1661. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 30 July 1809

1661. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 30 July 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick July 30. 1809

My dear Tom

You will be glad to hear that my lease was signed yesterday, – so that I am now master of this place for 7, 14 or 24 years at my own option. – & having taken poor Jacksons part as well as my own, there will xxx room enough for us all, let us grow as we may.

I have had news of Edward. how he got out of the Northampton God knows, but over to Lisbon he went as a private in the ranks, – there a Major Chamberlin [1]  took him by the hand finding he was my brother (tho he did not know me) & wrote to me saying he would try to get him a Commission in a Portugueze regiment which he was raising, & Lord John Fitzroy [2]  insisted on being at the whole expence of his equipment. The Colonel of the Regiment [3]  also exerted himself on his behalf. – Well – the next day brought in a letter from Scapegrace himself dated Abrantes, telling me he was made Lieut. & Adjatant in a Portugueze Regiment, with permanent rank in the British army, & 10s a day, that he was <the> avowed protege of Marshal Beresford, [4]  & that if I asked him to whom he was indebted for this good fortune, he replied to his own good conduct! And not a word does he mention of Chamberlin, his Colonel or Lord J Fitzroy, kindly & generously as they had all behaved to him. I confess this want of material gratitude has given me even a worse opinion of him than I had before.

Danvers left me on Monday last. My summer cold prevented me from going about with him as much as I wished, – partly also I was prevented by being in daily expectation of Miss Bethams arrival, – for as she knew nobody in the house except myself, it behoved me to be here when she arrived. I went out however for those days which were thus employed, – by way of Materdale & Paterdale – then when we arrived poor Charles had one of his bilious head aches & was obliged to go to bed. James Rickards [5]  was of our party, & he & I guided by a boy whom Luff [6]  lent us for the service, went a ten mile walk to Angle Tarn & Hays Water, following the stream from the latter down to Brothers water & so home. By that time Danvers was recovered & we drank tea in Luffs garden, where Clarkson & a very pleasant man of the right sort by name Tilbrooke [7]  joined us. Next day up Helvellin along the whole top & down to Grasmere. on the third into Langdale & home over the Stake. a noble expedition, glorious weather all the way, – & for farther particulars I shall refer you to Don Manuels next volume. [8] 

Nothing more has been heard about Rhadamanthus [9]  – the business doubtless stands over till my visit to Edinburgh, which will take place early in the winter. I am at present hard at work upon Lord Valentias Travels, [10]  – for Charles’s company has thrown me behind hand. This third Quarterly will have three articles of mine – I corrected last night a proof for it about the South Sea Missions, & they expect Ld Valentia for the same number. [11]  in about three days I shall finish it. It seems likely that as they feel the weight of my Reviewals, they will call upon me for more of them. Joel Barlowes poem of Columbus is coming for the fourth, [12]  & I am to write about the Methodists, [13]  which I shall do with a good will. For two guineas a sheet one can afford to write carefully & take two copies, if the subject be such as to require it. Books of travels which supply both matter & arrangement take less trouble, & the first writing serves.

Miss Betham arrived a few hours after Danvers departed. I am sitting to her again, & she has begun a picture of Herbert, which promises to be a very happy likeness. We meditate a cart-expedition to Buttermere, or rather to Scale Hill, wishing to escape Marys bad dinners, – & so home thro Newlands. Would that you were with us.

I do not know which most surprized me – the former xxx victory of the Austrians, or the utter folly & pusillanimity which has now laid them prostrate at Bonapartes feet. [14]  Henceforth there neither can, nor deserves to be, any redemption for that vile dynasty. The baseness with which they have sacrificed the Tyrolese by their armistice cuts them off from all hope & all compassion. No man will again lift his arm in their cause, & the xxx salvation of Germany whenever it does come (& it will come at last) will owe it to a better principle than loyalty to the Imperial Crown Meantime the immediate effect will be as bad as possible. It will pour again into Spain, & we shall have let the opportunity of securing that country pass by. Of one expedition the result will probably reach you as soon as the letter can do. [15]  I suppose it is intended to keep the Island of Walcheren as well as to take it. – if so the thing is worth doing, not so much for any additional security it can give us, as for the credit of the thing, & the better annoyance it will be to the enemy, whose pride will be xxx more wounded by it than by any thing else that we could possibly do.

Rickman who has just had another daughter born, comes in the autumn – I shall go with him to Irton, [16]  & ascend Scafell, [17]  thus compleating my knowledge of this country. – Kehama [18]  is in status-quo, but my cold seems now about to take its leave, & I shall resume my early rising, the moment it can be done with comfort. – I have sent Ballantyne Queen Oraca, [19]  & the Aldermans Funeral [20]  for a miscellaneous collection which he is making. The mode of printing & publishing Kehama will ere long be settled – but I must clear off the reviewing, & get a good start of Pople before there be leisure to write the necessary letters about it.

