1843. Robert Southey to Thomas Hill, 23 December 1810

1843. Robert Southey to Thomas Hill, 23 December 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec. 23. 1810.

My dear Sir

Excuse me for troubling you with a few words on the subject of a long attack upon Mr Coleridge in the last Mirror. [1]  The writer proceeds upon the assumption that Mr C. is the author of certain articles written in defence of himself against various attacks in the Mirror, & published in the Morning Post. [2]  Do me the favour to assure him on my word & positive knowledge, that Mr C. so far from having defended himself knows nothing of the provocation, – & that if he did I am perfectly certain he would never notice it. [3] 

Who the person may be whom your writer supposes, or appears to suppose to be Mr C. I know not. But some three months ago there appeared an attack upon Walter Scott in the Courier signed S.T.C. [4]  It imposed upon the Editor, [5]  & obtained admission in consequence of the signature, but it failed of producing any mischief, for I immediately wrote to Scott to assure him that Coleridge was not the author of so pitiful a piece of malice, & C. himself publicly disavowed it. – It is not unlikely that the articles in the M Post (I have not seen them) may have been written by this same person, & if they xxxxxxxx <personat> C. I should have no doubt of it. The man who was rascal enough to forge his signature for the purpose of annoying Scott, & occasioning a breach between two men of letters who are on courteous terms with each other, would be rascal enough to do anything. – With respect to Mr Coleridge’s poetry or prose I shall say nothing, – all men who publish are liable to be criticised by the wise & the foolish alike, & I should be the last person in the world to complain either for myself, or for my friends. But as the error into which your Editor has fallen has thus been pointed out, I trust he will not repeat his attack upon that ground. [6] 

Accept my thanks for the Mirror which I now regularly receive

& believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

I need not observe that this is intended as a private communication – not a letter for the Mirror.


* Address: To/ Thomas Hill Esqr/ Queen Hithe/ London
Watermark: part of shield
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 1706. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 549–550.
Note on MS: a small section of the address leaf, possibly containing any stamps or postmarks is missing. BACK

[1] Monthly Mirror, 8 (November 1810), 322. This claimed that the author of ‘The Three Graves’ (Coleridge) was the same person who had sent letters signed ‘Ille Ego’ to the Morning Post. BACK

[2] The Monthly Mirror, 8 (July–September 1810) 26–31, 98–105, 186–196, had published a highly critical ‘Commentary on Coleridge’s Three Graves’. It had been rebutted in a letter signed ‘Ille Ego’, published in the Morning Post on 5 December 1810. BACK

[3] A retraction was printed in the Monthly Mirror, 8 (December 1810), 402: ‘On information which we had many reasons to believe, we treated certain letters in the Morning Post as the production of Mr. Coleridge, but we have now to state, on the authority of a gentleman, whose word is not to be doubted, that we were entirely misled … For our opinion of Mr. C’s POETRY and prose, as we have never read any of his works, except the Friend, we have no apology to make; but for suspecting him of the weakness and meanness exhibited by Ille Ego, we are heartily sorry.’ BACK

[4] The London newspaper the Courier (15 September 1810) had published an article entitled ‘Some Imitations of Scott’ and signed ‘S.T.C.’. This compared extracts from The Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion with ones from Dryden, Baillie, Home, Ossian, Pope, Spenser, and Southey (Madoc) in an attempt to prove that Scott had been ‘more particularly … guilty of imitation’. A declaration, supplied by Coleridge, that the ‘S.T.C.’ who had signed the piece on Scott was not the same person as ‘Mr. S. T. Coleridge’ appeared in the Courier on 20 September 1810. BACK

[5] Either Daniel Stuart, or his partner Thomas George Street (dates unknown). BACK

[6] Edward Dubois (1774–1850; DNB), writer and at this time editor of the Monthly Mirror. Southey was convinced that Dubois was the author of the mischievous letter signed ‘S.T.C.’ in the Courier; see Southey to Walter Scott, 24 December 1810, Letter 1844. BACK

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 3 times)
Stuart, Daniel (1766–1846) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)