1146. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 11 January 1806

1146. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 11 January 1806 ⁠* 

Dear Harry

I must trouble you to call on Walter Scott for me about the MS. – At last I have received an answer from Froude [1]  to my proposition. It is the property of a Mrs Sherbrooke, who has given whatever it may produce to the <distressed> widow of a xxx clergyman, & leaves me full power to make the bargain. [2]  ten or twelve guineas – or even fifteen was what Thomson said he should be willing to give – I mentioned twelve in my lett proposal. What I wish you to do is to ask Scott how I shall direct the MSS. – & I will forward it as soon as your answer arrives. they in return will make their draft payable to Mrs Sherbrook, & inclose it to me, as it will be decorous that I should write to her, she having requested me when I travel that way to visit her & inspect other MSS. which are supposed to be on religious subjects, the whole being saved by one of her family from a parochial library at the reformation.

I am quite recovered, – & once more at work. reviewing is half done – I am come to Roscoe, whose book rises much in my estimation upon a second perusal. [3]  if it disappointed my curiosity or expectation, it satisfies my reasonable judgement, & I shall be able most truly to speak of it in terms of decided praise.

The Colonel has sent me half a collar of brawn, & a little barrel of pickled sturgeon – which of course have cost me a very civil letter. [4]  – We had on Thursday the heaviest gale I ever remember to have felt. At Portinscale it has blown down Mrs Masons [5]  chimney, & one of her trees – which I fear must be the great sycamore behind the house. Two of Dentons [6]  windows have been driven in. We have escaped with only the loss of the holly at the top of the garden & a few tiles from the roof, – but the house rocked & the timbers cracked like a ship in a storm. it lasted nearly four & twenty hours. the Cockermouth carriers who attempted to cross Winlatter [7]  were obliged to return, & a chaise on the same road was nearly overturned by the wind. – The house however is in more danger from below than from above. The rats nightly spring a mine in some part or other, & make me apprehensive of the fate of Bishop Hatto. [8] 

The Count is working at a collection of Specimens of English Prose, [9]  chronologically arranged – with biographical sketches – a scheme of mine. – I gave myself at first credit great credit for discovering what he could do – but after ten days labour here, his heart failed him, & he declared his resolution to give it up. however on reaching London he went to Longman & x in consequence of the interview has resumed it, still more I suppose from Lambs advice, who will be able very materially to help him, as I have already done, & shall do. I wrote to Wm Taylor to ask him also to lend him a hand – so the book will have as many fathers as Orion. [10] 

I have received my books concerning the Cid from Bristol, & as soon as the reviewing is over shall begin to make that ready for the press. [11]  Duppa has sent me two letters for Espriella –, which are in tune to a nicety, – I shall have two or three more from him; – by what is done & by the subjects which yet remain to be noticed, it seems likely to make three small volumes instead of two. [12] 

My Turtle died at Cork performing quarantine, as did all the rest on board the same ship. [13]  no letters from Tom, nor from Lisbon since my last.

My daughters taste for the fine arts continues to increase. her favourite picture at present is that of the Cacodæmons clapper-clawing the Brasilians in John de Lery; [14]  the Devil seems to be quite as great a source of amusement to her as he is to me. And now I believe you have all the news & the no-news that I can give you, – Except that crazy Harrison [15]  is printing at his own expence those verses which you may remember he made me hear & peruse afterwards – poor fellow he will be gravely hurt to find that nobody will praise his book, & nobody buy it.

One question more – Wynn has desired me to inquire if there were any large paper copies of the Minstrel Lay printed [16]  – because he is illustrating it, & some of the illustrations are rather too large for the common quarto size. Ask the question for me–

The women desire to be remembered. Except one walk in the rain to Lodore I have never been out of our own premises since you left us – Still no tidings of Coleridge. Heaven knows what is become of him [17] 

God bless you


Saturday. Jany 11. 1806.

