2135. Robert Southey to John Murray, 14 August 1812
2135. Robert Southey to John Murray, 14 August 1812 *
Keswick. Aug 14. 1812
My dear Sir
Thank you for the Calamities.  Our friend D’Israeli has made more suo  a very amusing book, upon which I rather want convenient leisure than inclination to make a suitable comment. Shall I postpone the Spanish Ballads  for this more popular subject, & give wings to his work? – I should like to enlarge a little upon the subject of Literary Property, on which he has touched, in my opinion, with proper feeling. Certainly I am a party concerned, – I should like to say something upon the absurd purposes of the Literary Fund  xxx with its despicable ostentation of patronage; & to build a sort of National Academy in the air, in the hope that Canning might one day lay its foundations in a more solid manner. – And I could say something on the other side of the picture, showing, that altho literature in almost all cases is the worst trade to which a man can possibly betake himself, it is the best & wisest of all pursuits for those whose provision is already made, & of all amusements for those who have leisure to amuse themselves. It has long been my intention to leave behind me my own Memoirs, as a post obit for my family, – a wise intention no doubt & one which it is not very prudent to procrastinate.  Should this ever be compleated it would be a exhibit a case directly in contrast to D’Israelis view of the subject. I chose literature for my own profession, – with every advantage of education it is true, but under more disadvantages perhaps of every other kind than any of the persons in his catalogue. I have never regretted the choice. The usual censure ridicule & even calumnies which it has drawn upon me never gave me a moments pain, – but on the other hand literature has given me friends among the best & wisest & most celebrated of my contemporaries it has given me distinction, – if I live twenty years longer I do not doubt that it will give me fortune, & if it pleases God to take me before my family are provided for, I doubt as little that in my names & in my works they will find a provision.
Blanco’s is an able & interesting article,  – wonderfully free from any thing which could betray the foreigner, – & because he is a foreigner free from any of those affectations & barbarisms with which modern English is over-run. – Dr Eveleigh & his friends may <will> be pleased with the account of his sermons,  – every body else I suspect would be as well pleased if the four pages which it occupies had been devoted to any thing else, – even to more Greek, which has its value for some; tho for one only in ten thousand. Articles of classical erudition are beyond a doubt necessary now & then for the character of the Journal, but I think it would be prudent to avoid all divinity subjects, except upon important occasions. Roscoe is properly handled,  & I feel no commiseration for Mrs Barbauld.  Warburton  is a very able article tho, in my judgement, full of errors. It astonished me to see his Julian  called convincing, – & the writer when he refers to Meursius  as having the Warburtons Index for the xxx erudition which he has brought to bear upon the mysteries, should have referred to Terrasson  also as the source of his hypothesis.  My own article is the worse for some omissions.  There was a passage from Babœufs  papers showing in what manner the soliders were to be seduced; – perhaps it was thought dangerous, – I rather judged it useful as a warning. I miss a tribute of praise to Me Roland  which would have given a made the impartial judgement of the writer more apparent, & I regret the alteration of one word which converts into praise of Mr Pitt a sentence carefully constructed for the purpose of avoiding any such meaning, without in any degree offending his friends. I wrote whatever may have been the merits of the pilot, – it stands transcendant as may have been &c. This is a vexatious alteration.  Among my friends I never make any secret of what I write in the Quarterly, & they know, that except as far as regards the measure of the Union, I have no respect for the memory of Mr Pitt. – To them therefore I must enter into a mortifying explanation, – or be content to lie under the intolerable imputation of having belied my own principles.
I want to give you a Life of Wesley,  – the history of the dissenters must be finished by this time & will supply <afford> an opportunity 
believe me my dear Sir
Yrs very truly
* Address: To/ Mr
Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 17 AU 17/ 1812
Watermark: IPING/ 1806
Endorsement: 1812 August 14th/ Southey. R –
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. 37–39; Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends, 2 vols (London, 1891), I, pp. 237-238 [in part]. BACK
 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. Southey’s article touched on many of the matters mentioned in the first paragraph of his letter, including copyright. BACK
 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
 John Eveleigh (1748–1814; DNB), Sermons on Various Subjects (1810), reviewed in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 293–297. BACK
 Roscoe’s A Letter to Henry Brougham, Esq. M.P. on the Subject of Reform in the Representation of the People in Parliament (1811) and An Answer to a Letter from Mr. John Merritt on the Subject of Parliamentary Reform (1812), reviewed in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 265–281. BACK
 Barbauld’s Eighteen Hundred and Eleven. A Poem (1811), reviewed in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 309–313. BACK
 An appraisal of an edition of the Works of William Warburton (1698–1779; DNB), in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 383–407. BACK
 William Warburton, Julian: or a Discourse Concerning the Earthquake and Fiery Eruption (1750), praised in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 404. The book was a very controversial endorsement of the idea that divine intervention stopped Julian (331–363; Roman Emperor 361–363) rebuilding the Temple at Jerusalem. BACK
 Johannes Meursius (1579–1639), Dutch classical scholar. See Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 400, on the debt Warburton’s work on the Eleusinian Mysteries in his Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated on the Principles of a Religious Deist (1737–1741) owed to Meursius. Warburton suggested that the final secret revealed to the initiates of the Mysteries was the existence of one God; and that Book 6 of the Aeneid was a ‘figurative description’ of the Eleusinian Mysteries. BACK
 Biographie Moderne: Lives of Remarkable Characters who have Distinguished themselves from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Present Time (1811), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 412–438. BACK
 The French revolutionary and writer Marie-Jeanne Roland de la Platiere (1754–1793). Southey had long admired her. BACK
 The offending sentence about the late Prime Minister William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB) was in Quarterly Review, 7 (June 1812), 413. BACK
 Southey’s biography of John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB), the founder of Methodism, appeared in 1820. BACK
 Southey’s review of David Bogue (1750–1825; DNB) and James Bennet (1774–1862; DNB), The History of Dissenters, from the Revolution in 1688–to the Year 1808 (1812); Wilson’s History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches (1808–1814); Neal’s History of the Puritans (1812), in Quarterly Review, 10 (October 1813), 90–139. BACK