2638. Robert Southey to [Mary Matilda Betham], 23 July 1815

2638. Robert Southey to [Mary Matilda Betham], 23 July 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 23 July 1815.

I am the worst dealer in the world, & therefore very unfit for an adviser in concerns of business. [1]  My own books are published upon no better terms than that those of sharing the profits with the publisher, & I have never yet been successful enough in the sale way to feel just authorized in demanding more. But there has been another cause for this, – my hands have been tied, – more perhaps from a point of feeling on my own part than from any actual necessity, – I have been connected with Longman as a publisher for many years, – he has always answered my drafts, as much to my convenience at all times, as to his own eventual profit, – & this xxx has kept me hitherto on the wrong side of his books, tho my share of the property in his hands has always been far more than would turn the balance in my favour. But things being thus a sense of delicacy rather than obligation makes me go on with him upon the old terms. – You see I am rambling from your concerns to xx my own: but this statement may serve to show that an arrangement for sharing the eventual profits is not an unfavourable one, – & that any bargain which secures to you half eventually, & xx puts you in immediate posession of any part in advance may be considered a good one.

You must see more of the country than you did on your former visit, & therefore I shall delay some purposed expeditions till you arrive.

Come as soon as you possibly can – before the days begin to shorten too soon for the day’s business. Love from all –

Yrs most truly

R Southey.


* MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14192. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: M. Betham-Edwards, ‘Letters of Coleridge, Southey and Lamb to Matilda Betham’, Fraser’s Magazine, 18 (July 1878), 82; E. Betham, A House of Letters (Norwich, 1905), pp. 157–158. BACK

[1] Betham had requested Southey’s advice on publishing her Lay of Marie, which eventually appeared in 1816 under the imprint of Rowland Hunter (d. 1864). Hunter had succeeded to the business of his great uncle Joseph Johnson (1738–1809; DNB). BACK

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