2878. Robert Southey to John Murray, 13 December 1816

2878. Robert Southey to John Murray, 13 December 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 13 Dec. 1816.

My dear Sir

That my nature is tolerably open must I think have appeared from my correspondence with you, – & the very letter which has given you pain is proof of it, [1]  – for the moment that I felt any dissatisfaction I expressed it plainly. – I thought the article in question worth its full price, judging thereof by the time & thought which it had cost me, & the effect which it produced, – for it was quoted in country papers & in the Courier, where assuredly no personal considerations for me as the author could have the slightest influence, – & by the reports opinions upon it given xx me by friends who are not accustomed to flatter. [2]  Let that matter pass.

With regard to the Life of Wesley the case stands thus. I never had any conception of promising it to the Quarterly, but named it among other subjects, & regretted what would still have been an insuperable objection, the want of any opportunity for introducing it. [3]  This objection did not apply to Stoddarts work, – xxx I promised him a paper, purely from motives of personal regard, without any intention, – or possibility of regularly contributing, – but for the sake of assisting him in his outset. [4]  Stoddart is a man whom I have known for more than twenty years, – I disliked him greatly at one time, & did him in my own mind much injustice upon insufficient grounds: [5]  tho he never knew this, & tho it did him no injury, still I was glad to make him some kind of compensation. And as the Editor of the Times throughout the Spanish War I consider him a man preeminently deserving, – for that newspaper & the QR were the best allies of the Government. – It never occurred to me that you could feel wounded at my contributing a paper to his work, or that his work could come in competition with yours. When the British Review [6]  was started I was applied to, & refused at once to be concerned with it, as being engaged with you. The Correspondent is not a Review. In all likelihood I shall never write for it again if I do, it will only be a chance paper, – merely for the Editors sake.

There can never be a lack of subjects for the Q. For the present number I can do nothing more, – & for this reason, the validity of which you will allow. How clearly I have foreseen the present fermentation of public opinion you know. Upon this momentous subject I have thought so much, & feel so much that I have determined to write upon it totis viribus, [7]  & without restraint. I shall therefore produce a volume of Observations upon the Moral & Political State of England. [8]  The first part will demolish the assertions & schemes of the Reformers, – the second enter fully into the real evils of the country & propose the remedies. I believe that I have some things to say which may produce great good. – & I mean to affix my name to it.

I have begun this book & am making progress in it. Have you any objection to my embodying in it such parts of the papers in the Review as belong to the subject, & could be fitted in? – There are some things also in the Register [9]  which I should incorporate, making of course a general acknowledgement in the prefatory Advertisement. – If I could say the same things more forcibly, – the trouble or expence of time would be no consideration, – but it would be vexatious & injurious to say them worse merely for the sake of saying <putting> them in a different form. A considerable difference would necessarily be made, by rearrangement, correction &c: & the whole acquire weight & force from coming in something like a systematic form. The fairest terms will be that you publish the book, & allow me half the eventual profits: – I do not think it can fail of a considerable sale. Let me hear from you upon this point without delay. I <calculate upon a fair octavo volume, – the size of Pasleys, [10]  & I hope not less effective in its way.>

For the number after this there will be the Catacombs – a short paper for which I have collected a good many interesting memoranda. [11]  And as Mariner is just published that the longer paper had better be upon his book & Capt Burneys. [12]  There is George 3. [13]  – there is Huntington the Sinner Saved [14]  (he shall come next but one) – & I can give you a weighty paper upon the Jesuits, including a Life of Loyola. [15]  There are some recent publications about the Jesuits which you had better send me, – I have a life written which requires only such alteration as may be made in transcribing it, – materials for the rest are at hand, & I am master of the subject. Send me also that I may be reading for George 3, Woodfalls Junius, – the Anecdote of Lord Chatham, the Life of Pitt, – & any other books that may occur to you upon the subject. [16]  I am inclined to think that this subject had better be divided into two papers – the first ending with the American War, [17]  – it is scarcely possible to comprize it in one.

I must not conclude without reverting to the unpleasant nature of our last letters, – but it is only to say that on my mind it will leave no uncomfortable impression. And as to the affair of the Correspondent, I had not the most distant suspicion that it could in the slightest degree hurt you, or interfere with the Review. Stoddart communicated his plan to me when I was last in town, – I promised him something then for his first number, & mentioning two or three subjects left him to chuse. – You offer very liberally, & more than I can avail myself of. For two or perhaps three numbers in the year I may supply two articles each, – but hardly I think more than six in the year: – indeed the first month that I can fairly command I must give to the H. of the War, [18]  – full half a volume is ready if the first chapter were finished. Pray procure for me Azanza & O Farrills book, [19]  – which is the justification of the French party, I will certainly bring the beginning to town in the spring, – communicate it to Mr Frere, & then go to press.

