3707. Robert Southey to Wade Browne, 1 August 1821

3707. Robert Southey to Wade Browne, 1 August 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 1 Aug. 1821

My dear Sir

I ought ere this to have thanked you for the perry, which arrived safe, & in such high-flying condition, that if hot weather had overtaken it on the way, & the demolition of bottles had occurred in the hampers, which has taken place since, the carrier would have been suspected of careless usage.

When your last letter arrived I was in hopes that the disturbances in the Turkish empire would soon have been appeased. [1]  Have you heard from Wade? [2]  The news of the insurrection must have reached Egypt sooner than it did England; I think therefore that he must have heard it either before he left Egypt, or in Syria; & in either of those countries he would be safe, where there is no Turkish feeling among the people, & Europeans are regarded with respect, since their power was shown there. [3]  – Pray let me know if you have received tidings of him. What I hope is that he will have embarked at Alexandria in some English or French vessel.

Much as the funds are affected by the prospect of a war between Russia & the Turks, that quarrel would <need> never in its remotest consequences involve this country. [4]  The Greeks may free themselves, & pass into a state of anarchy & intestine wars, worse, if worse be possible, than the barbarous yoke which they are endeavouring to shake; but there is no danger of their becoming part of the Russian empire. The Russians may defeat the Turkish armies, & lay open the way to Constantinople, but they cannot maintain their conquests in Turkey; & Constantinople would sustain a siege like Zaragoza, or prove as fatal to those who took possession of it, as Moscow did to the French. [5]  There need be no apprehensions from the aggrandizement of the Russian empire in that direction. [6]  Our danger is from an explosion in the Prussian states; [7]  which might either produce a shock in xx France that would shake the Bourbons from the throne, – or induce them to fall in with the national feeling, & take advantage of that opportunity for recovering their lost conquests on the side of Belgium. [8]  – “Give peace in our time, O Lord!” [9] 

The Coronation did not draw me to London. [10] My brother Henry was there as one of Lord Howards [11]  attendants, in blue & gold, with a ruff, & a gold stick in his hand.

I am printing the History of the Peninsular War, & about half way thro the first volume: [12]  so that I am now every day employed upon those great events, which we used to talk of with so much interest when they occurred twelve & thirteen years ago. Would that the prospect for those poor countries were as hopeful now, as it was then! We have seen the end of Buonaparte, [13]  but we shall not live to see the end of the evils which he produced.

Our new Vicar [14]  has almost rebuilt the vicarage, & in the course of his improvements has unluckily demolished the old horse-block, which ought to have stood for ever as Gray’s station. [15]  He did not know what he was doing; – a word would have prevented it if I had been aware of his intention. – I had a pike lately from this lake of 24 pounds; had it been caught a few days sooner I would have sent it up, as worthy of a place at the Coronation Dinner. – The new Vicar reads & preaches well, & fills the Church, so much so that a gallery is talked of, & an organ. [16]  The parishioners have created a monument to his predecessor, [17]  praising him for his duties, – to the non-performance of which this popularity must be ascribed.

We are going on Monday next for ten days, or a fortnight, to see my fellow-traveller Senhouse, at Netherhall, – Mrs S. Edith, & Cuthbert, who will be improved we hope by saltwater bathing: he is in high health, but has a roughness on the skin, which has lasted several months. Just now he is at his most entertaining age, attempting to say every thing in a language of his own. At present, thank God, we are all in tolerable health. – Remember us most kindly to Mrs Browne & your daughters, [18]  not forgetting little Mary, [19]  – & believe me

My dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Wade Browne Esqre/ Ludlow
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47891. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] See Southey to Wade Browne, 28 December 1820, Letter 3593, where he stated: ‘We shall soon begin to think of Turkey as a good settled government.’ Following the conclusion of peace with Russia in 1812, the Ottoman Empire had gradually re-established much of its severely shaken authority in Anatolia and Syria. However, the Empire then had to face a war with Persia (1821–1823) and an, ultimately successful, revolt in Greece, which began in 1821. BACK

[2] Wade Browne (1796–1851), only son of Wade Browne and later a country gentleman at Monkton Farleigh in Somerset. He had graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1819 and was travelling in the Near East. BACK

