2190. Robert Southey to James Ballantyne, 16 December 1812 *
Keswick. Dec 16. 1812.
My dear Sir
About the Black Empire  I entirely agree with you that it must not find place in the History, as we have not to cut our coat according to our cloth, – but our cloth according to our coat. There is no room for any work of supererogation. For such works the second volume would be a very fit place, & in those volumes I should be very well disposed to give a series of papers upon the great changes which are going on in the different parts of the world, – their operating causes, & their probable results. The Black Empire, – Serra Leona, – Spanish America, the United States, – New Holland, – &c – would furnish each materials for most interesting speculation & historical review. But I must curtail my projects, instead of extending them, – for my own historical works upon which so many years of labour have been bestowed, & on which I am fully sensible my future reputation will rest, are standing still. I have promised to prepare a Memoir of Mr Walpoles Life, our envoy for above thirty years at Lisbon:  & this will be all I can do for the second volume. I have the whole of his correspondence here, & tremble at the sight of it. However I must have perused it for another purpose. This Memoir will include some interesting matter about Portugal, & will certainly have the effect of selling some copies of the book.
Longman told me when I was last in town, & all his partners confirmed the opinion, that the sale of the Register would not be diminished a single copy in England by raising the price. I merely tell you this – because if you have no fears in Scotland, & they have none in England, I do not see what there is to fear. My own opinion of course is of no weight, as I can have nothing but mere opinion to go by.
I shall be obliged to your brother to send me £50 as soon as may be convenient, & should likewise thank him to make his bill of a shorter date. It is difficult to negociate bills at three months here.
believe me my dear Sir
Yrs very truly
Pray tell your friend Mr Thompson  that his songs lie upon my conscience like a night-mair, & yet I cannot throw them off. He would hardly believe me if I were to tell him that I would rather undertake to write a poem of three thousand lines than a song of thirty.
* Address: To/ Mr James Ballantyne/ Printer/ Edinburgh
Postmark: DEC/ B 18 M/ 1812
Endorsement: December 16, 1812./ Robert Southey Esq-/ Reg – &–
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 849. ALS; 3p.
 Southey had suggested a section on Haiti in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). It was a ‘Black Empire’ because part of it was ruled by Henri I (1767–1820; King of Haiti 1811–1820). Haiti was only briefly mentioned in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 192–196. BACK