2575. Robert Southey to John Murray, 17 March 1815

2575. Robert Southey to John Murray, 17 March 1815 ⁠* 

17 March. 1815

My dear Sir

This evening I return you Wolfe’s Letters. [1]  I read them <carefully> & am glad so to have done, but the utmost ingenuity could not extract xxx matter from them for more than a couple of chapters.

Perhaps you may get scent of other letter parts of his correspondence, – it is very clear to me that these family letters must be the least interesting of all he can have written, – for Wolfe’s father & mother [2]  were not people to whom he could write in that happy tone of mind which gives life & sunshine to this kind of intercourse. If the present series is printed, his name will probably secure a xxx sale to a certain extent but the xxx publication will do little toward raising that name. I have the highest admiration for Wolfe: the last scene of his life was eminently heroic, & he had a true sense of duty for toward his country. But the intellect which he undoubtedly possessed is seldom called forth in this correspondence.

If Buonapartes friends in France are as staunch to him as his xxx semi-allies in the British Parliament, Mr Whitbread & Earl Grey, [3]  he is at this time de facto Emperor again. And then for another contest, under all the disadvantages of having half Switzerland & all Italy in his favour! Spain neutral, & Belgium perhaps worse than neutral! better however that contest under all disadvantages than peace with Buonaparte. If he enters Paris his first measure will be to offer to negotiate with us. Thank God we shall escape the infamy & such of listening to any xxx term which he may offer.

I am close at work for you –

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

You asked me who wrote the Ed. Register. [4]  I do not know. – & indeed have not yet seen it.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 20 MR 20/ 1815
Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co/ 1811
Endorsement: 17 March 1815/ Robt Southey
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] James Wolfe (1727–1759; DNB), British general killed in the victory at Quebec during the Seven Years War 1756–1763. Southey appears to have been asked by Murray to read a selection of manuscript letters from Wolfe to his family, possibly with a view to their publication. No edition appeared at this time. BACK

[2] Lieutenant-General Edward Wolfe (1685–1759; DNB) and his wife Henrietta (d. 1764; DNB). BACK

[3] The radical MP Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB); and Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; Prime Minister 1830-1834; DNB). BACK

[4] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1812 (1814). The historical section was taken over by the Scottish lawyer and writer, James Russell (1790–1861; DNB). Southey had ceased writing for it in 1813. BACK