2896. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 6 January 1817

2896. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 6 January 1817⁠* 

Keswick 6 Jany 1817

My dear Harry

The papers arrived about two hours before your letter which was to announce them. Make my acknowledgements to Mr Sydenham [1]  till I make them myself when the box is returned which shall be as soon as I can get thro its contents.

It will be best to insure the forks [2]  – the damage not being very great.

I am sorry to hear your account of my Uncle, – nor is that of Louisa what I should wish it to be. Tell Gooch that I have received Dallas’s MSS. & on the whole like it much; – tho I must tell Dallas the father myself, [3]  – meantime I want to know Gooch’s number in Berners Street, – not liking to send the papers back to him without the specific direction. [4]  The mixture of novel & history is always unpleasant to a man who delights in historical truth; – but it is absurd to quarrel with a book for being what it pretends to be, – & I have found some matters of fact in this which will appear to great advantage in their proper place. For this history indeed I have not only one of the finest subjects that has ever existed for historical narrative, but also the amplest materials, & access to the best authorities. I hope to bring <carry> up a portion with me in the month of April, which when xx it has been shown to Frere, & any body else under whose cognizance the events may fall may be put to press. But my avocations, properly so called as calling me from this work are but too numerous.

Tom is here, & your old great coat hardly covers his shoulders.

Love to Louisa.

God bless you


I am now obliged to set about the M Arthur. [5] 


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 9 JA 9/ 1817
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Benjamin Sydenham (1777–1828), a soldier in India, friend of Marquess Wellesley and Commissioner of the Board of Excise 1809–1819, 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 help Southey with his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[2] Southey had deputed Henry to buy a set of silver forks in London; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 November 1816, Letter 2869. BACK

[3] The father was Robert Charles Dallas (1754–1824; DNB), author of the novels Percival, or, Nature Vindicated (1801) and Aubrey (1804) – his work, like Southey’s, was published by Longmans. 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). It had been sent to Southey via Gooch to assist him in preparing his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[4] Gooch had his medical practice at 19 Berners Street, off Oxford Street. BACK

[5] Southey’s edition of Thomas Malory (c. 1415–1471; DNB), The Byrth, Lyf, and Actes of Kyng Arthur was published by Longman in 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)