2444. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17–21 June 1814

2444. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17–21 June 1814 ⁠* 

Thursday. [1]  June 17. 1814.

My dear Tom

I worked stoutly at the Odes after you left me. [2]  On Sunday I sent off that to the Prince, desiring Bedford, if it was not too late (for so the newspapers had made me apprehend) to send that & the former one to the press immediately & correct the proofs for me: [3]  Longman meant not to advertise them till they were in the printers hands, when the day of publication might be certainly announced. Tuesday the third was finished & dispatched, [4]  – instead of 40 or 50 <lines> each, they average more than 150, & you will not be sorry to hear that I do not know which of them I like best. It is very possible that they may be published on Monday. – Wednesday I transcribed the 20th book of Roderick [5]  & sent it to London; – sending off to Ballantyne at the same time six or seven sheets of notes, – all indeed except those to the concluding book. That also was a good days work. Today I have written 50 lines of Book 21. I believe the matter will so divide itself as to reach to 24 books, – but the heat I think will carry me to the end. [6] 


55 lines.

Tuesday 21. A long gap in the letter. Meantime I have done considerable execution at home & had some vexation from abroad. I thought all was going on swimmingly with my Odes, for on Friday <Saturday> Bedford came a letter from Bedford saying that on the Wednesday evening Pople had been with him to receive directions about the printing. Sunday there comes another informing me that his father had had a paralytic stroke which left little or no hope of recovery. Of course I lookd for nothing about my Odes in such a letter – there was however a postscript implying a blunder which can only be explained by the state of his mind. I had desired him to correct the proofs because there was not time to send them here, – he had sent me some criticisms upon the two first odes, & as my reply to the first of these critical letters could not arrive before Monday “to enable him to correct the press; – he concluded that therefore the publication could not take place.” – At another time I should have breathed for him one of those pious prayers which are sometimes heard from a Lieutenants mouth when the ropes are not handled properly. As the matter stood I wrote to Longman to hurry the publication if it were possible to get it out before the Raree-men left England; [7]  – & if this was not possible still to print, – but to send me the proofs – in which case the title will be Ode to the Prince R. on the Peace – to which are added &c – making the two latter appear as not the objects of publication, – but as appended to it [8]  – This letter Longman will receive tomorrow (Wednesday) – & I may look for a proof by the end of the week. Were it not for Roderick I should certainly add some verses to Buonaparte & also to Joseph, [9]  for I am now so in the xxx vein of verse, that Jupiter seems to have rolled back for me the past years.

Of the 21 book 300 lines are written, & there may be another hundred to write.

I must give you some improvements upon the Moscow-poem [10]  – In the Roscoe stanza – after ‘Moscow’ xxx insert

He’ll make all the Poles come out of their holes,
And eat the Prussians, & beat the Russians.

The harder names thus –

– that end in ow.
3                    Rajefsky & Noverefsky & Kiefsky
And all the others that end in efsky.
2              Schamscheff, Souchosaneff & Schepaleff
And all the others that end in eff.
4              Wasiltschikoff, Kostomaroff & Tchoglokoff
And all &c
1              Milarodowitch, & Jaladorowitch & Karatchkowitch
And all –
5              Oscheroffsky & Rostoffsky & Kazatichkoffsky.

But this must be amended. I must find a third name in efsky, & then arrange them thus <this is done by the figures> – the effs & the effskys. The offs & the offskeys. N.B. Kutousoff & Toutchautoff are omitted for reasons which appear in the following lines, coming after ‘nobody can spell –

And Platoff he play’d them off, & Shouvaloff he shoved them off,
And Markoff he marked them off, & Krosnoff he crost them off
And Tutchkoff he touched them off, & Boroskoff he bored them off,
And Kutousoff he cut them off, & Parenzoff he pared them off
And Worronzoff he worried them off
And Doctoroff he doctor’d them off
And Rodionoff he floggd them off

If the Prince Regent were to reward my merits as appropriately as he has done the Duke of Wellington he would create me Duke of Doggrel, Marquis of Nonsense, Earl Noisy, Viscount Helicon & Baron Parnassus. And then for an honourary augmentation of arms he should appoint my crest to be a head crowned with laurel <not with a cap & bells> & my supporters two jack-asses rampant & winged.

Love to Sarah.

God bless you


I shall be glad of the inscription which Sarah mentions – that about the Taylor. [11] 


* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N. / St. Helens/ Auckland
Postmark: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s mistake: 17 June was a Friday in 1814. BACK

[2] Southey’s three odes paying tribute to the Prince Regent and celebrating the 1814 visit to London of Alexander I (1777–1825; Emperor of Russia 1801–1825) and Frederick William III (1770–1840; King of Prussia 1797–1840); published as Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (1814). BACK

[3] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 June 1814, Letter 2438. BACK

[4] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 June 1814, Letter 2439. BACK

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

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths finally reached 25 books. BACK

[7] The visiting sovereigns left Dover for the Continent on 27 June 1814. BACK

[8] Southey’s letter to Longman appears not to have survived. BACK

[9] The verses to Napoleon (1769–1821) and Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1844; King of Naples 1806–1808; King of Spain 1808–1813) were not added. BACK

[10] A series of amendments to Southey’s ‘The March to Moscow’, a ‘droll ballad’ follow; they were not incorporated into the version published in the Courier, 23 June 1814. BACK

[11] Unidentified. BACK

People mentioned