1993. Robert Southey to John Murray, [early December 1811]

1993. Robert Southey to John Murray, [early December 1811]⁠* 

My dear Sir

Before your letter arrived this evening, I had resolved to send off the commencement of my book of Bell & the Dragon; [1]  – according to all probability it will be finished before the first proof sheet can reach me. – You will perceive among the additions such a view of the New System as you very probably felt the want of in the reviewal. It was drawn up with great care for the purpose of sending it to Cadiz, – where plans of education are even in this season of danger, contemplated by the Spanish Government. & having had the advantage of Dr Bells presence at the time I am certain of its accuracy. The system cannot be more concisely stated, & I hope it is as perspicuous as possible.

Your hint respecting Jeffrey is one which I ought always to bear mi in mind, my own nature leading me to speak strongly what I feel strongly. For the most part I shall deal in sarcasm, – & when I speak with serious severity it will be in the tone of a Judge, not of an accuser. Tell me as the work goes thro the press, if any thing seems too strong, or strikes you as in any way injudicious.

The title will be ‘The Origin, Nature & Object of the New System of Education.” – you will of course say reprinted from the Q.R. &c – with considerable additions, & dedicated <a dedication> to the Editor of the Ed. Review. This portion is about two thirds of the whole, – a little less perhaps. As to the form of publication you are the best judge, I will only suggest (leaving it wholly to your decision) that if instead of the loose pamphlet form, it were printed in duodecimo, it would then bind up with the rest of my works, which I am very desirous it should accompany. For tho the subject is of temporary interest, some value it must always possess as the being the true history of a most important discovery, & a detection as compleat as that of Lauder. [2]  It will fall from seven to eight duodecimo sheets, – thick enough to be put in xx boards & so to assume a substantial & substantive shape.

There is not time to reply to the rest of your letter. – “The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson – I suppose will be the appropriate title. My name you will either add or withhold as you judge best. [3]  I think it would be better withheld, – for the volume (like Espriella) [4]  will regularly accompany my acknowledged works when they are ordered in sets; & the little uncertainty that may exist about the author is always useful to a book that excites any attention. But I have no wish upon the subject & leave it wholly to you.

– One thing I will request – if you have no stronger reason against it. – that you would put both volumes into the hand of Pople in Chancery Lane to print them: – he has a nephew-in-law of mine apprenticed to him, – & moreover I have a great desire to be of all the use to him I can, having known him for <very> many years,

believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

R Southey

There is no foundation for the report of Mr Percevals thanks – how indeed should there be


* Address: To/ Mr Murray
Watermark: base of shield; 1806
Endorsement: N. D./ Southey R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Dating from content, Southey’s progress with The Origin, Nature and Object of the New System of Education (1812). BACK

[1] Southey’s The Origin, Nature and Object, of the New System of Education (1812), an expansion of his advocacy of Bell in Quarterly Review, 6 (August 1811), 264–304. BACK

[2] The forger William Lauder (c. 1710–1771; DNB). BACK

[3] Southey was named on the title page of The Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[4] Letters from England (1807) was published anonymously. BACK

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