1602. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 March 1809

1602. Robert Southey to John Murray, 18 March 1809 ⁠* 


Portugueze literature is a good subject, & this text for it is sufficient. [1]  With respect to North America, [2]  there are several books which I ought to have before me – the Travels of Wansey, [3]  Weld, [4]  Rouchefoucald [5]  & Janson, [6]  Mrs Grants Memoirs of an American Lady, [7]  & the collected edition of Franklins works: [8]  – literature should make a part of the sketch, & I should wish to have Dwights Greenfield Hill, [9]  which I believe Johnson [10]  republished (I have his Conquest of Canaan) [11]  – & the late edition of Joel Barlowes Poem of which there was a reviewal in some of the last Monthly Magazines. [12]  I have the first edition at hand, but he has so compleatly altered it as to make it a new poem. [13]  I require more preparation for this subject than almost for any other, for tho I have read much to the purpose, it has not been with any particular view; but it will <however> be an interesting task to show in how the Americans differ from us, & what causes have produced that difference, & my second-sight promises an amusing article.

Can you not obtain a reviewal of the Welsh Archaiology from Turner ?  [14]  You do well to look for subjects & then find texts for them. A history of the English stage dramas might be written upon Mrs Inchbalds collection; [15]  – an essay on fictitious narrative upon Ballantynes collection of novels. [16]  I wish a text could be found which would serve to introduce a life of John Wesley. [17] 

I shall certainly not be in London this year, whether or not in the next is very doubtful.

The work on New Zealand was not in the parcel. [18]  – this however is not wanted till I resume the article. [19]  It will bear little or no resemblance to the preceeding one, – for it involves no controversy: the subject divides itself into a history of the mission, a view of the state of society in Polynesia & of the great changes which are operating there, & speculations upon the best mode of counteracting the evils to be apprehended.

I am Sir

Yours truly & respectfully

Robert Southey.

Phillips’s Collection [20]  I have, – infamously as the translations are mis-done it is a very useful book.

Keswick. March 18. 1809.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ MAR2/ 1809
Watermark: J BUDGEN/ 1805
Endorsement: 1809 March 18th Keswick/ Southey. Robert –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s next review was of Extractos em Portuguez e em Inglez; com as Palavras Portuguezas Propriamente Accentuadas, para Facilitar o Estudo d’Aquella Lingoa (1808) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (May, 1809), 268–292. BACK

[2] Southey reviewed Abiel Holmes (1763–1837), American Annals; or, a Chronological History of America, from its Discovery in 1492 to 1806 in the Quarterly Review, 2 (November 1809), 319–337. BACK

[3] Henry Wansey (1751–1827), The Journal of an Excursion of the United States of North America in the Summer of 1794 (1796). BACK

[4] Isaac Weld (1774–1856), Travels Through the States of North America: and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (1799). BACK

[5] François-Alexandre-Frédéric, Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (1747–1827), Travels Through the United States of North America: the Country of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797; With an Authentic Account of Lower Canada (1799). BACK

[6] Charles William Janson (dates unknown), The Stranger in America, Containing Observations made during a Long Residence in that Country (1807). BACK

[7] Anne Grant, Memoirs of an American Lady: With Sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, as they Existed Previous to the Revolution (1808). BACK

[8] Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), Works of the Late Doctor Benjamin Franklin: Consisting of his Life Written by Himself, Together with Essays, Humorous, Moral & Literary, Chiefly in the Manner of the Spectator (1793). BACK

[9] Timothy Dwight (1752–1817), Greenfield Hill: A Poem, in Seven Parts (1794). BACK

[10] Dwight’s poem was published in Britain by Joseph Johnson (1738–1808; DNB). BACK

[11] Timothy Dwight, The Conquest of Canaan (1785). BACK

[12] Joel Barlow (1754–1812), The Columbiad. A Poem (1809). It was reviewed in the Monthly Magazine, 27 (1809), 181–182. BACK

[13] The Columbiad was a revised version of Barlow’s Vision of Columbus (1787). BACK

[14] The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (1801–1807) was edited by William Owen Pughe and printed many medieval Welsh manuscripts for the first time. It was not reviewed by Turner. BACK

[15] Elizabeth Inchbald (1753–1821; DNB), The British Theatre; or a Collection of Plays Acted at the Theatre Royal, Drury-Lane, Covent Garden and Haymarket (1806–1809), a twenty-five-volume collection of plays with critical introductions. BACK

[16] John and James Ballantyne published many novels, including Walter Scott’s. BACK

[17] John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB), Church of England clergyman, and founder of Methodism. Southey’s Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism was published in 1820. BACK

[18] John Savage (b. 1770), Some Account of New Zealance: Particularly the Bay of Islands, and Surrounding Country, with a Description of the Religion and Government, Language, Arts, Manufactures, Manners and Customs of the Natives, &c. (1807). BACK

[19] Southey reviewed Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61. BACK

[20] Phillips published the compendium A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Voyages & Travels: Containing, I. Translations from Foreign Languages, of Voyages and Travels Never Before Published. II. Original Voyages and Travels Never Before Published. III. Analyses of New Voyages and Travels Published in England (1805–1809). This was no. 2234 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

People mentioned

Ballantyne, John (1774–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Ballantyne, James (1772–1833) (mentioned 1 time)
Grant, Anne (1755–1838) (mentioned 1 time)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Phillips, Richard (1767–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)