1406. Robert Southey to William Taylor, [December 1807]

1406. Robert Southey to William Taylor, [December 1807] ⁠* 

My dear William Taylor

I have long looked to hear from you, & more than once designed to write, when proof sheets, or letters which required reply have taken up the letter-writing hours which. And now I am too highly excited by the news from Portugal which involves so many of my friends some in distress & others in ruin, – to be able to write on any thing but business. To the point then. Reviewing books lie round about for which I have now no appetite & which would materially delay me in getting ready my History of Brazil. [1]  As it is that book will be outstripped by a swarm of catch penny compilations which will half surfeit the public, – still the less delay the better. Will you lighten me of Nightingale’s Portraiture of Methodism, [2] Burnetts Specimens, [3]  – the new edition of Holinshed, [4]  & the two blank translations of the Inferno by Howard & Cary, [5]  – the last a very meritorious one. None of these are within Harrys compass, to whom I have turned over all that are. The travels I have done, & retain two or three other books which are half-reviewed, & Wordsworth’s Poems, which I am bound to do myself. [6] 

John May loses 15,000 £. the whole of his property. He does not lose the good heart & good spirit which will enable him perhaps to make a new fortune, certainly to be happy without one.

You are I suppose informed of Harrys affairs. My sister-elect I have seen & know well enough to be well pleased with his choice, – except that I fear she is sickly.

Espriella sells well, & will by the sale of one more <a second> edition [7]  set me just on the right side of Longmans books, & leave me Palmerin the Cid, & the small edition of Madoc [8]  to look unto for next years ways & means. The first Brazilian volume, if it I can continue to sell publish it on my own account will discharge a debt due John May, which has been incurred for Harry. – of course I promise Harry no assistance, but shall do my very most earnest endeavours to offer him some; which I shall be able to do by the next years labours, if the three books to which I look for my own support do not fail me.

Let me know if you can do these books, & I will return them to King Arthur. – It is likely that you can procure them at Norwich.

God bless you

R Southey.

Edith expects to be confined towards the close of February. as soon as that takes place I start for London. Is there a chance of seeing you there?


* Address: To/ William Taylor Junr Esq/ Surry Street/ Norwich
Endorsement: Ansd 30 Dec
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Huntington Library, HM 4876. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: J. W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), II, pp. 213–214.
Dating note: dating from endorsement and internal evidence; Southey writes to Herbert Hill, 2 January 1808 (Letter 1409) stating that he has offered some of the books he had been asked to review to Taylor. BACK

[1] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil was published in 1810. BACK

[2] A review of Joseph Nightingale (1775–1824), A Portraiture of Methodism; being an impartial View of the Rise, Progress, Doctrines, Discipline, and Manners of the Wesleyan Methodists. In a Series of Letters, addressed to a Lady (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 200–206. BACK

[3] A review of George Burnett, Specimens of English Prose Writers, from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 618–631. BACK

[4] No review of Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1807–1808) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808). BACK

[5] No review of Henry Francis Cary (1772–1844; DNB), The Inferno of Dante Alighieri: Canto I.-XVII (XVIII-XXXIV). With a translation in English blank verse, notes, and a life of the author (1805) or of Nathaniel Howard (c. 1780–1832), The Inferno ... translated into English blank-verse, with notes, historical, classical and explanatory, and a life of the author (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808). BACK

[6] A review of Wordsworth’s Poems in Two Volumes (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 521–529. It was not written by Southey. BACK

[7] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). A second edition was published in 1808. BACK

[8] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807), Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808) and the second edition of Madoc (1807). BACK

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