1397. Robert Southey to Sir George Beaumont, 11 December 1807

1397. Robert Southey to Sir George Beaumont, 11 December 1807 ⁠* 

Keswick, Dec., 11, 1807.

My Dear Sir,

In February I hope to be in town, and to hunt out the Crown of Thorns. [1]  The best existing collection of English poetry is probably that of Mr. Hill, a merchant at Queen Hithe. If it be not there, I will inquire of Mr. Heber, and in the last place examine the Bridgewater Library, by means of Mr. Todd, the Editor of Milton. [2]  I have no doubt of succeeding in this search.

The projected edition of D. Quixote has terminated in the worst of all ways. Cadell and Davies authorised Longman to apply to me concerning it, and meantime, without his knowledge, concluded a bargain with a Mr. Balfour, a gentleman who translated Yriarte’s Fables about three years ago, and by that translation proved himself more thoroughly devoid of all taste than it is possible for any person to conceive who has not seen his miserable mutilations of those excellent originals. [3]  Longman, more hurt at this than I am, in consequence refused to be concerned in the publication, and wished me still to proceed. But I dislike such kind of opposition, and am in no want of worthier occupations. Smirke [4]  will be no loser by this, for his designs will sell any book, be it ever so bad.

Wordsworth has been handled as I expected by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review. [5]  He has to regret that his friends are not as active as his enemies. I am not without hope that Coleridge may be provoked upon this occasion, and have written to him upon the subject.

Mrs. S. and her sisters  [6]  join me in respect to Lady Beaumont. We are all as you left us, except that my study is in better order, and all its contents in seemly array. Mr. Wilson had never before seen a pheasant, and was, as you may well imagine, delighted at the splendour of its plumage.

Yours very respectfully,

Robert Southey


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from William Knight (ed.), Memorials of Coleorton (Edinburgh, 1887)
Previously published: William Knight (ed.), Memorials of Coleorton: Being Letters from Coleridge, Wordsworth and his Sister, Southey, and Sir Walter Scott to Sir George and Lady Beaumont of Coleorton, Leicestershire, 1803–1834, 2 vols, (Edinburgh, 1887), II, pp. 27–28. BACK

[1] Southey was searching for poems by Sir George’s ancestor Sir John Beaumont (c. 1584–1627; DNB), whose ‘The Crown of Thorns’, a poem of eight books, proved to be a lost work. BACK

[2] Henry John Todd (1763–1845; DNB), published an edition of Milton’s works in 1801 that was highly regarded. In April 1803 he became chaplain to John William, 7th Earl of Bridgewater. BACK

[3] The edition appeared as Don Quixote de la Mancha. Translated from the Spanish by Mary Smirke, Embellished with Engravings, 4 vols (London: Cadell and Davies, 1818). It was not edited by John Balfour (dates unknown), author of Fables on Subjects connected with Literature; imitated from the Spanish of Don Tomas Yriarte (1804). BACK

[4] Robert Smirke (1752–1845), painter and illustrator of editions of Shakespeare and the Arabian Nights. BACK

[5] Jeffrey reviewed Wordsworth’s Poems in Two Volumes in the Edinburgh Review, 11 (October 1807), 214–231. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Queen Hithe (mentioned 1 time)