3509. Robert Southey to John Murray, 10 July 1820

3509. Robert Southey to John Murray, 10 July 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 10 July. 1820

My dear Sir

Thank you for the draft. I am now preparing for you with all proper dispatch both the Peninsular War & the Book of the Church; & you will have the commencement of the first very shortly, & that of the second soon after it, [1]  for I am now as seriously at work, as the summer interruptions of this place will admit.

An hour or two before I left London, I found a card from Sir George Dallas [2]  expressing a wish on the part of Mrs Hastings [3]  to see me the next day at twelve. Had my departure regarded myself alone, I would without hesitation have delayed it; – but a friend had taken his place with mine for that evening to accompany me home, – & I had also an engagement to meet an old Lady (a near relation from a distant part of the country) at Birmingham the next day, by the mail. So that it was impossible. – From our conversation with Sir George Dallas it appears to me that the proper plan will be to publish a selection from Mr Hastings papers & correspondence, accompanying it with his life. That life would requires a compendious view of our Indian history down to the pres time of his administration, & in its progress it embraces the preservation of our Indian Empire, & the establishment of the presen existing system. Something must be interwoven concerning the history of the native powers, Moor &, Mahratta, &c & their institutions, I see how all this is to be introduced, & see also that no subject can afford materials more important or more various. And what a pleasure it will be to record the triumph of such a man as Hastings over the tremendous combination of his persecutors at home! – I had a noble catastrophe in writing the life of Nelson, [4]  – but the latter days of Hastings afford a scene more touching & perhaps more sublime, because it is more uncommon. [5]  – Let me have the works of Orme & Bruce & Mill, [6]  & I will set apart a portion of every day to this course of reading & begin my notes accordingly.

Procure for me the “Memoires pour servir a l histoire d’Espagne, par Nellerto;” [7]  &, if you can, some historical works by Francisco de Olivarez which I have seen noticed in a Magazine, – they are an account of the war in Catalonia, in 4 vol. published at Seville 1815. Anecdotes of Chiefs in the Catalan War, & Memoirs of the Spanish Monarchy to the abdication of Charles 4 & the usurpation of Joseph. [8]  My poor correspondent Abella who used to supply me with Spanish Documents is dead, to my great loss, & I have now no means of learning what is published in that country.

Farewell my dear Sir, & believe me

Yrs truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqre/ Albemarle Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 JY 13/ 1820
Endorsement: R Southey Esq/ July 10. 1820
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42552. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends. Memoir and Correspondence of the Late John Murray, with an Account of the Origin and Progress of the House, 1768–1843, 2 vols (London, 1891), II, pp. 110–111 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) and The Book of the Church (1824). BACK

[2] The political writer George Dallas, 1st Baronet (1758–1833; DNB), who had been a protégé of Warren Hastings (1732–1818; DNB) during the latter’s time as Governor-General of Bengal 1774–1785. BACK

[3] Anna Maria Apollonia [Marian] (1747–1837; DNB), née Chapuset, second wife and widow of Warren Hastings. Southey was considering writing a life of Hastings, but did not do so. BACK

[4] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813); the ‘noble catastrophe’ was Horatio Nelson’s (1758–1805; DNB) death at Trafalgar and perhaps also his relationship with Emma Hamilton (c. 1765–1815; DNB). BACK

[5] Hastings had returned to Britain in 1785. Between 1787–1795 he was impeached, tried and acquitted of misgovernment in British India. He was left with massive debts and a compromised reputation, and spent his final two decades out of public life. BACK

[6] Robert Orme (1728–1801; DNB), History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan from 1745 (1803), and Historical Fragments of the Mogul Empire, of the Morattoes, and of the English Concerns in Indostan from the Year 1759 (1805); John Bruce (1744–1826; DNB), Annals of the Honorable East-India Company, from their Establishment by the Charter of Queen Elizabeth, 1600, to the Union of the London and English East-India Companies, 1707–8 (1810); and James Mill (1773–1836; DNB), The History of British India (1817). They were nos 2123, 426 and 1875, respectively, in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Juan Antonio Llorente [pseud. Nellerto] (1756–1823), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire de la Révolution d’Espagne (1814); no. 2027 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Southey had read John Mitford’s ‘On Spanish Literature, with some Account of Francisco de Olivarez’, New Monthly Magazine, 10 (October 1818), 221–223. The books Southey requested are Olivarez’s Account of the War in Catalonia, in four volumes, published at Seville 1815; Anecdotes of Chiefs Employed in the Catalan War (1816); and Memoirs of the Spanish Monarchy to the Abdication of Charles 4 & the Usurpation of Joseph Bonaparte (1816). Mitford’s essay was incorrect, and none of these works seem to have existed. BACK

People mentioned

Southey, Mary (1750–1838) (mentioned 1 time)
Abella, Manuel (1753–1817) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)