1117. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 7 November 1805

1117. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 7 November 1805 ⁠* 

Nov. 7. 1805

Dear Danvers

It is very long since I have written to you, meantime you have heard of my intention to visit Portugal next year, & of my journey to Edinburgh. Of both these xxx <subjects> I have something to say.

My Uncle advised me to go over this winter with my family. this was impossible, as there is a pretty hard winters work before me. I shall go in the spring if Edith does not chuse to accompany me, most likely in the autumn if she does – which indeed I expect. it would then be advisable or at least pleasant to pass one more summer here, & to have the young one a few months older. My Uncle advises us to come by Carvalho’s ship [1]  from Bristol. At any rate we shall come to Bristol, if not to go by him, on our way to Falmouth. In case of Ediths going I shall make up my mind to at least a two years residence, – & of course leave Mrs Lovell in England. Edith does not like going, but she ought to go, & I believe will. At all events my going is so resolved a thing that I have desired Longman & King Arthur to fill up my place in the fifth Annual Review, & after this year shall have done with that sort of work for ever & ever Amen.

Elmsley & I spent three days with Walter Scott on our way to Edinburgh. he enquired for you & desired to be remembered when I wrote. Camp [2]  is in good health, & put up a hare which Percy & Douglas the two greyhounds [3]  caught in a minute, & which made part of our next days dinner. I saw Newark, & Branksome & Melrose [4]  – the Tiviot & the Yarrow, & went salmon-spearing upon the Tweed. [5]  When we reached the great city Jeffrey was invited by a friend of Elmsleys to meet me at supper. as his review of Madoc was then printed, [6]  tho not published, he thought proper to send it me first, that I might meet him or not as I felt disposed. This was gentlemanly conduct. Having been reviewed now above threescore times it is not very likely that I should feel much affected by praise or censure. I met him in good humour – which if I had not been disposed so to do I could not have helped on seeing an homunculus [7]  of five foot one, with a face which upon a larger scale would be handsome, but can now only be called pretty, ēēnunciating his words as if he had studied eelocution under John Thelwall, of whom indeed he is an Elzevir edition [8]  in better binding. After supper we got upon the general question of taste. You would have been amused to have seen how he floundered about, endeavouring to imply an apology without making one, & talking at what he did not talk of, – & how I on my part without mentioning his review, quoted its phrases occasionally, took up his principles of criticism without once referring to their application, & in the best natured way in the world made him fully sensible that he was – but five foot one. – Upon my soul I cannot feel offended with a thing so insignificant. He has wit & readiness, but in taste & learning so mere a child & so utterly feeble in intellect that I was actually astonished. Indeed the whole corps of Edinburgh reviewers appear miserably puny to me who have been accustomed to live with strong men. Jeffrey came back in the stage with us, to visit the ladies, & supt here, – so you see we are good friends. What I condemn in him is a habit of speaking of xxx books worse than he thinks of them – because xxx ill-natured things are said with better effect than good-natured ones, & liked better, & xxx for the sake of selling his review he often abuses books in public print, which he makes no scruple to praise in conversation. But his praise & censure are alike hap-hazard & worthless.

Edith instructed me to rig myself anew at Edinburgh with coat, hat, pantaloons & boots, – which I meant to do, – but considering that cash was low with me, & that if learning was better than house & land, it certainly must be much better than fine cloaths <apparel>, which is but sanity, – I returned with the old I resolved to make the old cloaths last till next summer – & accordingly laid out the money at the booksellers instead of the taylors. And a good box full did I send home, which it does my heart good to look at now that they are arranged in due order upon the shelves.

Sir Domine went on Tuesday last, & was to reach Edinburgh last night. by way of an episode in the his summer at the Lakes, he has fallen in love with Miss Noel, daughter of the member for Rutlandshire, & grand-daughter of Lord Barham, [9]  & the young Lady has fallen in love with him, & the father is of course very indignant, & the lady of course very resolute, & Sir Dominie in a fair way of having plenty of anxiety, plenty of letters, plenty of trouble, & the Lady at last with 1500£ of her own when she comes of age, as much more on her fathers death & that is all. It happened at Lloyds – for she was of the Bilberry party, & Lloyd is perfectly happy having got into a correspondence with the young Lady, & a sort of paper war with her father, the very thing in the world which he likes best as a sort of seasoning to the insipidity of his life.

I have just begun my reviewing – & alas – my eyes this very day began to ail again. Dr Aikin has applied to me for Spanish & Port. literary lives in his biography – which I have undertaken. [10]  what with this & with Don Manuel [11]  my winter will be fully & laboriously employed, – but it will set me even with the world, & leave me the Spaniard over & above. At Xmas I will send you a draft. – Of the sale of Madoc I know nothing, & expect little, [12]  – of its ultimate effect on my reputation & thereby on my well-doing I have xxx no doubt. Almost I am tempted to trouble you to hunt for the books about the Cid that I might make a volume sure of popularity & of sale, which could be done almost without labour. [13] 

No letter from Tom of a later date than the last of July & then he had the fever worse than at any former attack. I am uneasy – but have been recollecting that ill news always travels fast, & that in silence therefore there is nothing which ought to alarm me. – For politics I am quite sick at heart. the worst news of all is the Duke of Yorks appointment [14]  – the most infamous & shameless acquiescence on the part of Pitt [15]  – for the sake of keeping his place! Oh for a day of reckoning! – the Peachys, went yesterday.

Ediths remembrances

God bless you



* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ NOV 10
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 344–47 [in part]. BACK

[1] Untraced. BACK

[2] Walter Scott’s bull terrier dog. BACK

[3] Dogs belonging to Scott. BACK

[4] Southey visited Newark Castle (a ruin in the valley of the Yarrow Water, three miles west of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders), Branxholme Castle (owned by Charles William Henry Montagu-Scott, 4th Duke of Buccleuch and 6th Duke of Queensberry (1772–1819), friend and relation of Walter Scott who used the castle as a setting for his work The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem (1805)) and Melrose Abbey (founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks; a picturesque ruin). BACK

[5] Rivers in the Scottish borders. BACK

[6] Jeffrey reviewed Madoc (1805) in the Edinburgh Review, 7 (October 1805), 1–29. BACK

[7] Meaning a little or diminutive man; a mannikin. BACK

[8] Books printed and published by the Elzevir (or Elsevier) family of Dutch booksellers, publishers, and printers, from about 1592 to 1680. They were best known for their editions of the Greek New Testament and the classics. The Elzevir editions were valued for their neatness and elegant small type. BACK

[9] Emma Noel (d. 1873), daughter of Gerard Noel Edwardes of Exton Park, Rutland (1759–1838; DNB), who adopted the surname Noel in 1798, and inherited a baronetcy in 1813 to become the 2nd Baronet Barham. Her grandfather was Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham (1726–1813; DNB), naval officer and administrator. 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] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[12] Southey’s poem Madoc, published in March 1805. BACK

[13] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[14] The Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB): second son of King George III (1738–1820, King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB). Notorious for his ineffectual generalship in Holland in 1799 which gave rise to the rhyme ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, he nevertheless retained his position as Commander in Chief of the army. He was appointed Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Footguards in 1805. BACK

[15] William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), Prime Minister 1783–1801,1804–1806. BACK

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