[3] Egypt was occupied by France 1798–1801, and French forces had invaded Palestine in 1799. They were ultimately defeated by a British expedition in 1801. BACK

[4] It was widely believed that Russia would intervene to support the Greek revolt, both in order to help fellow Orthodox Christians and to expand the Russian Empire in the Balkans. Britain, France and Russia eventually did intervene and forced the Ottoman Empire to recognise Greek independence in 1832. BACK

[5] The city of Zaragoza was besieged by French forces in June–August 1808 and December 1808–February 1809, during the Peninsular War of 1808–1813; Spanish forces successfully defeated the French in the first siege. French forces had occupied Moscow in September 1812, but little more than a month later they began to withdraw. Over 400,000 French troops and their allies died in the long retreat from Russia. BACK

[6] There was a brief Russo-Turkish War in 1828–1829, which led to substantial Russian territorial gains on the west shore of the Black Sea and in Armenia. BACK

[7] Southey feared that the areas of the Rhineland incorporated into Prussia in 1815 might rebel against Prussian rule. The Rhenish elites were at this time fighting a long battle with the government in Berlin to defend their local government system and legal code. But there was no revolutionary outbreak until 1848. BACK

[8] The Bourbon dynasty had been restored to the French throne by the Allies in 1814, but lacked legitimacy in the eyes of many French people. Southey feared that any disturbances in the Rhineland would lead to the overthrow of the Bourbons or force them to attempt to recover Belgium, which the French revolutionaries had annexed in 1795. BACK

[9] From the Anglican service of evening prayer; see The Book of Common Prayer (1662). BACK

[10] The Prince Regent was crowned as George IV on 19 July 1821. Southey did not attend and also did not write an official poem for the occasion. BACK

[11] Kenneth Howard, 11th Baron Howard of Effingham (1767–1845; DNB), leading commander in the Peninsular War; as Deputy Earl Marshal he was responsible for organising the coronation. Henry Herbert Southey acted as one of the Deputy Earl Marshal’s Officers at the ceremony – in effect he was an usher. His role was signified by the possession of a gold stick (as well as a blue and gold lace uniform, and a black hat with feathers). He had probably obtained this job through the influence of his friend, Sir William Knighton. BACK

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

[13] Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; Emperor of the French 1804–1814, 1815) had died on 5 May 1821. However, Spain and Portugal had both witnessed revolutions in 1820 and their political future was in doubt. BACK

[14] James Lynn (1776–1855), Perpetual Curate of Strood 1805–1814, Rector of Caldbeck 1814–1820, Vicar of Crosthwaite, Keswick 1820–1855; he had married Charlotte Alicia Goodenough (1782–1822) in 1805. Her father, Samuel Goodenough (1743–1827; DNB), was Bishop of Carlisle 1808–1827, which may well explain Lynn’s appointment to Crosthwaite. BACK

[15] When Thomas Gray (1716–1771; DNB) visited the garden of Crosthwaite vicarage on 4 October 1769, he described the view as seen through his glass when he stood next to the horsing-block: ‘From hence I got to the parsonage a little before sun-set, and saw in my glass a picture, that if I could transmit it to you, and fix it in all the softness of its living colours, would fairly sell for a thousand pounds. This is the sweetest scene I can yet discover in point of pastoral beauty; the rest are in a sublimer stile’, reported in Thomas West (1720?–1779; DNB), A Guide to the Lakes: Dedicated to the Lovers of Landscape Studies, and to All who have Visited, or Intend to Visit the Lakes in Cumberland (London, 1778), p. 113. An edition of 1799 was no. 3024 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This was Station VIII in the viewing points in Keswick and its environs singled out by West. By demolishing the horsing-block, Lynn had unwittingly deprived the tourist of an important marker. BACK

[16] An organ was not installed in Crosthwaite church until 1837. BACK

[17] Isaac Denton (c. 1758–1820), Vicar of Crosthwaite, Keswick 1786–1820, whom Southey called ‘Reverend Porpoise’. The firm of Francis Webster and Sons of Kendal created the wall tablet enumerating his virtues. BACK

[18] Browne’s three daughters by his first marriage: Lydia (c. 1789–1864); Elizabeth; and Sarah. BACK

[19] Mary (dates unknown), Browne’s daughter by his first marriage. BACK

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)