2093. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 9 May 1812

2093. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 9 May 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 9. 1812.

My dear Danvers

The warm season began with us yesterday, the leaves are now showing themselves, & in the month of May, it is time for those who travel in June to think of their plan of operations. You we fully expect to see, shall we see Hort [1]  also? I have considered informed two visitors from London that they may come to me at any time except during the midsummer holy days, – hoping that he may come with you. Tell him there is a bed reserved for his use, & that x we shall be very glad if he will come & occupy it.

In case he should not come, I think you would like perhaps to make a march Eastward & see two or three persons who would be highly gratified by seeing you. And it so happens that <there> are a number of interesting objects upon the road. I would make a march with you to Durham by way of Newcastle, passing a day with Losh, – we would visit the Doctor & the Captain – whose wife you will be much pleased with, & who is very desirous of seeing you, above all other persons, & then taking a different road xxx <back> thro the finest part of Yorkshire I would leave you either at Kendal or Lancaster on your way to Liverpool. – If Hort comes with you we cannot compass this. – he will have no time to spare from the Lakes & Mountains.

I received a very gratifying communication a few days ago. A letter from the Consul at Bahia telling me that – the Directors of the Public Library there had commissioned him to forward me some manuscripts relating to Brazil, in the hope that they might be found serviceable in my pursuits. [2]  A very unexpected & remarkable instance of liberality. I know but one person at Bahia, Harry’s late brother-in-law, [3]  – & he as, I believe, never looks into any other books than those in his counting house, there is no reason to attribute this to him. Such a thought is very unlikely ever to have entered his head, – & indeed if it had, in all probability he would have told me of it himself, – or the Consul would have mentioned his name had he been in any way concerned. The papers are at the Foreign Office, I have desired them to be sent to Rickmans, that my Uncle may inspect them before they travel to Keswick. For it will be two months before I shall be at leisure to examine them.

You will find that three years have done much toward improving the garden. the shrubs are getting up, & in full summer shut us in sufficiently. The house has got a great coat of rough-cast, & a new hat of slates, – the latter of which does not much improve its appearance, but it keeps us dry from above, as far as it extends. I am sorry to say that in other respects the damp get worse one year than another, & I very much fear will ultimately rot xx us out of the house.

Of my goings on I have little to say but what you may already have guessed. I am still at work upon the Register for 1810, [4]  & should complain of the labour if I were not so much interested in the subject. Other interest I thnk xxxx xx nothing of when employed in it, – tho I have a good deal at stake dependent upon the success of the work. xxx As long as it continues it makes my income sufficient & enables me to rub off some old scores. This is now the third volume, & it is an uphill business to get the work into an adequate sale, because the old registers have got possession, & it is difficult to supercede them, tho they are literally below contempt, & as worthless as it is possible for such works to be. But xxx many booksellers are concerned in them & they of course impede our progress as much as they can. However I think it will go on. – There was an article of mine in the last Quarterly upon the Inquisition containing a good deal of knowledge which probably no <other> person in this country possessed, xx collected in great part from Portugueze manuscripts. [5]  The next number will contain a reviewal of the Iceland travels. [6]  I am going as soon as possible to review Humboldt, [7]  & also to write upon the state of the Poor. [8]  The truth of what Espriella says of a manufacturing populace, [9]  & of what he saw in the last years Register upon the sinking of Jacobinism from the middle & reasoning classes, down to the mob, is exemplified at this time in the state of the manufactory countries. [10]  It is well for us that we have not a Pitt & Grenville administration, or with this system of United Englishmen so undeniably existing, there would xxxx xxx xxx soon be an end of all liberty in England. [11]  I do not think the country in danger, – but it is very certain that the tendency & object of these proceedings is to xx bring about a second reign of Jack Cade. [12]  – The end will be to strengthen the Government by xxxx <alarming> all men who are not wilfully blind, & God be thanked that the Government are not likely to abuse their strength.

Here we are in want of potatoes, they tell us there are plenty about Penrith. The backwardness of the season is unfortunate, – the worst effect which I apprehend from the universal scarcity is that it may impede Ld Wellingtons movements. Nothing else I think, can prevent him from driving the French out of Andalusia; – The state of things in Sweden is very curious, [13]  but my hope is in Spain; – there is the vantage ground. there we have baffled the utmost effort which Buonoparte could make against us, & there if we persevere we shall give him his mortal wound.