The long expected tidings of Mrs Peachys release is arrived. I had always foreseen it, & can truly say that I have felt a deeper sorrow in looking at her in the midst of mirth & festivity than when the tidings reached me that she was at rest.

I could not go on to Edinburgh from Durham, because Danvers was coming here – & because Scott was delayed in London so much beyond the time which he had appointed for his return, & which would have suited me.

I am sorry to say that there is not yet another number of Kehama ready for you – but this also shall be done as soon as it can be. The truth is tho I do much I yet have to be idle when there is an excuse for it, & notwithstanding this propensity so many things crowd upon me that if some of my Hindoo Gods would accommodate me with a few of their supernumerary hands & arms, [21]  I could find good employment for as many as they could spare.

All well. Love from all

God bless you



* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Dreadnought/ Plymouth Dock
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 152–155 [with omissions]. BACK

[1] Probably Thomas Chamberlin (d. 1828), Major in the 24th Foot Regiment, April 1809 to May 1811. BACK

[2] Lord John Fitzroy (1785–1857), attaché at the British Embassy in Lisbon and son of Augustus, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735–1811; DNB), Prime Minister 1768–1770. BACK

[3] Lieutenant Colonel George Duncan Drummond (d. 1811), commander of the 2nd 24th Foot Regiment in the Peninsular war, from April to November 1809. BACK

[4] In 1809 and 1810 the Anglo-Irish officer William Carr Beresford, Viscount Beresford (1768–1854; DNB) had achieved great success in applying British training methods to the Portuguese army, to which he had been appointed Marshal. BACK

[5] James Rickards (d. 1812) visited the Lakes at the same time as Danvers in summer 1809. He was probably a friend from Southey’s days in Bristol. BACK

[6] Captain Charles Luff (d. 1815): a friend of the Clarksons and the Wordsworths, who lived at Patterdale, at the head of Ullswater, and later took an official post at Mauritius. BACK

[7] Tillbrook was acquainted with Wordsworth, near whose home at Rydal he purchased a cottage. BACK

[8] Southey intended to publish a fourth volume of his three-volume work Letters from England: by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1st edn 1807, 2nd edn 1808), but this never appeared. BACK

[9] Southey intended to start a new periodical which would review literary works by dead authors; see Southey to Thomas Southey, [16 May 1809], Letter 1630. It was named after the Greek mythological figure Rhadamanthus, a wise king, who was one of the judges of the dead. Southey’s plans for this periodical were never fulfilled. BACK

[10] Southey’s review of George Annesley, Viscount Valentia (1770–1844), Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt in the Years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806 (1809), in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 88–126. BACK

[11] Southey’s review of Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands appeared in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61, but his review of Abiel Holmes (1763–1837), American Annals; or, a Chronological History of America, from its Discovery in 1492 to 1806 appeared in the next number of the Quarterly Review, 2 (November 1809), 319–337. BACK

[12] The American writer and politician, Joel Barlow (1754–1812) published The Columbiad. A Poem in England in 1809. It was a revised version of his Vision of Columbus, published in 1787. Southey did not review this work for the Quarterly. BACK

[13] Southey’s review of [James Sedgwick (1775–1851; DNB)], Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in the Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

[14] Britain and Austria were in alliance against France in 1809, but Napoleon advanced into Austria where he suffered a significant defeat at the battle of Aspern-Essling (22 May 1809). The Austrians failed to follow up this victory, which allowed Napoleon to seize the capital, Vienna, in early July. The Austrians were then defeated by the French at the battle of Wagram on 5–6 July 1809. BACK

[15] The Walcheren expedition was an unsuccessful British attempt to open another front in the Netherlands in support of the Austrian Empire’s struggle with France. Approximately 40,000 soldiers with supporting horses and artillery landed at Walcheren on 30 July 1809. There was little fighting but the army sustained heavy losses from sickness, and in December 1809 the rest withdrew. BACK

[16] Southwest of Wastwater in Eskdale, Cumbria. Irton Hall, designed around a fourteenth-century Pele tower, was the seat of the Irton family, Lords of the Manor of Irton and Melthwaite since medieval times. BACK

[17] Though there are two mountains of this name in the Lake District, Southey probably refers to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, east of Wastwater. BACK

[18] Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[19] Southey’s poem was first published as ‘Queen Urraia and the Five Martyrs of Morocco’ in the Morning Post in early September 1803, and in the Iris, 3 November 1804. It was published as ‘Queen Orraca’ in English Minstrelsy. Being a Selection of Fugitive Poetry from the Best English Authors; with some Original Pieces Hitherto Unpublished (Edinburgh, 1810), I, pp. 269–280. It was also published in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810), in Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838). Both these works were published by the house of Ballantyne. BACK

[20] Southey’s poem ‘The Alderman’s Funeral, an English Eclogue’ was not included in English Minstrelsy. Being a Selection of Fugitive Poetry from the Best English Authors; with some Original Pieces Hitherto Unpublished (1810), but it was published in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.2 (1810). BACK

[21] Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama (1810) includes characterisations of the Hindu gods. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Ullswater (mentioned 1 time)