1121. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, [started before 19 November 1805]

1121. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa, [started before 19 November 1805] ⁠* 

Dear Duppa

Our succession of visitors is over, the summer birds have all taken flight. The Islanders are gone, the General is gone. & our in door circle also is contracted, Harry & Miss Barker have left us, the season for reviewing is begun & I have put on my winter cloaths & commenced my hybernation.

My Scotch excursion with Elmsley was a pleasant one. We saw Melrose on our way, if not the most picturesque ruin, certainly the finest architectural one in the whole island. [1]  We staid three days with Walter Scott at his home on the banks of the Tweed. One morning was given to salmon-spearing – with a heavy trident about twelve feet long I had to manage one side end of a flat bottomed crazy boat as she floated sideways down a rapid stream, & to keep her even, & prevent her from striking against the rocks & so upsetting. I did my part well, & having no evil designs upon the salmon came home quite innocent, & sufficiently instructed in a very singular <savage> sport. Scott is a pleasant man, of open & friendly manners, so full of topographical anecdote that having seen him you would be perfectly well satisfied how well history may be preserved by tradition. We saw much classic ground besides the Tweed. The Yarrow with Newark Castle, Branksome overlooking the Tiviot & Johnny Armstrongs strong hold on the Esk. [2] 

At Edinburgh Jeffrey was invited to meet me. Before he would venture to do this he sent me his reviewal of Madoc, then printed but not published. [3]  A man who has been reviewed above fifty times, which is my case is hardened to such things – besides by Gods blessing such praise or such censure as can be bespoke for five guineas a sheet can neither help nor harm me now. xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx they who fling dirt at me will only dirt their own hands – for I am out of reach. So Jeffrey & I met courteously & are very good friends. In fact I am not very irascible, & if I had been so – found him too little to be angry with. he is not above five foot one. a man of ready wit, no taste & so little knowledge that it would have been scarcely xxxxx inaccurate to have said none. Bating the very immoral trade which he has set up, of <publicly> speaking ill of books which he makes no scruple to commend in private, a good-natured man, who only writes malignantly because it gratifies his vanity & sells his review. He has since been to the Lakes & supt with me.

Of all the Scotch reviewers who have fallen in my way, & with the exception of Sidney Smith [4]  I have seen all of any celebrity, I think little, perhaps too little. But having lived with Coleridge & Wordsworth & William Taylor it is impossible not to perceive that these Scotch men are very feeble indeed.

Bedford sleeps over the unhappy Specimens, [5]  & will I verily believe oblige me to come to town to compleat in two weeks what he <will> have been two years about! The inconvenience which this delay hav occasions me is more than he conceives. I am vexed – but have learnt to rely upon myself next time.

I sent to Rickman the journey of D Manuel to London, & have another large cargo ready to send, from which you will be able to form an adequate idea of the tone & temper of the work. [6]  In the course of three months I shall be ready for your part,  [7]  & hope to have the book in the press. To the best of my judgement it is likely to sell well, but the sale of books is almost a lottery. You will have heard if you have seen any of my correspondents that I go for Lisbon next year, certainly unless any unforeseen public or private mishap should prevent. That I may do my business thoroughly & not be hurried Edith & the child go with me, & I shall remain two or even three years. [8]  In fact once there I shall not wish soon to return, but when returned may confidently look to a permanent settlement.

I have seen the Monthly Review of Madoc, some wretched man who either has been reviewed by me with deserved severity, or fancies that he has – has been permitted to vent his spleen there, which he has done very clumsily. It is stupid & blunt ill nature. A blue-bottle fly wriggling his tail & fancying he has a sting in it. [9] 

Edinburgh is the finest city I have ever seen. having had no new coat since I was in London & no new hat except a seven shilling white one of felt, it was judged proper by Edith that I should beautify my appearance in Scotland, & also adorn myself with new boots & new pantaloons. But when I was there, & contemplated the very respectable figure I made, considering the vanity of externals, & moreover that as learning was better than house & land it must be much better than new cloathes – I laid out all my money in books, – & have in consequence the pleasure of laughing at the manœuvre & reading the books.

How goes on Michael Angelo? [10]  I beseech you publish while I may have it in my power to review. [11]  If you will send more translations I will do my best. After this year I have done with reviewing at all events for ever. [12]  My apprenticeship has been a long one, & heartily glad shall I be to leave off the trade.

How are our friends at Stockwell? [13]  I do not ask without some uneasy anticipations, for an English winter is trying for an invalid. There are warm baths in Portugal which restored to Lady Errol [14]  the use of her limbs, & which might perhaps be serviceable to Mr Smith. [15]  I could wish he would try change of climate, & will urge him to it if he finds himself no better in the spring.

We go on well. little Ediths very forward with her tongue. All desire their remembrances.

God bless you.



* Address: [insertion in another hand] To/ Richard Duppa Esqr/ 13. Poland Street/ Oxford Street/ London./ Single/ < No 51 Great Marlboro Street>
Postmark: E/ NOV22/ 1805
MS: Manuscripts and Archives Section, New York Public Library. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 407–409.
Dating note: Despite the postmark, the contents of this letter suggest it was written before that to Rickman of 19 November 1805. BACK

[1] Melrose Abbey is a picturesque ruin located in the Scottish borders. It was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks. Southey visited the Abbey, which is close to Walter Scott’s then home, Ashestiel, on his trip to Edinburgh in October 1805. BACK

[2] 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)); Gilnockie tower on the Esk river, built by John (or ‘Johnny’) Armstrong (d. 1530), who was an outlaw in the Scottish borders. BACK

[3] Jeffrey’s review of Madoc (1805) appeared in the Edinburgh Review, 7 (October 1805), 1–29. BACK

[4] Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), one of the founder members of the Edinburgh Review, in 1802. He was a frequent contributor of reviews on a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, travel, drama, and theology. BACK

[5] Southey’s and Bedford’s jointly-compiled anthology Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[6] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). For the two letters to Rickman mentioned here; see Southey to John Rickman, 27 October 1805 (Letter 1115) and 19 November [1805], (Letter 1122). BACK

[7] Duppa wrote several passages of Letters from England. The description of the monuments in Westminster Abbey, in Letter 23, is an example of his contributions. Southey notes in his own copy of Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish, 3 vols (London, 1807), that Duppa’s contributions were included in I, pp. 264, 268 and 273–275. BACK

[8] Southey’s projected visit to Portugal did not take place. BACK

[9] John Ferriar (1761–1815; DNB), a Scottish physician who practised medicine in Manchester and often contributed articles to the Monthly Review, including this one on Madoc (1805). See Monthly Review, n.s. 48 (October 1805), 113–122. BACK

[10] Duppa’s Life and Literary Works of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with his Poetry and Letters was published in 1806 and contained translations by Southey and William Wordsworth. BACK

[11] Southey reviewed Duppa’s Heads from the Fresco Pictures of Raffaele in the Vatican (1802) in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 918–923, as well as The Life and Literary Works of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with his Poetry and Letters (1806) in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807), 411–425. BACK

[12] Southey continued his reviewing work when his trip to Portugal did not occur. BACK

[13] Stockwell Park, Surrey, residence of Thomas Woodruffe Smith, a wealthy Quaker merchant, and his second wife, Anne Reynolds. The Smiths were friends of Bedford and his family as well as Duppa. BACK

[14] Possibly Alicia Eliot (d. 1812), wife of William Hay, 17th Earl of Errol (1772–1819). BACK

[15] See note 13. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Ashestiel (mentioned 2 times)