2080. Robert Southey to John May, 17 April 1812

2080. Robert Southey to John May, 17 April 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 17. 1812.

My dear friend

Four treasury franks have reached me, & I have examined all the papers which they contained. Some of them as relating to Portugal are to me highly interesting & valuable, – but these are irrelevant to the immediate object. It would not be possible from these papers to do any thing x more than give the dates of Mr Walpole life & professional appointments, accompanied with a general eulogium & with testimonials of his merit in his public capacity. [1]  To do what ought to be done, the diplomatic correspondence should be examined, from which a summary of Mr Walpoles conduct as a statesman may be drawn. But when several large volumes in folio are to be mastered, this becomes a serious undertaking, which I fear it would be quite impossible to execute in time for the present year, – the bulk of the Annals [2]  being as yet unfinished. I must therefore reluctantly request that it be postponed for the next years volume, & as soon as my hands are clear, not of all their engagements (for that is never likely to be the case) but of this heaviest & most pressing one, which they will be by the end of the ensuing month, – I will then con amore [3]  apply myself to this memoir, if the correspondence be entrusted to me either here <during the summer>, or at Streatham, when I make my visit there at the fall of the leaf. One advantage will arise from the delay, – that the memoir may pass under the eyes of Mr Walpoles friends before it be committed to the press.

I need not say that the perusal of this correspondence will <be a> most important assistance to my own history, – giving me the most authentic information for a period during which there are no printed documents whatever.

Do you read the Correio Brazilienze? [4]  I am so well pleased with the principles of the Editor that I can forgive the few instances of prejudice & pride which he discovers, & should much like to become acquainted with him. Longman keeps a bad look out for me, I never heard of this work till I saw a number of Mr Burns [5]  at Streatham, & I cannot now get these booksellers to hunt out the counter journal established by D Domingos [6]  again in opposition to it, – tho I know there is such a one, having seen it at Mr Dysons. [7] 

Blanco – the Español [8]  is coming down to me this summer. I am now concluding a chapter containing a view of the conduct of the Central Junta, a good deal of which will be new to the English public. [9] 

Edith joins me in remembrances to Mrs May.

God bless you

Yrs affectionately

Robert Southey


* Watermark: [partial] 1806
Endorsement: No. 158 1812/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 17th April/ recd. 20th do/ ansd 22d do
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 123–124. BACK

[1] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. Southey had been asked to write his life. BACK

[2] i.e. Southey’s work on the historical section of the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[3] ‘with love’. BACK

[4] The Correio Braziliense (also known as the ‘Literary Warehouse’) was a journal in Portuguese. Edited by Hipolito Jose da Costa (1774–1823), it was printed in London and ran from 1808–1822. It was critical of the Portuguese monarchy and advocated liberal ideas. Southey possessed a complete set, no. 3203 in the Sale catalogue of his Library. BACK

[5] William Burn (fl. 1770s-1810s), was a member of the Lisbon Factory. He was well-known to Herbert Hill and John May and had first met Southey in Lisbon in 1796. He moved to London in 1806 and Richmond in 1815. BACK

[6] Domingos de Sousa Coutinho, 1st Conde e Marques do Funchal (1760–1833), member of the Portuguese legation in London 1803–1814 and the target of attacks by the Correio Braziliense. The journal Southey refers to is probably O Investigador Portuguese em Inglaterra (1811–19), no. 3409 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Possibly Thomas Fournice Dyson (1767–1843) of Everton. He had formerly lived in Lisbon and moved in the same circles there as Southey in 1800–1801. His wife, Anne Baldwin Sealy (c. 1780–1857), was the sister of Henry Herbert Southey’s first wife, Mary-Harriet. BACK

[8] Blanco White was the editor of the Espanol 1810–1814. BACK

[9] i.e the government formed in 1808–1810 to coordinate Spanish efforts against the French. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 353–380. BACK

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)