2717. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 February 1816

2717. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 February 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 18 Feby. 1816

My dear Sir

You shall have the first part of an article as speedily as possible, – any pamphlett about Parliamentary Reform may serve as text for it. – With regard to the time for announcing the book you are the best judge: – I can think of no better title at present than A View of the Moral & Political State of England. [1] 

Lord Holland & the Spanish travels arrived on Monday. [2] 

Mr Sydenham, M. Wellesleys secretary, [3]  has offered me some papers thro my brother Dr S. – And I expect daily a manuscript designed for the press by a son of Dallas [4]  (who wrote some novels & other things some years ago) – the son was at Cadiz during the siege, [5]  & I believe with the army in their subsequent career of victories. When I get Azanzas book [6]  I will compleat the introductory chapter, & then there will be a considerable portion ready. [7] Freres information will be best obtained by showing him the chapters before they go to press: – he will then see where they are erroneous, & where defective. I will however write to him in a few days, – & I am about to write to Paris in the prospect of obtaining good information respecting Junots reign at Lisbon, from a very excellent & able man implicated by no fault of his own in the ruin of those times. [8]  – Perhaps no history will ever have appeared in the world under more favourable circumstances of authenticity than this.

Next week I shall compleat the second vol of Brazil. [9] 

I was disappointed at not finding the Review [10]  in the parcel –

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

R Southey.


* Endorsement: 1816 Feby 18/ Southey R Esq
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Parliamentary Reform’, Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 224–278. Southey was also planning to write a book on the ‘State of the Nation’. BACK

[2] In Quarterly Review, 18 (October 1817), 1–46, Southey reviewed Lord Holland, Some Account of the Lives and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, and Guillen de Castro (1817). He had reviewed the first edition of 1806 in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807), 397–411. He had also been waiting to receive the travel narrative of the Spaniard Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 and 1807 (1816) and reviewed this in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. BACK

[3] Benjamin Sydenham (1777–1828), a soldier in India and friend of Marquess Wellesley. He was Commissioner of the Board of Excise 1809–1819. He had offered Southey the papers of his brother, Thomas Sydenham (1780–1816), a soldier who served in India and then Spain 1811–1812, before ending his career as Minister Plenipotentiary at Lisbon 1814–1816. He also was a close friend of Marquess Wellesley, with whom he served in India. The papers were to assist with Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[4] The father was Robert Charles Dallas (1754–1824; DNB), author of the novels Percival, or, Nature Vindicated (1801) and Aubrey (1804). The son was Alexander Robert Charles Dallas, an officer in the British army in Spain and Portugal, whose manuscript was published as Felix Alvarez, Or, Manners in Spain; Containing Descriptive Accounts of Some of the Prominent Events of the Late Peninsular War (1818). BACK

[5] The town and naval base of Cadiz, seat of Spanish resistance to Napoleonic rule, was besieged by French forces from 5 February 1810 to 24 August 1812. BACK

[6] Miguel José de Azanza, Duke of Santa Fe (1746–1826) Minister for War 1793–1796, Viceroy of New Spain 1798–1800. He accepted French rule in Spain in 1808 and defended his actions in Memoria de D. Miguel José de Azanza y D. Gonzalo O-Fárill, sobre los hechos que Justifican su Conducta Politica (1815). BACK

[7] History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 3–62. BACK

[8] Southey described the occupation of Lisbon by the French under General Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès (1771–1813) in 1807–1808 in History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 92–148. His correspondent was possibly Timoteo Lecussan Verdier (1754–1831), a Portuguese scholar and factory owner of French parentage, who Southey had met in Portugal in March 1801 and whom he attempted to contact on his visit to Paris in May 1817. Another possibility was Jean-Victoire de Novion (1747–1825), a French émigré, who was commander of the police force in Lisbon in 1801–1807. He had returned to France in 1814 and held minor office under the royalist regime. BACK

[9] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[10] Quarterly Review, 14 (October 1815), published 12 March 1816. This issue did not contain an article by Southey. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)