2148. Robert Southey to John Murray, 21 September 1812

2148. Robert Southey to John Murray, 21 September 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Sept. 21. 1812.

My dear Sir

In talking with Mr Downman [1]  concerning his intended work, [2]  I suggested to him, as an easy means of giving additional interest to it, that the name of every person should be given under his portrait in a fac-simile of his signature, – where it was possible to procure it, which in most cases it must be. It occurred to me also, that instead of accompanying the portraits with a page of biographical notices, a series of Inscriptions might be written for them. The thought has warmed me, & if I do not deceive myself, I could execute it much to my own satisfaction. This form of poem is from its style peculiarly adapted for conveying precepts, & <which> from its brevity, are likely to be impressed upon the memory. – You need not be told what fine subjects these men would afford.

I had almost made a vow never again to sit under an artists hands. I am glad that the vow was not made. There was some thing so good natured both about Mr Downman & his daughter, [3]  that it would have been very unpleasant to me to have put a denial upon any thing which they seemed to wish, & he has produced a likeness, which in the opinion of all who have seen it, is very very far superior to any that has ever yet been taken of me. We are so much pleased with it that I am under his hands for another, – & I am exceedingly obliged to him for presenting me with the <an> appropriate companion to it, in the portrait of Mrs Southey, who accordingly at this time relieves me in the sitters chair.

I have long been looking for a second proof of Nelson. [4]  Being about to send a parcel to my friend Bedford, I will take that opportunity of forwarding a farther portion of copy. [5] 

believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 24 SE 24/ 1812
Watermark: IPING/ 1806
Endorsement: 1812 Septr 21st Keswick/ Southey. R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Downman (1750–1824; DNB), who in autumn 1812 was painting two portraits of Southey (one commissioned by Murray) and one of Edith. BACK

[2] Downman had suggested a series of portraits of prominent figures in the English Reformation. This project did not come about; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 September 1812, Letter 2152. BACK

[3] Isabella-Chloe Downman (d. 1840). BACK

[4] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[5] The next batch of copy was not sent via Grosvenor Charles Bedford; see Southey to John Murray, 23 September 1812, Letter 2149. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)