1548. Robert Southey to John May, 4 December 1808

1548. Robert Southey to John May, 4 December 1808 ⁠* 

My dear friend

Will this scheme of Coleridges, of which you have the Prospectus [1]  on this huge & stiff paper, come to any thing, or not? – this is the question which you will be ready to ask & which I am not ready to answer. My earnest advice to him has been, not to begin till he was stocked with materials for twenty weeks, – twelve he thought sufficient, – so perhaps might I, had it not been for a suspicion that if twelve were the stock in hand resolved on he would begin with six, – or probably half that diminished number. Here however the Prospectus is. If the plan be carried on it will produce him a considerable income, & will be of great general good – eventually. – He has begun clumsily with a Prospectus which already requires xxx alteration. – for if the numbers be to be delivered by the Post, they must be stamped, & in that case must be printed on a single sheet, – & should he have any number of country subscribers this must be the method adopted.

It is well for our troops in Spain that the country is so strong, – & well for Sir John Moores part of the army, that the fortified places along the frontier are at hand. [2]  I am less alarmed than most people, & my confidence in the final success of the Spaniards remains unshaken.

God bless you. I have many of these things to send off which I do with no very good heart, tho certainly not without hope that Coleridge may essentially benefit himself & the public [signature removed]

Keswick. Dec. 4. 1808


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ Hale/ Downton/ Wiltshire
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Single Sheet; [in another hand] N. 138 1808/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 4th December/ recd. 9th do/ ansd. 1st do.; NB Poor Southey’s signature was cut off to give Mr Drummond. 27th June 1850 J.M.
MS: NYPL Berg Collection, ZZ-41090. AL; 2p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 494–495. BACK

[1] The Prospectus for Coleridge’s self-published journal The Friend, which he produced in 1809 and 1810. For the text see The Friend, ed. Barbara E. Rooke, 2 vols (London and Princeton, 1969). BACK

[2] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command of the British troops in the Iberian peninsula. In December Moore began a retreat but did not make a stand at the frontier but on the coast, at Corunna, in a defensive battle in January 1809, at which he was killed. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)