2858. Robert Southey to [James] Tate, 3 November 1816

2858. Robert Southey to [James] Tate, 3 November 1816⁠* 

Keswick 3 Novr. 1816


The motives which induce me to intrude upon you with this letter will I trust suffice both for introduction and apology. Your pupil Herbert Knowles has sent a Poem [1]  for my perusal, – and that perusal has excited in me a very strong desire that such endowments as those which providence seems to have gifted him, might be cultivated in the best manner, both for his own advantage and for that of society. – The poem is crudely planned, as might be expected, & had all the exubrance of a Juvenile performance, – but it bears with it the most unequivocal marks of feeling & genius. – May I request you sir to favor me with some account of this youth? Feeling and Genius are not the only qualities to be descried; – but when they are united with a good disposition they cannot be prized too highly, nor too carefully cultivated. I learn from him that his way of life seems full of difficulties: – are his attainments such as would enable him to make his way at the University, and what are your wishes concerning him and your opinion concerning the course which he should pursue? It is not from mere curiosity that I trouble you with these questions. As an individual I am little favored by fortune, but is very possible that I might find some means of serving him, if the way were pointed out. [2] 

I am Sir,

respectfully yours &-

Robert Southey


* MS: West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield, C 23/112, undated copy in an unidentified hand, with the heading: ‘Copy of a letter from R. Southey Esqre/ to Mr Tate of Richmond’. The original letter seems not to have survived. TR; 1p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ’The Three Tabernacles’. Knowles was hoping to publish it and had written to Southey asking permission to dedicate it to him. Following Knowles’s early death, Southey himself published the poem as ‘Lines Written in the Churchyard of Richmond, Yorkshire’ in his article ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398 (396–398). BACK

[2] Southey went on to offer £10 per annum to support Knowles at Cambridge, and also canvassed others’ backing; see Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 November 1816, Letter 2866. For Knowles’s response see his letter to Southey, 28 December 1816, Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 223–226. Knowles’s premature death in February 1817 meant that Southey’s endeavours on his behalf came to naught; see Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 March 1817, Letter 2932. BACK

People mentioned

Knowles, Herbert (1798–1817) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)