1068. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 19 May 1805

1068. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 19 May 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Danvers

On referring to Shepherds [1]  Bill – I find the 15/s are said to have been received by Mrs Smith. – It does not seem likely that Tom should have remitted his payment thro her, – nor that the receipt, if for his cloaths, should come in the form in which you have it. – At the same time that so small a sum as 15 should have been paid into their hands seems unlikely. – Ask them how they received the payment? if from her they did not receive it from her, the receipt cannot be for Toms cloaths & must hold good. if they did – pay the whole debt for me till a convenient season – when I can remit my whole debt to you – which, if nothing prevent – our letters will enable me to do in the autumn.

I shall be glad of all the Numbers of the Transactions of the Baptist Mission [2]  since that containing the portrait of Thomas [3]  (No XI I believe) – from James. [4]  of the Methodist Missions – from Barry [5]  any numbers after No 11. for I have had 10 & 11 from Longman – having reviewed them & kept the numbers [6]  – because I marked them as I read to save trouble.

– While I remember it let me desire you to ask of Mr Rowe [7]  whether it be at Crediton or Cullompton that Mr Lightfoot lives – as I wish to write to him.

The wine is at length arrived, & without the loss of a single bottle. I have tasted it & like it well. indeed I am now drinking wine as medicine having for some days had a bowel complaint upon me, which is now going off. Except this slight ailment which leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling of weakness – I have been uncommonly well for a very long time.

I can easily explain why you prefer the written to the printed Madoc. [8]  you have the one in your memory, & the new language in any part where you expect to meet the old, disappoints you, & you do not distinguish between disappointment & disapprobation. I should have no difficulty in convincing you that the alterations are every-where improvements, – & perhaps if I had been near you so as to have read the poem piece-meal as it was written, you would not have required any arguments to the purpose. – Wynn tells me the poem is almost as universally admired as he could desire, adding that more than that he conceives I cannot wish. – I have just corrected Joan of Arc for a new edition. by Longmans desire the Vision is now to be printed at the end of the poem. [9]  he wished to supply its place in the volume with the verses from my Portugueze Letters. [10]  this I object to because the very little merit which any of these verses possess depends upon their position – but in fact they are not worth mending or transferring. I propose therefore in the place of the vision to smuggle in without note or notice a few of the more tolerable pieces in that volume published with Lovell – to insert new poems would be wasting them. [11] 

I should like you to bring my four parts of the Cyclopædia [12]  – if as I believe they are among the loose books – having the other parts here, & frequently wishing to refer to them. I should also like a box of nine-pins for little Edith – we can get no play things for her here.

Harry is arrived for the summer – I think improved as much as could be desired, or is possible, in one winter. You will be well pleased with his good-sense information, his good-sense & his good-nature. Our landlord Jackson – the quietest, easiest, happiest of all Gods creatures, has just bought a boat, which will be of great service to us, & if no ill luck intervene – & I am in good hopes that none will, – we shall have some delightful days together upon the most lovely lake. poor John I have been compelled to part with, for want of a place to keep him in – it is a sad story. John has got into excellent quarters, – but having grown very amorous & the tender passion making him quite furious – John has been converted into Signor Giovanni. [13] 

We are in daily expectation of news from Coleridge, that is, of his arrival in England, [14]  – he desired that letters from home might be ready for him in London by the first of the month. the way, either by land or sea, is so full of perils, that we shall not be quite easy till he is arrived, – yet his motions so little to be calculated upon with certainty, & now in this case, not altogether dependent upon himself that I shall not be uneasy unless we learn that he has certainly set out.

Still no news of Tom – every day I expect to see that Admiral Cochrane [15]  has arrived & something of consequence taken place. Poor fellow after so many hairs-breadths escapes one begins to feel a sort of confidence, – which very feeling again when danger is at hand gives birth to a new fear. – Longman was to send you the second & third Vols. of the Annual [16]  for Tom – to go by the same direction as Madoc – i.e. in case you have destroyed it – Nathan Jackson Esqr Bridgetown Barbadoes. [17]  You had better rest at Liverpool on your way here – because you will need rest, because you can write from thence so that I may try & meet you at Grasmere, – & because you may return by way of Manchester which will vary the road, & rather shorten it. I hope Coleridge will be here by the time you come – but if not you will find no want of amusement in such a country. I have reserved sundry grand expeditions till you can partake them. – Have you seen the print of Coleridge? [18]  it has his forehead & eyebrows, but the eyes & the hair are Count Burnetski’s – this reminds you <me> to ask you for the Counts direction, as Harry wants to write to him.

