3637. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 21 February 1821

3637. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 21 February 1821⁠* 

Keswick 21 Feby. 1821

My dear Harry

Your opinion about the three Dedications [1]  agrees very well with my own, – & the first should without hesitation have been sent to the press if the work had not been one which was published ex officio. But I felt that tho RS. may be perfectly qualified to offer advice to his Majesty, & is as ready to do it as Alderman Wood [2]  himself, or any other member of the Common Council, – it does not fall quite so clearly within the limits of the P.L’s duties. Upon this point I desired Bedford to ask Herries’s opinion, – he being so much an official man as to know in what manner such xxx a thing was likely to be taken, – & as you know, a man of good sense. If he felt an impropriety when I suspected one, his opinion would decide me upon a question which I cared very little about. Upon his decision I took out all that was useful, & left the complementary part, & a xx which was <much> the worse for the separation. Bedford will by this time have seen that his performance was not very graciously received. [3]  When he sits down to composition he has a fine talent for bad writing. So the second is to stand. – You wonder why I xxx let other xxx people act for me. I like to let them please themselves by taking into their serious consideration matters which to me are of no consideration whatever. Upon matters of consequence, or to which any real interest is attached, you will find me always ready to act for myself, with promptitude & decision

Now with respect to these drawings. [4]  The two miniatures had better be glazed & framed, not for hanging up, but put in red cases. The portraits of my Aunt Mary, Tom, Cuthbert & one of Edith framed, if the print frames spoken of in Mr W Nash’s letter, were intended for these (only four could be meant for me) they will be plain flat gold frames, x to match what I already have, which were charged ten shillings each. The others are for a portfolio. Has John May had his portrait of Edith? If not let him take his choice. But I think if he had not x he should <would> have let me know.

I am glad Sir Wm K. is pleased. [5]  There are men in the world (& they are perhaps the majority) who would be more likely to serve you for a trifling gratification of this kind, than for the greatest obligation which could be conferred upon them. The reason is plain enough: in the one case they are put into xxx good humour, – in the other they feel indebted.

Edith-May has had upon one of her eyelids for many months what in any one whose skin was more active & healthy, would have xx come to a wisp & so been got rid of. It gathered a fortnight ago, & Edmondson lanced it when the gathering instead of breaking, began to go back. But it has left a red tumour, tho it was poulticed in hopes of making it discharge. Can anything be done to discuss it? – Her pimples are no better, & I am very apprehensive that they never will be.

I shall write to thank Mr W Nash. The address which he recommends for frames is Mr W Hawens [6]  (if I read it rightly) No. 3 Boyle Street, Saville Row, – & the place where the frames were bespoken – Mr Smiths Great Marlborough Street. [7]  – The drawing of my back was meant for a portrait of the author, to be the frontispiece of Dr D Dove. [8]  Poor Nash took a great interest in all my schemes, – & I am continually reminded of his loss.

What is become of Miss Tyler? – Love to Louisa & Mrs G.

God bless you


Three proofs of the P. War [9]  are on the table.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 15. Q. Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 24 FE 24/ 1821
Seal: red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.112. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The ‘Dedication’ to George IV of A Vision of Judgement (1821). Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 February 1821, Letter 3625, contained two versions, of which the least controversial was used, omitting such advice as: ‘adequate remedy should be applied to that intolerable licentiousness of the press … either by the vigorous application of existing laws or by the enactment of such new ones as the suspension of the abuse may render necessary’. The third version, mentioned here to Henry Herbert Southey, was Bedford’s own composition. BACK

[2] Sir Matthew Wood, 1st Baronet (1768–1843; DNB), MP for the City of London 1817–1843 and Lord Mayor of London 1815–1817. He was a well-known Whig and supporter of George IV’s estranged wife, Queen Caroline (1768–1821; DNB). BACK

[3] Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 February 1821, Letter 3635. BACK

[4] Drawings of the Southey family that Nash had made at Keswick in 1820. BACK

[5] Knighton had agreed to present A Vision of Judgement (1821) to George IV. BACK

[6] The studio of William Haines (1778–1848; DNB), painter and engraver. BACK

[7] John Smith (1781–1855), Picture Framer to George IV 1812–1830, and later a picture dealer. His premises were at 49 Great Marlborough Street. BACK

[8] The ‘Dr Dove project’ was finally published as Southey’s anonymous novel, The Doctor (1834–1847). Nash’s picture of Southey from behind, the ‘reariture’, was used as the frontispiece to the one-volume edition of The Doctor (London, 1848), [unpaginated], titled ‘Portrait of the Author’. BACK

[9] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

People mentioned

Southey, Edith May (1804–1871) (mentioned 3 times)
(mentioned 0 times)
Tyler, Elizabeth (1739–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Mary (1750–1838) (mentioned 1 time)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)
Knighton, William (1776–1836) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)