which was ostensibly a response to John Bernard Trotter’s (1775–1818; DNB) laudatory account of his erstwhile employer Charles James Fox. Although the Commentary was printed, Murray eventually suppressed its publication, refusing to issue a book that attacked the Tory government and was dedicated to James Madison (1751–1836), President of the United States 1809–1817, with whom Britain was about to go to war. The Commentary was not published until 1907. See Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 10 February 1812 (Letter 2034), 11 February 1812 (Letter 2035) and 21 February 1812 (Letter 2043), and Robert Southey to John Murray 15 February 1812 (Letter 2039), 18 February 1812 (Letter 2041). BACK

[2] On 7 March 1812, Southey apologised to Murray for being ‘however unwittingly, the means of involving you in an unpleasant & troublesome business’ (Letter 2055). BACK

[3] The Curse of Kehama (1810). The poem outlined here was not written. BACK

People mentioned

Murray, John Samuel (1778–1843) (mentioned 2 times)
Canning, George (1770–1827) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)