2329. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 15 November 1813
2329. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 15 November 1813 *
Keswick. Nov. 15. 1813
My dear Tom
Thank God I am once more by my own fireside. Yesterday I arrived & am now no otherwise sensible of having been xxx five & forty hours travelling than that my ancles are somewhat swolln.
And now for the first time I can sit down in quiet & perfect comfort to write a Letter. – Your report concerning Ballantyne & W Scott was like most reports a great deal of falsehood founded upon some little truth. There is so bankruptcy in the case, – & Scott is just so far involved with them, that his friends find it necessary to bear them through their difficulties.
I was sworn in as Laureat on Thursday the 4th & my appointment dates from the 12th of August, – being both my birthday & the Princes the coincidence is remarkable. Pye  died on the 11th & as a thing of course the succession begins from the following day. Last Thursday I made my appearance at the Levee in the Doctors full dress suit. The coat was taken in for the occasion & I was sans doubt on that day the best drest poet in Christendom. Croker took me. The spectacle was very fine, – the apartments are magnificent in the highest degree, & nothing can be imagined more splendid than the crowd of uniforms, of all sorts & all services. The number of stars, medals, &c made it a proud sight for an Englishman. I saw Graham there & Sir Samuel Achmuty & Sir John Stuart,  – & was introduced to General Anson,  by Mr Littlelton, who also introduced me to Mr Richard Wellesley,  the Marquis son, a man of prepossessing appearance. From the Marquis I receivd a message in the handsomest terms expressing his pleasure at hearing that the subject of the Peninsular affair was in my hands,  & his willingness to afford me every assistance & facility in his power. – The ceremony of presentation was short & easy – my name was announced by the Lords in waiting – “How do you do Mr Southey – I am very glad to see you” – said the Prince to me, – as he said to every body else. – I, as I had been taught by Sir Domine, bent my right knee, managed the sword with my left hand, & putting the right under his just lifted it toward my lips, xx then rose & past on.
Your feelings respecting this appointment will very soon be changed. In me, of all men, it would have been at once gross folly & rank cowardice to have refused it. It becomes honourable if I make it so, – & what reason have I to distrust either my own intentions or my own powers? – As for the ridicule which it at first provoked, a well-turned jest will amuse me as much as it can x any one else, – & even a dull one does me the unintended service of making me appear of importance to the reader. The more abuse, the more censure, the more satire, the more sarcasm the better, – because the lathe will soon be turned. For be you assured that I shall derive honour from the office from by giving honour to it.
I have bought Du Tertre,  xx Lygons History of Barbadoes,  & Atkins  (I think is the name) of Dominica. They are on the way with my other [MS missing] I shall look over them to see what they contain ap[MS missing] to my Brazilian subject  & then forward them to you. In the latter you will probably find something in the two former & especially in the first a great deal.  The more I think about your opus the better the plan appears, – as a task at once practicable, pleasant & profitable for you, & a book which will really fill up a chasm in history. If we could dispose of an edition of 500 copies by subscription at £2.2 (supposing one quarto volume to compose the whole as I expect it will), you would clear by it at least five hundred guineas. Or if we could only get 200 copies thus disposed of I think a bookseller might be found to take all risk & charges & give you that number of copies as the price if the work – here would be 420£ gain – no bad prize for a Captain on shore.
My time was so fully occupied during my absence from eight in the morning till eleven at night, that I had no possible leisure for writing any other letters than those which carried home the account of my proceedings. I was weary beyond measure of new faces & perpetual change, scarcely ever dining two days together in the same place nor with the same company. – In the way of documents I got hold of some good private as well as offical correspondence, & shall have every assistance which the public office can give me.  I must now turn to & fetch up my lee way, – letters to write by the score, & heaven knows how many other league-long operations before me! Thank God here I am once more in health & good spirits, ready to begin all & go through all. – Love to Sarah & Margaret & Maryhannah – I thought of them at Bowes.
For want of red wax I must seal with black. – The seal – a fine Scotch topaz – was a present from Scott, which I got cut in London –
God bless you
I like Bewicks block  very much indeed – but as you observe the water should be made more apparent. Xxx <Two> thousand impressions will be as many as I can possibly want for very many years: for many of these books are my Uncles, & I should not put them in all my own, – for instance xxx is may xxx xxx xxxx all that are in Duck Row  would go without them.
Will you buy for me half a dozen of your Durham-Toasting Cheeses & pack them off by the Carrier. Tell me the cost & I will send it with the amount of Bewicks Bill. – I think my Uncle will have a block cut. 
* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ St. Helens/
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
 The army officers Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch (1748–1843), Sir Samuel Achmuty (1758–1822; DNB), and Sir John Stuart (1761–1815; DNB). BACK
 General Sir George Anson (1769–1849), MP for Lichfield 1806–1841 and a prominent cavalry commander in the Peninsular War. BACK
 Littleton’s brother-in-law, Richard Wellesley (1787–1831). He was to have a fairly undistinguished political career as MP for Queenborough 1810–1812, East Grinstead January-March 1812 and Ennis 1820–1826. BACK
 Southey had agreed to write a History of the Peninsular War for Murray. It was published in 1823–1832. BACK
 The missionary and botanist Jean-Baptiste du Tertre (1610–1687), Histoire Generale des Antiles habitées par les François (1667). Southey copy was no. 2828 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK
 Richard Ligon (c. 1585–1662; DNB), A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (1657); no. 1679 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK
 With his brother’s encouragement, Tom was working on a Chronological History of the West Indies (1827). It was published by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. BACK
 i.e. materials for and help in the writing of the History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK
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