2218. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 February 1813

2218. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 February 1813 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

Your letter has arrived at a time when I am too uncomfortable for any other occupation than answering it. Ediths brother is here, – in a very bad state of health – & yesterday he broke a blood vessel: after bleeding about a pint & half at the mouth the hæmorrhage stopt, – Edmundson bled him afterwards & the blood was in a very inflammatory state, – this evening he seems & feels worse & I am in momentary fear that the hæmorrage will return. – To persons not used to such things the sight is frightful, – & tho I put xxx xxxx xxx endeavoured with some success to allay his apprehensions & his sisters, [1]  – I am myself the worse for the circumstance. Whatever be the event of the present attack, the poor fellow is full of diseases which the yellow fever left behind, & which will most likely bring him to the grave.

I will desire Bedford to send you what xxx more he has of Roderick [2]  – the 5 & 6th – books will go to London under the same frank-imperial as which carries this. I have begun the 11th – this is being rather more than half way thro. – Bedford is one of those men who is always <are> more especially than others in the predicament noticed in our liturgy of leaving undone those things which they ought to have done, & – which they intend to do. Hence his inattention to you. My London acquaintances are very numerous, – my friends but few. Elmsley who would have been solicitous to offer you any civilities in his power lives thirteen miles from town at St Mary Cray. Wynn is in Wales, & be he where he wherever he is, he is always as Elmsley most happily said of him at Oxford, doing something else. There is no one for whom he has a sincerer regard than he has for me, & yet I have been in London for four or five weeks & he has never asked me to dinner. This apparent indifference or neglect is usual with him, & gives great offence to his Welsh neighbours, who impute it to his Grenville blood. [3]  But it is because he is always in that state of litter, & confusion which you would expect in a man who before he was married used to do begin doing half a hundred things before he put his breeches on, & who used to have books – pen – ink – & paper – breeches, xx galluses, neckcloth, & rolls & butter all upon the breakfast table at the same time.

When I come to London, which I shall work hard to accomplish by the end of April, I will take you to Sotheby [4]  & Sir G Beaumont & Davy, – & bring them to you xx – they keep gay houses at which it is fit that a physician should be seen. That you will succeed I have no doubt whatever, & that, early enough to feel yourself still a young man when you are enjoying success. I am nearly ten years older your senior, & older in habits & feelings, & perhaps constitution than in years: you will be up the ladder before I shall, & yet I hope to enjoy myself at the top.

The last xx xx portion of the Nelson mss. [5]  was sent off yesterday, but the printer [6]  has ten sheets before him. I dedicate it to Croker, more <as much> with a view to Toms interest as for the civilities which he has shown me – indeed they may be called more than mere civilities, for without solicitation he men used all his endeavours to get me the historiographers office. [7]  This book was no scheme of my own, it grew out of the reviewal, – & the reviewal was forced upon me: but I think it is likely to answer Murrays purpose in a future edition, & that it will do me credit. [8]  With the Register [9]  it seems probable that I shall ere long have done. Ballantyne the bookseller is a dirty fellow, & it will be more than I expect if I am able am lucky enough to get out of his hands the 200£ which I have embarked in the concern. [10]  On my next visit to London I must make arrangements to enable me to have done with him. Possibly there will be no eventual Injury, tho certainly some immediate inconveniences but I distinctly feel that my marketable reputation value is on the rise. As for Roderick, [11]  it is not to be looked at as a thing for the market. But I shall not object to contract for a poem more on a level with the general intellect – & it will answer my purpose if a bookseller will give me 500£ for the same quantity as Scott has just got 3000£ for. His decline will not be my rise, I should be sorry indeed if my rise could depend on any such circumstances, – but that he xxx <must> decline is as certain as that there are rules by which composition may be must be tried. He may & probably will produce other poems as good as his first, but it is out of his power to produce better. Perhaps I x may be in the same case, – still there would be a difference, – for he has had little to do with feeling, & less with thought.

The scheme to which I look on as the sheet anchor of my new ways & means, is a view of the revolutions of the last fifty years, in all places & in all things, – under some such title as the Age of George 3. [12]  This is a fresh project – not more then three days old, x the Pisgah-View [13]  is in the highest degree promising, –& there is a good deal of matter in t my various reviewals convertible into this form.

You ask if I remember Paul. [14]  A man of colour, – or something very near <like> it. He was about a year my senior. I knew nothing little of him at school, & nothing after he left it, except that he became so purse-proud as to make himself ridiculous.

In my next I will put look out for you my memoranda about consumption [15] Edmundson is bleeding George in the next room, – & we shall have a nervous night, – even if nothing worse. Children all well. God bless you. Your ordinary letters are almost as dear as if they were prescriptions, – but if they are like your last for contents the oftener they arrive the better.

Yrs affectionately


Feby 3. 1813.

When you have done with the six books of Roderick convey them to my Uncle.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 28. Queen Ann Street. West/ Cavendish Square
Postmark: 2 o’Clock/ 8 FE/ 1813
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 3. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Edith Southey, Sara Coleridge and Mary Lovell, all involved in nursing George at Greta Hall. BACK

[2] MS drafts of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[3] Wynn’s mother was the sister of Lord Grenville. BACK

[4] The poet and translator William Sotheby (1757–1833; DNB). BACK

[5] The MS of The Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[6] James Moyes (d. 1839), of Greville St, Hatton Garden, London. BACK

[7] Croker had campaigned for Southey’s appointment as Historiographer Royal in 1812. He was not successful, and the post went to James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB); see Southey to John Wilson Croker, 10 June 1812, Letter 2113. BACK

[8] The Life of Nelson was an expansion of Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. Southey correctly predicted its success; it went through six editions in his lifetime. BACK

[9] Southey’s employment on the Edinburgh Annual Register ceased after 1813. BACK

[10] Southey had, unwisely as it turned out, invested in the Register. BACK

[11] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[12] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). Despite the enthusiasm of Southey and John Murray, this project, also known as a ‘View of the World’ and ‘Cosmographia’, never came to fruition. BACK

[13] Deuteronomy, 34:1, where Moses is commanded to climb to the top of Pisgah, so a view from a high place; an overview. BACK

[14] John Dean Paul, 1st Baronet (1775-1852). He was admitted to Westminster School in 1787 and was therefore a year senior to Southey. Paul went on to become a partner in the London bank Strachan, Paul, Paul and Bates. BACK

[15] Southey had been collecting information for his brother since at least 1811; see Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 18 November 1811, Letter 1985. Henry Herbert Southey’s Observations on Pulmonary Consumption was published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown in 1814. BACK