1411. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 January 1808

1411. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 January 1808 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

There is no harm done in having sent you the books as what you cannot do at once you can take with you – only Burnetts Poland & the Sermon should be done without delay. [1]  As soon as you inform me of your Durham direction, or that you do not go there, I will forward Joinville to you & also Burnetts specimens. [2] 

If you wrote verse I could easily put you in the way of turning it to account in the newspapers, – as it is – the ways by which you can make money seem to be these. A little by reviewing, – if King Arthur has the civility to send you any books, which may be doubted, – for that family are civil to me against the grain. Rather more by the Athenӕum, [3]  – your Scotch tour may go there; – you may write an account of Lisbon & of Cintra, – & you may write biography for it; – they are in want of this article, & it is likely that the Cathedral Library may supply books of materials. Do you understand Spanish & Portugueze enough to do some thing for Pinkertons Voyages & Travels? [4]  at least if you do not you can easily acquire it, & it is very likely that I can secure this employment for you, & also furnish you with the materials. Could you english Esplandian [5]  so as to go on with the romances of the Amadis family? – the Spanish of the romances is remarkably easy, the construction straight forward, the vocabulary scanty, and the more antiquated it is the greater is its semblance to Portugueze. I can borrow for you the originals from Heber, & engage Longman to publish it on the same terms as he does for myself – that is sharing the eventual profits. Your name should not appear as that might professionally hurt you. This plan appears to me very feasible, xx easy of execution; – & likely to afford you employment quite as long as you can want it.

It is unlucky that you cannot xxxxxxxx live at free quarters till next the next winter, & get this work enough in the mean time to set off with a little more stock of xxxxx cash in hand. I am bare at this time, – Espriella is fetching up my lea-way, & in all likelihood will fetch it up completely, but it will take a second edition to do this. [6]  Could you have returned with me you would have earned something for the winter, & I should have been better able to have lent you a helping hand. Your matrimonial plans prevent this – I regret nothing but the ultime dicto  [7]  xx inconvenience. & that is hardly worth regretting. the attachment began well & I shall be disappointed if it does not end well. When I get to London I will endeavour to send you what I can – <if possible> – little it must needs be – By the years end I expect to be better off. My lea way has been occasioned by the system of not selling copyrights, & the total failure of any produce from Madoc – which has as yet brought me only 25£. But if Espriella rights me in Longmans books – which there is every reason to think it will, I have the sale of the small edition, [8]  – of Palmerin, [9]  & of the Cid [10]  to look to for the ensuing years ways & means; – so that tho more behind hand than I have ever been before, I may yet consider myself on the whole as in a fairer way than has ever <yet> been my lot before. The first volume of Brazil which I am preparing for the Press [11]  will discharge my debt to John May, & I shall, besides this, get thro work enough in the coming year, for the calls of the year after. And every year the labour of the last will bring in something.

I write to Wordsworth to see if he can provide you with any Durham introductions. About fifteen years ago I fell in with a Durham man at Cambridge, to whom, should you by any accident meet him, you may mention my name & Duppa’s. He was an intimate friend of poor Dr Sewards. [12]  his name Hugh Salvin, [13]  & a very clever man he is wherever he be may be, or whatever is become of him; - but from that time to this I have never seen or heard of him.

It is well that you are able to take my reviewing off my hands, which would else have a good deal delayed me with Brazil. I shall be ready for the press with the first volume soon after my return from London, - if the books still wanting are to be found in London I will find them, - there being few private libraries to which I could not get access.

I forgot to observe to you that it would have been better if those Spanish plays (which are written in verse) had been translated with familiar blank verse, - such as <that of> our old dramatists, which had succeeded so admirably in Thorntons Plautus [14]  – & I believe in Colemans Terence [15]  also, tho this latter book has never fallen in my way.

Le Moynes poem [16]  would make a good analysis for the Athenæum – but [MS torn] extracts ought to be translated. Make your analysis, - return me the book with the passages marked on a slip of paper that you would have done, & I will lick them into blank verse presently for you. This of course at your leisure & not till reviewing is done. – The descent in the Pyramids is noted by Hayley in his notes to the Essay on Epic Poetry [17]  – & has been pronounced the best that is anywhere to be found. But better use has been made of the Pyramids by the Abbe Terrasson in Sethos, [18]  – which is without exception the best book of its kind, & xxx of a higher moral character than any French work that I ever yet met with.

I am sorry you leave town before I get there

God bless you


Jany. 3. 1808.

Have you got paid for the last Annuals?


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 11 Craven Street/ Strand/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ JAN 6/ 1808
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Harry was reviewing books, in Southey’s stead, for the Annual Review; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 27 December 1807, Letter 1405. Henry’s review of Burnett’s View of the Present State of Poland (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 110–113; his review of Joseph Cooke (1775–1811), Methodism condemned by Methodist Preachers: or a Vindication of the Doctrines contained in Two Sermons on Justification by Faith, and the Witness of the Spirit; for Which the Author was expelled from the Methodist Connection (1807) appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 169. BACK

[2] Memoirs of John Lord de Joinville, Grand Seneschal of Champagne Written by Himself (1807). The book was reviewed by Southey himself, not Henry, in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 215–219. Southey also wrote the review of Burnett’s Specimens of English Prose Writers (1807) that appeared in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 618–631. BACK

[3] The magazine edited by John Aikin, The Athenæum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information, to which Southey was a contributor. BACK

[4] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), compiler of A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World (1808–1814). BACK

[5] Las Sergas de Esplandián, (1510) one of a series of Spanish chivalric romances by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo (1450–1504) of which Amadis of Gaul, which Southey translated in 1803, is the first. BACK

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

[7] Meaning ‘previously mentioned’. Harry married Mary Sealy, the daughter of a wealthy Lisbon merchant, in 1809. BACK

[8] The second, duodecimo edition of Madoc (1807). BACK

[9] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

[10] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[11] Southey’s History of Brazil published in three volumes from 1810–1819. BACK

[12] Dr John Seward, physician brother of Southey’s college friend, Edmund Seward. John was ‘poor’ because he died young of heart disease. Southey discusses John in his letter to Anna Seward, 10 December 1807, Letter 1394. BACK

[13] Reverend Hugh Salvin (1773–1852). BACK

[14] Bonnell Thornton (1725–1768; DNB), The Comedies of Plautus, Translated into Familiar Blank Verse (1767–1774). BACK

[15] George Colman (bap 1732–1794; DNB), The Comedies of Terence (1765). BACK

[16] Pierre Le Moyne (1602–1671), Saint Louys, ou, La Sainte Coronne Reconquise: Poeme Heroique (1666). BACK

[17] William Hayley (1745–1820; DNB), Essay on Epic Poetry (1781), pp. 127–128. BACK

[18] Jean Terrasson (1670–1750), Life of Sethos, Taken from Private Memoirs of the Ancient Egyptians (1731). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Cintra [Sintra] (mentioned 1 time)