3194. Robert Southey to William Gifford, 16 September 1818

3194. Robert Southey to William Gifford, 16 September 1818⁠* 

My dear Sir

I trespass once more upon your kindness to send up under cover of a name potential, [1]  certain food for the press, which in due time will be food for criticism.

For your next number I shall have the Churches & Catacombs, [2]  – & the Copy right case. [3]  Next to these a life of Marlborough concocted from Coxe. [4] 

My hours of amusement at present are divided between your Ben Jonson [5]  & the Bollandists. [6]  I grieve to say that you are mistaken concerning the butt of Canary, [7]  & that Mr Pye put it out of the power of any of his successors to drink to the memory of old Ben in the liquor that he loved, as founder of the feast. If the Prince will but by his princely pleasure annul the vile commutation of the aforesaid Pye, & reestablish the Laureate in his proper rights, – erit mihi magnus Apollo. [8] 

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs faithfully

R Southey.

16 Sept. 1818


* Address: To Wm Gifford Esqre
MS: Morgan Library, MA 1005. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] That is, under the name of one with the power to frank mail and so send letters gratis. BACK

[2] Southey discussed new churches in Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 549–591, in a review of (among other things) Haydon’s New Churches, Considered with Respect to the Opportunities they Offer for the Encouragement of Painting (1818); and cemeteries in ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

[3] Southey’s article ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213. BACK

[4] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818-1819), Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[5] Gifford’s The Works of Ben Jonson ...: With Notes Critical and Explanatory, and a Biographical Memoir (1816), no. 1529 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This was an edition of the works of the dramatist and poet, Ben Jonson (1572–1637; DNB). BACK

[6] In 1817, when visiting Brussels, Southey had bought the Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. It was a massive compendium of hagiographies and one of its key early editors was Jean Bolland (1596–1665); his assistants and followers became known as ‘Bollandists’. BACK

[7] An early modern measure of volume for wines like ‘Canary’ from Spain. This perquisite was converted into an additional annual payment of £27 by Southey’s predecessor, Henry James Pye (1745–1813; DNB), Poet Laureate 1790–1813. Gifford, The Works of Ben Jonson, 9 vols (London, 1816), I, pp. cliv–clv, stated that Jonson received ‘a tierce of Canary, (Jonson’s favourite wine,) which has been continued to his successors, and of which the first glass should, in gratitude, be offered by them to the poet’s memory’. BACK

[8] ‘He will be my leader and oracle’. BACK

People mentioned

Coxe, William (1748–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)