1284. Robert Southey to Neville White, 9 March 1807

1284. Robert Southey to Neville White, 9 March 1807 ⁠* 

Keswick, March 9. 1807.

My Dear Sir,

The extracts which you have given me from this MSS. of Henry’s make me very desirous of seeing the whole. [1]  The subject to which it relates will enable me more fully to do justice to his piety, a part of his character which I regard with due love and admiration. My esteem and respect for him are increased by every fresh communication, and indeed your papers and his own delightful letters make me almost feel as if I had known him from his childhood.

I shall write shortly to Mr. Lofft. [2]  What I understood from his letter was that the Greek Poems were in an unfinished state, but that they discovered the same originality of language as well as conception which is so conspicuous in his English ones. [3] 

The additional stanza to Waller’s song is a happy specimen of imitation. [4]  It conveys, in such language as Waller would have used, a better and wiser feeling than often visited him.

I should like to see the remarks of the ‘Anti-Jacobin’ upon that abominable criticism in the ‘Monthly Review,’ which I design to insert at full length. [5]  The reviewal in the ‘Annual’ was my writing; [6]  and I personally requested Mr. Jeffrey, the editor of the ‘Edinburgh,’ [7]  to speak favourably of the volume there: but as he has no feeling of beauty, no sense of excellence, and never praises anything which does not proceed from his own friends, my application was ineffectual, and his Review still remains unredeemed by a single instance of such justice.

Henry’s Letters have made me acquainted with his family, as well as himself: and the acquaintance I hope will not cease, when my present duty shall have been performed. Before this year is over, I shall hope to take you by the hand in London; and if at any time, any circumstances should lead you, or any of your family, or any near friend of your brother’s, thus far to the north, I beg and in treat that I may be regarded as a friend; as one born in the same rank of life as Henry, and acquainted with the same difficulties; regarding, like him, genius and virtue as the best things, and like him fully sensible that of these, virtue is the best. I wish this particularly to be said to Mr. Maddocks, [8]  to whom it would give me great pleasure to become personally known.

Yours very truly,

Robert Southey.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856)
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 417–419. BACK

[1] This was most probably a manuscript of ‘The Christiad. A Divine Poem’, Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (London, 1807), II, pp. 173–191. BACK

[2] Capel Lofft (1751–1824; DNB), Whig landed gentleman, lawyer and poet. Lofft was the patron and editor of Robert Bloomfield and a number of other writers from poor backgrounds. Southey’s letter to Lofft has not survived. BACK

[3] For a summary of Lofft’s reply, see Southey to Neville White, 13 May 1807, Letter 1322. BACK

[4] This continuation of Edmund Waller’s (1606–1687; DNB) ‘Go, Lovely Rose’ appeared on p. 128 of vol. II of Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (London, 1807). BACK

[5] Southey included the unfavourable review published in the Monthly for February 1804 in the ‘Account of the Life of H. K. White’ that prefaced the Remains. He also included the letter vindicating Kirke White published in the March number of the Monthly. The Anti-Jacobin Review, 17 (January-April 1804), 97, had rebuked the reviewer in the Monthly, declaring that ‘unjustly fastidious must be the critic, who, with a view to censure, would analyze its numbers with severity’. BACK

[6] Southey had favourably reviewed Henry Kirke White, Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems (1803) in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), pp. 552–554. BACK

[7] No review of Kirke White’s poetry appeared in the Edinburgh Review. BACK

[8] Benjamin Maddock (1781–1871), of Nottingham, Kirke White’s friend whom he hoped would join him at Cambridge University. Maddock was vicar of Tadcaster from 1831–1871. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)