3134. Robert Southey to John Wilson Croker, 11 May 1818

3134. Robert Southey to John Wilson Croker, 11 May 1818 ⁠* 

Keswick. 11 May. 1818

My dear Sir

I am bound to thank you for your obliging letter. A compliment from Ceylon, is, like a pipe of Madeira which has been to the same part of the world, the more valuable for the distance it has travelled. [1] 

I was unfortunate in missing you on my last passage thro London, both on my way to the Alps & on my return from them. [2]  My next visit I trust will be more propitious, tho at a time of year when London, in London-language, is said to be empty, – for I shall not be there till December. But the emptiness of the town does not concern me, my friends who draw me there, are fixtures, & perhaps a Christmas Pantomime may draw me to the theatres, which nothing else could.

Meantime I am living in as compleat seclusion as the Monks of St Bernard during the winter. [3]  My time is pretty equally divided between the savages of all casts in Brazil, the Duke of Wellington & John Wesley. [4]  I neither write nor dream of poetry, & think of political events as little as I can help, for if we are still to have Spa Field-Orators, [5]  & a Press which sets the laws at defiance, revolution & ruin must be the inevitable consequence.

Believe me

my dear Sir

yrs very faithfully

Robert Southey.


* MS: Morgan Library, MA 1005. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Myron F. Brightfield, John Wilson Croker (London, 1940), p. 215 [in part]. BACK

[1] Madeira was a port of call for ships heading to the East Indies. The Madeira wine they bought there and brought back to Britain on their return voyage matured and was notable for its rich flavours. Croker was probably passing on a compliment from Ambrose Hardinge Giffard (1771–1827; DNB), Advocate Fiscal in Ceylon and later Chief Justice in Ceylon 1819–1827. Giffard was a relative of Croker’s by marriage and had literary tastes, publishing Verses (1822). BACK

[2] In April–May 1817 and then in August 1817. BACK

[3] The monks at the hospice of St Bernard, in the Alpine pass of that name, were snowed in during the winter months. BACK

[4] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819); History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832); and The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[5] A reference to the attempted attack on the Bank of England and Tower of London following a meeting at Spa Fields in London on 2 December 1816. BACK

People mentioned

Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)