2285. Robert Southey to John Murray, 23 July 1813

2285. Robert Southey to John Murray, 23 July 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. July 23. 1813.

My dear Sir

You have on the other side the exordium of the History, [1]  with this difference only that in the volume it will be in the first person, instead of the third. – Before it is printed we should make sure of M Wellesleys accessibility, – or else we must omit the matter about xxxx the mention of our source of information. I have means of access thro his son in law Mr Littleton, & shall of course avail myself of them – but the best channel will be thro Mr Canning. Shall I write to him – or xxx <will> you have an opportunity of mentioning it to him personally?

You may be sure that I shall bestow upon this work the utmost care, – indeed none but those who have witnessed it can tell the unweariable solicitude with which I collect materials from the remotest sources, & hunt a point thro fifty volumes for the sake of becoming fully informed of every thing relating to it. About the terms I will write to Turner. We shall not differ about them.

When first I mentioned the subject I believe I told you that I should write also to Longman & to James Ballantyne, – on account of the tranferable matter contained in the Register. [2]  Longmans answer approved the notion, & deferred any father explanation till we should meet, – for they expect soon to see me in town. I hope you & they understand each other, that I may not be thought to have acted otherwise than with perfect openness & propriety.

The book will certainly be the better, if it be wholly written before it goes to press. The objection to this is that at least three quarters of a year will be lost, & thence there arises a heavy inconvenience to me who live by my pen, & xx who drew two thirds of my income from the Register. – But I doubt not this may be accommodated to our mutual satisfaction.

If it be possible I will postpone my journey to London till a more convenient season. It does not wholly depend upon myself.

You will have the first part of the Reviewal [3]  in a day or two: it will I trust be to your satisfaction.

Are you satisfied with the title of the History? I do not know that I am, tho it has cost me a good deal of provoking consideration. War I think is a necessary word in the announcement, but it may perhaps be dropt in the title page. – I have thought of a dedication in verse to the memory of Mr Perceval. [4]  Perhaps (between ourselves) it may be expected elsewhere, – but this would come from the heart, & be the only one to any public character for which I could entirely approve feel entirely satisfied with myself.

It will not be necessary to include the affairs of Spanish America, – neither would it be possible. For the subject would require too much room, – it would scarcely be practicable to obtain compleat materials, – & what is (which is of itself decisive against meddling with them,) – the troubles will not close with the war in the peninsula.

I am rejoiced to hear so well of Nelson. [5]  But this History is the work which will place my name where it ought to be.

believe me

yours very truly



* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 26 JY 26/ 1813
Seal: black wax ‘S’ and motto
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An outline of Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[2] i.e. the accounts of the war in the Iberian peninsula Southey had contributed to the Edinburgh Annual Register. The letters to Ballantyne and Longman do not seem to have survived. For that to Murray, see Southey to John Murray, 5 June 1813, Letter 2266. BACK

[3] Southey’s review of David Bogue (1750–1825; DNB) and James Bennet (1774–1862; DNB), The History of Dissenters, from the Revolution in 1688–to the Year 1808 (1812); Walter Wilson (1781–1847; DNB), History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches (1808–1814); Neal’s History of the Puritans (1812), Quarterly Review, 10 (October 1813), 90–139. BACK

[4] The History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, p. [iii] was dedicated (in prose) to George IV. BACK

[5] The Life of Nelson (1813), which was selling well enough to go into a second edition in 1814. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)