Remember me to Rex. We are looking daily for Miss Fricker, & wondering at her long delay. Will you bring with you concrete acid, & if Martha be not set out, & you could send by her some of the dry tamarinds which are sometimes to be had in Bristol, they would prove very grateful to her sister at this time. The young ones are well & like your choice of play fellows. How is Dr Estlin? remember me there, & to all who inquire for me. – Coleridge is in London about to recommence lecturing. [14]  Tell Rex he must get Landors tragedy – Count Julian is the title, & his name is not affixed. [15]  Pelayo [16]  comes on slowly.

God bless you

Yrs affectionately


My Taunton affairs end in paying for Counsels advice, which tells me I can claim nothing now, but have good ground for a chancery suit in case of Ld Somervilles death without issue. [17]  A pleasant sort of inheritance! [18] 


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Postmarks: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 1812/ 9 May
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 267–270. BACK

[1] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian minister at Frenchay Chapel in Bristol 1803–1815 and later in Cork. He taught in the school run by John Prior Estlin and was the addressee of Coleridge’s ‘To the Rev. W. J. H.’, Poems on Various Subjects (London and Bristol, 1796), pp. [12]-14. BACK

[2] The diplomat Frederick Lindeman (dates unknown), who had taken up his post at Bahia in 1810. Southey had been sent a copy of José de Anchieta (1534–1597), Arte de Grammatica da Lingoa mais Usada na Costa do Brasil (1595). This was no. 1530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, inscribed by him: ‘This singularly rare and curious book was sent to me from the Public Library of Bahia de Todos, or Santos, by desire of the Conde des Arcos, then Governor of that Captaincy.’ See also Robert Southey to John May, 16 September 1812, Letter 2145. BACK

[3] George Sealy (1781–1843) of the merchants Sealy, Duncan, Walker & Co. Southey had first met him in Portugal in 1800–1801. He was the brother of Henry Herbert Southey’s first wife, Mary. BACK

[4] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[5] The History of the Inquisitions; Including the Secret Transactions of those Horrific Tribunals (1810); Letter Upon the Mischievous Influence of the Spanish Inquisition (1811) and Narrativa da Perseguiçam de Hippolyto Joseph Da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça (1811), Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 313–357. BACK

[6] Sir George Steuart Mackenzie (1780–1848; DNB), Travels in the Island of Iceland, in the Summer of the Year 1810 (1811) and Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865; DNB), Journal of a Tour in Iceland, in the Summer of 1809 (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 48–92. BACK

[7] Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne (1811), translated into English in 1811–1812. Southey did not review the book. BACK

[8] The first of a series of Southeyan articles on the poor appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. It was possibly co-authored with John Rickman. BACK

[9] ‘Do I then think that England is in danger of revolution? If the manufacturing system continues to be extended, increasing as it necessarily does increase the number, the misery, and the depravity of the poor, I believe that revolution inevitably must come, and in its most fearful shape’, Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, p. 133. BACK

[10] ‘Jacobinism had disappeared from the middle ranks, and sunk down to the lowest … it was become selfish and grovelling, yet from its very deterioration the more dangerous … Never before had sedition appeared in so sordid a shape’, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 229. BACK

[11] The British government of the 1790s, led by William Pitt (1759–1806, Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–1806; DNB) and William Grenville. The United Englishmen was an underground revolutionary organization that existed 1796–1802. BACK

[12] i.e. popular insurgency. Jack Cade (d. 1450; DNB) was the leader of a revolt in Kent in 1450, which looted London. BACK

[13] France had forced Sweden to declare war on Britain on 17 November 1810, but the Swedes had refused to take any military action. The de facto ruler of Sweden was Jean Bernadotte (1763–1844; King of Sweden as Charles XIV 1818–1844), a former Marshal of Napoleon, who had been appointed Crown Prince in 1810. Despite his former allegiance, Bernadotte was moving Sweden towards alliance with the anti-French forces and on 18 July 1812 Sweden and Britain made peace in the Treaty of Orebro. BACK

[14] Coleridge had returned to London in late March 1812. He began a course of six lectures on drama and Shakespeare on 19 May 1812. BACK

[15] Count Julian: A Tragedy (1812). BACK

[16] The early name for Roderick, the Last of the Goths. Southey’s poem dealt with the same subject matter as Landor’s Count Julian. BACK

[17] The advice concerned the fantastically complex will of Cannon Southey (d. 1768) and the fate of his estate at Fitzhead in Somerset. John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819), was Southey’s third cousin. He died without heirs, but Southey did not inherit anything. See Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 September 1811, Letter 1946. BACK

[18] My Taunton … inheritance: Written at the top of fol 1r. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)