1657. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 18 July 1809

1657. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 18 July 1809 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

Major Chamberlain [1]  of the 24th has written to me from Lisbon, to say that Edward was then a private in that Regiment, – that he would endeavour to get him a commission in some Portugueze battalions which he was organizing, & to which he expected to be appointed Colonel, that Colonel Drummond [2]  of the 24th would assist him in this endeavour, & that Lord John Fitzroy [3]  would pro furnish him with his necessary equipments. – A few days after this letter comes one from Edward himself to tell me he was a Lieutenant & Adjutant in the Port. Reg of Oliveira, & that he obtained it by his own good conduct! – not does he mention one word of these officers who raised him from the ranks, & equipped him. – The same intelligence which Major C sent me, he sent also to Dalrymple the surgeon, of Norwich, [4]  thinking his letter might fail of finding me – I have of course written to thank him, & sent my letter to John May that it may reach him free. [5]  When Mary writes to her father [6]  I should be obliged to her if she would beg him to make my respects to Major Ch. (if he happens to see him) – express my thanks to him, & likewise say that I have written to express them myself, – this is a fit sort of precaution in case my letter should be as long kicking to windward as his has been. God knows what this precious youths adventures have been since he was in the Northampton Militia! He writes from Abrantes, tells me he has 8 Shillings a day, & that his regiment is to be the advanced guard of the P. army when it enters Spain. Never had man more chances for redeeming himself than he has had, – but I confess I am altogether hopeless about him. There is a species of moral derangement as well as of intellectual madness, – an idiotcy of the heart; – a deficiency of the moral sense, & this is his case.

Almost ever since my return I have had my obstinate summer catarrh upon me. Losh turned me over at Newcastle to a Mr Doubleday [7]  to show me the town & as we were peripateticating, who should we meet but Mr Adamson, whom who may be called A-dam-son of the Muses. By his guidance we got on the old Castle. Our old acquaintance Mr Turner [8]  dined with us. I got off at one the next day, & was well pleased with the road to Carlisle which lies thro a striking country for the greatest part of the way. On the Wednesday I walked to Heskett to breakfast & reached home about two o clock, being so fresh after my nine & twenty miles, that I should could have marched on another stage with great ease & comfort.

Danvers has been here about ten days, & we minutely expect Clarkson who is to stay here ‘one day & a half’. The Liddells [9]  made their appearance duly & I sent them to Waswater, but I did not see the females of the party. Walsh [10]  & his poney are not yet arrived. We have had Sharp here, & Dickinson [11]  the Member for Somersetshire, a schoolfellow of mine whom I had not seen for seventeen years. A Cambridge fellow with his pupil has also been here, whom Charles & I met the next day in their gig & picked up a pocket full of Methodistical Tracts which they were dropping along the road, – as seed by the way side. [12] 

I perceive that an abridgement of Francisco Alvares [13]  is inserted in Purchas, – to reabridge it would therefore be useful useless but do you examine whether or no it be much shortened (Purchas is in the Bishops Library) – for it in that case one might advise Longman to give a full translation, & translating is of all work the easiest. – Some leisure hour I will write to you vehemently about the Crusades, – being assured that you can in no way add so materially to your present enjoyment & future happiness, as by having some work of importance in hand, & some pursuit of a higher nature than the ordinary ones of the world. You are well situated for books, – many of those which are of most importance being at hand, & you may make the whole skeleton of the work with your present stock of languages; – it will be time enough at the end to incorporate Arabian documents, if any of importance remain untranslated.

Our love to Mary, – whom we heartily wish to see here. I will send you Cullens Materia Medica, [14]  & put a copy of Whites Remains [15]  for her in the parcel.

Miss Wood [16]  informs us that Mrs Peachy by the last accounts was confined to her bed, & the physicians had desisted from giving her any thing except laudanum. No doubt she is at rest ere this. [MS obscured] am glad they were not here last summer, but in spite of the slow weening the Island will always be to me a melancholy place, & the ‘what has been’ will frequently come across me in moments of enjoyment upon yonder Lake, to sadden what is! [17] 

God bless you

Robert Southey

July 18. 1809. Keswick.

We are likely to have a cousin in the course of next month


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 43
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.72. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

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

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

[3] 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

[4] William Dalrymple (1772–1847). BACK

[5] For the letter to May, see Southey to John May, 15 July 1809, Letter 1655. The other does not appear to have survived. BACK

[6] Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821) a wealthy Lisbon merchant who was Harry’s father-in-law. BACK

[7] Probably George Doubleday (dates unknown), manufacturer of soap, tallow and sulphuric acid, and father of Thomas (1790–1870), who went on to become a radical politician and writer. BACK

[8] Probably William Turner (1761–1859; DNB), Unitarian minister of the Hanover Square chapel, Newcastle. Turner was a teacher and scholar, a founder of the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society, and one of James Losh’s circle. BACK

[9] Untraced. BACK

[10] Untraced. BACK

[11] William Dickinson (1771–1837), a pupil at Westminster School, who later went on to Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1793, MA 1795). He was Civil Lord of the Admiralty 1804–1806. BACK

[12] Possibly the Revd Samuel Tillbrook. Tillbrook soon made Southey’s acquaintance and also that of Wordsworth, near whose home at Rydal he subsequently purchased a cottage. BACK

[13] Francisco Alvarez (c. 1465–1541?) was a Portuguese missionary and explorer, who published in Lisbon in 1540 an account of his travels entitled Yerdadera Informacam das terras do Preste Joam. It was translated into English and included in part 2 of Samuel Purchas (c. 1577–1626; DNB), His Pilgrimage, or Relations of the World (1625). BACK

[14] William Cullen (1710–1790; DNB), Scottish chemist and physician who published his Lectures on the Materia Medica (or properties of medicines) in 1773. BACK

[15] Southey’s edition of The Remains of Henry Kirke White of Nottingham with an Account of his Life (1807). BACK

[16] Isabella Wood (dates unknown), cousin of Humphrey Senhouse. BACK

[17] A reference to Derwent Isle, a melancholy place because of the untimely death of its summer resident Emma Peachey, wife of its owner General William Peachey. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)