1443. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 17 April 1808

1443. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 17 April 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 17. 1808

My dear Harry

I have not been to Bath. My Uncle was of decidedly of opinion that if I could not called on Sealey, without after the manner in which he had conducted himself towards me at Lisbon, – it would be too manifestly for the sake of seeing his daughter, – & this, it appeared to me might lead to something unpleasant to myself, or her, or both. If you recollect that of all my Uncles friends he was the only person who never called upon me during my last residence in Lisbon, you will perceive a marked & purposed incivility, which was doubtless on account of my Jacobinism, & which is not likely to be softened by the present state of affairs between you & him. I have been a good deal vexed at it, for it was very much my wish to have seen my sister elect.  [1]  I beg you will explain to her that my non-appearance was occasioned rather by too much attention than by too little, – the fear I had of occasioning any unpleasant conversation with her father making me relinquish forego what would have been a great gratification.

Your letter followed me from London. A Aikin promised me to send your account immediately, & if he had kept that promise you would have received it now a month ago. I saw Pinkerton, & settled with him that you should do any thing from the Spanish or Portugueze that I thought fit, Pinkerton leaving the selection entirely to me. Here will be present employment, but unluckily not present pay, – for he begins with Europe, & our main materials relate to Africa & America. [2]  As soon as my books arrive which I shall draw out a catalogue of all the Sp & P. voyages, & send to him, stating what ought to be abstracted. About those books you may have it in your power to make a useful enquiry for me. They sailed a fortnight ago for Newcastle, on board the Carlisle. W. Currie. Do you know any body whom you could desire to look after them, – that is to learn whether the ship is arrived, & to give orders that the cases (22 in number) be forwarded by waggon according to direction. There is nothing to pay, & no other trouble than making the enquiry at the proper place.

I settled with Pinkerton that there should be an abstract at great length of the first account of Abyssinia by Fr. Alvarez. [3]  this book I will shortly send you to begin upon, & also the narrative of Nuno Velhos escape from shipwreck, & journey upon the Terra de Natal to Mozambique, a very curious tract: [4]  you may have heard my Uncle speak of it, as something which ought to be translated & published for the use of our Indiamen. When the books arrive & are arranged I will make up a parcel for you of such as are fit for this purpose, & a few others that may help to furnish your shelves.

In the Annual [5]  you shall find employment as long as I do, – for what K. Arthur sends here shall, for the most part, travel to Durham, – the only way of securing them. – The French account of Cintra is among my Uncles MSS. which have not been unpacked, & are gone down to Herefordshire.

Gooch told me you thought of writing a novel. Do you think you could put a comedy together? I have a story for one which if you can arrange into acts & scenes & put together make up, I would finish off & get presented. The fact is that I have plenty of stories for all sorts of dramas, but dislike the drama too much to get about them, – tho to make a play would actually be, in my circumstances, to make a fortune. But if you have any disposition that way I will send you my the plans.

The Omniana in the Athenæum [6]  are mine. With the College Library of Durham at hand can you not supply articles quaint or curious for that collection? – my intention is when enough have appeared, to arrange them & print them in a volume, with the authorities, notes &c, so as to make a curious book, which is very likely to sell, & of which a volume may be published from time to time, as materials accumulate. Of this you may very easily take your share of the labour & the profit, & if you find matter enough, we can open a similar collection under another name in the Monthly Mirror.

I wish I could have sent you some money, but the state of my accounts would not permit it. I talked of you to Mr Southey. My Aunt Mary thought it better that I should not directly ask him to help you, but that you should write to him yourself, – because he is a little hurt that our letters should be to her, & not to him; – & because he hopes to see his consequence acknowledged. She gave me a shirt for you, which shall form part of the parcel. I was at Taunton four days, & weather bound the whole time. He made me a present of 25 £, – which was as welcome as it was little expected.

I shall order your Medical Review, [7]  for the sake of seeing your lucubrations & letting Longman see that somebody buys the book for your sake because you write in it. – I was very much pleased with Gooch, & heartily wish that circumstances may ever bring him near enough to be better acquainted with me. His voice manner & face strongly resemble Sharon Turners, except that Turners eyes give an appearance of imbecillity to his countenance which does not belong to him. Laird [8]  called on me, I met him in the door-way, when going with Wynn out of town to visit Elmsley. Remember me to him when you write, & say I am sorry that it was not in my power to call on him as I wished. Tom is going on well, tho he ought to have remained a fortnight longer at Bristol [9] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Carlile / Currie Carlisle
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henry married Mary-Harriet Sealy, the daughter of a wealthy Lisbon merchant, Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821), in 1809. BACK

[2] Henry was to provide materials for John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), compiler of A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World (1808–1814). BACK

[3] Francisco Álvares ( c. 1465–1536/1541), Portuguese missionary. Southey owned Spanish and Portuguese copies of his narrative: Manuel d’Almeyda, Historia de Ethiopia a Alta ov Preste Joam (Coimbra, 1660); Francisco Alvarez, Verdadera Informacāom das Terras do Preste Joam, [the title and several leaves MS.] (Lisbon, 1540). He also owned a copy of the French translation, Historiale Description de l’Ethiopie (1558). BACK

[4] Joao Baptista Lavanha (mid 1550s–1625), Naufragia da Nao S. Alberto (1597). This report told the story of the shipwreck in 1593 of the Santo Alberta off Southern Africa, and the subsequent trek of the survivors under their elected leader Nuno Velho Pereira. BACK

[5] That is, in reviewing for the Annual Review. BACK

[6] Southey had been contributing miscellaneous pieces of knowledge to John Aikin’s new journal since its start in 1807. He gathered these as Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores in 1812, adding items by Coleridge. BACK

[7] The London Medical Record. BACK

[8] James Laird (?-1840), a fellow student of Henry Southey’s at Edinburgh University, Laird became Physician to Guy’s Hospital, and a member of the Geological Society. BACK

[9] Thomas Southey had gone to Bristol to see John King who had treated him for haemorrhoids. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)