1726. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 December 1809

1726. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 December 1809 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

I have disappointed in Maimbourgs Hist. des Croisades, [1]  – the book was sold, – which I did not expect, – as it is of no reputation, tho it would have been of some use. The same Catalogue however supplied me with the Mem. du Ch. D’Arvieux, [2]  who resided & travelled in your parts about x 1660, six thick duodecimos, – I am travelling thro them & my land marks may save you the trouble of doing the same. The time may be worth saving, but the book is a good one, & well repays perusal. It is of considerable authority, & contains much information to your purpose. [3]  It Indeed your subject has this singular advantage, that there are <have been> good travellers in the Holy Land at every age from the Crusades down to the present times.

You have perhaps heard that my Uncle resigns Staunton & removes to Streatham, where he expects to establish himself next summer. Streatham is six miles from London, the Surry side, – about two miles from Mrs Gonnes. He himself does not much like the change, & my advice to him, as far as it could be called advice, was dissuasory, – agreeing with his own opinion, – but his London friends thought it advantageous, & he yielded to their judgement. It is a more accessible place than Staunton, & so far more convenient for me. I shall probably visit him about the fall of the leaf, – that is if we neither of us fall before the leaves, – & no other circumstance prevents me. With the same feeling of unforeseen contingencies, I purpose attending the Long Main. [4]  It will be the first time that Edith has been out of sight of the mountains since she came among them. But of this three months hence.

My first volume is provokingly retarded by the Printer, who has had the concluding chapter more than three months in his hands. [5]  One more sheet will finish them, – the extent of the notes I cannot guess xx <nearer than> from 50 – to 100 pages, he has as many of them as I can arrange till the remainder of the printed sheets are before me. More meo  [6]  they are of all sorts, & will annoy those who are serious over much. – I wish I could have half an hours conversation with George Sealy concerning Bahia. [7]  Perhaps Mary can obtain from him an answer to three plain questions, – Are there any natives in the neighbourhood of St Salvador, [8]  – what situation are they in, – & is the Portugueze spoken there corrupted by a mixture of the native tongue? – I have sent sundry queries to William May [9]  at St Sebastian, [10]  & put him to look for one or two books there which we could <not> find at Lisbon.

Kehama is finished & in Ballantynes hands. [11]  I daily expect the first proof, – which is matter you know Doctor Sir Domine of great joy.

Our monkish historians will supply you with our part in the crusades. They must certainly be in your libraries. Others which are not there will be included in the republication of Thomas Hearnes labours, – to the whole series of which I have subscribed. [12]  If you <will> send me th a list of any books which you x want & cannot find I will write to Heber for them.

Did you fall in with one of my odd acquaintance who has been marrying among yours, – Northmore? [13]  – a man who has more Greek in his head than any body wo can see in his face, & who has more the appearance of a fool than any person I ever saw who is actually not one. Northmore has a good property in the neighbourhood of Exeter. Coleridge who has no great respect for the honour of his family says what all his brothers would be very much ashamed to hear him say, that his grand father was a bastard of Northmores, & took his name from the hundred in which he was dropt, – upon the strength of which piece of family history he claims kin with Northmore. [14]  Be that as it may he gave us some very pleasant dinners at his seat near Exeter, & in spite of his oystery eyes, is a thoroughly worthy man. I have not seen his epic, [15]  – beyond all doubt it must be bad enough.

Lord Mulgrave [16]  tells Sir G Beaumont there will be no new promotion for the Lyra, [17]  a Commander already on the list is appointed x to her. These dreadful words have long made me wish that Tom were safe out of her. I hope they will supersede him, without giving him another appointment, so that he may have a home ashore.

I have the huge Life of Nelson to review, & am to have twenty guineas a sheet for my work. [18]  It is such a book in size, that I literally mean to weigh it at Miss Crosthwaites, [19]  & then calculate its faults by the pound, – or perhaps by the stone. Dry Measure for the author.

Marys kisses were duly delivered to the children, & they have consigned some to my care in my return. I know of no other way of remitting them than by a draft upon you, – be pleased therefore to pay half a dozen at sight, on account of your eldest niece & your nephew, Bertha not being yet arrived at the kissable age – with her it is according to the Colonels old joke, neck or nothing. [20]  Our love.

