2986. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 5 May 1817

2986. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 5 May 1817⁠* 

My dear Tom

I can scarcely find time even for these hurried lines. Wm. Smith grins & endures it, & my triumph is as compleat as you could desire. [1]  The very Morning Chronicle is put to silence. [2]  1750 had been printed xxxx within the week, & paper was sent for 500 more. Every body compliments me – but what I have been most pleased with xx is an expression in a letter from Mrs Piozzi to Mr Davis, in which the fine old Lady says of me “Oh how glad I am to see him trample down his enemies.” [3]  I dined with the R Academy [4]  because my Correspondent was to be there, & I staid him out – but he did not desire to be presented to me.

We start on Friday, but get no farther than Chatham that day, – where Pasley will have the operations of a siege enacted for my instruction [5] 

Love to Sarah & God bless you


Monday 5 May


* Address: [in another hand] London/ Fifth May 1817/ Capt. Southey/ Warcop Hall/ Brough/ Free/ JRickman
Postmark: RFF/ 5 MY 5/ 1817
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Smith had denounced Southey in the House of Commons on 14 March 1817 in the debate on the Seditious Meetings Bill, condemning ‘the settled, determined malignity of a renegado’ and comparing Southey’s arguments against radical views in the Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 227, with those expressed in Wat Tyler (1817), Act 2, lines 103–112. Southey justified his change of views, and attacked Smith, in his A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817). BACK

[2] The Morning Chronicle, a Whig daily paper, had been consistently critical of Southey and on 12 February 1817 had broken the news of the publication of Wat Tyler and Southey’s authorship. BACK

[3] Southey had been shown a manuscript letter of 29 April 1817 from Hester Thrale Piozzi (1741–1821; DNB) to Reynold Davies (1752–1820), Herbert Hill’s Curate at Streatham. In it, Piozzi declared ‘To The Amusement of the Literary World, our Laureate has contributed by his Spirited Letter, admired by People of all Opinions; because if they accuse his Poetry of Mistiness or Mysticism – his Prose has been so clear and explicit – nor can his Meaning be mistaken: – Oh I am so glad to see him trample down his Enemies!’, The Piozzi Letters: Correspondence of Hester Lynch Piozzi (formerly Mrs Thrale), eds Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom, 6 vols (Cranbury NJ and London, 1989–2002), VI, p. 87. BACK

[4] The Anniversary Dinner of the Royal Academy on 3 May 1817. BACK

[5] Southey was beginning his trip to the continent with a visit to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), whose Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810) he admired. Pasley, an officer in the Royal Engineers and expert on siege warfare, was Director of the School of Military Fieldworks at Chatham. BACK

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