3419. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 16 January 1820

3419. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 16 January 1820⁠* 

My dear Harry

I learn from Henry Robinson that Elton Hamond is the person from whom I received two very curious letters in the month of February last, & that pursuant to the intention which he then expressed, he has placed his papers at my disposal. As yet I have receivd no communication from his family upon this melancholy subject. [1] Robinson tells me I may expect it; & when it comes I shall desire the box to be deposited with you; – because I shall not have leisure to inspect the papers before I leave home, & it may more conveniently be done where I can have an opportunity of consulting with Robinson. It is a dismal case: – & judging from the two extraordinary letters in my possession, & from what Robinson informs me of, I have little doubt but that it may be rendered a very instructive one, – conformably to his own desires, & consistently with all due respect to the memory of the dead & the feelings of the living.

My course of reading, aided too by some observations for which at different times I have had sufficient opportunity, have has made me more conversant than most men with the morbid anatomy of the human mind. – From some thing which Robinson says it appears that my second & last letter to him [2]  (to which he returned no answer) made a considerable impression upon him, – tho he acted & reasoned upon it insanely. I had no suspicion who my correspondent was, nor of his purpose. That he was serious in what he said, I was fully persuaded, & therein I was right; but had my nature been a little more suspicious, perhaps I should not so entirely have believed that when he spoke of dying within the month, he meant to imply that he was in the last stage of some incurable disease. My answers were written under that impression. Had I known who & what he was, I would have urged him to come down here, – not with the expectation of reasoning him out of any opinions, or into any, but for the chance of so influencing his feelings as to dispose them him for such a change.

I had a letter from Croker the other day to say that Lord Bathurst, supposing I had a son growing up, had called upon him to offer me a writership for him. [3] 

How is your nursery going on? Cuthbert has been very ill with one of those bilious attacks to which all my children have been liable in infancy. He is now quite well, tho he has not yet recovered his loss of flesh. – A more intelligent little creature never was seen. He is now eleven months old, & has just got his four first teeth.

I hear that great reformer whom I should call an Ass if his own name of Jeremy Bentham did not at once convey the idea of all that is assinine, calls me St Southey, & classes me with St Wilberforce. –  [4]  My life of Wesley seems to be looked for with no little curiosity. [5] Duppa says he expects it will have as great a sale as the Whole Duty of Man. [6]  – I have two chapters & a half to write, – that is – about 50 printed pages. The printer [7]  keeps me upon a short allowance of proofs. In the course of the week I expect to finish a reviewal of Marlborough, - [8]  & then I shall hurry him.

Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne

God bless you


Keswick 16 Jany. 1820.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ 19 JA 19
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Elton Hamond had killed himself on 1 January 1820. BACK

[2] Southey to Elton Hamond, 2 March 1819, Letter 3256. BACK

[3] Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst (1762–1834; DNB), Secretary of State for War and the Colonies 1812–1827. A ‘writer’ was a junior administrator in the East India Company. The only way to gain such a post was through patronage – usually nomination by one of the company’s directors. BACK

[4] Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832; DNB), Church-of-Englandism and its Catechism Examined (London, 1818), p. 26. BACK

[5] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[6] The Whole Duty of Man (1658), an anonymous Anglican devotional work. BACK

[7] Andrew Strahan (1749–1831; DNB), MP for various constituencies 1796–1820 and head of a highly successful printing business. BACK

[8] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818–1819) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)