437. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 22 September 1799

437. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 22 September 1799 ⁠* 

Exeter Sunday 22 Sept. 99. we go hence on

Monday the 30th.

My dear Cottle

You seem to have mistaken my meaning about Beddoes, by cautioning me against drawing a general conclusion against his character from a particular instance in which he betrayed a want of decorum. I surely meant only that in that instance he had acted with impertinence – everywhere & at all time for Dr B. do I express respect. he is a useful & valuable man.

I think you will do wisely in inserting the following Advertisement in the London papers.

The second Volume of the Annual Anthology [1]  will be sent to press early in December. communications are to be addrest to the Editor – just where you will. if they could be received in London it would be better. at the bottom say where the first Vol. is to be had, containing poems by Messrs &c

you will I hope soon have a cargo to send me, of your own, [2]  when Michaelmas is over, – & some from Davy. [3]  if poor Mrs Yearsley [4]  were well I should like much to have her name there. as for Hannah <More> she is sunk too deep in the mire of aristocracy. [5]  as yet I have only Coleridges pieces [6]  & my own, amounting in the whole to some 80 or 100 pages.

Thalaba the Destroyer is progressive. I am now reviewing, & sad cattle were they who came last to be killed. there is a poem called Gebir, of which I know not whether my review be yet printed. [7]  but in that review you will find some of the most exquisite poetry in the language. the poem is such as Gilbert if he were only half as mad as he is, could write. I would go an hundred miles to see the author. My other hard work now is gutting the circulating libraries here, & laying in a good stock of notes & materials, arranged in a way so methodical that it would do honour to any old Batchelor. Thalaba will be very rich in notes, & rich in a xxxx kind of beauty which I had heretofore little used.

There are some Johnobines in Exeter with whom I have past some pleasant days. but the place is miserably bigotted. would you believe that there are persons here who <shall> always call the Americans the Rebels? – it is the filthiest town in England. a gutter running down the middle of every street & lane – with a stream, x I assure you not unnecessary. We leave it on Monday week, & I shall rejoice to taste fresh air & feel settled. Exeter has however the very best collection of books for sale of any place out of London. & that made by a man who some few years back was worth nothing. Dyer, [8]  not Woolmer [9]  whose catalogue you have shown me. Dyer himself is a thinking, intelligent, man, of liberal, & of extraordinary talents for his circumstances.

There was a book of arithmetic [10]  which Mr Peck [11]  shewed me once & which much pleasd me – you will recognize it by this circumstance, that every question was so worded at to involve some information, historical geographical &c. will you be good enough to get this book for me & send by my mother.

I congratulate you on your being out of bookselling as it did not suit you. would that the we authors had one bookseller at our direction, instead of one bookseller directing so many authors – the great good that might be done by judicious republications for which a London bookseller could ensure a sale! my list of title pages increases. I have lately made up my mind to undertake one great historical work. the history of Portugal [12]  – but for this & for many noble plans I want uninterrupted leisure – time wholly my own & not frittered away by little periodical employments. my working at such work is Columbus [13]  serving before the mast.

God bless you. remember me to your sisters & your good mother & your father. Ediths remembrance. she is again growing unwell – & for myself I require exercise to keep me in health, so much as to keep me from doing any thing. the weather now confines me & I am disordered only by a days confinement.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Cottle
Endorsements: Southey 1799; (109) 52
MS: Beinecke Library, Chauncey Brewster Tinker MS Collection, GEN MSS 310, Box 13, folder 550. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 219–220 [in part]; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 24–25 [in part]. BACK

[1] The second, and last, volume of the Annual Anthology appeared in 1800. BACK

[2] Cottle’s sole contribution to Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800) was ‘Markoff, a Siberian Eclogue’, pp. 223–229. BACK

[3] Davy’s ‘Lines, Descriptive of Feelings Produced by a Visit’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800), pp. 293–296, signed ‘K.’. BACK

[4] Ann Yearsley (1752–1806: DNB) did not contribute to Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[5] Hannah More did not contribute to Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[6] Coleridge contributed 16 poems and 11 epigrams to Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[7] Walter Savage Landor, Gebir (1798), although the poem was published anonymously. Southey’s review appeared in Critical Review, 27 (September 1799), 29–39. BACK

[8] Gilbert Dyer (c. 1743–1820; DNB), bookseller, antiquarian, author and radical. BACK

[9] Shirley Woolmer (dates unknown), an Exeter bookseller, printer and publisher and prominent Congregationalist. He founded the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (1798). BACK

[10] The identity of this book is uncertain, but its description fits William Butler (1748–1822), Arithmetical Questions, Having, For the Most Part, a Reference, Either to Sacred, Profane, or Natural History, Chronology, Geography, or Commerce (1788; 2nd edn 1795), which was specifically designed for the instruction of ‘young ladies’. BACK

[11] Unidentified. BACK

[12] Southey’s ‘History of Portugal’ was never completed. BACK

[13] Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), discoverer of America in 1492, claimed to have gone to sea at the age of ten and worked his way up through the ranks. BACK

People mentioned

Beddoes, Thomas (1760–1808) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Margaret (1752–1802) (mentioned 1 time)
Davy, Humphry (1778–1829) (mentioned 1 time)
Cottle family (mentioned 1 time)
More, Hannah (1745–1833) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)