1061. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 18 April 1805

1061. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 18 April 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Charles

Had you complained that Madoc was too expensive I should readily have agreed with you – or that it was too dear – I should have said it seems so – but the price is likely to be a fair one – because tho I objected to it, the publishers have persisted in affixing it. [1]  But when you talk of wide margins & waste paper the only reply must be that you have been finding fault without consideration. As for margin it may be dishonestly broad in a work of prose, – but unless you would have two verses in one line – you must be contented with one. To have used a larger type, as Ballantyne advised, would indeed have narrowed the margin at the expence of about ten sheets of paper – i – e – 7/6 more in the price of the book. As for blank paper there is but one blank page in the whole volume – which is between the first & second part of the Notes – & which I did not order the Printer to alter – because it would have delayed occasioned a delay of two or three days. That the blank on the page where a section concludes should sometimes be larger than is sightly is a thing of mere accident; to have begun the next section on the same page would sometimes have produced a greater deformity, would certainly have made the volume far less beautiful & less handsome, – & could not on the most liberal computation have diminished its price more than fourteen pence. I ordered 30 lines in a page – it did not suit Ballantynes types & he would only promise 24 – at the same time recommending 20 & the same type as Scotts Lay of the Last Minstrel. [2]  The Notes could not have been printed smaller – I have not used one fourth of what I had prepared – & they take up about a sixth less room than if they had been at the bottom of the page. – I am afraid the vignette of the snake is misplaced in all the copies – it ought to be at the beginning of the second part – & the leaf counts as P–185–6. [3]  remember that your binder remedies this foolish blunder.

Never mind the books as you have them not. [4]  I know they are not at Kings – but thought they might be loose with you. the bundle of letters of which I speak is a large paper parcel – which if I recollect aright George [5]  carried down to you, as a thing which I might perhaps want, – the letters being spread you may easily have supposed it to contain something different. put in your trunk the Numbers of the Beauties of England [6]  which are loose in your possession.

Your route had best be thus – from Liverpool in the Long Coach to Lancaster – from thence by stage over the sands to Ulverstone. if you are lucky you may effect this the same day that you leave Liverpool. See Furness Abbey & come on by way of Conistone Lake to Ambleside which is at the head of Winandermere. I know not the distances here – but know that this is the best possible route for seeing things in the best possible way. Ambleside is 16 miles from hence. If I knew when to expect you there, which cannot well be because of the uncertainty of crossing the sands I would meet you at Grasmere. If the inn at Ambleside be full – get on to Grasmere – which is 3 miles – where there is a little inn sufficiently comfortable – & call at Wordsworths to show you the way, – very probably I shall be there on the look out for you. from Grasmere to Keswick is a magnificent walk of 13 miles.

I knew not till now that Sam Reid had been at Estlins. his scheme seems promising – I saw Carpenter [7]  at Liverpool, & liked him, & heard him very well spoken of. Does Sam succeed him at the Athenæum [8]  as sub-Librarian?

Longman & Rees are always blundering. the Cyclopædias [9]  for which they enquire were sent to Barrys [10]  with Pinkertons Geography [11]  – & by you sent back to them – on their way here – being now on my shelves.

Will you laugh if I say that your Aunts travels would be useful to me? pray bring them – they will furnish a curious account of English manners a century ago, which any Spaniard may collect in the real way – from a MS.S. in the family of one of his friends. [12]  And can you get me the newspaper or other account of George Lukins? [13]  – I have got on some way in this book & with some success.

The Capt. never gave me a letter about the wine – which was lying at Liverpool. [14]  It is now on its way, & I am in daily expectation of it – & in want having yesterday opened my last bottle of Bucellas [15]  & borrowed port for a friend of Coleridge from Malta.

The Edithling is ailing with her teeth – but we are not alarmed – as there are none but ordinary symptoms – Wordsworths little girl [16]  is ill with the Croup – which is ravaging the neighbourhood & gives me some uneasiness.

Poor Tom is always in the way of danger – just got the yellow fever out of the ship & now the French are come! [17]  What think of you Lord Melville? [18]  of the infamous manœuvre practised to prevent the House of Commons from presenting their resolution in due form? & of the Kings [19]  writing a complimentary letter to the scoundrel as if for the express purpose of insulting the publics feelings? [20] 

Remember me to your brother Dan – to Rex – Hort [21]  – & who else may enquire for me.

