191. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 8 December 1796]

191. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 8 December 1796] ⁠* 

I have two or three things to say & two or three minutes to spare. I forgot to return you your elegy — of which I like all but the false presage in the second stanza. I enter into your feelings, judging of the sister you have lost by those you still possess: should not such sisters make you in love with life?

will you be good enough (if you have done with Lloyds poems, to lend them to Mrs Estlin; without mentioning it to him, for he is ashamed of them & evaded her request.

my Letters [1]  will demand the most shameful list of errors that ever disgraced a book. I cannot read a page without discovering some blunder that totally destroys the meaning. you will be astonished at the number & nature of these mistakes.

I could wish you not to print Ld Carysforts name in the lists of Foxe’s subscribers; [2]  as my acquaintance with him is not enough to justify that liberty. I have never seen him yet. it is a foolish custom — that of printing subscribers name & serves only to swell the size of a volume & to gratify the vanity of those blockheads who conceive the merit of a book reflects upon the purchaser! or that of the purchaser on the book.

I have met with a curious coincidence of thought this morning in reading Carlyles Specimens of Arabic Poetry a book printed this year. it was said of Abou Teman — “his mind must soon wear out his body as the blade of a Indian scymetar destroys its scabbard.” [3] 

I will send copy on Monday by the theatrical conveyance. if Rossers is at a stand — let him reprint the cancelld leaves. the first is — page 87–87. in 87 — let the indenting of the line Pedia celos de cosas [4]  — be rectified. the error lies in the last stanza but one.

Viendo me como me veys — is printed instead of these two line

Viendo me como me vistes
En vir me como me veys? [5] 

one — is 375–376. To a Stream must be the title. there are two other errors to be avoided. mugur is wrongly printed instead of muger in the last line of the Spanish. shade for sheds in the 4th of the translation is wrong.

Leaf 385–386 — must be cancelled owing to a mistake of mine. the three lines

Trembling then as Zelindaxa
To her pale lips held the water
From her hand the goblet fell —

must be struck out. & these inserted in their place.

Heedless in delirious transport,
Eagerly did Zelindaxa
Shower her perfumes on his head.

in the 7th lines from the bottom of the same page — could ought to be CAN. & inverted commas must be placed before “tho Love no laws acknowledge,

this will fully employ him till Monday noon. hurry the printers — make Biggs mind the stanzas they must be indivisible. I shall be with you about the middle of next week. can you not come over Saturday or Sunday & make the map? why not? let me know.

tell Danvers that Mrs Molloy [6]  is alive & well

Ediths love.

fare you well

yrs sincerely

R Southey.

Thursday night

I had forgotten an engagement to dine at Bradford on Sunday next. will you come the Saturday following? if no copy should come on Monday let Rosser do the cancelld leaves. forget not to send a parcel by Old Floor [7]  of mutton chop celebrity.


* Address: For/ Mr Cottle/ High Street/ Bristol
Stamped: BATH
Seal: [trace; illegible]
Endorsements: Feby 1797; 17 (67)
MS: Berg Collection, New York Public Library. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Cottle’s endorsement is clearly incorrect. See also Southey to Joseph Cottle [c. early December 1796] (Letter 189), which has a similar incorrect endorsement. The letter was written from Bath, where Southey was living in December 1796 (he did not move to London until February 1797) and it refers to his reading of Carlyle, which he finished on 8 December 1796; see his letter of that date to Grosvenor Charles Bedford (Letter 190). BACK

[1] Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). BACK

[2] Charles Fox (1740?–1809; DNB), 'Aks-i partaw. A Series of Poems, Containing the Plaints, Consolations, and Delights of Achmed Ardebeili, a Persian Exile. With Notes Historical and Explanatory (1797). The book was published by Joseph Cottle. Lord Carysfort’s name did not appear in the list of subscribers. BACK

[3] Joseph Dacre Carlyle, Specimens of Arabian Poetry, From the Earliest Time to the Extinction of the Khaliphat, with some Account of the Authors (Cambridge, 1796), p. 64. BACK

[4] A correction to the printing of Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). This translates as ‘s/he accused things of being unfaithful’. BACK

[5] A correction to the printing of Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). The passage translates as ‘Seeing me as you saw me/ In seeing me as you see me’. BACK

[6] Unidentified. BACK

[7] Possibly a carrier in the Bristol area, who dealt with booksellers, publishers and printers. BACK

People mentioned