2526. Robert Southey to [John Murray], 23 December 1814

2526. Robert Southey to [John Murray], 23 December 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. 23. Dec. 1814

My dear Sir

Your hint concerning the Register has been working in me, & upon taking counsel with my Necessities I do not think I could do better than resume a labour which was not laid down for want of inclination to continue it. [1]  It is for you to determine whether you would continue the former work, (in which case there has been a year lost) or start under a new title & begin not with the beginning of the year 1814 but from the Peace, [2]  as from a new & precise era.

In the latter case it would be well to rid the work of all that superfluous matter with which Registers are clogged, & which were literally tacked on to the historical part at first in order to make the book of sufficient bulk. In my judgement there should be nothing but the history, the state papers & the public accounts.

I should prefer beginning with the peace for this reason, that it would give room for a good foundation, & a comprehensive view of the state of the World. It is a sort of leisure year in which the Annalist has time for bringing up his accounts. For instance the Wahabees, [3]  Persia, [4]  the S Sea Islands, [5]  B Bay, [6]  Abyssinia (on occasion of Salts Embassy [7] ) might each have a chapter afforded to them. A good name for the work might be The Annual History. By taking this excursive view, the volume may be made much more entertaining than that of a busier year, – therefore the better to begin with. There are many other topics, – this paper indeed would soon be filled if I were to touch upon them. But I have said enough for you to perceive what I would aim at

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Watermark: J DICKINSON & CO/ 1811
MS: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727. ALS; 2p.
Note: The letter is a response to John Murray’s ‘hint’ relating to a new annual register; see Southey to John Murray, 12 December 1814, Letter 2515. The identification of Murray as addressee is confirmed by the summary of this letter’s contents sent to Bedford; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 December 1814, Letter 2527. BACK

[1] Murray had suggested that he might take over the Edinburgh Annual Register and that Southey might like to resume writing for this publication; see Southey to John Murray, 4 December 1814 (Letter 2510) and 12 December 1814 (Letter 2515). BACK

[2] The Treaty of Paris, signed 30 May 1814, which ended the war between France and the Sixth Coalition. BACK

[3] The Saud dynasty from Nejd, with the support of the Wahhabi religious movement within Islam, had captured Mecca from the Ottoman Empire in 1802, only to be driven out in 1812 by an Egyptian army. BACK

[4] Persia had been defeated by Russia in the Russo-Persian War of 1804–1813 and in the Treaty of Gulistan (1813) had to accept Russian control of most of the Caucasus. BACK

[5] The Pacific islands. Southey had a long-standing interest in missionary work in this area. BACK

[6] Botany Bay, i.e. the British colony of New South Wales in Australia, which had been expanding rapidly since the First Fleet arrived in 1788. Southey was particularly interested in explorations into the interior of Australia (the Blue Mountains were first officially crossed in 1813) and missionary work in the colony. BACK

[7] In March 1809 the traveller and collector of antiquities Henry Salt (1780–1827; DNB) had been sent by the British government to Abyssinia. His mission was to take gifts to the Egwala Sion, Emperor of Abyssinia 1801–1818, and report on the condition of the country. He returned to England in 1811 and in 1814 published an account of his travels, A Voyage to Abyssinia. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)