1364. Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 27 September 1807

1364. Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 27 September 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

I have desired Longman to send you a copy of Palmerin of England, [1]  knowing that you who love to read as well to sing ‘of Knights & gentle Ladies deeds’ – will not be dismayed at the sight of four volumes more corpulent than volumes are wont to be in these desperate days. The Romance, tho not so good as Amadis [2]  is a good romance, & far superior to any other of the Spanish school that I have yet seen. I know not whether you will think that part of the Preface satisfactory in which it is argued that Moraes [3]  is the author. It is so to myself

I rejoice to hear that we are to have another Lay, [4]  & hope we may have as many Last Lays of the Minstrel, as our ancestors had Last Words of Mr Baxter. [5]  – My own lays are probably at an end. that portion of my time which I can afford to employ in labouring for fame is given to historical pursuits, – & poetry will not procure for me any thing more substantial. This motive alone would not perhaps wean me from an old calling, – if I were not grown more attached to the business of historical research, & more disposed to instruct & admonish mankind than to amuse them.

The Chronicle of the Cid [6]  is just gone to press, – the most ancient & most curious piece of chivalrous history in existence; – a book after your own heart. It will serve as the prologue to a long series of labours, of which whenever you will take Keswick in your way to or from London I shall be very glad to show you some samples. I am now settled here, & am getting my books about me, – you will find a boat for fine weather, & a x good many out-of-the-way books for a rainy day.

I beg to be remembered to Mrs Scott

yrs very truly –

Robert Southey.

Sept 27. 1807. Keswick. [7] 

When I had the pleasure of seeing Mr Marriott [8]  here in the winter I paid him half a guinea as the subscription to Hoggs poems. [9]  The copy has never reached me, – I have applied to Longman, & it seems as if he could not procure it. Perhaps a word from you to the Edinburgh publisher [10]  when you happen to see him (if you should remember it) may be effectual


* Watermark: 1803/ T BOTFIELD
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 3876. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 109–110 [in part]. BACK

[1] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

[2] The Spanish romance Amadis of Gaul, Southey’s translation of which appeared in 1803. BACK

[3] Francisco Moraes Cabral (1500?–1572). Scott had not been impressed, in 1803, by Southey’s claims about the authorship of Amadis. See Scott’s review of Southey’s translation of Amadis the Gaul (1803) in the Edinburgh Review, 5 (October 1803), 109–136. BACK

[4] Scott’s poem Marmion (1808), the eagerly awaited follow-up to the Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) was in the process of composition. BACK

[5] According to the Spectator, 445 (31 July 1712), a publication entitled ‘Last Words of Mr Baxter’ was, after the death of Richard Baxter (1615–1691; DNB), so successful that it was followed by another, entitled ‘More Last Words of Mr Baxter’. BACK

[6] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid, from the Spanish was published by Longmans in 1808. It comprised translations from the Crónica particular del Cid (1593), with additions from the Crónica de España of Alphonso the Wise (1541) and Romancero e Historia del Cid (1632). BACK

[7] This letter is substantially similar to that of 12 September to Scott (Letter 1358). It is probable that Southey, not receiving a reply, sent a second, amended, version of the 12 September letter. BACK

[8] John Marriott (1780–1825), clergyman, friend of Scott. BACK

[9] James Hogg, The Mountain Bard (1807), a volume of ballads published with Scott’s encouragement. BACK

[10] Archibald Constable (1774–1827; DNB) and Co BACK

People mentioned

Hogg, James (1770–1835) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)