2822. Robert Southey to John Murray, 19 July 1816

2822. Robert Southey to John Murray, 19 July 1816⁠* 

Keswick 19 July. 1816

My dear Sir

You need not send me the Surrey & Wyatt, – as the book has just been given me by Longman. [1]  I have merely cut open the leaves, & in so doing xx see matter in abundance for a good paper. Why do you not have a reviewal of Piers Ploughman? [2]  one of the most curious monuments of our early literature ought not thus to pass unnoticed.

Ali Bey speedily. [3]  Pellow proves not to be the Englishman who went to Mecca & Medina, it must therefore have been Pitts a native of Exeter – if I remember rightly. [4]  – Pellows book may or may not be xx authentic as far as relates to the authors own adventures, but for the rest it is an impudent compilation from Lancelot Addison & Windhus: [5]  with a knavish attempt at concealing this which might render the whole suspicious. If you could find Pitts, it would be <a> curious thing should his account agree with the Spaniards,– but it is not a matter of any consequence; for it is not likely that Pitts would be so observant, & quite certain that he was not so capable of observing with advantage. [6] 

I get from Rickman all the Parl: Papers which he thinks might be useful, or which I think of asking for. The Reports upon Education & Mendicity were in my possession when the last paper was written. [7]  You will perceive in that Paper that some subjects are just touched upon which might have been greatly expanded had I been writing without any kind of restraint: In particular what is said of the Church Establishment; as excluding from its service (not by any statutes, or fore–purpose) all who are not educated for it, – & as having become inadequate to its duties – by the manner owing to the increase of population, for which no provision had been made. These are topics to which I may revert in some future paper; [8]  – the facts themselves are of great importance.

Some stones carved with rude hieroglyphics have been discovered in Brazil, xxx xx xxxx xxxxxx I am promised a drawing of one of them, & am doing all in my power to obtain a full account information upon this very curious subject. No indication of former civilization had ever before been discovered throughout the whole of that extensive country, – nor indeed on that side of South America. [9]  The Brazilian from whom I expect further xxx accounts is a Priest of liberal opinions, good sense, & strong literary inclinations. [10]  Perhaps your new Journal [11]  may be the best place for it <his communications> to appear in when they arrive.

The Colonial Journal [12]  I suspect to be planned if not edited by Stanier Clarke, [13]  – it is so handsome, so big, & so empty.

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

R Southey

Dr Cokes Book may be heard of at the Methodists bookseller – if they have one, or certainly at their Book-room, which I believe is connected with their great Tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road. [14]  Coke you know was Wesleys successor, as far as he can be said to have left a successor. [15] 


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 22 JY 22/ 1816
Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co/ 1811
Endorsement: 1816 July 19/ Southey R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Frederick Nott (1767–1841; DNB), The Works of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder (1815), published by Longman and no. 2839 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey did not review this work for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[2] William Langland (1330?–1400?; DNB), Piers the Ploughman’s Crede was not reviewed in the Quarterly Review. The first edition of 1553 had been reprinted in 1814, no. 1416 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] In Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345, Southey reviewed Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 and 1807 (1816). BACK

[4] Southey was re-reading narratives about Arabia towards his review of the Travels of Ali Bey; see Robert Southey to John Murray, 7 February 1816, Letter 2709. In Joseph Pitts (1663–1735?; DNB), A True and Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mohammetans (1704), the author, who was originally from Exeter, recounted his journey to Mecca in about 1685. Thomas Pellow (1704–?), The History of the Long Captivity and Adventures of Thomas Pellow in South Barbary; Giving an Account of his being taken by two Sallee Rovers and carry’d a Slave to Mequinez at Eleven Years of Age (1739) did not mention a journey to Arabia. Southey referenced Pitts’s work in a note to the second edition of Thalaba the Destroyer, 2 vols (London, 1809), I, pp. 42–43. BACK

[5] Lancelot Addison (1632–1703; DNB), West Barbary, or, A Short Narrative of the Revolutions of the Kingdoms of Fez and Morocco (1671); John Windus (fl. 1720–1725; DNB), A Journey to Mequinez, the Residence of the Present Emperor of Fez and Morocco (1725). BACK

[6] Southey referred to Pitts’s A True and Faithful Account at several points in his review of the Travels of Ali Bey, Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 322–323, 332–334. BACK

[7] The Reports of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Education of the Lower Orders in the Metropolis (1816) and the Select Committee on the State of Mendicity in the Metropolis (1816). Southey’s review article ‘On the Poor’ appeared in the Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 187–235. BACK

[8] Southey discussed these issues in Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 227–233. BACK

[9] Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil (London, 1816), pp. 90, 319–320. Koster had promised to make ‘all possible enquiry’ about these features; see Southey to John Rickman, 16 November 1816, Letter 2863. BACK

[10] Joam Ribeiro Pessoa de Melo Montenegro (1766–1817), a priest who was a member of the provisional government set up by a group of revolutionaries in Pernambuco, 8 March–18 May 1817. He committed suicide in the town of Paulista after the defeat of the revolutionary forces and the fall of Recife, the provincial capital. BACK

[11] Murray had long been intending to launch a more populist monthly magazine than the Quarterly Review. The launch of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in April 1817 pre-empted this aim. BACK

[12] The Colonial Journal was a new quarterly journal, launched in April 1816 by Murray’s rival publishers, Baldwin, Cradock and Joy. It was not a success and folded in 1818. BACK

[13] James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765-1834; DNB) was the Historiographer Royal, a post Southey had coveted and campaigned for. BACK

[14] Thomas Coke (1747–1814; DNB), A History of the West Indies, Containing the Natural, Civil, and Ecclesiastical History of Each Island: with an Account of the Missions Instituted in those Islands (1808–1811), which Southey hoped might be obtained at the main Methodist meeting house, ‘Whitefield’s Tabernacle’, established in 1753 on the Tottenham Court Road in North London. BACK

[15] Coke, who was widely believed to have been favoured by John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB) as his successor, became Secretary of the Methodist Conference in 1791. However, the Conference decided to elect a different President every year in order to forestall anybody replicating Wesley’s role in the church. BACK

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