3021. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 September 1817

3021. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 September 1817 ⁠* 

Keswick. 4 Sept. 1817

My dear Sir

Of course I postponed the paper upon East Africa, in consequence of your first note: – & perhaps I was not sorry <that I should only have> to furnish only an article upon Lord Hollands book for your next number, [1]  having at present a strong appetite toward my greater undertakings. It will not be long before I send you the first chapter of the History of the War, [2]  – & when that chapter is dispatched, the whole will go smoothly on till it is compleated.

There can be no better subject for a good & efficient paper than Coleridges volumes will afford, – after Hazlitts review of them shall have appeared; [3] xxx I am very ready to undertake it, – omnibus viribus. [4]  – beginning very quietly, proceeding clearly & discretely xx so as to make the readers on our side, & lastly laying it on with a willing hand & a cat & nine tails.

The reign of George 3, – or more properly as I should xx call it the Age of George 3, is as you know one of those subjects which I propose to myself one day to treat at full length, in a manner commensurate with the importance of the argument. [5]  What I may do for the review will bear the same relation to this work <in some respects> as the reviewal of Nelson did to the life, [6]  – but the arrangement would be very different, because the book would contain in the briefest form of philosophical summary the contemporary history of Europe & the world, – & the reviewal must of necessity limit its range. Let the first paper include every thing anterior to the American war, [7]  – that war must be treated separately, – being indeed a fine subject for a detached history of that kind which deals more in causes & consequences than in detail, yet selects from the detail whatever is most striking. – You have sent me Aikins Annals [8]  – let me have whatever other histories of the reign have been written – I recollect Macfarlanes (this I think is the name – the author was run over by a carriage in Burdetts mob, & killed) [9]  – Adolphus’s, [10]  – & T. Campbells [11]  – neither of which have I ever seen. Let me have also Woodfalls Junius, [12]  & the two publications of Walkers Letters [13] : the Anecdotes of Lord Chatham, [14]  – & that I may lay the foundations of my own knowledge well, – the lives of Sir Robert Walpole, & of his brother Lord Walpole. [15]  The last paper should relate to the progress of science arts & literature – the moral & intellectual picture of our Georgian Age, – a name which by that time we shall be strong enough to affix to it.

Let me review the book about New Zealand, [16]  & send me with it Savages book, [17]  – & Sir Richard Hoares Ancient Wiltshire, [18]  which will bear both upon N Zealand & the Catacombs: [19]  for I believe there are some striking points of similarities between the N Zealanders & our British ancestors. And in your next parcel let me have half a dozen copies of my tender Epistle to Wm Smith, [20]  – I should like to have one in handsome binding.

I never have sketched the whole of any thing before it went to the press. Particular parts are written twice or thrice over, – & indeed every part which does not consist of mere narrative is rough written before it is transcribed, – but the first draught suffices for narration. When indeed many & various authorities are to be consulted the case is different, – if ever I should have the satisfaction of seeing you here, I will show you the first MS. of my Hist. of Brazil, [21]  & you will then understand how truly laborious a writer I am, when patient & persevering labour is necessary. But for the reign of George 3 it is sufficient if the division be clearly marked out in my own mind. I think what has already been done in the Life of Wellington [22]  & by some other person in the Life of Pitt [23]  might excuse the necessity of including the time from the beginning of the French Revolution. This however is for after consideration.

I shall be very civil to Ld Holland, who deserves every kind of civility from men of letters, & is so delightful a man, that I heartily wish he had been bred on a better school of taste, morals, politics & philosophy. I heartily wish that I had the collected edition of Lope de Vega, [24]  – I have a good many of his works separately, in the original editions, – but it would be much more satisfactory to possess the whole. The one which I suspect would be of most use to me is El Peregrino en su Patria. [25] 

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs most truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 8 SE 8/ 1817
Seal: red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
Watermark: R E & S BATH 1814
Endorsement: R Southey 4 Sept/ 4 Oct 1817
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 171–172. BACK

[1] In the Quarterly Review, 18 (October 1817), 1–46, Southey reviewed Lord Holland, Some Account of the Lives and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, and Guillen de Castro (1817). His article on East Africa was not written. BACK

[2] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 3–62. BACK

[3] Hazlitt reviewed Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (1817) in the Edinburgh Review, 28 (August 1817), 488–515. Southey did not review Coleridge’s book in the Quarterly Review. BACK

[4] ‘With all my powers’. BACK

[5] Southey did not write this book on the times of George III (1738–1820; King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB), or write a review article on the subject. BACK

[6] Southey’s review article on the life of Horatio Nelson (1758–1805; DNB), Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262, laid the basis for his full-scale Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[7] The American War of Independence 1775–1783. BACK

[8] John Aikin, Annals of the Reign of King George III (1816), no. 20 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Robert MacFarlan (1734–1804; DNB) wrote the first and fourth books of the 4-volume History of the Reign of George III (1770–1796), no. 1774 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. He fell under a carriage at Hammersmith in 1804 during the Middlesex election campaign of Sir Francis Burdett. BACK

[10] John Adolphus (1768–1845; DNB), History of England, from the Accession of George III, to the Conclusion of Peace in the Year of One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-Three (1802). This book was regularly updated and the 4th edition of 1817 was no. 20 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Thomas Campbell (1777–1844; DNB), Annals of Great Britain, from the Ascension of George III, to the Peace of Amiens (1807), no. 532 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] The printer and journalist Henry Sampson Woodfall (1739–1805; DNB) published The Letters of Junius (1771), no. 1540 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] John Walker (d. 1817) published editions of The Letters of Junius (1806) and (1807). BACK

[14] John Almon (1737–1805; DNB) produced Anecdotes of the Life of the Right Hon. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1792). A 7th edition of 1810 was no. 580 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676–1745; DNB), Prime Minister 1721–1742 and his brother Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole (1678–1757; DNB). The books Southey sought were William Coxe, Memoirs of the Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole (1798) and Memoirs of Horatio, Lord Walpole (1802). Second editions of these works, from 1800 and 1808 respectively, were nos 752 and 754 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Southey did not review a book about New Zealand in the Quarterly Review. The book Murray had suggested was probably John Liddiard Nicholas (1784–1868), Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand, Performed in the Years 1814 and 1815, in Company with the Rev. Samuel Marsden (1817), no. 2037 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[17] John Savage (1770–1838), Some Account of New Zealand: Particularly the Bay Islands, and Surrounding Country; with a Description of the Religion and Government &c. (1807). Murray was the publisher. BACK

[18] Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758–1838; DNB), Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire (1812–1819). BACK

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

[20] The pamphlet Southey published with Murray, A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P.. (1817). A copy with ‘red morocco, gilt leaves’ was no. 2695 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[21] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[22] Southey’s reviews of a series of books on the Duke of Wellington were given the running title of ‘Life of Wellington’ in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275, and Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. BACK

[23] John Gifford (1758–1818; DNB), A History of the Political Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt; Including Some Account of the Times in which he Lived (1809), reviewed by Robert Grant (1780–1838; DNB) and George Canning in Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 207–271. BACK

[24] Antonio de Sancha (1720–1790), Colección de las Obras Sueltas, Assi en Prosa, Como en Verso, de D. Frey Lope Felix de Vega Carpio (1776–1779), a collected edition of the works of Félix Arturo Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562–1635). BACK

[25] Lope de Vega, El Peregrino en su Patria (1604). Southey later acquired editions of 1618 (no. 3672 in the sale catalogue of his library) and 1733 (no. 3762 in the sale catalogue of his library). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)