SCOTT, Sir WALTER (1771-1832, Scottish novelist and poet)
Lot 199
SCOTT, Sir WALTER (1771-1832, Scottish novelist and poet)
Sold for £1,920 (US$ 2,923) inc. premium

Lot Details
SCOTT, Sir WALTER (1771-1832, Scottish novelist and poet)
LONG AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('God Bless you my good friend / Walter Scott'), TO ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774-1843), thanking him for his frankness and kind expressions about himself which he reciprocates, assuring him that there is 'no occasion for there being otherwise', explaining in detail that he had had no knowledge of the termination of [John Taylor] Coleridge's editorship of the Quarterly Review and his replacement by [John Gibson] Lockhart ('...Till the middle or rather the end of October I had no more idea of Lockhart's being manager of the Quarterly than of my being tonight on the top of Skiddaw...'), nor does he have any knowledge of the background to the change ('...I neither wrote nor spoke to any friend that I have in the world on the subject untill I wrote on the same day to Heber and yourself - to both as old friends and literary men and to you as a most valuable contributor to the work...'), assuring him that, were Murray to start a newspaper, it is very unlikely that Lockhart would accept from Murray an office 'so toilsome and laborious as that of Editor...', and deploring the behaviour of Joannes de Moravia towards Southey ('...I am perfectly convinced it arose out of a constitutional timidity Byron called him the most humorous of Gods booksellers...he anticipated objections on your part to a greater degree than I hope you will find cause for and put off apprising you as men are apt to delay encountering an apprehended difficulty however that very delay may increase it...'), stressing that nothing would give him more pain than the idea that he or Lockhart had edged Coleridge out of a 'lucrative and honourable situation', but on the contrary he had understood that Coleridge was wanting to give more time to his business in the law and that Murray had offered the position to Lockhart 'as open and disengaged'; he also reports that Coleridge has offered to remain a contributor to the Review, reflects that Coleridge's friends may have more difficulty with the situation than he does himself and urges Southey to get to know Lockhart better being sure that he will like him ('...If I had not occasion to know him to be both safe well temperd and competent with a high feeling of honour and public principle I would rather put my hand in the fire than accept of your generous offer to continue on my account your support to a word which he must in future manage...') and will greatly appreciate Southey's continuing support; Scott ends somewhat mysteriously 'It was not Sophia but Anne who was called Madame French now the black-eyed lass you saw at Keswick', 3 full pages, quarto, plus three lines at the head of the fourth page, very slight shaving of the first leaf with minimal loss on the verso, second leaf inlaid, integral address panel, manuscript and stamped postal markings, red wax seal, Edinburgh, 28 November [date by postmark 1825]

Footnotes

  • '...there is nothing which some experience with Letters has brought me more to despise than the puffing of friends or the rumours circulated by enemies. I would as soon buffet with the snow-flakes which are falling on my window at the moment as I would try to contradict idle rumours and combat unfounded imaginations A work like the Quarterly is sure to have the fair play of perusal and then the public at large who care for neither our friends nor our enemies will judge for themselves...'

    The literary and political periodical, The Quarterly Review, published by John Murray, was founded in 1809 by Sir Walter Scott, George Ellis and John Wilson Croker as a Tory response to the Whig The Edinburgh Review. Early contributors were Scott, Southey, Ugo Foscolo, Sir John Barrow and Charles Lamb. It was known for its scathing reviews, victims of which were Landor, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, P.B. Shelley, Keats (notably), Dickens and Macaulay.

    John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854), Scott's son-in-law and biographer was the Quarterly Review's third editor and remained in the post for twenty-seven years. John Coleridge (1790-1876), a nephew of S.T. Coleridge, rose to be a judge. He was editor of The Quarterly Review for about a year. Southey was a regularly contributor - of ninety-five articles in all.

    Southey replied to Scott on 2 December observing of Murray's behaviour to John Coleridge - 'No man can get out of a dirty business with clean hands.'

    The printed version of this letter in The Letters omits the reference to Byron in this original, imposes punctuation throughout [Scott, as a lawyer, had doubtless got in the habit of not employing much punctuation], alters capital letters, imposes italics and inserts and omits words.
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