3607. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 15 January 1821

3607. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 15 January 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 15 Jany 1821

My dear Harry

I have been very much shocked at hearing of poor Nash’s death, the news of which was communicated to me by his brother-in-law, [1]  who tells me that you were called in to him but too late. I had spent more than one year out of the last five in company with him, at home or abroad, – & here he had become so domesticated that the children almost regarded him as one of the family. His death therefore has cast a deep shade over what were the sunniest recollections of my latter years. Poor fellow, he bore his cross so meekly, that it was impossible to know him well, without fee becoming greatly attached to him, & the more he was known the more highly he was valued.

I must write ere long to his brother in law about the portraits which he, poor fellow, took to London with him to have them framed, – you will be able to identify them, – they were Cuthbert, my Aunt Mary, Tom, & one of those of Edith May, of which there were three, little differing from each other. [2]  These are mine, & I shall ask to have the others which he made of this family for himself, – as things of no interest to others, – but valuable here. There is moreover my back portrait, designed as the frontispiece to Dr Dove, – an intention which must be given up now that the drawing passes thro other hands. [3]  I should very much like also to have his little pocket book, full of sketches which he made in his walks here.

The Archaica & Heliconia (six quarto vols) [4]  went up in his trunk, when he wanted ballast; he was to send them to Longmans to bind for me, & we cut off the covers which lessened their bulk about a fourth. I must enquire if they had been delivered to Longman, & if not, must trouble you to recover them for me.

Had it not been for this heavy loss, the new year would have opened chearfully with me x in many respects, finding me well employed & in good heart & hope. On Xmas day I received the first proofs of the Hist: of the War, [5]  & I am daily expecting the first proof of the hexameters, which make a poem of substantive length (above six hundred lines) divided into several sections. [6]  I shall not get much by them, except abuse, – which falls upon me with as little annoyance as hail stones upon an umbrella. But they will be talked of, & there will be parties for & against the metre, & the practicability of the metre is proved, & the credit of the attempt will be worth having, hereafter. I shall probably append to it for the sake of adding three sheets to a thin book, my Odes of the two last years, [7]  under the title of The Warning Voice, – the first is very respectable, the second, ni fallor, [8]  of a high order.

Westall has made six admirable drawings to be engraved for my Colloquies: [9]  he is to chuse his own engraver – & if the engraver does them justice they will be some of the most beautiful embellishment that ever appeard to a x book of octavo size. Murray has sent them to me to look at. The view of this house, with Newlands in the distance will delight you, & so will the three others which you will recognize. I am proceeding with those Colloquies, & with the Book of the Church, [10]  – so that you see I shall take the field this season in great force. Oliver Newman [11]  also is progressive – I am now in the sixth book, & as the mornings lengthen, shall get a spell at it before breakfast.

Tell Senhouse that I have received his Dugdale [12]  from Netherhall. I am very glad xxx he is returning to this country. – Elmsley talks of visiting me in July.

How are you going on? Mrs Gonne? & Louisa? & the Queer Beast? & little Charles – who by this time is at the best kissing age? [13]  – The children here are in good order, – which is more than I am, or their Mother. – a day or two I hope will restore Ediths strength, which has been pulled down by some disagreement of stomach, or slight feverish attack, I know not what. My ailment is the old one, a local evil depending so much upon the general state of the body, that one day I may feel nothing of it, & the next the slightest exercise brings it on to a very inconvenient degree. [14] 

Miss W. stays with T. [15]  who takes this God-send both ungraciously & comically. I gilt the pill at first with some thing about Mrs T.s fitness for such a charge &c – the pill was very disagreeable but the gilting had its effect. And to my utter astonishment the other day T. told me that as their fire side comforts were to be sacrificed, they might as well have two inmates as one, & therefore his wife was looking out for another upon the same terms. As I never wish to disturb any body from an agreable illusion I merely observed that it might not be easy to obtain a person upon such terms (for they had already planned what alterations in the house were to be made for lodging her!) – but he coolly replied, there might be widowers, – or persons in the E Indies who would be glad of such an opening. – I do not expect that their present inmate will continue very long, – however half a year more is something. What they will do when they lose her I cannot imagine – but T. seems to trust the Bank of Faith as much as Wm Huntington himself. [16]  I verily believe that the prospect gives him much less uneasiness than it does me.

God bless you


Remember me to Gooch.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 15. Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 18 JA 18/ 1821
Seal: red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.110. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 228–230 [in part]. BACK

[1] Unidentified. BACK

[2] These pictures probably included the portraits of Edith May in three different dresses, ‘lilac’, ‘redder’ and ‘uncoloured’, described in Southey to John May, 8 April 1821, Letter 3667. BACK

[3] The ‘Dr Dove project’ was finally published as Southey’s anonymous novel, The Doctor (1834–1847). Nash’s picture of Southey from behind, the ‘reariture’, was used as the frontispiece to the one volume edition of The Doctor (London, 1848), [unpaginated], titled ‘Portrait of the Author’. BACK

[4] Egerton Brydges, Archaica: Containing a Reprint of Scarce Old English Prose Tracts (1814–1815); and Thomas Park (1759–1834; DNB), Heliconia: Comprising a Selection of English Poetry of the Elizabethan Age (1814). The two works were no. 168 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, where they were described as ‘FINE COPY, calf extra, marbled leaves.’ BACK

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

[6] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[7] ‘The Warning Voice. Ode I’ and ‘The Warning Voice. Ode II’, the New Year’s Odes for 1820 and 1821, were not published until they appeared in The Englishman’s Library: Comprising a Series of Historical, Biographical and National Information (London, 1824), pp. 381–389. They were not published with A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[8] ‘unless I am mistaken’. BACK

[9] Westall produced the following six sketches of Lake District scenes that were engraved for Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, 2 vols (London, 1829): vol. I: ‘Druidical Stones near Keswick’, ‘Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite-water, and Skiddaw, from Walla Crag’, and ‘Derwentwater from Strandshagg’; and vol. II: ‘Crosthwaite Church and Skiddaw’, ‘Greta Hall, Derwentwater, and Newlands’, and ‘Tarn of Blencathra’. A variety of engravers was employed. BACK

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

[11] Southey’s unfinished epic set in New England. A fragment was published posthumously in Oliver Newman: a New-England Tale (Unfinished): with Other Poetical Remains by the Late Robert Southey (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

[12] Sir William Dugdale (1605–1686; DNB), antiquarian. The book was probably his Monasticum Anglicanum: or The History of the Ancient Abbies, and other Monasteries, Hospitals, Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, in England and Wales (1655–1673). BACK

[13] Henry Herbert Southey’s third son, Charles Gonne Southey (1819–1861), later an army officer in India, was born on 23 October 1819. His older brother, Robert Southey (b. 1817) was probably the ‘Queer Beast’. BACK

[14] Southey was suffering from a rectal prolapse; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 October 1819, Letter 3356. BACK

[15] Tom Southey’s lodger was 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

[16] Southey’s review of The Works of the Reverend William Huntington, S. S. Minister of the Gospel, at Providence Chapel, Gray’s Inn Lane, Completed to the Close of the Year 1806 (1811) appeared in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510. Huntington regularly relied on the ‘Bank of Faith’, and Southey used the term as a synonym for deluded optimism. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)
Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)