1108. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 1 October 1805

1108. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 1 October 1805 ⁠* 

October 1. 1805.  Keswick.

My dear Tom

It is quite vexatious to see with what rascally negligence your West Indian post is managed. My last will have told you that Extract 3. had arrived [1]  – above a month afterwards came that marked Ext. 2. & the next day No 5. 1 & 4 therefore are have miscarried, or as yet are missing. I thank you heartily for these & for all your letters, – they are full of interesting matter & you will yourself think so, when you look them over collectively. let me set you more work. If ever you happen to see a Planters books cast your eye along the backs & give me an idea of what a Planters library may consist. How are their houses built? how furnished? their dinners. in what are they like or unlike English meals? What sort of churches? meeting houses if xxx any? There has been a magazine lately published in Jamaica bring this home if you can get it, & a bunch of Jamaica or any other papers.

Your last letter startled me – I hoped you were climate proof before this time. About exchanging to come to Europe you best know what is professionally best – & it is worth while to sacrifice something to get nearer into a wholesome air. besides I heartily & hourly wish you were nearer – not at that dismal distance. I am going to Lisbon in March or April next. whether or not Edith goes is quite uncertain as yet – you will easily conceive how much I wish I could then get upon the Lisbon station – or even at Gibraltar for I would go on to see you. Of peace there is no prospect, tho it may yet come suddenly. a change at home is more probable, from the great strength of the opposition & the miserable state of the King, [2]  who like Solomon in his old years is backsliding, being led astray by strange women. [3]  In case of such a change of administration as is to be expected, & indeed sooner or later must take place I have good hope of doing something for you.

Now to the subject of the prize money. I wrote two articles in the Courier putting the case fairly & forcibly before the public. [4]  In a few days comes a reply from a Spanish Merchant stating that as the prizes taken before the Declaration of War are droits of the crown, & only given in former cases by special favour to the navy, there was no injustice in withholding from them what they never had any right to. To this I replied, & yesterday the Courier in their leading article assert that their Correspondent (meaning me) has been greatly mistaken, for that the sailors are not to receive one farthing less than in former cases. [5]  If this be true you may thank me for it, – for the Spanish Merchants themselves understood the matter as I understood it. I believe Government has been puzzled by its first blunder of stopping the frigates in that buccaneering & infamous manner, – that by way of making out a better story they resolved to give them to the Merchants, then finding that was not enough tost your prizes into the bargain, – then fearing the unpopularity of this, thought to halve it, – for Rickman knows a Captain who had received half his share & was to have no more, – & lately that they have given the matter up & you will have your full due. I do not know that any one besides myself has stirred publicly in the business.

Tomorrow I am going to Edinburgh with Elmsley for a fortnight, just to see the place & the people, the city itself being by general consent one of the finest in the world. On my return I have a world of business to get thro. What with Danvers & other visitors my whole summer has been almost wholly consumed in walking or boating on this lovely lake. [6]  There lie untouched upon the shelf as many books for the Annual Review as will make a full sixth of the next volume, to which I must fall unintermittingly to work without delay. [7]  Besides this I have the preface for the Specimens to write [8]  & to get Espriella ready for the press, [9]  & now Dr Aikin has thus applied to me to furnish the Spanish & Portugueze literary biography for the remaining volumes of his great biographical dictionary. [10]  Did I also tell you that Joan of Arc being again in the press Longman has put the Vision at at the end of the poem, so that there is a gap in the second vol. of Poems to be filled up, which gap I must supply with pieces from the very first volume of all, & tinker them for the purpose. [11]  All this will fully occupy me till March, & as soon as all this is cleared off I shall start for London, where I must needs pass a few days previous to my departure, then go for Bristol, & sail in a Portugueze vessel, the Captain of which is well known to my Uncle – a good ship, well fitted for passengers at about half the price of the Packet. [12] 

These are my plans, & I hope they will not be disappointed. You I think had better get removed if you can, & if the disadvantages be not very great, for it is worth some sacrifice to get a little nearer us, & a little farther from the land crabs.

George Burnett is lodging at Keswick. Did I ever tell you that soon after you left Bristol he wrote a letter to me soliciting a reconciliation? that I sent him up to ———, [13]  who crammed him with so much surgery that he got a birth in the army – & that he gave up this to go & live with a Polish Count in Poland as Librarian? – the sequel is – that he is just come back over head & ears in love with a Polish Princess who happens to be the said Counts Wife!!! – I think Tom you will shake your sides at this. – Little Edith goes on excellently well – she makes herself understood about every thing, & Pappa is the favourite. Edith herself has been very well till last night she was taken with a sore throat, which tho it does not threaten any thing may possibly for a day or two delay my departure. Harry is very well. Miss Barker has at last carried into effect her promised visit. she has been here about a week, & is making drawings of this noble scenery. – Long ere this you must have received Madoc, & I hope the Reviews are by this time arrived also. [14]  Madoc has not yet – to my knowledge, been reviewed, – but I am out of the way of knowing these things here. Coleridge still at Malta. Edward I hear is going into the Caermarthensh. Militia. he has been to Lisbon & my Uncle thinks him the most impudent & worthless coxcomb that ever disgraced his relations, – & so he is in plain truth.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Amelia/ Barbadoes./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ OCT 4/ 1805
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 401–404. BACK

