1552. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 9 December 1808

1552. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 9 December 1808 ⁠* 

You will have stared Sir Domine at receiving a parcel of Coleridges Prospectuses. [1]  I am desired to ask you to consult with Mr George Taylor about sending some to Sunderland. Make what use of them you can in the way of distribution, – they are upon too horny a paper for any other use, & if you find any persons who wish to subscribe send me the names.

Domine Doctor it is not such a Prospectus as I would have written, & had I seen it before it was writ printed I should have objected to its form, & to some of its points. It is now too late. Will he carry the thing on? – Dios es que sabe. [2]  I hope so, for if it be carried on, we shall have a tremendous battery to direct which way we please, – & if he does but fairly set it forward, it shall not drop for any accidental delay of illness on his part.

I presume you are tooth & nail at your Annuals, finishing off to be in time. [3]  Mine went off on Thursday last, – & the floor is now covered with the contents of a parcel on account of the unborn Review, [4]  – all relating to the Missions, – of which I am preparing a general view & vindication, – in direct hostility to that despicable article of Sidney Smiths in the Edinburgh. [5]  We shall hoist the bloody flag, run along side that Scotch ship, & engage her yard arm & yard arm – Jeffray after all his shifting is now so sold body & soul to the sneaking Whig party, that we shall have with us all the rest of the country. What a compleat seperation is there upon this question of war or peace between the Whigs & the Republicans

What articles are yours in the last Medical? Mason Good [6]  I guess for one. One phrase in the reviewal of Blairs book [7]  would make me think it was yours, but the whole paper leads me to a different conclusion. Can you tell me which are Goochs articles? The journal is very well done, but there is a twang of Edinburgh insolence about it, which will make enemies, which can do no good, & of which the writers when they are a little older will be sorry & ashamed. Severity may often be right, insolence is always wrong. Generous minds & tempers, Domine, are mellowed like wine as they grow older, – You may repent a sarcasm, – you never can repent having forborne one. I like Gooch so much, & was so thoroughly pleased with all I saw of him, that this character which he has given to his review surprizes me. It is not his nature, & why in Gods name will he graft crabs [8]  upon a nonpareil stock!

I do not remember if I told you that Parry sent me a letter during the summer to introduce some Lakers – who never came. It was a vile palavering letter, – provokingly so, – & set both Tom & me growling. Nevertheless I should have been civil to his friends had they made their appearance. Saving Joanna Baillie [9]  we had no very interesting people this season:

And how go on physic & fees? have you enriched the Apothecary? has the Undertaker set up his coach & has the Gravedigger retired from business, since you came to enrich them. Have you met any cases of the Pole d Pole Davy, – & exhibited the Zebethum Occidentals [10]  to advantage in these Northern latitudes? – Ha – ha – Domine – I long to have a laugh with thee once more. here – my puns are wasted on the air desart air, & quaint things enough to have set up a Kings fool in times when fools kept to their profession, are thrown away & of no account. Yet I go on heroically, & so I should do if I were shut up for sedition in one of the solitary cells of the English Bastilles.

Early in the year I think of seeing you – going by way of Carlisle, & returning by Bowes

God bless you


Dec 9. 1808. Keswick


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.67. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 114–116.
Dating note: Warter dates the letter as 7 December 1808; redated to 9 December 1808 on the basis of inspection of the MS. BACK

[1] The Prospectus for Coleridge’s self-published journal The Friend, which he produced in 1809 and 1810. For the text see The Friend, ed. Barbara E. Rooke, 2 vols (London and Princeton, 1969). BACK

[2] Meaning ‘God knows’. BACK

[3] Henry’s reviews in the Annual Review. BACK

[4] The Quarterly Review. BACK

[5] Southey reviewed Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Missionary Society, Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226; Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), ‘Indian Missions’, Edinburgh Review, 12:23 (April 1808), 151–181. BACK

[6] Henry reviewed John Mason Good (1764–1827; DNB), AnniversaryOration Delivered ... Before the Medical Society of London, on the General Structure and Physiology of Plants Compared with those of Animals, and the Mutual Convertibility of their Organic Elements (1808), in the Annual Medical Review and Register, for the Year 1808 (1809), 280–281. BACK

[7] William Blair (1766–1822; DNB), Hints for the Consideration of Parliament, in a Letter to Dr Jenner on the supposed Failures of Vaccination at Ringwood, including a Report of the Royal Jennerian Society on that Subject, after a careful Public Investigation upon the Spot; also containing Remarks on the prevalent abuse of Variolous Inoculation, and on the dreadful Expense of Out-Patients attending at the Small-Pox Hospital (1808), which Henry Southey reviewed, among other works in the Annual Medical Review and Register, for the Year 1808 (1809), 18–31. BACK

[8] That is, sour crab-apples on the stock of a fine apple tree. BACK

[9] Joanna Baillie (1762–1851; DNB), the Scottish dramatist, friend of the Aikins and of Scott. For Southey’s comments on Baillie’s visit, see Southey to Herbert Hill, 9 July 1808 (Letter 1476), Southey to Richard Duppa, 11 July 1808 (Letter 1477) and Southey to Anna Seward, [late August/early September 1808] (Letter 1499). BACK

[10] These are jokes between Southey and his brother: ‘poldavy’ was a kind of coarse cloth, and ‘Zebethum occidentalis’ was a cure for complaints of the eyes based on dried human excrement. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)