2390. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 11 March 1814

2390. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 11 March 1814 ⁠* 

“What is they disease? – A consumption? – Indeed a certain messenger of death; but know that of all the Bayliffs sent to arrest us for the debt of nature none useth his prisoners with more civility & courtesy.”

Fuller Life out of Death. p. 21. [1] 


Duodecimo Decembr de anni 1581m dux Albanus summus Regiæ aulæ præfectus in ipso regis palatio expiravit. Is animam fugientem per integram quindenam ante obitum suum lacte muliebri rejectus cohibuit.

Linschoten. Cap. 1. p. 4. apud de Bry. [2] 


“Ficinus is of opinion that in deep consumptions no such cure as by sucking human blood in its best constitution. I suppose he means when the Physician gives order for the opening a vein.”

Herberts Travels, p. 17. [3] 


Beja stands high, – so as to be seen at a considerable distance. But there is much marshy ground about it, – the ground is high, – i e – the country in that part, but the elevation is gradual, so that there is no perceptible ascent in entering approaching the city.

Gooch must review your book, & of course I will do my best to secure the insertion of the article. [4] 

I sympathize with you in your agony. Here are 104 pages of Roderick [5]  printed, bringing it nearly thro the 8th book, – & the printer calling for ‘more copy’ – & Longman advertizing it as nearly ready for publication, – & my friends giving me joy of it, – & I the while only in the 16th book when it will extend to 1, 2, 3 or 4 & 20! – Hurrah! Who’s afraid – keep xxx moving, – so I say to that good horse Pegasus Gee hoa Dobbin, away we go, Senhor Doutor, & – sic itur ad Astra. [6] 

The two last books [7]  are on their way to town. When I come toward the conclusion my progress will be very rapid, – for of course the farther I go the less there is to think of, except the mere act of composition: all doubt, difficulty & vacillation are at end when you begin upon the last act, – & this I am rapidly approaching.

You know I am a great friend to matrimony, – & therefore the intimation you give in your letter pleases me well – You will look for something with a wife, & enough is better than too much, – nay I am not sure whether too – little would not be preferable. I have sometimes thought you were likely to be in danger at Champion Hill, [8]  & were it not for the dreadful chance of hereditary disease I should consider such an event as desirable: – but that chance would weigh heavily in the balance.

Wordsworth is going to the press with eight books of his Recluse, – the great work of his life, – about 8000 verses. [9]  The Old Cumberland Beggar in the Lyrical Ballads, [10]  xx is one of the loppings of this poem, & will show you its pitch.

I send you this because of the Phthisiana. You will find the fact about John Wesleys father briefly stated in his Primitive Physic [11]  – which unluckily I do not possess. – By the by, did ever see that strangest of strange books Hermippus Redivivus? [12] 

King must have written to you immediately on receiving my letter. I am sorry Standert has not the done the same. – his is the more curious of the two, & would go far to establish the utility of friction as a preventive, – if not a curative, – remedy.

God bless you


Keswick. March 11. 1814.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK / 298
Postmark: E/ 14 MA 14/ 1814
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 3. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Fuller (1607/8–1661; DNB), Life Out of Death: A Sermon Preached at Chelsey, on the Recovery of an Honourable Person (1655), p. 21. Southey was collecting information for Henry Herbert Southey’s Observations on Pulmonary Consumption (1814). BACK

[2] John Huyghen van Linschoten (1563–1611), Discours of Voyages into y Easte and West Indies (London, 1598), p. 3: ‘the Duke of Alva died in Lisbon, in the King’s palace … who, during his sickness, for fourteen days, received no sustenance but only women’s milk’. BACK

[3] Sir Thomas Herbert, 1st Baronet (1606–1682; DNB), Some Yeares Travels into Divers Parts of Asia and Afrique (1638), p. 17. BACK

[4] Henry Herbert Southey’s book was not reviewed in the Quarterly. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[6] Aeneid, Book 9, line 641: ‘thus do we reach the stars’. BACK

[7] Of Roderick, the Last of the Goths. BACK

[8] The home of the Gonne family; whose daughter Louisa became Henry Herbert Southey’s second wife in 1815. Louisa’s father, William Gonne, was in the last stages of a lingering illness. BACK

[9] The Excursion (1814); the central section of Wordsworth’s uncompleted poetic magnum opus ‘The Recluse’. BACK

[10] ‘The Old Cumberland Beggar, A Description’, Lyrical Ballads, 2 vols (London, 1800), II, pp. 151–162. BACK

[11] John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB), Primitive Physic, 20th edn (London, 1781), p. 45, which noted ‘In the last stage [of pulmonary consumption], suck an healthy woman daily. Tried by my father [Samuel Wesley (1662–1735; DNB]’. See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 2 March 1814, Letter 2384. BACK

[12] Joannes Henricus Cohausen (1675–1750), Hermippus Redivivus: or, the Sage’s Triumph over Old Age and the Grave: Wherein a Method is laid down for Prolonging the Life and Vigour of Man. First published in Latin in 1742, an English translation appeared in 1744. The translation was no. 533 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)