I believe I told you that Edward has turned Roman Catholic by his own account. Who was the primitive author of the expedition of Her: Cortez. [18]  How long did Columbus remain at Lisbon on his return from his first voyage [19] 


* Address: To/ H. H. Southey Esqr/ Mr Guthrie’s. Bookseller/ Nicholson Street/ Edinburgh/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: JA/ 1806/ 14
Endorsement: 06
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d.3. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 415–17. BACK

[1] Revd Robert Hurrell Froude (1770/71–1859; DNB), Church of England clergyman of Dartington, South Devon, and later Archdeacon of Totnes. BACK

[2] The Sherbrooke family of Oxton, Nottinghamshire had owned a manuscript volume containing rare medieval metrical romances since the sixteenth century. It was compiled by one Richard Heege in the fifteenth century. Southey was arranging for its purchase, through the good offices of Scott, by Scott’s friend Thomas Thomson (1768–1852; DNB), an Edinburgh advocate, record keeper and editor of medieval manuscripts. From Thomson the manuscript went to the Advocates Library, Edinburgh. It remains in their collection today (National Library of Scotland, Advocates MS 19.3.1). For more information; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 3 October 1805, Letter 1109. BACK

[3] Southey reviewed William Roscoe, The Life of Pope Leo X, Son of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1805), in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806), 449–467. BACK

[4] This has not survived. BACK

[5] An untraced neighbour in the nearby village of Portinscale, on the shore of Derwentwater. BACK

[6] The Rev. Isaac Denton (1758–1820), vicar of Crosthwaite Church, near Southey’s home Greta Hall. BACK

[7] Whinlatter pass in the Lake District. BACK

[8] One of many legends surrounding Bishop Hatto was the account of his death. After refusing to give bread to starving peasants during a famine, the bishop locked them up in a barn and set fire to it, burning all the occupants. Out of the ruins of the barn there appeared a great many rats (or mice, in some versions of the story) who pursued the bishop and devoured him. Southey wrote a poem on this subject entitled, ‘God’s Judgement On A Bishop’, published in the Morning Post, 27 November 1799 and reprinted in the Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800), Metrical Tales (1805), Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works Collected by Himself (1837–1838). BACK

[9] Burnett’s Specimens of English Prose Writers, from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century was published in three volumes by Longman in 1807. This compilation formed a companion work to George Ellis’s, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790; 2nd edn 1801; 3rd edn 1803) and Southey’s own anthology, jointly edited with Grosvenor Charles Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[10] In classical mythology, Poseidon, Apollo, Vulcan, Jupiter and Neptune are variously credited as Orion’s father. BACK

[11] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. Southey owned several books on this topic, which he had requested Charles Danvers, who was storing them, to send him, including Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (c. 1043–1099), Chronica de la Famoso Cavallero Cid Ruy Diez Campeador (1593) and Juan de Escobar (dates unknown), Romancero e Historia del Cid Ruy Diez de Bivar en Language Antigo (1632). Southey had first asked Danvers to send the book in March the previous year; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 March 1805, Letter 1048. BACK

[12] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish was published in three volumes, by Longman in 1807. It is not evident how much Duppa contributed to the material on Westminster Abbey, in Letter 23. He also contributed the discussion of shopping in London in Letters 7 and 11. BACK

[13] Thomas Southey had sent a turtle back to England for his brother; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 24 November 1805 (Letter 1125) and Southey to Thomas Southey, 1–5 January 1806 (Letter 1140). BACK

[14] An illustration in Jean de Léry (1536–1613), Historia Navigationis in Brasiliam, quae et America Dicitur (1578). BACK

[15] Anthony Harrison (1773–1827), a contemporary of Wordsworth in his childhood at Hawkshead and an attorney of Penrith, published in 1806, Poetical Recreations. The book was, as Southey forecast, damned by the critics. Harrison helped Coleridge proof-read his journal The Friend in 1809. BACK

[16] Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805). BACK

[17] Coleridge had been working as secretary to Sir Alexander Ball (1757–1809; DNB), the naval officer governing Malta. His return to England was delayed by a trip to Sicily and Italy, and by difficulties, in time of war with France, in finding a sea passage. He arrived in August 1806. BACK

[18] The first eye witness account of the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro (1485–1547) to appear was by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492–1585), Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (published 1632). However, Cortes’s own despatches about his conquests were published as Cartas de relación (1522–1525). BACK

[19] Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) spent just over a week in Lisbon on his return from his first voyage in March 1793, having been forced into port there by bad weather. BACK

Places mentioned

Lodore (mentioned 1 time)
Crosthwaite Church (mentioned 1 time)
Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)