1561. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 4 January 1809

1561. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 4 January 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick. Jany 4. 1809.

My dear Danvers

As Heaven knows how long it may be before the London Edition of the Prospectus [1]  will reach Bristol, I send you this, which I should have done six weeks ago, had it not been from a persuasion that you were fully supplied in that quarter. Coleridge as yet has been no otherwise to blame about it, than in supposing that he had made (when in London) a bargain with Savage the Royal Institution Printer, [2]  abo[MS torn] the printing & publishing, which [MS torn] to be impossible, & now the [MS torn] Savage, who seems however <in spite of his name> to be fully civilized in all the rogueries of trade, has been trying [MS torn] tie him down to a very bad one, – so that all terms between them have been broken off, & the business is at this time in Stuarts hands, who will beyond all doubt manage it thoroughly well, being both a thorough man of business & warmly attached to Coleridge, so much so indeed as to be the very best friend I believe that he has ever had the good fortune to find. –– I did not see the Prospectus till it was printed, or I should have made some objections to it. – Here however you have it, but when you will have the first number of the work itself, xxx <is> more than either I or any body else can tell. – Charity hopeth all things, but I cannot say that my Charity believeth all things also.

It is so long a while, as to be a wicked while since I have written to you, for which there are two or three causes, tho no reason, nor any reason excuse. – I thought to have made some enquiries about Mrs Fienness book, [3]  & take some steps about it, but your letter authorizing me to do this did not arrive till after Mr Wolseley [4]  had left Keswick (he it was who set me upon it,) – & I thought to have estimated the expence – & a little sort of shame for having postponed this to other business has been one of the causes, – a very great de[MS torn] of business is another. – The crockery & coffee pot (which we like well) came to hand only thr[MS torn] weeks ago.

I was a good deal shocked by hearing of Beddoes’s death. Out of my [MS torn]wn imm[MS torn] [5]  I know no person whom I could have regretted more, because I verily bel[MS torn] [6]  no man behind him from whom so much was to be <can> be hoped & expected, in [MS torn] most im[MS torn] art. [7]  Without liking Dr Beddoes I had the highest respect for him & the fullest confiden[MS torn] him, [8]  – & could in sickness have given myself up to him with a healing faith, which I shall never feel towards any other physician. Centuries may pass away before his loss is supplied to the world – The loss is the more grievous because he has left nothing among all his works writing which can in any way do his work of good, – for Beddoes’s mind was so rapidly progressive, – so quick in out-growing error, & so indefatigable in the acquirement of facts, that his books xxxx xxxx only the knowledge of a given time, were always became imperfect representations of their authors opinion & knowledge – almost before they were thro the press. – I meant to have spoken of him in the next volume of Espriella, – I shall now <do> it far more fully, because there will be nothing to check the expansion of admiration for one who cannot hear can no longer heard it. [9] 

I have been writing a long article for a new Review, [10]  which has not yet been announced, & of which I do not myself yet know the name, – but its object is to keep up the heart & honour of the country in opposition to the base politics of the Edinburgh. What I have been writing for it is a defence of the Baptist Missionaries; [11]  – which if it stands as I have written it, with all its own force & freedom both of thought & language, will neither please the Saints nor the Sinners.

You will be glad to hear that your poor old friend Thalaba is got into the press once more. [12]  It is in Ballantynes hands, – one volume is done, & the notes placed at the end of each book. Pople is printing my History of Brazil, [13]  – it will in its manner of printing exactly resemble the Cid, [14]  – but I have ordered a thicker paper. The first volume will be published about May – I am very hard at work in transcribing it, & filling up skeleton chapters, – I am getting on at intervals with my Letters from Portugal, [15]  & Kehama is now three parts done [16]  – I hope & trust to have the whole of this poem to show you when you & David make your appearance at Midsummer. A happy day will it be for the Cork Jacket when its inventor & maker arrives to wear it once more, – by the by we have a good story to tell you how that Cork Jacket served for a Strait Waistcoat once, by an invention of Ediths, for Count Burnetsky.

[MS torn]h is quite [MS torn] great girl, & as great a favourite as ever. Herbert the roundest piece of flesh you ever saw, – we think him very like my Uncle. Emma is approaching the kissable age, & early in the spring young there is another chance for young Danvers, [17]  – by the by let me remember to beg you to seal your next letter with your great seal, – for my daughter Edith gets all the seals which come to me, & anxiously inquires when the Post arrives whether it has brought any thing for her collection. You will think her, in spite of her grey eyes a very fine child.

Read, if you have not read it, Capt Beavers African Memoranda, [18]  a quarto volume which you will most likely find at the library. – Poor Mr Barbauld! [19]  – an excellent – warm-hearted, acute & able man. It was a favourite opinion with him that suicide was allowable upon the Xtian dispensation, admitting an adequate motive, – nor could it be easy to disprove the argument which he advanced from the words of Christ himself. – Be that as it may, that he rests with Christ, xxx no person who knew him will doubt. – Coleridge says in reference to the turn his derangement took, what must his own warmth have been to have held an icicle for thirty years in his arms, before he found out she was cold! – I can hardly forgive myself for repeating a jest about xxx him, – for I liked & esteemed him, & the manner of his death has added to my respect. If ever man be permitted to cast off this body, it is when he finds the mind <is forsaking it>

God bless you



* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol/ Single Sheet
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 496–498. BACK

[1] For Coleridge’s new periodical The Friend, the first number of which was published on 1 June 1809. BACK

[2] William Savage (1770–1843; DNB), printer and engraver, who was employed by the Royal Institution until 1804. The Friend was printed by J. Brown (dates unknown) of Kendal. BACK

[3] Danvers’s aunt was the traveller Celia Fiennes (1662–1741; DNB). Danvers gave Southey a manuscript of her diary, which Southey drew on 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). Southey had previously asked Danvers whether he should enquire into the possibility of publishing it in full; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 4 September 1808, Letter 1501. BACK

[4] Robert Wolseley (d.1815), son of Sir William Wolseley, 6th Baronet Wolseley (1740–1817). He was a friend of Anna Seward and visited Keswick several times in 1808 and 1809. Wolseley’s family was related to Fiennes. BACK

[5] Curry has ‘own immediate circle’. BACK

[6] Curry has ‘believe he leaves’. BACK

[7] Curry has ‘a most important art’. BACK

[8] Curry has ‘confidence in’. BACK

[9] Southey intended to publish a fourth volume of his three-volume work Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807), but this never appeared. BACK

[10] This was the Quarterly Review, established as a competitor to the Edinburgh Review. BACK

[11] Southey’s review of the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[12] A second edition of Southey’s poem Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) was published in 1809. BACK

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

[14] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[15] The ‘Letters from Portugal’ was an uncompleted project. BACK

[16] Southey’s The Curse of Kehama was published in 1810. BACK

[17] The name that Southey intended to give his next child, if a boy, in honour of his friend Charles Danvers. His next child was a girl: Bertha Southey was born 27 March 1809. BACK

[18] Philip Beaver (1766–1813; DNB), naval officer, who in 1791 participated in a scheme for colonizing the island of Bulama, near Sierra Leone. The scheme failed and he returned in 1794, publishing his Bulama experiences in African Memoranda (1805). BACK

[19] Rochemont Barbauld (1749–1808), Church of England clergyman, and husband of Anna Letitia Barbauld, who committed suicide in 1808. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)