1554. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 13 December 1808

1554. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 13 December 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec. 13. 1808

Dear Senhouse

Here is the Prospectus [1]  of something which if it be carried into effect will embody more sound principles of taste, morals & philosophy, than have ever yet been brought together, but whether Coleridge will have moral health enough to put together his ready materials even in this form, is I fear even yet to be doubted . These Proposals are somewhat premature, for as he has chosen to publish by subscription, it is not probable that his lists can be made out in time to begin so early as January; − & if many copies should go into the country, or to small towns, there will be no means of sending them regularly except by post, − the m[MS torn] must then be stamped, & stamps frank only a single sheet. This is the plan which will most likely [MS torn] followed.

I never felt a fear for Spain till last night – But if it be true that we are running away from Romana’s army [2]  as well as from the French, & that we have disembarked the troops at Portsmouth, instead of sending over every disposeable man that this country can furnish, − I think the Spaniards will feel such contempt & indignation at you our wretched folly & imbecillity, as may reconcile them to the Bonaparte dynasty. Who did not expect that the French would at first bear down every thing before them in the field? – but by keeping the mountains & strong holds against them, & worrying them with a desultory warfare, the Spaniards would be disciplined, & they would be worn out. I hope the fears of this wretched ministry exaggerate the danger <evil>, − they did so a fortnight ago. Then they believed that Blakes army was entirely destroyed, & Sir John Moore in imminent danger. [3] 

You know perhaps that Landor is returned – for the express purpose of fighting Stewart our Envoy at Coruña, who when L. made his offer to the Junta, said to them in his hearing il est fou, – il n’a pas l’argent. [4]  Landor wrote him a tremendous letter which he has circulated in England, [5]  & came over as soon as Frere was appointed, to put his threat in execution. He was at Bilbao after the French entered it, & saved some launches with ammunition, − & his opinion is that the Spaniards will be victorious in spite of their allies. But he said he could not bear the questions which were put to him concerning the Cintra convention. [6] 

Did you not tell me that Claudius Buchanan [7]  was born at Maryport? I am writing upon this Missionary Controversy for the unborn Review, − in direct opposition to a thoroughly unfeeling & unphilosophical article of Sidney Smiths in the Edinburgh. [8]  Buchanan has wasted a great deal of money upon College Essays & University Sermons, but he is a good man, & right in what he aims at & in giving him his due praise I shall take care to imply that he is an Englishman, & not a Scotchman as might be suspected from his name. [9] 

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Junr Esqr / Maryport −/ Cockermouth./ Single Sheet
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: Red wax with ornamental letter ‘S’ and a banner with the words ‘IN LABOR QUIES’
Watermark: 1808
Endorsement: Decr: 13.1808/ Robt Southey to H. S./ Proposals for a Periodical Paper by Coleridge
MS: Morgan Library, Misc Ray (Oversize), MA 4500 [Attached to ‘Prospectus of The Friend’]. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. 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] Don Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd Marquis of la Romana (1761–1811), commanded, from 26 November, the remnants of the Spanish army of Galicia that was destroyed by the French on 11 November. Romana’s troops assisted the British while they retreated to Corunna in December and in January 1809. BACK

[3] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command of the British troops in the Iberian peninsula.The army of Galicia, defeated while under the command of General Joaquín Blake y Joyes (1759–1827) on 11 November, was reduced to a mere 6000 men. Moore was indeed in imminent danger of being surrounded by overwhelming French numbers; his disorderly retreat across the mountains during December left his army in distress. BACK

[4] French translates as ‘he is mad – he doesn’t have any money’, a remark made about another person by Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), British envoy to the Spanish juntas in French-occupied Spain. Landor mistook the comment as being directed at him. See John Forster, Walter Savage Landor, 2 vols (London, 1869), I, pp. 135–141. BACK

[5] Landor had privately printed his letter to Charles Robert Vaughan (dates unknown), his former schoolmate and Stuart’s aide, complaining of the imagined slight. BACK

[6] Landor’s exasperation was caused by the Convention of Cintra, signed on 30 August, whereby the French army commanded by Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813) and defeated by Anglo-Portuguese forces under Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington) at Vimeiro on 21 August, was allowed to retreat intact, with its weapons, from Portugal. Wellesley, who did not sign the Convention, had been superseded in command by two veteran generals, just arrived in Iberia, who were content to make peace: Sir Harry Burrard (1755–1813; DNB) and Sir Hew Dalrymple. Public outcry led to an inquiry, after which Burrard and Dalrymple never again took command. BACK

[7] Claudius Buchanan (1766–1815; DNB), author of the pro-missionary Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India (1805). BACK

[8] 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

[9] Buchanan was Scottish by family, place of birth (Cambuslang, a village near Glasgow) and upbringing. BACK

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