1413. Robert Southey to Neville White, 9 January 1808

1413. Robert Southey to Neville White, 9 January 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick, Jan. 9. 1808.

My dear Sir,

You will be pleased to hear that I have received two letters, both from persons whom I have never seen, one yesternight, and the other this evening, requesting me to favour them with some fragment of Henry’s writing, however trifling, that they might preserve it as a relic. One of these applications comes from Mr. Arthur Owen, whom I think you will feel disposed to oblige, in requital for his sonnet, which bore tribute to Henry’s merit at a time when such tributes were useful as well as pleasing. [1]  His direction is Edmund Hall, Oxford. The other is from Mr. William Fox, junr. Clapton, near Hackney, who published, some years ago, a descriptive poem called ‘La Bagatelle.’ [2]  It is a book which leaves a favourable impression both of the talents and disposition of the author; and, as the papers are so numerous, you will perhaps have no objection to oblige him also. If you gave the MS. of one of the shortest printed poems to each, they would be gratified, and your store not impoverished. There is something in the feeling from which such requests originate that pleads their excuse, and makes one wish to gratify it.

My friend Turner, the historian of the Anglo-Saxons, one of the best, as well as of the most learned men with whom it is my good fortune to be intimate, tells me he cannot express how much he has been interested by the ‘Remains,’ and that he regrets Henry far more than Chatterton. [3]  I cannot say whether all here who peruse the volume feel most wonder or regret.

If no accident prevent, I shall see you in the course of next month, and, perhaps, early in the month. It will give me very sincere pleasure to shake you by the hand.

Yours very truly.

Robert Southey.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856)
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 47–48. BACK

[1] Owen’s sonnet ‘On Henry Kirke White, on his Poems lately published’ was included by Southey in his edition of Kirke White’s Remains, as was another sonnet, presumably sent by Owen to Southey, dated 17 December 1807, which paid tribute to the Remains: it was included in the first volume of later editions of the Remains in a section of ‘Tributary Verses’. BACK

[2] William Fox, La Bagatelle; or, Delineations of Home Scenery; a Descriptive Poem, in Two Parts (1801). BACK

[3] Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770; DNB). Southey and Cottle edited The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London: Longman and Rees, 1803) to relieve Chatterton’s family from financial distress. BACK

People mentioned

White, Henry Kirke (1785–1806) (mentioned 3 times)
Cottle, Joseph (1770–1853) (mentioned 1 time)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)