987. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, [c. 6 November 1804]

987. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, [c. 6 November 1804] ⁠* 

Dear Harry

In the first volume Scriptorum Brunsvicensium (which Leibnitz edited) will be found the Otia Imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury. [1]  occupying the pages from 881 to 1004, & divided per tres libros sive Decisiones. [2]  Now to the second of these Dec. & to the 12 Cap. or whatever the subdivision may be called, am I referred by one of my own Memoranda from God knows what author, for an account of K Arthur & his Family of Apparitions. [3]  Do hunt it out for me by this direction & send it me transcribed in a readable hand as doubtless the story will be very noteable.

The same Memorandum also refers me to Ordericus Vitalis. Lib 8. p 695 & 1091. which will be found in Du Chesnes Collectia Scriptorum Normannorum. from p. 319. to 925. [4]  so that my note authority must either have referred to another edition, or misnumbered the pages. however you can easily see what of K Arthur is said in the eighth bookx by hunting with your finger down the pages.


You will perceive that this was written before yours arrived – or I should have begun by noticing its main matter. When I talked of 25£ quarterly it was for the next year, believing then that we should pass the summer here & that you might be with us four or even five months. Nor did I know any thing of what Wm Taylor would remit you. These circumstances alter the affair – you will want more & there will be more for you, & you must be sensible that what we have always been obliged to consider has been the means not the inclination. Independent of Wm Taylors fifty you may count upon the 100£.

I am very uneasy about Tom. the boats of the Galatea failed in attempting to cut a vessel out, & sustained a very considerable loss, the barge being sunk & 25 men in her. this is certain but I can gain no other particulars – except that the whole loss is 30 to 40 in the barge. every man was killed before she sunk. [5]  George Fricker writes this from London as the news at Lloyds. he had been to the Admiralty & could learn nothing more. I am very uneasy as the probabilities are very much on the wrong side.

God bless you

yrs affectionately


Send me your review of Aubrey [6]  as soon as your desk arrives – written small so as not to cost a double postage. I mean to notice Georgris  [7]  in reviewing his Labrador Stone – as a parallel wonder & fit embellishment for his next publication. [8]  My campaign against the authors is begun – & the pile of the ‘killed off’ under the table begins to look respectable. [9] 


* Address: For/ H. H. Southey Esqr/ to the care of Mr Guthrie/ Bookseller, Nicholson Street./ Edinburgh./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: 6/ 1804/ NO
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d.3. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Volume one of Scriptores rerum Brunsvicensium (1710), ed. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) contains Gervase of Tilbury (c.1150–c. 1228), Otia Imperialia. BACK

[2] Meaning ‘into three books or sections’. BACK

[3] Gervase reports the tradition that King Arthur and his knights were seen in the form of ghostly huntsmen. BACK

[4] Ordericus Vitalis (1075–c. 1142), Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ libri XIII is included in André Du Chesne (1584–1640), Historiæ Normannorum Scriptores Antiqui, res ab illis ... Gestas Explicantes ab Anno 838 ad Annum 1220 (1619). Orderic also describes a ‘wild hunt’ in which the familia Herlechini were seen in ghostly form, progressing across the landscape as if in a hunting party. BACK

[5] Thomas Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea, a fifth-rate 32-gun frigate, had on 14 August 1804, made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe.. Of the 90 men sent on the mission, 65 were killed or wounded, and Southey suspected that Tom was among the dead. BACK

[6] Southey and his brother Harry were reviewing Robert Charles Dallas (1754–1824), Aubrey: a Novel (1804) for the Annual Review. However the review of this work (which appeared in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 551–553) does not seem to have been by Southey, according to a later letter which states that his article was suppressed; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 10 August 1805, Letter 1092. BACK

[7] Southey is referring to Causey Pike, which lies in the Newlands valley, south of Keswick and visible from Greta Hall. Seen from Derwentwater, it displays a prominent bump on the ridge line near the summit – referred to here as ‘Georgris’ because the bump made it resemble George III (1738–1820, King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB) in profile; see Southey to John Rickman, 15 October 1804, Letter 983. BACK

[8] An engraving of the Labradore stone, a small natural gem in which the profile of Louis XVI (1754–1793, King of France 1774–1792) could be discerned, is prefixed to the dedication of Dallas’s novel, Aubrey, and the stone is described in the preface (I, xxii–xxiv). BACK

[9] That is, reviewing books for the Annual Review. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)