2256. Robert Southey to Josiah Conder, 15 May 1813

2256. Robert Southey to Josiah Conder, 15 May 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick, May 15, 1813.

At length I have received your packet, with your letter of March 2nd. I thank you for its contents. Robert Hall’s pamphlet has done its work. [1]  I trust also that the important object for which Claudius Buchanan has so long pleaded will now be effected, and that there will be a regular Church Establishment formed for India. [2]  It will greatly facilitate the progress of the missionaries, and give stability to all which they do. And the missionaries themselves, of whatever persuasion they may be, will feel as Britons of every reformed communion used to feel in Portugal, when Protestant and Papist were the only demarcations which were acknowledged.

The poem [3]  is spirited, and in a good strain. It happens that the first two lines rhyme, and this leading me to suppose that the poem was in couplets, I felt balked in the fourth verse, at coming to nigh instead of near.

The Hymns, [4]  like all the other productions from that quarter, succeed admirably in what they aim at. I shall rejoice to see your “Reverie” preserved in a proper place. [5]  If the editors of the Ed. An. Register had known what was good from what was good for nothing, they would have found no difficulty in making room for its insertion. [6]  My influence in that quarter is confined to my own department.

Thank you for your letter respecting our excellent friend Neville. I have been too much occupied to write to him, and of late my spirits have wanted their usual elasticity. A brother of my wife’s, who came here hoping to enjoy a few weeks of relaxation, is lingering under a complication of obscure and incurable diseases; and how long he may live, or rather how long he may continue dying, is what no medical skill can foresee. I know just enough of nosology to punish me for ever having looked into the science without making it my study. Not an ailment can occur among my children that I cannot in my own mind explain by some alarming cause; and thus little illnesses, which men who lived less with their children would hardly hear of, and men in healthier feelings and happier ignorance would never think of, give me serious disquietude. It seems as if I had as many hopes and fears as the veriest worldling, and that having none with respect to common worldly objects, they had all taken this direction.

Montgomery has not written to me for many months, and I have long intended to tell him so. I see his “World before the Flood” advertised, and when next I write to Murray, will take a place in the Quarterly for it. [7]  Reviews, unluckily, are much more effectual instruments in the hands of an enemy than of a friend; but I will do what I can to procure justice for him, with as much sincerity as good will.

My own poem [8]  is but half written. My annual and quarterly avocations [9]  fill up a larger portion of my time than I would spare to them if I were but equally remunerated for better things. However, if no untoward events should impede me, I shall get on rapidly with the poem during the summer, and put the concluding volume of Brazil to the press in the course of six or eight weeks. [10] 

Why did not your cousin [11]  bring you an account of the inside of my house, as well as of the outside? A line from you would have procured him ready admittance, and such attentions, as a stranger may find useful. Remember this in future.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Eustace R. Conder, Josiah Conder: A Memoir (London, 1857)
Previously published: Eustace R. Conder, Josiah Conder: A Memoir (London, 1857), pp.164–166. BACK

[1] Robert Hall (1764–1831; DNB), Baptist Minister. Southey is probably referring to his pamphlet An Address to the Public on an Important Subject Connected with the Renewal of the Charter of the East India Company (1813), which was published by Conder. BACK

[2] The Anglican clergyman Claudius Buchanan (1766–1815; DNB) had campaigned to ensure the East India Company did more to further the spread of Christianity in India. The creation of an episcopate for India, at the time of the renewal of the Company’s charter in 1813, was mainly due to his efforts. Buchanan’s publications included Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India (1805) and Colonial Ecclesiastical Establishment, Being a Brief View of the State of the Colonies of Great Britain and of her Asiatic Empire in Respect to Religious Instruction (1813). BACK

[3] Gloria in Excelsis Deo: et in terra pax, bona voluntas homnibus. A Poem. Respectfully Inscribed to the British and Foreign Bible Society (1812), republished as ‘The Star in the East’ in Josiah Conder, The Star in the East and Other Poems (London, 1824), pp. 1–28. BACK

[4] Probably Ann (1782–1866; DNB) and Jane Taylor (1783–1824; DNB), Hymns for Infant Minds (5th edition, 1812), published by Josiah Conder. BACK

[5] Conder’s ‘Reverie’ appeared in The Associate Minstrels, 2nd edn (London, 1813), pp.212-219. BACK

[6] The Edinburgh Annual Register had rejected ‘Reverie’ when it was sent in by Southey, acting on Conder’s behalf, in 1812; see Southey to Neville White, 27 September 1812, Letter 2151. BACK

[7] For Southey’s review of Montgomery’s The World Before the Flood (1813), Quarterly Review, 11 (April 1814), 79–87. BACK

[8] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[9] Southey’s work for the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813) and Quarterly Review. BACK

[10] The second volume of the History of Brazil was published in 1817, the third, concluding volume in 1819. BACK

[11] Unidentified. BACK

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