SOUTHEY, Robert (1774-1843). A series of 44 autograph letters signed ('Robert Southey' and 'R.S.') to Mrs Thomas Hughes (one to the Revd Dr Hughes), Keswick, Buckland (1) and n.p., 21 December 1820 - 27 November 1838 and n.d., letter of 21 January 1827 including a verse passage intended for insertion in 'The Devil's Walk', comprising 9 stanzas numbered 18-26, altogether approximately 9 pages, 8vo, and 136 pages, 4to (seal tears and stains, some areas of browning caused by inserted slips of paper; strip cut from lower margin of last leaf of letter of 12 August 1824, with loss of signature and some text); together with an autograph letter signed by Southey's patron Charles Williams Wynn to Mrs Hughes, 1839, describing Southey in his dotage; and two others; in a brown morocco backed slip case. Provenance: purchased from Scribners, New York, 1 March 1946, $360 -- Halsted B. Vander Poel.
A WARM CORRESPONDENCE, COVERING THE LAST TWO DECADES OF SOUTHEY'S LIFE. Characteristically, his main preoccupation is with books and writing: 'you will be pleased to hear that my second volume is making good progress in the Press, -- so that I am once more in the receit [sic] of proof sheets, which I am lucky enough to regard as one of the pleasures of life'; 'Never believe booksellers. I could tell you some truths which have teeth, about them'; his pleasure in the career of a writer is always evident, rejoicing that 'My employments, thank Heaven, are such that they allow me to be always at leisure'. There are references to the famous authors of his circle, in particular to Sir Walter Scott, who in 1826 'tells me in an emphatic manner that he is certain I shall like [Scott's biographer John Gibson] Lockhart' -- an expectation that is to be disappointed; the following year he declines to read Scott's life of Napoleon -- 'It was not possible that Sir Walter could keep up as a historian the character which he has obtained as a novelist'; in 1832 he comments on the author's physical decline. There are occasional references to Southey's near neighbours, William Wordsworth and his family, whom he visits in 1827, and again in 1832 to give his daughter a change of air and to have 'some wholesome talk with him [Wordsworth]'. News of the death of his estranged brother-in-law Coleridge, whose wife and children lived under Southey's roof, awakes old memories -- 'It is just fifty years since I became acquainted with Coleridge: he had long been dead to me but his decease has naturally wakened up old recollections. All who are of his blood were in the highest degree proud of his reputation, but this was their only feeling concerning him'.
Amid much talk of his own work for the Quarterly Review and of politics and ecclesiastical matters (sometimes with an anti-Catholic bias), there is a great variety of matter, from a detailed description of the intriguing 'floating islands' of Derwentwater, to an account of the 'Illiad' [sic] of his manifold physical sufferings on a journey to Holland in 1825, and confessions of his character and prejudices ('I dislike great houses, & never willingly put myself in the way of great people'). The death of his daughter Isabel in 1826 is the subject of a number of grief-stricken letters. On a humorous note is a transcription of an abusive and unorthographic letter from a dissenter ending 'You aer call as poet to is Magesty. I am a shamed of such poets. I wish the King was'.
Some mention is made of Mrs [Mary Anne] Hughes in the DNB entry for her son, the author John Hughes (father of the author of Tom Brown's School Days); her husband was clerk of the closet to George III and George IV, vicar of Uffington, Berks, and canon of St Paul's Cathedral; '"Clever, active Mrs Hughes" was an early friend of Sir Walter Scott, whom she visited with her husband in 1824'.