1017. Robert Southey to John May, 12 January 1805

1017. Robert Southey to John May, 12 January 1805 ⁠* 

My dear friend

I have letters from my brother to say that he is appointed First Lieutenant of the Amelia, a much finer frigate than the Galatea; [1]  & that Commodore Hood [2]  speaks of him in such handsome terms, that he has good reason to think him self in the way of promotion – Still there is a very serious cause for uneasiness remaining – the yellow fever is raging violently on board. [3]  Some symptoms had attacked him the evening before he wrote, but had entirely disappeared. I shall be very anxious till another letter arrives.

The papers say we are certainly about to send forces to Portugal. Now could I get such an appointment as would enable me in the course of two or three years to accumulate three or four hundred pounds <which would settle me at the end of the time>, & in the meantime do my own business abroad – I should think myself a very fortunate man. I have written to my Uncle – who can perhaps may have some influence with Frere; & indeed it is not unlikely that Frere may be disposed to serve me, from what little intercourse we had at Lisbon. I shall also contrive to get myself mentioned in General Moores family. [4]  It does not strike me that you can befriend me in this pursuit, – but if you can I am sure you will, & perhaps you may <be able to> inform me in what channel I had best endeavour to make interest.

We are all well, & enjoying the most delightful weather I ever remember at this season <time> of year. the days can hardly be finer in Portugal.

God bless you

yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey

Jany 12. 1805


* Endorsement: No. 106 1805/ Robert Southey/ No place 12th Jany:/ recd. 15th do/ ansd. 21st do
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 1p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos (ed.), The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 93–94. BACK

[1] HMS Amelia was a finer ship than Thomas Southey’s previous ship, the Galatea, because she was a 38-gun Hébé-class frigate of the French navy captured in 1796 and commissioned into the navy. Thomas’s captain was William Charles Fahie (1763–1833). BACK

[2] Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB), who was in command of the fleet in which Thomas Southey served. BACK

[3] The disease-ridden Leeward Islands station had already accounted for the previous captain of the Amelia, William Allen Proby, Lord Proby (1779–1804), eldest son of Sir John Joshua Proby 1st Earl of Carysfort (1751–1828; DNB), who died on 6 August 1804 at Surinam, from yellow fever. BACK

[4] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command of the British troops in the Iberian peninsula. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna. In December 1804 he was sent to review the practicability of defending Portugal from a French invasion. His favourable report was widely leaked to the press, e.g. Aberdeen Journal, 9 January 1805. Moore was part of a large and well-known family that included his younger brothers, Dr James Moore (1763–1860; DNB) and the Royal Navy officer Graham Moore (1764–1843; DNB). BACK

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