1547. Robert Southey to John Murray, 2 December 1808

1547. Robert Southey to John Murray, 2 December 1808 ⁠* 


Upon inspecting a little more carefully the books with which you have provided me, I find such information as obliges me to trouble you once more.

It is th the ‘Society for Missions to Africa & the East’ [1]  with which Wilberforce the Thorntons [2]  & their party are particularly connected. Of this Society I have never before heard, – so ill have they advertised themselves. There is a volume of their proceedings published by Seeley in Ave Maria Lane, [3]  which I shall be obliged to you to procure, & also a Grammar & Vocabulary of the Susoo language by Mr Brunton the Missionary, [4]  – which may probably be had or heard of at the same place, tho I know not to what Society he belongs; – either to this I believe or to the old sleeping one for the Propagation of the Gospel. [5]  With these I should be glad of David Brainerds Journal. [6] 

I am sorry to trouble you a second time upon the same business, but I replied in haste to your letter, [7]  a few hours only after the parcel arrived, & seeing the word Sermon upon one of the bundles, left it to be opened the last of the assortment. The subject is of great importance, & it will be a great satisfaction to me if I should be able to bring into one view what these various Societies have done towards the accomplishment of their specific object, & what they have added to the stock of general knowledge. Our Propagandists will bear comparison with the Jesuits in their best days, – & instead of deriding them for that zeal & that enthusiasm without which nothing great & good has ever yet been accomplished it behoves us to hold them up to the gratitude & admiration of the Christian world, & to plead for the end at which they aim, while we speculate with full & entire freedom upon the means which they employ.

Yrs respectfully

Robert Southey.

Keswick. Dec. 2. 1808.


* Address: To Mr Murray/ Bookseller/ Fleet Street/ London/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ DEC5/ 1808
Watermark: 1807/ JW & BB
Endorsement: 1808 Dec 2 – Keswick/ Southey. Robt./ L.Q.R./ 2nd Letr. requiring more Bks of mis/sionaries – his idea of ye/ mission
MS: National Library of Scotland, 42550. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 493–494. BACK

[1] This society, later renamed the Church Missionary Society, was founded 12 April 1799. BACK

[2] Henry Thornton (1760–1815; DNB) and his wife Marianne, née Sykes (1765–1815; DNB), members of the evangelical Clapham sect and founders of the Church Missionary Society. BACK

[3] The Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society became a long-running series, published by L. B. Seeley (1766–1834). BACK

[4] Henry Brunton (c. 1770–1813), worked as a missionary in Sierra Leone from 1797–1801. He published, on his return, a grammar of the Susu language, spoken along on the coast of West Africa: A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Susoo Language, to which are added, the names of some of the Susoo towns ... a small catalogue of Arabic books, and a list of names of some of the learned men of the Mandinga and Foulah countries (1802). BACK

[5] Brunton belonged to the Edinburgh Missionary Society, rather than the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (founded 1701). BACK

[6] David Brainerd (1718–1747). The Journal of his mission among the American Indians was published in 1746. BACK

[7] For this, see Southey to John Murray, 23 November 1808, Letter 1541. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)