2630. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 2 July 1815

2630. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 2 July 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

My movements must depend on many things besides inclination, & I can now pretty well see how to arrange them. Dr Bell will either carry me to St Helens at the beginning of September, – or bring me back from thence, – a very solid reason for timing my visit so as to suit his campaigns, & patronizing the Bishop. [1]  The intermediate time must be given to Ways & Means, allowing for many interruptions, – I mean to extract a good sum from the next Quarterly, – one article will be a second part of the Life of Wellington  [2]  including a full account of this wonderful battle, [3]  – which taking it in all the circumstances, causes & consequences, I believe to be unsurpassed by any victory in ancient or in modern times.

Harry did wisely in standing for the Middlesex Hospital xxx xxx xx by so doing he has secured his election upon the next vacancy. [4] 

My annual cold has been very troublesome, & is the worse for this hot weather.

Nathans [5]  pamphlett was full of personal abuse, & never did <was> fellow who flung mud xxxxx xxxx more wide of his mark. I was a drunkard, a libeller, a fellow who aspired to nothing higher than manufacturing dinners &c &c. & a very contemptible poet of course. As for Madoc [6]  it was an insidious attack upon the honour of America. [7] 

I a[11]m quite s[6]atisfied about my neck, that position c[3]an be the only cause, & the thing itself of no consequence.

The last Quarterly came up out in the[2] very nick of time. It was published on the 20th & both my articles [8]  struck the right key, at the xx right moment, to the no small delight of Murray. He now prints 7000. [9]  By the by the writer of some of his best papers (Parrs Character of Fox, & I believe also the Life of Pitt [10] ) is a northcountryman, in the highest reputation at Oxford, Davison by xxx name. [11]  I suspect he is the son of a[4] man to whom Harry once introdu[5]ced me in the street at Durham. [12]  By a round-about introduction xxxx thro Gifford but originating in him, I have had a Duhham Laker her[16]e, whom I shall like to patronize whe[7]n I vis[10]it you in September. his name is Ingham, [13]  & he lives at a place w[12]hich sounds as if it should be spelt Westhaugh, or Westhow, somewhere by the sea, & in the track of a stage which runs thro Castle Ede[13]n.

You had better bring Grove here. [14]  And pray bespeak some cheese for me. I will send you in my next a draft for 25£. Here is a conundrum of Sir William Curtis for you. Why is a pocket[9] handkerchief li[8]ke a snake? [15]  If you should not have heard it, & are not able, with Sarah’s help, to discover it, you may hunt out the solution by arranging <putting together> xxxx order the letters which I have figured upon this page.

And so God b[1]less you. Love to Sarah & the young ones [16] 


2 July 1815.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
b e c a u s e i t s a w i p e r


* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] To/ Capt Southey. R. N. / xxxxxx <S. Castle’s Esqr>/ xxxxxxx/ <Durham>
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; [partial] RUSH
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 418–420.
Note: In this letter, Southey sets a conundrum for his reader: in the MS, he writes numbers above certain letters of the alphabet; when the letters are put together in their numerical order, they spell out the solution (see the end of the letter). It is not possible to reproduce this in the electronic text; instead, Southey’s numbers have been placed in superscript within square brackets after the letter of the alphabet to which they refer. BACK

[1] Shute Barrington (1734–1826; DNB), Bishop of Durham 1791–1826 and a supporter of Andrew Bell. BACK

[2] Southey had reviewed George Elliott (dates unknown), The Life of the Most Noble Arthur Duke of Wellington, from the Period of his first Achievements in India, down to his Invasion of France, and the Peace of Paris in 1814 (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275. He went on to review a further series of books relating to Wellington and the Waterloo campaign in the Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. BACK

[3] The battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[4] Henry Herbert Southey was standing for election to the post of Senior Physician at the Middlesex Hospital. Although the election was initially contested, by the time of the actual vote on 17 August 1815, Southey was the only remaining candidate. BACK

[5] A commonly used word for an ‘American’, or someone possessing characteristics believed to be ‘American’. BACK

[6] Southey’s revisionist Welsh-American epic Madoc (1805). BACK

[7] Southey had been attacked in James Kirke Paulding (1778–1860), The United States and England: Being a Reply to the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters, contained in The Quarterly Review, for January, 1814 (1815). Paulding was mistaken. Southey had not written the review of Charles Jared Ingersoll (1782–1862), Inchiquen, the Jesuit’s Letters, during a Late Residence in the United States of America; being a Fragment of a Private Correspondence, accidentally discovered in Europe, containing a favourable View of the Manners, Literature, and State of Society, of the United States; and a Refutation of many of the Aspersions cast upon this Country, by former Residents and Tourists. By some Unknown Foreigner (1810), in Quarterly Review, 10 (January 1814), 494–530. The author of the offending article, which was highly critical of the United States, was John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB). Southey defended himself publicly; see Southey to the Editor of the Courier, 16 June 1815, Letter 2616. BACK

[8] Southey’s two articles were: his review of books on the Duke of Wellington, Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275; and his appraisal of Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55. This issue of the Quarterly was published on 20 June 1815. BACK

[9] i.e. 7000 copies. This can be compared with the 3000 copies printed of the first number of the Quarterly Review in February 1809. BACK

[10] Samuel Parr (1747–1825; DNB), Characters of the late Charles James Fox, Selected, and In Part Written by Philopatris Varvicensis (1809), Quarterly Review, 2 (November 1809), 375–401; and John Gifford (1758–1818; DNB), A History of the Political Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt; Including Some Account of the Times in which He Lived (1809), Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 207–271. BACK

[11] Southey was mistaken. The author of both reviews was not the theologian John Davison (1777–1834; DNB), but the barrister, and future MP and colonial administrator, Sir Robert Grant (1780–1839; DNB). BACK

[12] John Davison (dates unknown), father of the theologian and occasional Quarterly reviewer, was a schoolmaster in Durham. BACK

[13] William Ingham (d. 1817), a surgeon in Newcastle. His wife’s family lived in Westoe (a village a mile south of South Shields) and he retained a house there. BACK

[14] Captain Samuel Grove (d. 1817), an old friend of Tom Southey from the Royal Navy. BACK

[15] Sir William Curtis, 1st Baronet (1752–1829; DNB), banker and MP for the City of London 1790–1818, 1820–1826. Among his other witticisms, he was the inventor of ‘the 3 Rs’ to describe reading, writing and arithmetic. BACK

[16] Tom Southey’s children. BACK

People mentioned