2139. Robert Southey to John May, 28 August 1812

2139. Robert Southey to John May, 28 August 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Aug 28. 1812

My dear friend

Your letter led me to expect Mr Walpoles papers [1]  almost soon as itself, & therefore I delayed replying to it till I could announce acknowledge the receipt of these documents. They arrived last night, safe & uninjured.

It would be needless I trust, my dear friend, for me to express the concern which I feel at the information which you communicate respecting your concerns in Brazil, – even if I could tell how to express it. Something of this kind you imparted to me when we saw each other at Richmond last year, but one of your letters led me to believe that that business had been settled to your wishes. Is this then a new evil, or were you deceived when you expected that the affair was terminated? And is there – for I cannot help referring to selfish considerations, – is there any reason for your friends to apprehend that the mismanagement of your concerns at Rio Janeiro may make it necessary for you to go there yourself? – This you would probably regard as the worst consequence, – the loss of property may be repaired, & the success of one year make amends for the xxx reverses of another, but time past in a foreign country – away from our nearest & dearest ties, is an irretrievable loss of comfort & happiness.

The Privilegios [2]  shall be sent up in a few days, – they will serve as ballast to a portion of manuscript on its way to the Press, & I will request Murray to send it to Tavistock Street. Broad Street. I did not make use of this book as had been my intention in the Register for 1810, for a reason which you will find partly expressed in a note to P. 497. [3]  The want of that volume of the Proceedings of the Cortes [4]  gave me a good reason for not entering upon the affairs of Spanish America, – & the size of the volume rendered it highly expedient that I should avail myself of that plea for deferring a subject which requires a long & elaborate chapter. In the natural order of my arrangement Brazil would follow B Ayres & therefore I postponed both together. [5] 

The last Quarterly has only one article of mine. [6]  I wish it were in my power to restore it to its original state, – but what Gifford expunges is lost for ever. It is, as you may suppose, only of particular parts that I make a second copy, most of my articles are sent off as they are written.

Thank you for the purchase of Muratori. [7]  By the price I guess that there is a much longer deficit at the end of the collection than at the beginning, – but if it be only half the set it is cheaply purchased for the intrinsic value of each volume is altogether independent of every other.

From Wm Taylor I have not heard for some time, – tho it is since the losses of which you speak had fallen upon him. When first I heard of them I wrote to him, & his reply was in such a tone as to distress me very much. In consequence I took counsel with a friend of his & mine, – Dr Gooch of Aldermanbury a man whom I wish you knew – & we were about to have raised among his friends an annuity – such which might have prevented him from ever feeling any thing like the apprehension of want. But upon enquiring from those who were ne[MS torn] him & intimate with his concerns it was found that no necessity for this existed, & my last letter from Wm T himself was in a more chearful strain, & spoke of offers of assistance which had only been not accepted only because they were not wanted. Since this his mother [8]  is dead, & this event which in the course of nature has been long to be expected, removes his main cause of anxiety.

Your godchild has had a slight attack of bilious fever, from which she seems this evening, I hope & believe, thoroughly recovered. I regret very much that you should be one of the very few friends who have in the course of nine years have not looked in upon me & seen the comforts with which I am surrounded. You would have been well pleased with Edith-May; who has as good disposition of every kind as I could possibly wish for her.

Remember us to Mrs May & believe me

yours very affectionately

R Southey.


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ Richmond/ Surry
Postmark: E/1SE1/1812’ and‘10o’Clock/ SP.1/ 1812F.N.n
Watermark: crown and anchor/ 1806
Endorsement: No. 162 1812/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 28th August/ recd. 1st September/ ansd. 14th do.
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 124–126. BACK

[1] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. BACK

[2] Possibly a copy of the Cartas dos Privilegios de Nacam Britannica em Portugal (1746). In 1808 Britain had been extended similar trading privileges in Brazil. BACK

[3] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 497. BACK

[4] Southey later acquired the Diario de las Discusiones y Actas de las Cortes, 1810–1813, 19 vols (Cadiz, 1811–13), as it was no. 3288 in the Sale catalogue of his Library. BACK

[5] For Southey’s account of recent revolutions in Spanish America, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 367–421. BACK

[6] 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

[7] Lodovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750). Southey hoped that May could buy Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Ab. Anno 500 Ad Annum 1500, 36 vols (1723–70). In fact, May purchased Muratori’s Annali d’Italia dal Principio dell’era Volgare sino all’anno 1750 (1786); no. 1894 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, though this lacked the first volume; see Southey to John May, 16 September 1812, Letter 2145. Southey later did manage to obtain a copy of Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, no. 1922 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] Sarah Taylor, née Wright (1735/6–1812) had died on 27 April 1812. BACK

People mentioned

Taylor, William (1765–1836) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Edith May (1804–1871) (mentioned 2 times)
Gooch, Robert (1784–1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)