3532. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 September 1820

3532. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 September 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 19 Sept. 1820

My dear Harry

I have the whole of Junots edicts, [1]  – Mr Vanzellars [2]  book therefore may be returned with all due thanks. The others, as the Grand Murray is too grand to take charge of them, had better be sent to Longmans, where the people are not so grand.

Tom & his wife do not take to their comical inmate [3]  quite so well as they might do, & as I certainly should do in their situation. But Tom does not accommodate himself to any thing which is not exactly to his liking, so readily as both you & I can do. Some years ago I should have been very glad of such a boarder, & could have made her very well satisfied with her abode. If she remains where she is longer than she can help, it will be more for the pleasure of an occasional visit here, than for any attachment that she is likely to form to those with whom she is placed. Yet when Tom received the draft from Gooch he seemed perfectly sensible what a Godsend it was.

Dr Butler drank tea here, on his flying visit – We have had Barry Cornwall, – alias Procter to breakfast this morning. [4] 

I have sent the first chapter of the war [5]  to press, – three or four weeks ago, but have not yet received a proof. The Book of the Church [6]  is in hand, & will go to press also, soon after I get a copy of the Monasticon [7]  from Murray. – I expect so much from this work that I doubt whether it will not be better to adhere to the original terms than to take the 500£ which Murray last offered. viz. half the profits of the first edition, two thirds of the after ones; for I xxxxxx xxx have some hopes that this book will get into schools & families both for the end which it proposes, & the entertainment which it will afford.

You may tell Hudson Gurney [8]  that I have planned a life of George Fox [9]  & have actually got from Longman a chest of Quaker books – preparatory to laying the foundations. But tha I have not been able to get the first editions of G Fs Journal, as he exhorted me. [10]  When I set about the work in earnest, perhaps he will lend it me, if he has it, & if I cannot obtain it by any other means. This will be some time first, for till I have cleared some engagements of greater pecuniary import, I shall only indulge myself now & then in making notes for this, & perhaps composing the introductory chapter, which will be a view of the progress of Sectarianism in England, from the time of the Lollards till G Fox.

Neville White has been here with his bride & her father & mother [11]  – so good natured a breed that the very sight of them is like sunshine. That man has the spirit of a Prince. To my great surprize he has sent me from Sheffield on his way back a set of silver desert knives & forks with pearl handles, & my crest upon them.

I have found out a point of law in the Queens favour, which Dr Lushington as her civilian ought to bring forward in her behalf. [12]  The text of the Decretals says that a woman ought not to be called meretrix unless she has transgressed with many, & in defining that word many, the Gloss with liberal interpretation declares that a woman is not to be called meretrix until she has lain with three & twenty thousand men. [13]  – Therefore I take it the Queen is an honest woman according to canonical law.

Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne. – Two of the Noels dine with me on Thursday, – Sir Gerards sons. [14] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 22 SE 22/ 1820
Endorsement: 28 Feby 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Collecçaõ de Decretos, Editaes, &c. &c. (Lisbon, 1808), cited in Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (London, 1823–1832), III, p. 934. This contained the decrees issued by Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813), commander of the French force that occupied Lisbon in 1807–1808. BACK

[2] This book had probably been supplied to Southey by a member of the Van Zeller family, prominent Portuguese wine merchants. BACK

[3] Tom Southey’s lodger, Mary Laetitia Wilbraham (b. 1799), daughter of Randle Wilbraham (1773–1861) of Rode Hall in Cheshire. She later married Joseph-Harrison Tryer (b. 1797) of Whitley House, Northumberland. BACK

[4] Bryan Procter (1787–1874; DNB), lawyer and poet, who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Barry Cornwall’. BACK

[5] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 3–62. BACK

[6] Southey’s The Book of the Church (1824). BACK

[7] Sir William Dugdale (1605–1686; DNB), Monasticon Anglicanum, or, The History of the Ancient Abbies, and other Monasteries, Hospitals, Cathedral and Collegiate Churches in England and Wales (1655–1673). BACK

[8] Hudson Gurney (1775–1864; DNB), antiquarian and poet, from a prominent Quaker family in Norwich. Whig MP for Shaftesbury 1812–1813 and Newtown, Isle of Wight, 1816–1832. BACK

[9] George Fox (1624–1691; DNB), founder of the Society of Friends. Southey did not write his biography. BACK

[10] Thomas Ellwood (1639–1714; DNB) edited A Journal or Historical Account of the Life, Travel, Sufferings, and Christian Experiences of that Ancient, Eminent and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, George Fox (1694). BACK

[11] Neville White married Charlotte Sewell (1799–1873) on 12 January 1820. She was the daughter of Joseph Sewell (1772–1844), a wealthy Norwich solicitor, and Ann Sewell, née Cubitt (1780–1849). BACK

[12] Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), estranged wife of George IV. He had pressurised his Cabinet into preparing a Bill of Pains and Penalties to dissolve the marriage and deprive her of the title of Queen. She rejected compromise terms offered by the Cabinet and arrived in England on 5 June 1820. The House of Lords began to debate the Bill on 17 August and what was effectively a trial of Caroline for adultery continued until 10 November. One of the Queen’s counsels was Stephen Lushington (1782–1873; DNB), Whig MP for various seats 1806–1841, eminent lawyer and Judge of the High Court of Admiralty 1838–1867. BACK

[13] The ‘ordinary’ gloss to Gratian’s (mid-12th century) classic work of medieval canon law, Concordia discordantium canonum or Decretum Gratiani: ‘Meretrix est, quae multorum libidini patet’ (Gl. vidua 16 disct. 34). A ‘meretrix’ was a prostitute. BACK

[14] Sir Gerard Noel, 2nd Baronet (1759–1838), MP for Maidstone 1784–1788, MP for Rutland 1788–1800, 1801–1808, 1814–1838. He had eleven sons, but the two who Southey met were the youngest: Leland Noel and Baptist Wriothesley Noel (1798–1873), later an evangelical clergyman at St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row, 1827–1848 and then a Baptist Minister. Both were at this time students at Cambridge. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)