3245. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 13 February 1819

3245. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 13 February 1819 ⁠* 

Keswick. 13 Feby. 1819

My dear Harry

To whom did Brougham deny having mentioned my name on the hustings? [1]  For Wordsworth, Mrs Wordsworth, & John Wordsworth [2]  were present, & heard him mention it. It is certain that he was sorry for having mentioned it, – for it was omitted in the publication of his harangues at Kendal. [3]  This probably was because somebody asked him why he went out of his way to insult a man who had taken no part in the election & was capable of handling him roughly in return. – He lied like a villain when he spoke of me, – & he lies like a scoundrel when he denies <disowns> what he said. – But you know what Brougham is as well as I do. He is not a malignant man, – but from an insolence of disposition, an ungovernable intemperance, & an insanity of mind he does to day, what he would gladly undo tomorrow, & veers about like a weather–cock with every gust of passion, having no principle of any principle to steady him, – & wanting that sense of honour which sometimes in some degree supplies its place.

My paper upon the Copyright [4]  was postponed to make room for that excellent article versus Brougham, – of which I suppose the best part (& nothing can be better in its way) came from Canning. For his own interest Murray might better have turned out something else, as there are two or three things in the number that might very well have been spared. My paper might have been useful thus far, that it would have given some members of parliament a clear view of the case, who would have read it, – & will not read any thing upon the subject in any other form. I have stated the point fully & strongly, & said a word at the close upon that right of perpetual copyright which authors possessed by common law, till it was taken from them by statute. [5]  If that right were recovered – I should think the interests of my family would be sufficiently provided for. There is no chance of this at present; – but the injustice of the existing laws is so apparent that if it be fairly brought forward, the general sense of equity will in time bring about a remedy.

I have been for many weeks exclusively working upon my history of Brazil; the desire of compleating it has urged me on; – & it seems to lengthen under my hand. 520 pages are printed, – & you will suppose that I cannot be far from the end. I think that six weeks will bring me there, – & were it not that other employments are immediately awaiting me, I should feel that I had lost a great source of pleasure in getting rid of a subject which has occupied so large a portion of my thoughts for more than ten years. There are two chapters – & a half to write, – the last being a general view of the state of Brazil at the time of the removal of the Court thither, – tho xx with which my history concludes. [6]  This volume is, I think, the most amusing of the three, – & a a great part of it is drawn from xxx unpublished materials

You will hardly see me before the very end of April, – unless I leave Wesley [7]  unfinished, which I shall not like to do, for many reasons, – the ways & means being one. The H. of Brazil is the work by which I shall be most extensively known here after, – but it has been a great sinking fund, on which the capital of my time & industry has been absorbed. My profits by it have been very little, & never will be much. The War will not require half the labour, [8]  – indeed I shall have no occasion to make two copies of the greatest part, but as in reviewing, send the first manuscript to the press. Every line in the Brazil has been transcribed, & a great part previously collected xx before the first draught of the narration could be formed ...

Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne. – You may hear of us again tomorrow, – or you may not for two or three weeks. [9]  – I wish you could get a good prize in the Lottery, & take the next house here [10]  – which Miss Barker has so madly left to go live in Bor Borrowdale. The air would lengthen your life ten years, & enable Louisa in a year or two to walk up Skiddaw. How is Gooch? – I have some excerpts somewhere both for him, & for you, which I will fill up when they come in my way, & I can find time

Tom moves at Lady day

God bless you



* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 1[illegible] FE 1[illegible]/ 1819
Seal: black wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.96. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In the general election hustings at Appleby, Westmorland, on 30 June 1818, Brougham was reported to have attacked both Southey and Wordsworth for their part in opposing him, The Times, 4 July 1818. This led to Southey beginning to write a pamphlet in response; part of it was finally published as a ‘Postscript’ to the second edition of Carmen Triumphale (London, 1821), pp. 45–53. BACK

[2] Wordsworth’s cousin, Captain John Wordsworth (1754–1819). BACK

[3] Possibly a reference to Westmorland Election, 1818: an Account of the Proceedings at Appleby, from Saturday, the 27th of June, to the Final Close of the Poll (Kendal, 1818). BACK

[4] ‘Mr Brougham. – Education Committee’, Quarterly Review, 19 (July 1818), 492–569, published on 2 February 1819. Canning did have a hand in this article, which was mainly written by John Wilson Croker with a number of others. Southey’s ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213, was delayed. BACK

[5] Southey’s ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213, mainly dealt with the law that required copies of every publication to be delivered to eleven public and university libraries. But (at 211–213) Southey ended with a plea for perpetual copyright in order to benefit the families of authors after their death. The ‘Statute of Anne’ or Copyright Act (1709) had first created the idea of a limited period of copyright protection for published works, but this was not finally confirmed until the House of Lords’ decision in the case of Donaldson v. Becket (1774). BACK

[6] Southey was in the middle of writing Chapter 42, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 603–656. He had still to write Chapters 43–44, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 657–879. The History did not go beyond the flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807–1808. BACK

[7] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[8] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). Much of it was drawn from the historical sections he wrote for the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 to 1811 (1810–1813). BACK

[9] Charles Cuthbert Southey was born on 24 February 1819. BACK

[10] Greta Lodge, which Miss Barker had abandoned for the house she had built in Borrowdale. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)