[1] See Southey to Thomas Southey, 22 August 1805, Letter 1095. BACK

[2] George III (1738–1820, King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB). During his latest outbreak of madness, the King was making inappropriate sexual remarks in public; he again declared his desire for Elizabeth Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery (1737–1831; DNB). BACK

[3] The Old Testament king of Israel, whose propensity for foreign princesses as wives and mistresses, was supposed to have led him away from his religious faith. BACK

[4] In December 1804, the naval ship HMS Amelia, of which Thomas Southey was a lieutenant, had captured the Spanish brig Isabella and the ship Conception, both laden with wine and brandy, and the ship Commerce, laden with cotton. It was customary for naval officers to be allotted a share of the value of ships and cargo captured in armed conflict, but in this case the prize money was contested because the ships were captured before war was officially declared. Southey took up his brother’s cause to have his share reinstated in The Courier which published a paragraph supporting the sailors’ claim to the prize-money on Saturday 24 August 1805. This was followed by a longer defence of their position in The Courier on 31 August 1805 under the title ‘Indemnification to the Spanish Merchants’. BACK

[5] A ‘reply from a Spanish merchant’ appeared in The Courier for 4 September 1805, and Southey’s response, that the prize money was being withheld from the sailors in a measure that was ‘impolitic, ungenerous and unjust’ was published in The Courier of 25 September 1805, p. 2. This was refuted by an editorial article in The Courier of 28 September 1805, where it was stated that there was no truth in Southey’s assertion. BACK

[6] Derwentwater. BACK

[7] Southey reviewed in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806): James Bruce (1730–1794; DNB), Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the Years 1768–73 (2nd edn, 1804–1805), 2–16; Thomas Lindley (dates unknown), Narrative of a Voyage to Brazil; ... with General Sketches of the Country ..., and a Description of the City and Provinces of St. Salvadore and Porto Seguro (1805), 27–32; Joseph Skinner (dates unknown), The Present State of Peru, Comprising its Geography, Topography, Natural History, Mineralogy, Commerce, the Customs and Manners of its Inhabitants; Embellished by ... Engravings of Costumes (1805), 49–60; John Griffiths (dates unknown), Travels in Europe, Asia Minor and Arabia (1805), 67–77; James Stanier Clarke (1765?-1834; DNB), Naufragia, or, Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks (Vol. 1; 1805), 99–100; Charles François Dominique de Villers (1765–1815), An Essay on the Spirit and Influence of the Reformation of Luther (1805), trans. B Lambert (dates unknown), 177–187; William Roscoe, The Life of Pope Leo X, Son of Lorenzo de Medici (1805), 449–467; Arthur Cayley (1776–1848), The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh (1805), 477–483; Dieudonné Thiébault (1733–1807), Original Anecdotes of Frederic the Second, King of Prussia, and of his Family, his Court, his Ministers, his Academies, and his Literary Friends: Collected During a Familiar Intercourse of Twenty Years with that Prince (1805), 488–495; William Parr Greswell (bap. 1765–1854; DNB), Memoirs of Angelus Politianus, Joannes Picus of Mirandula, Actius Sincerus Sannazarius, Petrus Bembus, Hieronymus Fracastorius, Marcus Antonius Flaminius, and the Amalthei: Translations from their Poetical Works: and Notes and Observations Concerning Other Literary Characters of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1805), 509–515; George Ellis, Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances (1805), 536–544; Henry John Todd (bap. 1763–1845; DNB), The Works of Edmund Spenser (1805), 544–555; William Lisle Bowles, The Spirit of Discovery (1804), 568–573; William Hayley (1745–1820; DNB), Ballads; Founded on Anecdotes Relating to Animals, with Prints, Designed and Engraved by William Blake (1805), 575–576; John Hoppner (1758–1810), Oriental Tales: Translated into English Verse (1805), 576–578; Francis Burroughs (dates unknown), A Poetical Epistle to James Barry Esq. (1805), 578–579; Vincenzo Monti (1754–1828), Penance of Hugo: A Vision (1805), trans. Henry Boyd (1748/9–1832; DNB), 581–588; James Grahame (1765–1811; DNB), The Sabbath (1805), 588–591; Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769–1850; DNB), Rhymes on Art, or, The Remonstrance of a Painter (1805), 592–596; Samuel Whitchurch, (dates unknown), Hispaniola, a Poem (1804), 596–597; Matthew Rolleston (dates unknown), The Anti-Corsican, A Poem (1805), 597–598; Charles Grant, Baron Glenelg (1778–1866; DNB), Poem on the Restoration of Learning in the East (1805), 598; Edward Coxe (dates unknown), Miscellaneous Poetry (1805), 598–600; Malcolm Laing (1762–1818; DNB), The Poems of Ossian, Containing the Poetical Works of James Macpherson in Prose and Verse, with Notes and Illustrations (1805), 615–620; Archibald Macdonald (1739–1814; DNB), Some of Ossian’s Lesser Poems Rendered into Verse [from Macpherson]; with a Preliminary Discourse, in Answer to Mr. Laing’s Critical and Historical Dissertation on the Antiquity of Ossian’s Poems (1805), 620; Philip Massinger (1583–1640; DNB), Plays (1805), ed. William Gifford, 625–634; Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), Nathan the Wise; a Dramatic Poem in Five Acts (1805), trans. William Taylor, 634–639; John Collett (dates unknown), Sacred Dramas: Intended Chiefly for Young Persons (1805), 639; Henry Mackenzie (1745–1831; DNB), Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, Appointed to Inquire into the Nature and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian (1805), 679–699; Hannah More, Hints Towards Forming the Character of a Young Princess (1805), 708–713; Joseph Lancaster (1778–1838; DNB), Improvements in Education as it Respects the Industrious Classes of the Community (3rd edn, 1805), 732–736; Samuel Jackson Pratt [pseud. Courtney Melmoth] (1749–1814; DNB), Harvest-home: Consisting of Supplementary Gleanings, Original Dramas and Poems, Contributions of Literary Friends and Select Re-publications (1805), 736–738; William Henry Ireland (1775–1835; DNB), The Confessions of William Henry Ireland Containing the Particulars of his Fabrication of the Shakespeare Manuscripts (1805), 743–745. BACK