Remember me to your brother [19]  to Rex & Hort. [18]  I wished to have sent Hort a copy of Madoc but had so long a list that it was out of my power. He shall have it when it appears in a smaller size. I sent Cottle one, for the sake of old times – which he has never had the manners to acknowledge. Our friend Don Manuel will be able to give a good account of himself by the time you visit him. [20]  – the Edithling goes on well – her teeth come very slowly – she has as yet but four, & the last were cut three months ago – but thank God she is well. Indeed the worst news I have to tell you is that the worms were eating my bookshelves, that I shall in consequence be obliged to paint them, & that I am in some trouble for my books, fearing that the wood-worm & book-worm may be the same –

God bless you.


May 19. 1805. Keswick


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] First name and dates untraced, he was a partner in Sheppard and Trinder (first name and dates unknown), a firm of woollen drapers who had premises at 7 Millsom Street, Bath. BACK

[2] Here Southey seeks the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society. These were published as a periodical beginning in 1793, but also as bound volumes beginning in 1800. Southey had reviewed Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1800–1801), in the Annual Review for 1802 (1803), 207–218. BACK

[3] John Thomas (1757–1801), missionary in Bengal. Thomas first went to India in 1783 as a ship’s surgeon, returning in 1785 to London, where he was baptized. He then went back to Bengal in 1786, remaining there until 1791. During the first stay in India he attempted to form a religious society; during the second he experienced a call to become a missionary. He returned to India as a missionary in 1793. BACK

[4] Isaac James (b. 1759) was the son of Samuel James (1716–1773), Baptist minister at Hitchin. He came to Bristol in 1773 as a student at the Baptist Academy. He kept a shop as a bookseller, dealer in tea (and sometimes undertaker), first in North Street and then in Wine Street. BACK

[5] Bartholomew Barry (dates unknown), a Bristol bookseller and stationer. BACK

[6] Southey reviewed the Transactions of the Missionary Society (1804) in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 621–634. BACK

[7] Possibly the Unitarian John Rowe (1764–1832), one of the ministers of Lewin’s Mead Chapel, Bristol. BACK

[8] Southey’s poem Madoc was published in March 1805. BACK

[9] The third edition of Joan of Arc was published in 1806, with the ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans’, originally published in the second volume of Poems (1799), printed at the end. BACK

[10] Letters Written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). BACK

[11] In the new 1806 edition of the second volume of Poems (1799), Southey made up for the removal of the ‘Vision’ by including two poems first published in Southey’s and Robert Lovell’s joint collection Poems (1795), ‘The Retrospect’ and ‘To Hymen’. He did not include poems originally published in his Letters Written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). Other poems brought into the 1806 edition to make up for the removal of the ‘Vision’ were, ‘Translation of a Greek Ode on Astronomy, written for the prize at Cambridge, 1793’ (pp. 3–9); ‘Remembrance’ (pp. 40–43); ‘To Recovery’ (pp. 49–51); ‘Youth and Age’ (pp. 52–53); ‘The Traveller’s Return’ (pp. 54–55); ‘Autumn’ (pp. 56–58); ‘The Destruction of Jerusalem’ (pp. 59–62); ‘The Spanish Armada’ (pp. 63–66); ‘St Bartholomew’s Day’ (pp. 67–69); ‘To a Bee’ (pp. 74–75); ‘Metrical Letter’, pp. 76–79. BACK

[12] Ephraim Chambers’ (1680?–1740; DNB), Cyclopedia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences was first published in 1728 and reprinted many times in the eighteenth century. An expanded edition, updated by Abraham Rees (1743–1825; DNB), was published from 1778–1788. BACK

[13] Implying that John, Southey’s ass, had become a c-ass-trato. The last great operatic castrato was Giovanni Battista Velluti (1781–1861). John had been bought by John Spedding of Mirehouse, near Keswick; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 27 April [1805], Letter 1062. BACK

[14] Coleridge did not arrive back in England until August 1806, and did not return to live in Keswick. BACK

[15] Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane (1758–1832) who was made commander of the Leeward Island station in 1805. BACK

[16] The Annual Review. BACK

[17] Untraced, he was the addressee for Thomas Southey’s letters in the West Indies. BACK

[18] Southey refers to William Say’s (1768–1834) 1805 mezzotint after James Northcote’s (1746–1831; DNB) portrait of 1804. BACK

[19] Possibly John Danvers (dates unknown). BACK

[18] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian minister and writer, was one of many acquaintances who stored books for Southey. BACK

[20] Southey refers to progress made on his Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

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