1606. Robert Southey to John May, 27 March 1809

1606. Robert Southey to John May, 27 March 1809 ⁠* 

My dear friend

This morning I have had another daughter added to my family, – Edith & the infant are both as well as could be wished – God be thanked.

I thought you would feel an interest in the proceedings of the Court of Enquiry upon the Cintra Convention, [1]  as well as myself, & therefore requested Rickman would send you one. It makes my blood boil to think that we saved those wretches from their righteous, & otherwise inevitable fate, & sent them to fight against ourselves, & to assist at the siege of Zaragoza! [2]  – Whether Jupiter means to destroy this government the oracles have not told us, but there needs no oracle to tell us that he has besotted it. What but utter fatuity could make them force the House of Commons to disgrace itself by a vote in xxxx defiance of the evidence, when they were at the same time aware that the public feeling must be yielded to! [3] 

Remember me very kindly to Mrs May & believe me

yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.

Keswick. March 27, 1809.


* Endorsement: No. 140 1809/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 27th March/ recd/ ansd/ 31 do
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 1p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos (ed.), The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 116–117. BACK

[1] The Convention of Cintra was an agreement, signed on 30 August 1808, which allowed defeated French troops to leave Portugal without further conflict. The ‘Report of the Board of Inquiry’ into the events leading to the Convention of Cintra came out on 27 December 1808. BACK

[2] That is, the defeated French troops allowed, under the terms of the Convention of Cintra, to leave Portugal with their weapons intact were able to return to besiege Zaragoza. Two sieges of this town, in 1808–1809, culminated in its fall to the French on 20 February, at the cost of approximately 54000 lives. For Southey’s accounts of the sieges, see the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 306–321; and the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 508–527. BACK

[3] The ministry, fearful of incurring royal displeasure and so losing power, called in its payroll vote to ensure that the Duke of York, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), was not condemned by the House of Commons, sitting as a Court of Inquiry. Despite this pressure, sufficient MPs voted against him for his resignation to be necessary. BACK

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