1012. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 6 January 1805

1012. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 6 January 1805 ⁠* 

Jany 6. 1805.

My dear friend

What you tell me of Harry surprizes me & somewhat provokes me. he has said nothing to me about his intentions, knowing that whenever he talks of Cambridge I always spoke of it in reply as a thing altogether out of the question. I shall write & ask him what he has done  [1]  & simply point out the impossibility of his going on if he has begun. he knows that his Uncle cannot supply him, & if that expression fails to convince him it must be changed to will not. I have no tolerance for that vile vanity which would sacrifice every thing.

We shall miss the Iris, tho we have long missed you in it, & had if my guess be right the M. Chronicles paragraphs in your stead. [2]  – I also am a loser by Hamilton – some thing from 10 to 30 £, which for two years I have looked for in vain. [3]  my friend Duppa is a heavier loser by Robinsons. the whole profits upon two editions of his account of the French at Rome. [4]  I thought it possible that the Review would be sold with all its debts but since Philips has bought it there is no hope for creditors who are no longer contributors. [5] 

The delay of Madoc is not mine. [6]  It rests chiefly with the carriers between this place & Edinburgh, who keep my parcels xxxx weeks upon the road than instead of days. my work has long been over. – there are about six sheets of notes to print, a fortnights work – another fortnight to carry the sheets to London – allow as much more for the obstetrical work of folding stitching &c – so that I fear you will not receive your copy till February be far advanced.

You are strong upon European politics – & with all my heart & soul do I wish that you would put forth your strength in some efficient way. Such a pamphlet as you could with a weeks work produce <bring forth> would produce more immediate effect than all those articles in the Review, which will produce <do> little till some thirty or forty years after you & I are both gone to visit Moses & the Prophets & the Druids & our friends of the days before us. then some political Peter Bayley [7]  will pick out all our the golden threads with which you have embroidered such worthless canvass – to lace his own waistcoat. You will be a xxxxx mine to any literary poacher who has just sense enough to feel what is good & put it together. – You see what notice this Berlin politician has excited. [8]  are you not sure & certain that both in knowledge & in imagination he is very much your inferior? – The Anti Jacobine [9]  crepitations never reach me. I see no review but the Monthly, [10]  which is not worth seeing. no newspaper but the Whitehaven, [11]  – no new books but the Annuals, [12]  a good name for such deciduous productions – no society but an old East Indian General [13]  with whom I once in a month or so play a rubber at whist. Am I the better or worse for growing alone like a single oak? – growing be sure I am, striking my roots deeper & spreading out under branches.

I have had some unpleasant intelligence of my brother Tom. he has been brought to a Court Martial for neglect of duty, disobedience of orders, & contempt of his Captain. [14]  the two first charges were not proved – the last was & he has been by sentence dismissed the ship. the fact proved was that when the Captain accused him of the faults, which could not be proved on trial, he replied I beg your pardon Sir, I must contradict you. – So much for martial justice! – Tom is waiting at Barbadoes in expectation of another appointment which it is probable Commodore Hood [15]  will give him, as he told him to wait, if he thought proper, till the minutes of the Court Martial had been sent him, he having only seen the sentence as yet. Tom breakfasted with him the day on which he wrote which looks well. & it is [not] unlikely the Commodore may be disposed to befriend <him> remembering that if his brother [16]  had not fallen he would not have wanted a friend. – I am vexed of course, but as Tom has been sinned against rather than sinning it is that sort of vexation which is most bearable. & It should not forget to state that this affair prevented him from going to cut out the Lilly, for he was under arrest, & the Lieutenant who went in his place was killed, – a fearful escape! [17] 

If Madoc sell well I shall move – & to help on the operation mean to set about raising extraordinary supplies as soon as the Annual work [18]  is over. the want of libraries here is very prejudicial to all my pursuits.

God bless you.



* Address: To/ Mr Wm Taylor Junr./ Surry Street/ Norwich/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Ansd 7 Mar
MS: Huntington Library, HM 4849. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Warden Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), II, pp. 62–69. BACK

[1] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 8 January 1805, Letter 1013. BACK

[2] The Iris; or, Norwich and Norfolk Weekly Advertiser was the Norwich newspaper edited, from 1803 by Taylor, which he was now giving up. With Taylor’s withdrawal approaching, the columns were filled by reports borrowed from the London paper the Morning Chronicle, such borrowing being a common practice in provincial papers. BACK

[3] Samuel Hamilton (dates unknown), owner of the Critical Review 1799–1804. Hamilton’s departure from the Critical left Southey unpaid for reviews he had written. BACK

[4] The booksellers George Robinson (d. 1811; DNB) and John Robinson (1753–1813; DNB), Paternoster Row, London, went bankrupt on 8 December 1804 after a fire in a printing house in which they had invested. Duppa was owed royalties by Robinsons for the sale of his A Brief Account of the Subversion of the Papal Government in 1798 (2 edns, 1799). The firm was relaunched and repaid creditors in full. BACK

[5] The Critical Review was in fact bought by Joseph Mawman (1763–1827). BACK

[6] Southey’s poem Madoc (1805). BACK

[7] Peter Bayley (bap. 1778–1823; DNB), imitator of Lyrical Ballads, regarded by Southey as a plagiarist. Southey damned Bayley’s Poems (1803) in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 546–552. BACK

[8] Correspondence in a Series of Letters between a Gentleman in Berlin and a Person of Distinction in London, from August 1803, to June 1804 (1804), reviewed in Anti-Jacobin Review, 19 (December 1804 ), 376–86. BACK

[9] The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor. BACK

[10] The Monthly Review. BACK

[11] The Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser. BACK

[12] Books Southey was reviewing for the Annual Review. BACK

[13] John Peche (dates unknown), who had served in the East India Company’s army, gazetted as Colonel in 1796 and Major-General in 1798. BACK

[14] Captain (later Admiral) Henry Heathcote (1777–1851), in command of HMS Galatea 1803–1805. BACK

[15] Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB), in command of the fleet in which Thomas Southey served. BACK

[16] Captain Alexander Hood (1758–1798), who died of a wound to the thigh on 2 April 1798, sustained when his ship HMS Mars engaged the French ship Hercule off the coast of Brittany. Nearly 400 men, and both captains, died in the fight; Tom Southey, on board the Mars, was wounded. BACK

[17] On 14 August 1804, the boats of Thomas Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe. Of the 90 men sent on the mission 65 were killed or wounded. Southey had suspected that his brother was among the dead, having read in the newspapers that the first lieutenant had been killed. Thomas had been placed under arrest and Lieutenant Charles Hayman (d. 1804), his replacement on the raid, died. BACK

[18] That is, reviewing books for the Annual Review. BACK