1911. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 April 1811

1911. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 April 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 26. 1811.

My dear Tom

With regard to the Register Books the fact is that since you were here I have received very few, my collection for 1809 having been formed before you left Keswick, & that for the year ensuing not yet begun. Except Pasley [1]  & Jacob’s Travels [2]  I recollect no addition to the stock, but a stray pamphlett or two, Jacob will not be done with, till I am some way advanced into the third volume, [3]  – & if it were these few volumes would not be worth carriage. The case would have been different if you had not already overhauled the years assortment.

You heard I believe that Stuart the Envoy at Lisbon was to lend me one of the books for which I advertised. [4]  He contrived to send it by the packet-mail, – & it reached Longmans with a charge of sixteen guineas for postage. L. applied to Mr. Freeling who stretched his authority to the utmost & reduced the charge to one guinea, – a price xx which I must think myself well-off to pay for the loan of a book, of which the original cost would not exceed a quarter of a moidore. [5]  I hope our Envoy manages the affairs of the two nations better than he did this.

If you go to town in June we shall certainly meet then. I expect to set out the last week in May, & we shall be about a week on the road, taking it leisurely, & stopping a couple of days at Nottingham. I have yet a months work at this endless history of 1809. [6]  432 pages are printed. Ballantyne has three sheets more in his hands – I have 114 written, – & still a months work. So that it occupies me full ten weeks longer than the former volume. I have no reason to expect any additional payment for this, – nor if money were out of the case could the time had been better employed, – but the same time devoted either to the Quarterly & to Nelson [7]  would have produced 150 £.

Coleridges letter [8]  is certainly unanswerable. The cry of the Reformers xxx <was used to be> that the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing & ought to be diminished, – & yet by an inconsistency not very compatible with good faith Burdett & his party are for placing the whole patronage of the country at the disposal of the Crown. This was xxx one of the things which first made me suspect his intentions, when in a speech at the Crown & Anchor (which you will see in the Register) he flattered the Royal Family & endeavoured to proof that they would find their interest in Parl: Reform, because then the nation could afford to increase their allowance. [9]  I will not enter into this subject till you have seen what I have said upon his plan, [10]  – & what Windham [11]  said upon Curwens xxxx xxxx xxxxx. asinine bill. [12]  The reform wanted is in public opinion & public feeling: in these points Parliament has been reforming itself for the last century.

Affairs in the peninsula look as well as we could wish them & the determination of the Cortes, against the will of Blake, [13]  to train up armies under English officers, will in all human probability decide the war, even if no new enemies should arise against the Tyrant. But if this news from Holland be confirmed [14]  & the Dutch have really taken out their swickersnees, [15]  – donder und blixen what a situation will he be in. For if the Dutch get hold of one or two xx forts, before he can send a force sufficient to overpower them, we may go to their assistance, xx the result will spread from the Texel to the Elbe, <&> – God knows how far in an opposite direction. – In Portugal he made his utmost exertions to beat us out, – & whether he failed for want of men, or for want of the means of supplying those men, the result is the same, – he has been baffled there, & beaten out with loss of men & of reputation while we have not only gained the latter, but are stronger than we were by the whole efficient force of the Portugueze nation.

You found the great bird – I have found his nest. Upon an island near Endeavour River in New Holland Capt Cook found a bird’s nest ‘built with sticks upon the ground no less than six & twenty feet in circumference, & two feet eight inches high.’ [16]  – Tom we shall see one of these fellows at Exeter Change [17]  bye & bye –

Love to Sarah. – Katharine has been vaccinated – all going on well. De Quincey left me to day after a weeks visit – we went to Buttermere, – & if the Dutch deliver their country, we mean go next spring to Holland to eat herrings & buy books.

God bless you


Which of the Taylors [18]  has been giving you a good character at Bristol? [19] 


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ St Helens Auckland/ Bishops Auckland/ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810); reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457. BACK

[2] William Jacob (1761/2–1851; DNB), Travels in the South of Spain (1811). BACK

[3] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[4] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), envoy at Lisbon 1810–1814, had sent a copy of Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. It had been on the list of books wanted in Southey, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. [vi]. BACK

[5] The moidore was a Portuguese gold coin. One quarter of a moidore was worth between three and four shillings. BACK

[6] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[7] The Life of Nelson (1813), an expansion of Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[8] ‘The Regent and Mr Perceval’, Courier, 19 April 1811, a defence of government patronage. BACK

[9] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 241–242. BACK

[10] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 282–316. BACK

[11] The politician William Windham (1750–1810; DNB). BACK

[12] The Bill introduced in 1809 by the MP for Carlisle, John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB), for ‘“better securing the independence and purity of Parliament, by preventing the procuring or obtaining seats by corrupt practices, and likewise more effectually to prevent bribery”’; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 249–281 (esp. 251–252). Curwen’s Bill did become law in the same year, but was less successful than his contemporaries hoped or feared. BACK

[13] The Spanish officer Joaquin Blake y Joyes (1759–1827). BACK

[14] France had annexed Holland in 1810. Reports of a revolt in April 1811 proved greatly exaggerated. BACK

[15] A large knife. BACK

[16] Information taken from James Cook’s (1728–1779; DNB) account of his first voyage, used by Southey in his account of the ‘Great Bird’, Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores, 2 vols (London, 1812), II, pp. 109–112. See also Southey to Thomas Southey, 6 March 1811, Letter 1880. BACK

[17] Exeter Change in the Strand, London, where the public could pay to see a menagerie. BACK

[18] Probably a reference to either George Taylor, Durham gentleman-farmer and classicist, or his brother, William Taylor (dates unknown). BACK

[19] Which of the Taylors … Bristol?: inserted at the top of fol 1r. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)