1025. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 24 January 1805

1025. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 24 January 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Harry

I thought William Taylor had misunderstood you, & am glad to find it so. you also misunderstand the xxx <laws> of the English Universities. two terms & not two years are saved – as thus you are permitted to miss two terms in the four years, & it matters not when <you> avail yourself of the privilege, whether at the beginning or end of the time. to graduate the remaining terms must be kept – which you would find impossible, & therefore the whole expence of entering – that is of matriculation – would be thrown away. I am very glad you have given up the idea.

It is not my fault that you do not receive regular remittances, – if my Uncles income were regularly paid in the evil would be remedied, & things are in a train to have this done. what supplies John May furnishes meantime he himself advances – meo periculo [1]  I am doing all I can to hasten the final settlement & ensure you a punctual income – it vexes me that this should be delayed – you will however certainly receive the full sum per year.

I hear Edward is on board the Egyptienne frigate [2]  – as the news comes to John May from my Uncle it is evident that Miss Tyler has got him this <third> appointment. Danvers tells me that when John Southey heard he was at Taunton, he himself being then at his Dorsetshire estate, he told him to go to his house & wait till he came home. What the old man might have done heaven knows – but the boy with his usual impudence ordered all his bills to be carried in to him xxx xxx the old gentlemen <who> therefore the next morning turned him out of doors. God knows what mischief this may have done. Whether this third embarkation may answer better than the two former remains to be seen, but my conviction of Edwards character & utter worthlessness is such that I would willingly swap with Dr Crompton [3]  & take his ill-looking hound of a son for a brother instead. Meantime there is good news of Tom. Commodore – or Sir Samuel Hood is his friend, he has made him first Lieutenant of the Amelia – a finer frigate than the Galatea & speaks of him in the highest terms. [4]  Unluckily the yellow fever is raging on board the ship – if Tom scapes it – & he writes in good spirits. he thinks himself in a fair way of promotion – far fairer than ever. I am however anxious to receive another letter on account of the pestilence.

The H H look well – but the seal x wants a frame – & many new seals which I have seen have the same naked appearance. – I wish you would look at the Southey arms whereof you told me in the MSS. & should they prove to be ours I will think about raising a seal also. Send me a description of them – or drawing – & see if any thing be said of the family to identify them, for how the devil they should get into Scotland puzzles me. the family is doubtless as old as Adam, but it has kept very quiet till the present generation – the only one who ever signalled himself before being the worthy who committed actual rebellion against James 2. [5]  for which he was very near going to heaven in a string as the saying is. However it is better to be the beginning of a family than the fag end.

I am very glad you are acquainted with Walter Scott. make my acknowledgements to him for his invitation – & assure him that one main inducement fo to visit Edinburgh – would be the wish to see him – which is the simple truth – for I have a very sincere respect for him. If his poem be reviewed in this Annual – it will fall into other hands – if it be delayed till the next – I shall apply for it. [6]  Sir Tristram is now the only long article remaining to compleat my years work. [7]  I want to convince Walter Scott that Amadis is originally Portugueze – which I am sure I could do in half an hours conversation. There occur words in the Spanish which are Portugueze, & would not have been used by a Castilian writing originally <or translating from any other language>. the name Oriana occurs in the oldest poem in the language, [8]  & the names Lisuarte & Briolania were adopted from xxx (as I suppose) xxx from the story, unless they pre-existed in the country in either case, furnishing strong presumptive proof, when added to the positive testimony of Gomes Eannes [9]  who wrote only threescore years after Lobeiras [10]  death – before the Spanish version existed. I accounted for the existence of a Picard version [11]  – if it exists. Tell him that if he would visit me at the Lakes I would make him almost as fond of certain Portugueze characters as he is of Froissart. [12] 

John is well. he is a tenderum & a nonis de vellons. [13] 

God bless you


Jany 24. 1805.


* Address: To/ H. H. Southey Esqr/ Mr John Guthrie’s Bookseller/ Nicholson Street/ Edinburgh –/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: JA/ 1805/ 27
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d.3. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Meaning ‘at my own risk’. BACK

[2] A 40-gun frigate, captured from the French in 1801, and commissioned into the Royal Navy. BACK

[3] Dr Peter Crompton (dates unknown) of Eton House, Liverpool, a radical reformer who supported John Thelwall in the 1790s and who contested elections at Nottingham (1796, 1807, 1812), Preston (1818) and Liverpool (1820). Crompton, had visited Southey in Keswick; see Southey to John Rickman, 6 August 1804, Letter 975. BACK

[4] Thomas Southey’s commanding officer, Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB), made him lieutenant of HMS Amelia, a finer ship than the Galatea because she was a 38-gun Hébé-class frigate of the French navy captured in 1796 and then commissioned into the navy. BACK

[5] James II (1633–1701; reigned 1685–1689; DNB). BACK

[6] Scott’s The Lay of the Last Minstrel, a Poem (1805) was reviewed by Anna Laetitia Barbauld in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 600–604. BACK

[7] Southey’s review of Scott’s Sir Tristram: A Metrical Romance by Thomas of Ercildoune (1804) appeared in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 555–563. BACK

[8] Southey refers to the poem addressed to Oriana by the twelfth-century Portuguese poet Gonzalo Hermiguez, recorded in Bernardo de Brito (1569–1617), Chronica de Cister onde se Contam as Cousas Principals Desta Ordem, & Muytas Antiguedades do Reyno da Portugal (1720), Book VI, chapter 1. Southey owned a copy of Brito’s work. Southey’s own version of the poem, ‘Gonzalo Hermiguez’ (written 1801), appears in The Poetical Works of Robert Southey, Collected by Himself, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), VI, pp. 163–165. BACK

[9] Gomes Eanes de Zurara (c. 1410–1474), Portuguese chronicler, and author of Chronica del Rei D. Joam I de boa Memória. Terceira Parte em que se Contam a Tomada de Ceuta (1644). BACK

[10] Southey attributed Amadis of Gaul, which he had translated and published with Longman in 1803, to Vasco de Lobeira (d. 1403) a troubador knighted after the Battle of Aljubarrota (1385). Modern scholars suggest a different Lobeira as the Portuguese copyist of an earlier Castilian story; Scott did not accept the Portuguese origin of the tale in his review of Southey’s translation for the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 600–603, and in the Edinburgh Review, 5 (October 1803), 109–136. BACK

[11] For the version of the tale in the Picard language of northern France see Southey’s ‘Preface’ to Amadis of Gaul, pp. ii–iv. BACK

[12] Jean Froissart (c. 1337–c. 1405), chronicler of medieval France. Scott reviewed Sir John Froissart’s Chronicles of England, France, and the Adjoining Countries, from the Latter Part of the Reign of Edward II to the Coronation of Henry IV, trans. Thomas Johnes (1748–1816; DNB) (1804), in the Edinburgh Review, 10 (January 1805), 347–362. BACK

[13] Terms of mock endearment for John, Southey’s ass. Punning on Latin and on colloquial Spanish terms for small coins, ‘as’ and ‘vellon’, and meaning ‘a tender one and not worth a groat/ not a fleecy ass’. BACK

People mentioned

May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Edward (1788–1847) (mentioned 2 times)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 2 times)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 2 times)
Thelwall, John (1764–1834) (mentioned 1 time)
Guthrie, John (d. 1824) (mentioned 1 time)
Tyler, Elizabeth (1739–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Taylor, William (1765–1836) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)