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs as ever

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 16 DE 16/ 1816
Seal: black wax, with ‘S’, ‘In Labore Quies’ motto below
Watermark: HAGAR & HODGSON/ 1815
Endorsement: 1816 Decr 13/ Southey R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] See Robert Southey to John Murray, 17 November 1816, Letter 2864. BACK

[2] Southey and Murray were in disagreement about remuneration for his contributions to the Quarterly Review. In Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–574, Southey reviewed a series of volumes by travellers in England, under the title ‘Works on England’. His review of ‘Ali Bey’ 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) also appeared in the Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. Southey expected to receive £100 for each article, but Murray only agreed to £150 for the two. The Courier, 14 November 1816, had commended ‘Works on England’ calling it ‘a masterly consideration of the present state of the country’ and suggested it should be published as a pamphlet. This did not happen. BACK

[3] Murray was also annoyed that Southey was writing for a new journal edited by John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB): The Correspondent; Consisting of Letters, Moral, Political, and Literary, between Eminent Writers in France and England; and designed by presenting to each Nation a Faithful Picture of the Other, to Enlighten both to their True Interests, promote a Mutual Good Understanding between them, and render Peace the Source of a Common Prosperity. Southey contributed a sketch of the life of John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB) to the first two numbers (1 (1817), 26–48; and 2 (1817), 157–176). However, the Correspondent lasted only one further number. BACK

[4] John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB) was the editor of The Times until dismissed, at the end of 1816, for the intemperate Toryism of his articles. BACK

[5] Southey to John Rickman, 3 June 1803, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Two, Letter 793; here Southey refers to Stoddart as ‘this unhappy Spider-brained metaphysician’ and blames him for provoking the excoriating review of Lamb’s John Woodvil: a Tragedy (1802) in Edinburgh Review, 3 (April 1803), 90–96. BACK

[6] The British Review and London Critical Journal (1811–1825). BACK

[7] ‘With all my powers’. BACK

[8] This pamphlet or book was not published; Southey did, though, write on ‘Parliamentary Reform’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278, and the ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552. BACK

[9] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 to 1811 (1810–1813), for which Southey wrote the historical section. BACK

[10] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–186; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810) – a book that Southey greatly admired. BACK

[11] ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’ appeared in Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

[12] Southey reviewed John Martin (1789–1868; DNB), An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean, with an Original Grammar and Vocabulary of their Language (1817) in Quarterly Review, 17 (April 1817), 1–39. This book told the story of the ship’s boy William Mariner (1791–1853) who lived in the Tonga islands from 1806 to 1810 after the local people attacked his ship and killed his crewmates. Southey also discussed in the same review Burney’s A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean; Illustrated with Charts and Plates (1816). BACK

[13] John Aikin, Annals of the Reign of King George III (1816) was not reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review. The book was no. 20 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[14] William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), a coalheaver turned Calvinist preacher who believed he would, on Judgement Day, be revealed as a prophet. Huntington became a popular, and rich, preacher in London, despite being accused of antinomianism. Southey’s review of The Works of the Reverend William Huntington, S.S. Minister of the Gospel, at Providence Chapel, Gray’s Inn Lane, completed to the close of the Year 1806 (1811) appeared in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510. BACK

[15] Southey did not contribute an article on the Jesuits or their founder, Ignatius Loyola (1491–1556). BACK

[16] Henry Sampson Woodfall (1739–1805; DNB), The Letters of Junius (1772); John Almon (1737–1805; DNB), Anecdotes of the Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1792) – an edition of 1810 was no. 580 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; William Godwin, The History of the Life of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1783). BACK

[17] The American War of Independence (1775–1783). BACK

[18] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[19] Miguel José de Azanza, Duke of Santa Fe (1746–1826), Minister for War 1793–1796, Viceroy of New Spain 1798–1800; and Gonzalo O’Farrill y Herrera (1754–1831), Minister of War 1808–1813. They published Memoria de D. Miguel José de Azanza y D. Gonzalo O’Fárrill, Sobre los Hechos que Justifican su Conducta Politica (1815). BACK

People mentioned

Burney, James (1750–1821) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)


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