1663. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 August 1809

1663. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 August 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick. August 4. 1809

Dear Sir

The reviewal of Lord Valentia will go off by tomorrows post [1]  – the books themselves, with such others <as> are in my hands by Mondays carrier to travel by the waggon, – if for the future you wish them returned by a speedier conveyance, it may be done; but I conclude that they are not immediately wanted & therefore that the cheapest mode of carriage is the best.

Mr Gifford has given me a letter of marque against the Methodists, whom however I do not mean to attack by indiscriminate individuals, – but as well as I can to point out the causes of their tremendous increase, & how far it is possible to counteract the mischief which – unless it be counteracted – they inevitably must occasion. I shall do them ample justice, as to the good as well as evil parts of their system & character. My text for this x must be the Barristers Hints to the Legislature, [2]  – & I shall be obliged to you to send me, with it, Nightingales Portraiture of Methodism, & the Report of his Trial, [3]  a volume or two of the Eclectic Review, [4]  & of the Methodist Magazine. [5]  Northmore has published a poem which he calls Washington, [6]  – it is so much upon the same subject as Barlows Columbus, that I ought at all events to see it, & very probably may say as much of it <incidentally> in half a dozen lines as may require to be said. [7] 

Your second number pleased me much, the last article I thought particularly able, [8]  – far more so than the political one in the first: [9]  – it was in the right tone of political philosophy. I do not think Sidney Smith was treated with more severity than he deserves, because no man has dealt more abundantly in sarcasm than he has done, & therefore it is just that he should be dealt with by his own measure. [10]  I recognize Walter Scott in the retort-spirited upon John & Lancaster. [11]  Campbells poem is overpraised but this is a fault always to be forgiven, [12]  – I think it altogether worthless & yet had it been entrusted to me I would have spoken of it as favourably as my conscience sense of truth would have permitted, & abstained from all cens severity of censure; but it is so difficult to do this, & works of fine literature so often require it, that for that reason I wish in general to be employed upon books of which the value consists in the materials & not in the fashion.

The proof of the S Sea Mission [13]  was returned by the same nights post, its sequel has not yet reached me. Probably it has not been thought necessary to send it. that part which contained required collation with the documents on account of the orthography, having been contained in the former sheet: if however it is yet to come your printer gets on very leisurely with his work. I purpose writing upon the South African missions for the 5th number. [14]  & expect to produce an article that will be highly interesting, – that is in its matter, – be the manner what it may.

believe me Sir

Yours with respect

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Bookseller/ Fleet Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ AUG7/ 1809
Watermark: shield, 1803, T BOTFIELD
Endorsement: 1809 Aug. 4 Keswick/ Q.R/ Southey R.
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey reviewed George Annesley, Viscount Valentia (1770–1844), Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt in the Years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806 (1809) in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 88–126. BACK

[2] Southey’s review of [James Sedgwick (1775–1851; DNB)], Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

[3] Joseph Nightingale (1775–1824; DNB), A Portraiture of Methodism: Being an Impartial View of the Rise, Progress, Doctrines, Discipline, and Manners of the Wesleyan Methodists (1807); Nightingale versus Stockdale. Report of the Trial in an Action for a Libel Contained in a Review of the ‘Portraiture of Methodism’: Tried at Guildhall ... March 11, 1809 (1809). BACK

[4] The Eclectic Review was a monthly periodical published between 1805 and 1868. It reviewed a wide range of books in many fields and though founded by Dissenters its policy was non-denominational. BACK

[5] A monthly publication founded by John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB) in 1778 as the Arminian Magazine. It was renamed the Methodist Magazine in 1798 and then after 1822 retitled the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine in which form it continued publication until 1969. BACK

[6] Thomas Northmore (bap. 1766–1851), Washington, or Liberty Restored, a Poem in Ten Books (1809). BACK

[7] The American writer and politician, Joel Barlow (1754–1812) published The Columbiad. A Poem, in England in 1809. It was a revised version of his Vision of Columbus published in 1787. No review of this work was published in the Quarterly. BACK

[8] Sharon Turner, George Canning, and William Gifford (possibly with the German statesman Friedrich von Gentz (1764–1832)) reviewed Proclamation of the Archduke Charles to his Army; Declaration of War by the Emperor of Austria; Address of the Archduke to the German Nation (1809) in the Quarterly Review 1 (May 1809), 437–455. BACK

[9] George Ellis [with George Canning] reviewed Exposé des Manoeuvres et des Intrigues qui ont Préparé l’Usurpation de la Couronne d’Espagne, et des Moyens Employés par l’Empereur des Francais pour la Mettre á Exécution…; Traduit de l’Espagnol par M. Peltier [alternative title Affaires d’Espagne] (1808) and Pedro Cevallos Guerra (1760–1840), Conféderation des Royaumes et Provinces d’Espagne contre Buonaparte ([1810]) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 1–19. BACK

[10] Southey had attacked the views on the Indian missions of Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), one of the founders of and leading contributors to the Edinburgh Review, in his review of the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[11] Walter Scott did review Richard Cumberland (1732–1811; DNB), John de Lancaster: A Novel (1809) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (May 1809), 337–348. BACK

[12] Scott reviewed Thomas Campbell (1777–1844; DNB), Gertrude of Wyoming, A Pennsylvanian Tale, and other Poems (1809), in the Quarterly Review 1 (May 1809), 241–258. BACK

[13] Southey reviewed the Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61. BACK

[14] Southey did not write a review of the South African missions for the Quarterly. BACK

People mentioned

Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 2 times)
Canning, George (1770–1827) (mentioned 2 times)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Ellis, George (1753–1815) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)