2157. Robert Southey to William Peachy, [10 October 1812]

2157. Robert Southey to William Peachy, [10 October 1812] ⁠* 

Dear Sir

Thank you for Lord Williams letters [1]  – I had the Russian news last night in a note from Bedford. [2]  You are aware that this is the battle of Moskwa or Mojaisk, of which we had the French account some time ago, & for which rejoicings have been made in France. [3]  Buonaparte says the battle was fought in the rear of Mojaisk, & dates from Mojaisk two days after the battle. This phrase was so ambiguous that it is impossible to learn from it whether he had advanced or retreated. The truth probably is that in this murderous conflict French Generalship could not prevail over <was baffled by> Russian courage, but that <the> Russians courage could not take advantage of the enemys repulse, for want of equal skill. Even this is matter for <a> great thing, for if the Russians continue to fight thus, their ultimate success must be certain.

I had not heard of the fall of Burgos, & was prepared to expect a battle before it would surrender. [4]  Lord Wellington, I think, will bring Massena [5]  to action, or put him to the rout, & then strike down upon Zaragoza.

I stocked myself with Ottleys [6]  wine some months ago, & only intended taking more, in case it hung upon hand & could not be otherwise disposed of. Take what you want without reference to me.

I have as little opinion of Goldsmith [7]  as you have, but take his paper, because the very circumstances which damn his character made him acquainted with many facts x concerning the continental courts, & the proceedings between France & America

The Times shall be sent every night to Miss Crosthwaites. [8]  I failed on Wednesday, & I had nothing better than Goldsmith to send in its stead.

Dear Sir

yrs very truly

R Southey.

Saturday morning.

Are you not amused with the termination of General Hills campaign? [9] 


* Address: To / Col. Peachy.
MS: British Library, Add MS 28603. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: This letter was written the day after that to Grosvenor Charles Bedford of 9 October 1812, Letter 2156. BACK

[1] Possibly official bulletins of events in Russia from William Cathcart, Earl Cathcart (1755–1843; DNB), Ambassador to Russia 1812–1820. BACK

[2] Southey replied to Bedford on 9 October 1812, see Letter 2156. BACK

[3] The battle of Mojaisk, also known as the battle of Borodino, 7 September 1812, saw massive casualties on both sides. Although it was a French tactical victory, in the longer-term Napoleon’s failure to destroy the Russian army marked a turning point in his campaign in Russia. BACK

[4] Wellington and his allies besieged the Spanish city of Burgos from 19 September–21 October 1812, but failed to capture it. BACK

[5] The French Marshal André Massena (1758–1817). BACK

[6] Edward Ottley (dates unknown), wine merchant at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in The Strand, London. BACK

[7] The journalist and political writer Lewis Goldsmith (c. 1763/4–1846; DNB) had started a Sunday newspaper, the Anti-Gallican Monitor, in 1811. It was possibly backed by the Bourbons (it promoted the restoration of the French monarchy) and the British government. BACK

[8] Peter Crosthwaite (1735–1808), was a retired naval commander, publisher of maps and inventor of the aeolian harp. In the 1780s he established the first museum in Keswick. Its treasures included a set of musical stones, a stuffed albatross and a pig with no legs. By 1811 the Museum was run by his son Daniel (c. 1776–1847), a portrait painter. Miss Crosthwaite might be his sister, Sarah Crosthwaite (1771–1817). BACK

[9] The British general Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (1772–1842; DNB), commander of the forces south of Madrid. After winning a number of victories he quietly retreated with the other British forces into Portugal in the autumn of 1812. As some compensation he was elected MP for Shrewsbury 1812–1814. BACK

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