2141. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 1 September 1812

2141. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 1 September 1812 ⁠* 

Sept. 1. 1812. Keswick

I have desired Longman to bind Madoc [1]  respectably in Russia [2]  & send it to you, that you may write in it what is fitting & consign it with its Valerous companion [3]  to M.R.Guimaraens. [4]  The letter I will delay for four or five days that time may be allowed for this, – & it will be four or five <more> before it reaches its destination in London, for I must inclose it to John May, & send it to Wynn to be franked. [5] 

Bedford left your letter behind him, & it did not arrive till after my last was written.

Mr Barlow [6]  is mistaken in imputing the article in the Quarterly upon the Madras Disturbances to me. [7]  I do not know who wrote it. But you have probably seen by this time that the opinion which I have formed upon the subject is by no means favourable to Sir George. [8]  I perused several pamphletts, & went thro the Parliamentary Documents with great patience, – & certainly if there was any bias in my mind it was towards him, – the conduct of the army having been so perilous & so utterly indefensible that I could have wished to have found his conduct as proper in all its parts, as it was when things came to extremities. The opinion which xxxx I was led to form was in no little degree strengthened by a long memorial among the Parl. Proc. written by an old schoolfellow, xxx with whom I was once upon terms of the closest intimacy & who is one of the best hearted men I ever knew – George Strachey. I know his heart, <& his temper> & his good sense, & his quickness of intellect so well, as to be assured that no man living could be more capable of forming a correct judgement. – General Malcolms pamphlett [9]  was put into my hand by Wordsworth the other day, merely to show me the very able manner in which he had traced the progress of discontent xxxx xx xxxxx <among the> officers, in the true spirit of philosophical history. I have seen nothing more of it. But Malcolms other book that upon the Political State of India, is here, & I should be very sorry to see the Quarterly engage in controversy with so able & clear-sighted a man. There is little danger of this, for the subject xxx is out of date, & Gifford will be very imprudent if he fills his pages with matter which can now interest none but those whom it concerns.

Longman was to send you the new editions of Madoc & Joan of Arc. [10]  the first miserably printed, the latter materially improved by innumerable minor alterations. The “Omniania or Horae Otiosiores” [11]  as I mean to entitle it, is was not published & the xxxx account of Busaco which you see referred to in the Register goes this night to press. [12]  There are about three sheets more to print. You will have it as soon as it makes its appearance.

The Church is miserably off for Bishops, – never was she more in want <need> of sturdy defenders, & never xxx <so> helpless. Lord Stanhope [13]  who has turned buffoon in his old age, insults the whole bench with perfect impunity, & treats them with in a manner, which however they may disguise it, produces a very unfavourable effect when detailed in weekly newspapers & read abroad in pot-houses & coffee xxxxx tap-rooms. The more I consider the signs of the times, & endeavour by the light of what has been to see <into> what is to come, the more reason do I find for apprehending the downfall of the establishment. The only hope there is xx rests upon Bells system, – if that were formed into an outwork for the ch [MS obscured] you would breed up the great mass of the people in attachment to its institution. Perceval would have done this, but between indifference & bigotry the system at present has little chance. Something will be done while Lancaster continues to frighten the higher clergy, – take away that stimulus & they will relapse into their former supineness, & the schools will fall to xxx <decay> for want of permanent national endowments. Your old acquaintance at Fulham is a sad successor to Porteus: [14]  he & that aid de camp [15]  of his whom we xxx saw at Mr Legges [16]  would cram the children with the catechism, & be very glad if they could, to teach them nothing else. But this will never do; – if the understanding & the hearts of the people are not with the church, their hands will very soon be against it.



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham
Postmarks: E/ 4 SE 4/ 1812
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 290–292 [in part]. BACK

[1] Madoc (1805). BACK

[2] Russia leather: a fine leather, originally prepared in Russia, made from calfskin and impregnated with birchbark oil. BACK

[3] Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. BACK

[4] Manoel Ribeiro Guimaraes (dates unknown), a Portuguese merchant based in Liverpool and partner in Costa Guimareas and Co. Southey’s letter to him appears not to have survived. BACK

[5] See Southey to John May, 16 September 1812 (Letter 2145) and Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 September 1812 (Letter 2146). BACK

[6] William Barlow (1759–1839), a merchant and neighbour of Herbert Hill’s in Streatham. BACK

[7] Quarterly Review, 5 (February 1811), 138–203. The main author was Robert Grant (1780–1838; DNB), a well-connected Indian official and later Governor of Bombay 1834–1838. But Canning, Gifford and possibly Croker all had a hand in the article. BACK

[8] Sir George Hilaro Barlow (1763–1846; DNB), Governor of Madras 1807–1813. He was recalled in 1812 and there was much controversy about his actions during the mutiny of 1809. Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 260–281 for Southey’s account. He was William Barlow’s brother. BACK

[9] Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833; DNB), diplomat and Indian administrator. He played a notably conciliatory role during the mutiny of 1809. He was the author of Observations on the Disturbances in the Madras Army in 1809, 2 vols (London, 1812) and Sketch of the Political History of India (1811), no. 1789 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Madoc (1812), the third edition of the poem; and Joan of Arc (1812), the fourth edition of the poem. BACK

[11] Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores (1812). BACK

[12] Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores, 2 vols (London, 1812), II, pp. 272–287 on the Carmelite monastery at Busaco in Portugal, founded in 1628. BACK

[13] Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753–1816; DNB), politician and inventor. He had been notably rude about the bishops when speaking against a bill to regulate preaching on 21 May 1811. BACK

[14] Beilby Porteous (1731–1809; DNB), Bishop of London 1787–1809, had been succeeded by John Randolph (1749–1813; DNB), Bishop of London 1809–1813. BACK

[15] Possibly Henry Handley Norries (1771–1850; DNB), eminence grise in the Church of England. BACK

[16] Hon. Heneage Legge (1788–1844), MP for Banbury 1819–1826 and one of the executors of William Windham’s (1750–1810; DNB) will. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)