[8] Southey’s joint project with Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets, published with Longman in 1807 as a companion work to George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790, 2nd edn 1801, 3rd edn 1803) (1807). BACK

[9] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[10] John Aikin’s General Biography: or, Lives, Critical and Historical, of the Most Eminent Persons of all Ages, Countries, Conditions, and Professions, Arranged According to Alphabetical Order was published in 10 volumes between 1799–1815. According to Kenneth Curry (New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, p. 403) Southey contributed the following entries to volumes VI (1807), VII (1808) and VIII (1813): Volume VI: ‘Vasco Lobeira’, 314–317; ‘Francisco Rodrigues Lobo’, 318; ‘Fernam Lopez’, 340; ‘Gregorio Lopez’, 340; ‘Francisco de Losa’, 344–345; ‘Joam de Lucena’, 371–372; ‘Miguel de Luna’, 388; ‘Fr. Francisco de Santo Agostinho Macedo’, 434–435, ‘El Enamorado Macias’, 437–438; ‘P. Fr. Pedro Malon de Chaide’, 506; ‘D. Jorge Manrique’, 523–524; ‘Don Juan Manuel’, 529–530; ‘Ausias March’, 542–543; ‘Juan de Mariana’, 555–557; ‘Vicente Mariner’, 558; ‘Luis de Marmol Carvajal’, 569; ‘P. M. Fr. Juan Marquez’, 574–575. Volume VII: ‘Juan de Mena’, 28–30; ‘Don Inigo Lopez de Mendoza’, 37–38; ‘D. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza’, 38–39; ‘Menezes’, 41–42; ‘Christoval de Mesa’, 59–60; ‘George de Montemayor’, 174–175; ‘Ambrosio de Morales’, 194–198; ‘Alonso de Castro Nunez’, 466; ‘Antonio de Naxara’, 469; ‘Abraham Nehemias’, 469; ‘Florian de Ocampo’, 471–472; ‘Fr. Diego de Olarte’, 487; ‘Fr. Andres de Olmos’, 497; ‘Jerome Osorio’ [with Thomas Morgan (1752–1821)], 530–533; ‘Alonso de Ovalle’, 548; ‘Andres de Oviedo’, 555–556; ‘Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo’, 556–557; ‘Lorenzo de Padilla’, 578; ‘Pedro Paez’, 578–580; ‘D. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza’, 585. Volume VIII: ‘Josef de Ossau, Salas y Pellicer’, 25–26; Bartholomé Pereira’, 46; ‘Luys Pereyra’, 46; ‘Antonio Perez’, 46–47; ‘Ruy de Pina’, 173; ‘Juan de Pineda’, 175; ‘Fernam Mendes Pinto’, 178–179; ‘Thome Pires’, 182–184; ‘Fernando de Pulgar’, 385. BACK

[11] The third edition of Joan of Arc was published in 1806, with the ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans’ – originally published in the second volume of Poems (1799) – printed at the end of the poem. Southey now wished to fill the gap made by the removal of the ‘Vision’ in the new 1806 edition of Poems that he was preparing for the press. He filled it with ‘The Retrospect’, originally published in Poems (1795). For the alterations, see Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols. (London, 2004), I. BACK

[12] Southey did not make his intended trip to Portugal as Edith did not wish to go and he did not want to be separated from her. See Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 20 October 1805, Letter 1113. BACK

[13] Untraced. BACK

[14] Southey sent copies of the Annual Review containing his articles to his brother. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)