1655. Robert Southey to John May, 15 July 1809

1655. Robert Southey to John May, 15 July 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick July 15. 1809

My dear friend

A few days ago I received a letter from Major Chamberline [1]  telling me that my unlucky brother Edward (who when I last heard of him was a Lieutenant in the Northampton Militia) was then at Lisbon as a private in the 24 Reg. – that he with the hope of making some return to me (whom he had never seen) for the pleasure my poems had afforded him, hoped to get him a Commission in some Portuguese battalion which he was organizing & to which he hoped to be appointed Colonel, & that Lord John Fitzroy [2]  would furnish him with a proper equipment.– I enclose my answer to you, [3]  thinking that you may have an opportunity of sending it, so as to reach him free. Colonel Drummond [4]  of the 24th has also stood forward to assist this worthless poor fellow, – worthless I may well call him, – for there comes a letter from him too a day or two afterwards, wherein he tells me he has got a Lieutenancy & Adjutants ranks in the Portuguese regiment of Oliveira, adding that he is the avowed protege of Marshal Beresford, [5]  & these precious words – If you ask me what has obtained me so advantageous a situation, I reply my own good conduct in the last English Reg. to which I belonged! – & not one the slightest notice does he take of the men who have so liberally befriended him! – This ingratitude has so disgusted me that I cannot make any reply to his letter.

Things look well on the continent, & there is now for the first time a reasonable foundation for hoping that the power of France may be broken in Germany. It will not surprize me if this expedition of ours be designed to attack Cronstadt, & seize Petersburgh, where its appearance may very probably occasion a revolution. [6]  – I am suffering under my summer catarrh, which almost incapacitates me from doing any thing. Edith & the children  [7]  thank God are well. Remember us to Mrs May & believe me

yours very affectionately

R Southey


* Address: [in another hand] Bangor July nineteen 1809/ John May Esqre/ Richmond/ Surrey/ C W Williams Wynn
Stamped: CORWEN
Postmarks: FREE/ 22JY22/ 1809; 10o’Clock/JY.22/1807F.N.n
Watermark: top of shield
Endorsement: No. 143 1809/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 15th July/ recd 22d do/ ansd 29 Oct
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos (ed.), The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), p. 117. BACK

[1] Probably Thomas Chamberlin (d. 1828), Major in the 24th Foot Regiment, April 1809 to May 1811. BACK

[2] Lord John Fitzroy (1785–1857), attaché at the British Embassy in Lisbon and son of Augustus, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735–1811; DNB) Prime Minister 1768–1770. BACK

[3] This does not appear to have survived. BACK

[4] Lieutenant Colonel George Duncan Drummond (d. 1811), commander of the 2nd 24th Foot Regiment in the Peninsular war, from April to November 1809. BACK

[5] In 1809 and 1810 the Anglo-Irish officer William Carr Beresford, Viscount Beresford (1768–1854; DNB) had achieved great success in applying British training methods to the Portuguese army, to which he had been appointed Marshal. BACK

[6] The expedition was to Walcheren in the Netherlands, where the British made an unsuccessful attempt to open a front in support of the Austrian Empire’s struggle with France. Approximately 40,000 soldiers with supporting horses and artillery landed at Walcheren on 30 July 1809. There was little fighting but the army sustained heavy losses from sickness, and in December 1809 the rest withdrew. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)