God bless you


Dec. 30. 1809.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: H. H. Southey/ Mr Williams Wynn xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.75. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Louis Maimbourg (1610–1686), Histoire des Croisades pour la Deliverance de la Terre Sainte, par le P. Louis Maimbourg, de la Compagnie de Jesus (1682). Southey had previously written to Henry about his attempt to acquire this; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 24 October 1809, Letter 1701. BACK

[2] No. 1581 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Laurent d’Arvieux (1635–1702) and Jean-Baptiste Labat (1663–1738), Memoires du Chevalier d’Arvieux: Envoyé Extraordinaire du Roy à la Porte, Consul d’Alep, d’Alger, de Tripoli, & autres Echelles du Levant (1735). BACK

[3] Henry Southey was researching a history of the English crusades to the Middle East. BACK

[4] A cock fight held annually at Durham. BACK

[5] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[6] Meaning ‘as is my custom’. BACK

[7] George Sealy (1781–1843), the brother of Henry Southey’s first wife, Mary-Harriet Southey, and son of Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821), a Lisbon merchant. George Sealy’s work for his father’s firm took him to Bahia, on the northeastern coast of Brazil. BACK

[8] Historically named Cidade de São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos (City of the Holy Saviour of the Bay of all Saints), Salvador is the capital of Bahia. BACK

[9] William Henry May (1785–1849), John May’s youngest brother and business partner in Brazil. BACK

[10] A city on the southeast coast of Brazil. BACK

[11] Southey’s poem, The Curse of Kehama, published in 1810. BACK

[12] The Works of Thomas Hearne, M.A. [1678–1735; DNB] (1810), a republication of a series of medieval chronicles that Hearne, a Bodleian librarian, had published in the early eighteenth-century. BACK

[13] Thomas Northmore (bap. 1766–1851), geologist and writer. BACK

[14] In 1799, William Godwin reported Coleridge telling a similar anecdote of his ancestry: ‘His great-grandmother, miss Coleridge, committed a faux-pas with ---- [William] Northmore, esq, whom she refused to marry: the sole issue of this amour was His grandfather, a weaver, half-poet & half madman, who used to ask the passing beggar to dinner in oriental phrase, Will my lord turn in hither, to eat with his servant? & washed his feet―he wrote to a judge a wild letter, reasoning on the case of condemned prisoner: the prisoner was pardoned, the judge asked the humourist to dine, and seated him at the head of the table―several times a bankrupt’. Bodleian Library Abinger Dep. c. 604/3, p.1. The Miss Coleridge concerned was Jane (1659–1698); the Northmore was William (1640–1716). See J. C. C. Mays, John Coleridge: Beginnings, chapter 3, pp. 82–83. [www.friendsofcoleridge.com]. BACK

[15] Northmore’s Washington, or Liberty Restored, a Poem in Ten Books (1809). BACK

[16] Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave (1755–1831; DNB): diplomatist and politician who was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1807. BACK

[17] HMS Lyra was a Royal Navy Cherokee class 10-gun brig-sloop, launched in August 1808. BACK

[18] Southey is referring to James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809). He reviewed this work, as well as several other books about Nelson in his article for the Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. These included John Charnock (1756–1806; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of Lord Viscount Nelson, &c., &c., &c.; with Observations, Critical and Explanatory (1806); James Harrison (d. 1847), The Life of Lord Nelson (1806); T. O. Churchill (fl. 1800–1823), The Life of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronté, &c (1808). Southey’s article was later expanded into a full-scale Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[19] Probably Sarah (Sally) Crosthwaite (c. 1771–1817), a member of the extensive Crosthwaite clan who ran one of the two museums in Keswick, but also a mercers, drapers and grocers shop. BACK

[20] An anecdote told of the playwright Samuel Foote (1720–1777; DNB): ‘Foote, dining at the house of Mrs. Thrale, found nothing to his liking, and sat in expectation of something better coming up. A neck of mutton being the last thing, he refused it as he had done the other dishes. As the servant was taking it away, understanding that there was nothing more, he called out to him, “Hollo, John, bring that back again! I find it neck or nothing.”’ See Wit and Wisdom. Jokes, Conundrums, Sentiments, and Aphorisms (London, 1860), p. 59. BACK

Places mentioned

Staunton on Wye (mentioned 2 times)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)