3026. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 October 1817

3026. Robert Southey to John Murray, 4 October 1817⁠* 

Keswick. 4 Oct. 1817

My dear Sir

I have been very idle, or more truly speaking, very much engrossed by a succession of visitors. However I shall send you an article upon Lope de Vega in two or three days, – which besides a good many translations, will from his own writings establish certain facts in his history that have escaped Lord Holland & all his other biographers. [1] 

The parcel with Hoares Wiltshire is arrived, – I shall select from this book all that is useful & return it speedily, – & then I will forthwith put together my numerous sepulchral notes in a paper upon the Catacombs. [2] 

For the next number we must take up the Poor Report, [3]  because it will be acted upon next Session: & we may at the same time do some good & obtain some credit by writing upon the subject in time, & with that knowledge which – I think I have obtained in great part, & have within reach where farther information may be required. Besides this I should really very much like to take up Coleridges book, & fight xxx his battle & Wordsworths & my own, in which if I do not thrash Jeffrey more severely than Copplestone did [4]  – may my right hand forget its cunning. [5]  Trust me with this, – I have some choice powder & shot made up in cartridges, ready to fire off. If when it is done it be thought too personal for the Review, – (which I am well aware is the best battery) – in that case I can only at last make it more so, & discharge it in a pamphlett but I have little doubt of making it fit the Review, – & sure I am that it will make a report.

I shall like to see Evelyns Book, [6]  – he is a most interesting writer.

Lord Sheffield has sent me more papers. The time which is not given to the QR. just now is bestowed upon the first chapter, [7]  – & I am too much set upon both at present to allow myself leisure for writing farther.

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs faithfully

R Southey.

Let me have No32 in your next parcel. That wretch Hazlitt suspects me of having reviewed the Round Table. [8]  Fool as well as scoundrel! When I deal with him (for he it is who has reviewed Coleridge) he shall learn to know the sting of a scorpion from that of a gnat.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 7 OC 7 /1817
Watermark: R E & S BATH 1814
Endorsement: 1817 Oct 4 Southey R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In 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). BACK

[2] Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758–1838; DNB), Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire (1812–1819), which Southey had asked for in connection with his review article ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

[3] Rickman and Southey’s views on the poor appeared in the articles ‘On the Poor Laws’, Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308, and ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. The former was ostensibly a review of several texts, including Reports of the Select Committee on the Poor Laws (1817–1818). BACK

[4] The Edinburgh Review had continued its hostilities to Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge, publishing an attack on the latter’s Biographia Literaria (1817), Edinburgh Review, 28 (August 1817), 488–515. The essay’s author was Hazlitt. Southey now wished to review Biographia Literaria for the Quarterly, and use his article to attack Jeffrey, the Edinburgh’s editor. Southey’s proposed review, which he here compares to Edward Copleston’s A Reply to the Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review Against Oxford (1810), did not materialise. BACK

[5] Psalms 137: 5. BACK

[6] Southey’s review of Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn (1818) appeared in the Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 1–54. BACK

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

[8] Hazlitt’s The Round Table, a Collection of Essays on Literature, Men and Manners (1817) was reviewed in the Quarterly Review, 17 (number 33, not 32) (April 1817), 154–159. The identity of the reviewer is not certain. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)