SOUTHEY, Robert (1774-1843). Autograph commonplace book, n.d. [c. 1826 ?], neatly written in brown ink, approximately 120 pages, 8vo, on leaves numbered 1-103, index, original half red calf, paper label inscribed 'no. 12' on upper cover.
Walter Savage LANDOR (1775-1865). Autograph commonplace book, n.d. [1840-1850?], including cancellations and revisions, approximately 29 pages, 4to, on pale blue lined paper (upper portion excised from one leaf, plain paper repair), 20th-century dark green morocco by Riviere, the spine in six compartments, lettered in one, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins (covers sunned). Provenance. Robert Browning (lot 234 in the sale of his library on 2 May 1913); C.D.Murray (annotation on 1st blank).
Southey's commonplace book offers a record of his remarkably extensive reading, from writers as diverse as Humboldt (on the production of sugar cane); Byron (writing to [Thomas] Moore); Spenser, Clarendon, Sidney, Essex, and many others both contemporary and earlier. The subjects listed in the index include topics which aroused Southey's curiosity, among them 'Breaking the line', 'Jews', 'Armada', 'B[lack] Prince' and 'Piracy'. The second part of the manuscript refers mostly to naval history or seafaring generally, quoting extensively from the royalist historian James Heath on Prince Rupert, and the Dutch wars, also from recent sources, such as an 1826 publication on 'Impressment'. Excerpts from Southey's commonplace books were published in 1849/50 by John Wood Warter, his son-in-law.
Landor's thoughts and opinions on life and literature include Southey: 'What a wonderful book is Southey's Commonplace Book. Is it not astonishing that a man who furnished his storehouse with such a multiplicity and variety of other men's goods should have found so much room for his own?'. Other writers on whom he reflects include Cicero (on old age), Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Byron, Wordsworth, Sterne, and Voltaire, who 'had no heart: there was a large and luminous star of wit in place of it'; several passages refer to the Elizabethan poets, and poetry in general. One passage singles out French women, including Charlotte Corday, and most pages include bon mots or aphorisms. (2)