3714. Robert Southey to George Ticknor, 19 August 1821

3714. Robert Southey to George Ticknor, 19 August 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 19 Aug. 1821

My dear Sir

That I intended to thank you for the books you sent me from London in 1819, – the unfinished letter which I have now fished up from the bottom of my desk will show: – And it is better to say peccavi [1]  than to apologize for the old & besetting sin of procrastination. That I had received them, you would probably infer from the mention of Fisher Ames in the Q. Review. [2]  – This omission has been attended with frequent self-reproaches, – for I am sure you will not suppose that you were forgotten; but I looked forward to an honourable amends in sending you the manuscript of my New England poem, as soon as it should be compleated. [3]  When that will be I dare not promise; but the desire of sending you that first fair copy, part of which was put into your hands when you were here, is not one of the least inducements for taking it up speedily as a serious & regular occupation.

I found your parcel last night, on my return home after a fortnights absence. Its contents will be of the greatest use to me. I have already looked thro Callender & the Archaiology, [4]  & find in the former applicable information not in my other authorities, – & in the latter many curious facts. Our old divine Dr Hammond [5]  used to say that whatever his course of study might be in the first part of the week, something always occurred in it which was convertible to use in his next sermon. My experience is of the same kind, – & you will perceive that these books will assist me in many ways.

At present I send you the Vision of Judgement. Erase the word ac p. xx between veré & epicum in the note, & add the letter a to the last word in the first page of the poem. [6]  I take advantage of this means of conveyance to inclose a copy also for Allston. You will receive at the same time a reprint of some official Odes, [7]  – & a little volume containing the memorable history of Lope de Aguirres crimes. [8]  The same post which carries this letter to London, will convey my directions to Longman for sending these books to Finsbury Square. And in the persuasion that you will look with more than common interest upon the most faithful delineations of this beautiful Land of Lakes which have yet been produced, I send you all that are yet published of my friend Wm Westalls views, [9]  & have given directions that the subsequent numbers be forwarded regularly thro the same channel. The account of Derwentwater I gave him, & Wordsworth has promised to render him the same assistance for his side of the country.

My little girls [10]  have not forgotten you, xxx little xxxxxx The infant whom you saw sleeping in a basket here in this library, where he was born three weeks before, is now, God be thanked, a thriving & [11]  hopeful child. Kenyon will be here in the course of the week, and we shall talk of you, and drink to our friends in New England. This is less picturesque than the votive sacrifices of ancient times, but there is as much feeling connected with it.

Mr Everett sent me the two first numbers of his quarterly Journal, [12]  telling me that I should not need an apology for the sentiments which it expresses toward England. I am sorry that those opinions appear to have his sanction, esteeming him most highly as I do, & desirous as I am that the only two nations in the world who really are free, & have grown up in freedom, should be united by mutual respect & kindly feelings, as well as by kindred, common faith, & the indissoluble bond of language. Remember me most kindly to him, – & to Mr Cogswell [13]  also.

I am collecting materials for a life of George Fox [14]  & the rise & Progress of Quakerism. Perhaps some documents of American growth may fall in your way. – We are never likely to meet again in this world, – let us keep up this kind of intercourse till we meet in a better.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ George Ticknor Esqre/ to the care of Samuel Williams Esqre/ Finsbury Square
Seal: red wax; design illegible
Endorsement: R Southey 13 Aug. 1819/ 19. Aug. 1821.
MS: Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College Library, Ticknor 819211.1. (c). ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), V, pp. 86–88.
Note on MS: The letter, as dispatched to Ticknor, also contained the unfinished and previously unsent letter Southey had written to Ticknor on 13 August 1819; see Letter 3344. BACK

[1] ‘I have sinned’. BACK

[2] Ticknor had sent Southey a copy of Fisher Ames (1758–1808), Works of Fisher Ames (Boston, 1809), no. 43 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Ames was a lawyer and an arch-conservative Federalist Representative from Massachusetts. Southey quoted approvingly from Ames’s book (pp. 78, 392) in his article, ‘New Churches’, Quarterly Review, 46 (July 1820), 549–591 (574 and 578), especially referring to Ames’s views on the dangers of freedom of the press. BACK

[3] Southey’s unfinished epic set in New England. A fragment was published posthumously in Oliver Newman: a New-England Tale (Unfinished): with Other Poetical Remains by the Late Robert Southey (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

[4] John Callender (1706–1748), An Historical Discourse on the Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations in New-England in America (1739), no. 523 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Archaeologia Americana: Transactions and Publications of the American Antiquarian Society, 1 (1820), no. 63 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] John Fell (1625–1686; DNB), The Life of the Most Learned, Reverend and Pious Dr. H. Hammond, 2nd edn (London, 1662), pp. 11–12 : ‘His Method was (which likewise he recommended to his friends) after every Sermon to resolve upon the ensuing Subject; that being done, to pursue the course of study which he was then in hand with, reserving the Close of the Week for the provision for the next Lords-day. Whereby not onely a constant progress was made in Science, but materials unawares were gain’d unto the immediate future Work: for, he said, be the Subjects treated of never so distant, somewhat will infallibly fall in conducible unto the present purpose.’ This work was a biography of Henry Hammond (1605–1660; DNB), Anglican theologian. BACK

[6] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), p. xx; Canto 1, line 9. BACK

[7] A combined second edition of Carmen Triumphale (1814) and Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (1814), published as Carmen Triumphale, for the Commencement of the Year 1814: Carmen Aulica. Written in 1814, on the Arrival of the Allied Sovereigns in England (1821). BACK

[8] Southey’s The Expedition of Orsua; and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821), originally intended to be part of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) and first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), i–l. BACK

[9] Westall’s Four Views of Windermere (1821). BACK

[11] Remainder of this paragraph (‘hopeful … connected with it’) is missing from the MS; text is supplied by Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), V, p. 87. BACK

[12] Everett was editor of the North American Review (1815–1940) from 1820 to 1825. BACK

[13] Joseph Green Cogswell (1786–1871), innovative educator and librarian. He had studied at the University of Göttingen 1816–1818, and travelled in Europe with Ticknor and Edward Everett. He visited Southey in 1818, finding his views on America ‘totally ignorant of the character and spirit of the people and the genius of its institutions, but profoundly and minutely learned in its history’. Southey read Cogswell part of ‘Oliver Newman’ and Cogswell observed ‘I do not believe he will ever finish it, and if he does, I fear it will neither do him nor us any credit’, Life of Joseph Green Cogswell: as Sketched in his Letters (Cambridge, Mass., 1874), p. 90. BACK

[14] George Fox (1624–1691; DNB), founder of the Society of Friends. Southey did not write this book. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)