God bless you.


Thursday April 18. 1805.


* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Magazines/ Barrys Book/ Beauties of England/ Aunts Travels/ George Lukins/
Bundle Letters/ Nine Pins/ [illegible word]/ Lukins
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Madoc (1805) was published in a luxurious quarto, costing 2 guineas. BACK

[2] Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel: A Poem (1805), which was also printed by James Ballantyne, in Edinburgh. BACK

[3] The engraving of the snake, intended for the title-page of the second part of Madoc, ‘Madoc in Aztlan’, was placed incorrectly (after page 320, instead of after page 184). BACK

[4] Southey had asked Danvers to send him several books; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 March 1805, Letter 1048. BACK

[6] The Beauties of England and Wales (1801–1818) was a series of lavishly-illustrated accounts of the historical features of Britain, produced by John Britton, an antiquary, with his friend Edward Wedlake Brayley (1773–1854; DNB). BACK

[7] Dr Lant Carpenter (1780–1840), a Unitarian minister who held the post of librarian at the Liverpool Athenaeum from 1802 until 1805, when he left to become pastor of a chapel in Exeter. BACK

[8] Founded in 1797, this Liverpool gentleman’s club offered a forum for intellectual discussion. Reid did not become a librarian there. BACK

[9] Ephraim Chambers’ (1680?–1740), Cyclopedia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences was first published in 1728 and reprinted many times in the eighteenth century. An expanded edition, updated by Abraham Rees (1743–1825; DNB), was published from 1778–1788. Rees began an entirely new edition in 1802. BACK

[10] Bartholomew Barry (dates unknown), a Bristol bookseller and stationer. BACK

[11] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), Modern Geography, a Description of the Empires, States, and Colonies, with the Oceans, Seas and Islands in all Parts of the World (1802). BACK

[12] Danvers’s aunt was the traveller Celia Fiennes (1662–1741; DNB). Danvers gave Southey a manuscript of her diary, which Southey used for Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). Extracts from it were also included in his and Coleridge’s Omniana (1812). BACK

[13] George Lukins (b. c. 1744) was, on Friday, 13 June 1778, exorcised by seven clergymen, having, he believed, been possessed by demons who made him speak in voices not his own. His Narrative of the Extraordinary Case of George Lukins, of Yatton, Somersetshire, who was Possessed of Evil Spirits for 18 years: Also, an Account of his Remarkable Deliverance, in the Vestry-Room of Temple Church (1788) was supervised by John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB). The Methodist interpretation that Lukins was possessed by evil spirits was contested by John Ferriar (1761–1815; DNB), who viewed Lukins as an imposter, attributing his symptoms to epilepsy and St Vitus’ Dance, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, 58, part 2 (July, 1778), 609–610. BACK

[14] Southey had ordered a shipment of Portuguese wine from Danvers; see Southey to Charles Danvers, [started before and continued on] 11 October 1804, Letter 981. BACK

[15] A Portuguese sweet white wine. BACK

[16] Dora Wordsworth (1804–1847). BACK

[17] In March 1805 the French Mediterranean Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve (1763–1806), sailed from Toulon for the West Indies. Later in the year a squadron of French ships commanded by Contre-Admiral Zacharie Allemand (1762–1828), and based at Rochefort, slipped past the British blockade and harassed British ships in the Atlantic and West Indies. BACK

[18] Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742–1811; DNB), Secretary of State for War 1794–1801, and First Lord of the Admiralty from 1804. BACK

[19] George III (1738–1820, King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB). BACK

[20] From 1802–1805, Melville’s use of public funds when Treasurer of the Admiralty (1782–1800), was investigated by a Royal Commission. On 9 April 1805, after its report, Melville, despite governmental procedural manoeuvres, was censured in the House of Commons on the grounds that he had allowed the naval paymaster, Alexander Trotter (dates unknown) to misuse public funds. Melville resigned and impeachment proceedings were commenced against him. BACK

[21] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849): Unitarian minister and writer, he was one of many acquaintances who stored books for Southey. BACK

Places mentioned

Furness Abbey (mentioned 1 time)
Ambleside (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)