2293. Robert Southey to John May, 29 August [1813]

2293. Robert Southey to John May, 29 August [1813] ⁠* 

Monday morning. Aug. 29. Queen Anne Street.

My dear friend

Here I am, & here I should have been some weeks ago, if a swelling of the eye lid had not made me afraid to put myself in the mail coach. I ought long since to have written to you: the chief cause occasion of this silence has been that I am involved in a dispute with the Ballantynes [1]  which I was constantly in hope of bringing to its proper termination & have been as constantly disappointed. The share in the Register which they induced me to take not as a matter of speculation, but as a recompence for having made the reputation of the work proves to be worth nothing, (at least according to all appearance;) – & not contented with having thus deluded me of 209 £, they are at this time attempting to with hold from me about 225 £ more, due upon the forthcoming volume, upon the plea of loss upon my twelfth share. I have brought up all the necessary papers with me to put into Turners hands if they persist in this which is in direct contradiction to the letter & spirit of our agreement: & I withhold from them the conclusion of the volume, [2]  till the point be settled. – I had daily hoped to bring this matter to a close, & remit you £100, of the money which is my due & on which I had calculated so surely, that if it had not been for £105 paid me for the life of Nelson [3]  I should have been very much embarrassed.

Mr Walpoles [4]  papers were sent off some weeks ago, according to your direction. Coxe [5]  will let me have them again in about six weeks after they reach them him, & if they have already arrived, as they ought to have done (but there is no faith in carriers) I shall be able to receive them again while I am in these parts, where I expect to be till the end of October. I have made many extracts from them, & will compleat this part of the process before I return home, so as to carry back with me all the materials ready to be put together in their proper form. Then you shall have the Memoir forthwith for revision before it is printed.

I arrived in the mail on Saturday morning, having left all well at home. I am now setting off for Streatham, & told myself will come to you any time during my stay which may be most convenient to you, after this week.

A commission has been given me to execute which I know not how to set about & which perhaps you will have the goodness to perform for me. It is to put 25 £ in the three per cents for Sarah Ansell, a servant in the Malone family, [6]  who has some trifle there already. The money is in Harrys possession, in a sealed cover with her name upon it.

I have a great deal to tell you of my own projects, – & a good part of my poem [7]  to show you.

Remember me to Mrs May most kindly, & believe me

most affectionately yours

R Southey.


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ Richmond
Stamped: [partial] Penny Post
Postmark: [partial] Clock/0.AU/1813A.N.n; 4o’Clock/AU.30/1813EV
Watermark: Pine & Thomas/ 1811
Endorsement: No. 168 1813/ Robert Southey/ Queen Anne Street 29th August/ recd. 30th do/ ansd. personally
Seal: Trace of red wax; design illegible
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. 127-128.
Dating: year from endorsement and postmark. BACK

[1] The Edinburgh Annual Register’s publisher John Ballantyne and its printer, James Ballantyne. BACK

[2] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[3] The Life of Nelson had appeared in 1813. It was one of the best-selling of all Southey’s works. BACK

[4] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. John May had asked Southey to write an account of his life. BACK

[5] Coxe had written lives of Robert, 1st Earl of Orford (1676–1745; DNB) and Horatio (Horace) Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797; DNB), and was considering a life of Jose I (1714–1777; King of Portugal 1750–1777). He also published Memoirs of the Kings of Spain (1813). BACK

[6] Sarah Ansell (dates unknown) was a servant in the household of one of the two sisters of Southey’s friend Richard Malone, Lord Sunderlin, Henrietta Malone (c. 1745–1824) or Catherine Malone. BACK

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

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 1 time)