2097. Robert Southey to John Murray, 19 May 1812

2097. Robert Southey to John Murray, 19 May 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 19. 1812

My dear Sir

I have laid the first stone of an article [1]  for our next number upon the French Revolution, a subject most mournfully well-timed. The direful state of the populace which this late deplorable event [2]  has disclosed, tho it may have surprized me less than it has done most people, has alarmed me more deeply, because I have long distinctly seen the causes which were at work to produce it. The counteracting causes on which my hopes were founded have not kept pace with them. At this moment nothing but the army preserves us from the most dreadful of all imaginable calamities, – an insurrection of the poor against the rich, – & whether how long the army may be depended upon is a question which I scarcely dare ask myself. Of this I feel certain, that unless the most vigorous measures be speedily taken against those x who by their speeches & writings are instigating the mob to rebellion, – it will be too late, & they who may survive the coming horrors, will see that the abuse of liberty is uniformly & inevitably punished by the loss of liberty. – The danger, I will show in the Quarterly, – but I believe the best means of stirring up the public mind is thro the newspapers, & there I shall not fear to recommend measures, which would bring an raise an outcry against the review.

You seem to think the Register [3]  is off my hands; – when it is you will not be ten days without receiving the first part of Nelsons Life. [4]  There is nearly a months work before me, even if the affairs of S America be postponed till the following year, – which I am disposed to do because it will equally suit the size of both volumes, & my own convenience. [5]  – But you may depend upon Nelson & the B of the Church [6]  in the course of the summer.

If Blancos article upon Sp. America [7]  had appeared in this number I should have prepared Humboldt [8]  for the next, – but it will be better that the two articles should not appear at the same time. D’Israelis book [9]  is a tempting subject, – but are you prudent in tempting me with it when I have so many topics in hand? – The French Revolution – the Poor [10]  – the Poets, [11]  – the Roncesvalles [12]  – Humboldt &c &c – better let them be cleared off before I let myself be drawn astray by any new themes for thought.

I wish you all the success from your projected removal which you can anticipate. Miller [13]  has made his fortune by publishing for the rich. It is a sure method, – & if Government will act with sufficient vigour to protect the rich, I trust you will soon find it so.

believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

When I returned Rodds book [14]  I sent with it a thin MSS. [15]  directed to my brother Capt. Southey, requesting you to forward the it to him with a set of the Review from its commencement, directed to <him at> Samuel Castle’s [16]  Esqr Durham. As he has not received it, perhaps the momentous business in which you have been engaged may have put it out of your mind. Three copies of the Origin [17]  were to go with it. – You say nothing of this book, – & I conclude from this that as I expected, it has been a day after the fair. – This reminds me to beg that you will send a copy of it with my compliments to Josiah Conder in Bucklersbury, – a young man of very considerable poetical talent.

– Childe Harolde [18]  I have only heard of.

I have lately received two very gratifying communications from abroad. A packet of manuscripts from the Public Library at Bahia, addressed to me as Author of the Hist: of Brazil, [19]  – & xxx a letter from the Countess of Bureta, who so distinguished herself at Zaragosa. [20]  written in consequence of the account of that siege in the Register, – & inclosing a copy of the last letter received from that city


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 22 MY 22/ 1812
Watermark: shield/ 1806
Endorsement: 1812 May 19th/ Southey: R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A review of Biographie Moderne: Lives of Remarkable Characters who have Distinguished themselves from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Present Time (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 412–438. BACK

[2] The Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, was assassinated on 11 May 1812. BACK

[3] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

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

[5] Southey carried out this intention, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 367–437. BACK

[6] Book of the Church was eventually published in 1824. BACK

[7] Blanco White’s review of William Walton (1783/4–1857; DNB), Present State of the Spanish Colonies; Including a Particular Report of Hispanola, or the Spanish Part of Santo Domingo (1810), in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 235–264. BACK

[8] Southey did not review any of the works of Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) for the Quarterly. BACK

[9] Isaac D’Israeli, Calamities of Authors; Including some Inquiries Respecting their Moral and Literary Characters (1812), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 8 (September 1812), 93–114. BACK

[10] The first of a series of Southeyan articles on the poor appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. BACK

[11] Alexander Chalmers (1759–1834; DNB), The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper (1810), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 11 (July 1814), 480–504; and Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 60–90. BACK

[12] Southey was reviewing Richard Wharton (1764/5–1828), Ronscevalles: A Poem (1812) for the Quarterly. In the event, the review was either not written or was not published. BACK

[13] William Richard Beckford Miller (1769–1844; DNB), publisher of high quality books. In 1812 John Murray bought his premises at 50 Albemarle St. in the West End, copyrights and business for £3822. BACK

[14] Thomas Rodd (1763–1822; DNB), History of Charles the Great and Orlando, and Other Spanish Ballads (1812). BACK

[15] One of the MSS lent to Southey by the merchant Thomas Kinder (c. 1781–1846) and which Tom Southey copied for his brother: Ruy Diaz de Guzman (1558–1629), La Argentina, y Historia de las Descumbrimento de las Provincias de la Rio de la Plata (1612), no. 3826 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Tom Southey’s father-in-law Samuel Castle (d. 1815), a lawyer in Co. Durham. BACK

[17] Southey’s The Origin, Nature and Object, of the New System of Education (1812). BACK

[18] Cantos 1 and 2 of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812–1818) had recently been published by Murray. BACK

[19] Marcos de Noronha e Brito, Conde dos Arcos (1771–1828), Governor General of Bahia 30 September 1810–26 January 1818, had sent a copy of José de Anchieta (1534–1597), Arte de Grammatica da Lingoa mais Usada na Costa do Brasil (1595). This was no. 1530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, inscribed by him: ‘This singularly rare and curious book was sent to me from the Public Library of Bahia de Todos, or Santos, by desire of the Conde des Arcos, then Governor of that Captaincy.’ BACK

[20] María de la Consolación Azlor y Villavicencio (1775–1814), a Spanish aristocrat who took an active role in the two sieges of Zaragoza in 1808–1809. For Southey’s accounts: Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 306–321; and Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 508–527. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)