2214. Robert Southey to John Murray, 31 January 1813

2214. Robert Southey to John Murray, 31 January 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Jany. 31. 1813

My dear Sir

I am very desirous, if there possibly be time for it, to get a reviewal of Coleridges Tragedy [1]  into your next number, – while the play is a novelty, & criticism may contribute to assist it. I will introduce it with a sketch of the history, or rather the degradation & decline of our drama, – this will give some importance to the article, & may occupy me a week, – not longer. If there be time for this, pray send me without delay the new edition of Bakers Biographia Dramatica. [2]  Tomorrow, or possibly tonight, I finish Nelson, [3]  & will lay the foundations of this immediately.

– You have seen Dr Gooch. I wish he were a contributor to the Quarterly, because there are few men of such promise. His mind is clear & comprehensive, his style animated & perspicuous, & his taste has that intuition <which is> never to be found except where the moral sense is as carefully cultivated as the intellectual. I expect great things from Gooch, & if I conducted a Journal I should earnestly solicit him to cooperate in it, in full confidence that he would never write any thing which I should be sorry to appear to sanction. [4] 

Several months ago (nearly a year I believe) I requested you to send a copy of Sir G Mackenzies Travels [5]  to the Spanish Consuls, directed for my friend Manuel Abella, Cadiz. I now find that it has never reached its destination. You perhaps can ascertain, without much trouble, whether it was sent.

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey

Copy of Nelson was sent off last night. I wish a favourable account of it could be secured in the Naval Chronicle, [6]  where it would be of more consequence than in any other journal:, – & where xxx xx xxx xx xxx it is likely to be ill-used by Stanier Clarke; who in a very excusable spirit of resentment will, no doubt, be ready enough to represent my book as a mere abridgement of his. [7] 


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ 3 FE 3/ 1813
Watermark: C WILMOTT/ 1807
Endorsement: 1813. Jany 31st Keswick/ Southey R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 47–48. BACK

[1] Remorse, staged at Drury Lane, London, 23 January-12 February 1813. Murray did not act on Southey’s suggestion. Remorse was eventually reviewed by John Taylor Coleridge in Quarterly Review, 11 (April 1814), 177–190. BACK

[2] Biographia Dramatica, a revised version of David Erskine Baker (1739–1767?; DNB), The Companion to the Play (1764). A third edition of the Biographia had appeared in 1812. Southey’s copy was no. 101 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[3] The Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[4] On Southey’s recommendation, Gooch became a very occasional contributor to the Quarterly Review. BACK

[5] Sir George Steuart Mackenzie (1780–1848; DNB), Travels in the Island of Iceland, in the Summer of the Year 1810 (1811); reviewed by Southey alongside Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865; DNB), Journal of a Tour in Iceland, in the Summer of 1809 (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 48–92. Southey had requested a copy be sent to Abella in a letter to John Murray, [c. 30 December 1811], Letter 2009. BACK

[6] The Naval Chronicle was a twice-yearly publication on naval affairs. It first appeared in 1759 and began a new series in 1799. Unfortunately for Southey, it was co-founded and edited by his particular bête noire, James Stanier Clarke (1765?-1834; DNB). BACK

[7] Clarke’s 1809 life of Nelson had been one of a number of biographies noticed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. Southey’s own Life was an expansion of this article. The ‘resentment’ went two ways, as Southey, who had canvassed for the post, resented Clarke’s appointment as Historiographer Royal. BACK

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