1923. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 15 May 1811

1923. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 15 May 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 15. 1811.

My dear Harry

How do you direct to Gooch, – squiring him, or doctoring him? & if he is to be besquired, (as surely any man who wields the ill-looking weapons represented in the Cyclopædia [1]  xxxxxx the in the plate of surgical instruments may well be stiled armiger [2]  with a vengeance) – What is his christian name? – Is it not Robert? – I will write to him, – & if I could be of any service to him, you may be assured there are very few men whom I should so willingly endeavour to serve. It is not impossible that something may be in my power. I will try to introduce him to the Quarterly, [3]  – & xxxxx xxxx thing other possibilities occur to me which I will explain to him when you send me his proper dire address. As he is unsettled at this time. I wish we could prevail on him to pay a visit to the North. We shall return by the end of July, & if he would then come & pass a few weeks here, it might be of service both to his spirits & health; – he could review as well as in London, & might mature some literary plan of xxxxxx extent & importance. I have something in my mind which if it appears to him in the same light as it does to me – may give him both pleasure in the execution, & reputation & profit in the end.

I suspect that you have not received a letter in which I communicated the intelligence of Mr T Southeys death, & the division of his property between his man Tom [4]  & Mr William Oliver, [5] not having any thing <not a sixpence being having been left> to his sister. As neither you nor Tom make the slightest allusion to this I think it likely my letter may have miscarried.

You must not let my proffered sponsorship stand in the way of any body else. Mary’s Uncle [6]  will doubtless like a godson as well as a God-daughter, & my offer [7]  was only conditional, in case you were not otherwise provided.

I am still closely confined by this everlasting Register. [8]  It will exceed 700 pages, & for the whole additional labour extent I have my labour for my pains. Unluckily this is not the worst part of the account. I have a twelfth share of the work, which ought to produce 80 £ for the year: but the increased bulk will eat up almost the whole of the profit, if not quite, for the booksellers (foolishly as I think) are afraid to raise the price in proportion to the quantity, – so that I expect to be <lose> certainly three score & perhaps fourscore pounds, by three months additional labour, the loss of the said three months being equivalent to 150£. At billiards it might be very amusing to play the losing game so well, [9]  – in this case it is not quite so well pleasant.

Poor Mr Bunbury was buried yesterday in our church.

Our love to Mary. If she puts off her confinement till the latter end of July we shall perhaps see you here during your state of singleness. I beg you will please to remember me to my good friends Mrs Croft & Mrs Reid & Mr Viner. [10] 

God bless you


I had a visit the other day from Mr Collinson of Gateshead, – the biographer of Thuanus. [11]  He seems a man whom I should like well upon farther acquaintance.

J of Arc, & Madoc & Kehama [12]  are all in the press for new editions.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.78. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A plate in Abraham Rees (1743–1825; DNB), Cyclopaedia (1802–1820). Gooch was an obstetrician, so this may well be a reference to illustrations of instruments like the forceps. BACK

[2] Someone entitled to a coat of arms and therefore to be addressed as ‘Esquire’. BACK

[3] Gooch did become a very occasional contributor to the Quarterly Review. BACK

[4] Thomas Southey’s servant Tom (dates and surname unknown). BACK

[5] Possibly William Oliver (1775–1830) of Hope Corner, Taunton. BACK

[6] Unidentified. BACK

[7] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 20 April 1811, Letter 1907. BACK

[8] The historical section of the Edinburgh Annual Register covering events in 1809 was substantially longer than that for 1808, so much so, that John Ballantyne insisted that Southey preface it with an explanation; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[9] The ‘losing game’ was a form of carom billiards (an early type of billiards), in which players scored points by pocketing the cue ball via a cannon off the opponent’s ball. BACK

[10] Mrs Croft & Mrs Reid: unidentified. Mr Viner was possibly Samuel Viner (c. 1740–1815), a minor canon of Durham Cathedral. BACK

[11] John Collinson (c. 1782–1857), Rector of Gateshead 1810–1840 and author of The Life of Thuanus: With Some Account of His Writings, and a translation of the Preface to His History (1807). Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553–1617), known as ‘Thouanus’, was a statesman, scholar and author of a highly controversial history of his own times. BACK

[12] A fourth edition of Joan of Arc appeared in 1812, a third edition of Madoc in the same year, and the Curse of Kehama went into a second edition in 1811. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)