1179. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 May 1806

1179. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 May 1806 ⁠* 

Keswick. Tuesday. May 13. 1806

My dear Danvers

The date of my letter will not much surprize you after what you heard from your brother. The fact is that after consulting upon my Uncles business well with his friends in London, it was not thought necessary for me to visit Herefordshire. Bristol then became as much out of the question as out of the way – I put myself into the Carlisle mail on Saturday evening, & arrived safe & sound yesterday afternoon. The noise of the coach is still in my ears, & my solids seem to be jellified by so much shaking. but I am quite well, thank God, & heartily happy to feel myself at home, by my own fire side, & once more in my Cumberland costume.

London never agreed with me so ill – I caught a severe cold & cough, & felt my breathing much affected by that cursed composition of smoke, dust, smuts, human breath, & marsh vapour, which passes for an atmosphere in the metropolis. For ten days I was unwell enough to render it quite prudent to abstain from animal food & all fermented liquors; so wherever I went I dined upon fish & vegetables like a Catholic in Lent, & drank water as rigidly as a Turk. It served me also as an excuse for refusing invitations which I had no wish to accept, so I past much part of my time at home, that is at Rickmans, & usually got to bed at my own right seasonable hour, as soon as the clock struck ten. Mrs Rickman is a very good natured woman, who made the hours quite pleasant to me. I was left at perfect liberty, & no difference was made in the domestic arrangement whether I dined there or abroad. John the boy, [1]  the happiest of all boys in London, was at my service, to light a fire for me in the little parlour below stairs whenever I chose – to bring me biscuits cheese & ale when I was hungry, run on errands for me whenever I was pleased to xxx call him – from running after a butterfly in the garden, picking snails, playing with the cat, or quarrelling with the maid, who is an Ogress, & beats him with the fire shovel. Mrs R. has sent my daughter a silver cup; it is curious enough that her godmother Mrs Gonne had just sent her another, & that she had one already given by Mrs Smith [2]  the quaker two years ago.

I dined at Dr Aikins on Sunday the fourth. he was then full of the quarrel with Phillips – of which you will have learnt the results by the statement in the papers that he is no longer connected with the M. Magazine. [3]  It happened oddly enough that Longman had been thinking of starting a Magazine, that I had at his request, given what seemed to me a wise plan for one, [4]  & that this plan x was only suspended till a fit editor could be found. So the Dr will arrange his matters with Our Fathers [who are] in the Row, & I suppose the new Magazine will start with the [new] year – in which case I must lend a helping hand for a while, & give a hearty shove at the set off. [5]  – I sat some minutes in the room with John Estlin & his sister at the Barbaulds without knowing them, they had so fairly grown out of my recollection.

In examining my accounts in the Row I find that my profits upon Madoc amount to three pounds, seventeen shillings, & one penny. there remain about 180 copies on hand, each of which when sold will produce me fifteen shillings, but it will be long before they drop off, if ever they do during my life. However we shall print a small edition in two volumes without loss of time; in which there will be no alterations, that the quarto may retain its full value, in wh[ich] case it will still find some purchasers who like to pay for good margins, & fill quarto shelves. [6]  The Metrical Tales have brought me about 22£. & about 300 of the thousand [are] yet to sell, & will sell. [7]  Don Manuel is in the press, in Richard Taylors hands; a good printer whom I could trust with the secret, knowing him, & his character. [8]  I saw two proofs, & shall have the others franked by Rickman. The Specimens are now only delayed by the Printer who is very sluggish, the other work, except my preface, is done. [9]  I am going to reprint the old Romance of Palmerin of England, correcting it where it may need correction from the original, & adding a learned preface. [10]  This will sell to a certain extent, & my profits be easily gained. The Cid [11]  concludes the lists of my ways & means for the year – for I should add that I have sold the first edition of D Manuel for 100£. Tomorrow the effects of the journey will be pretty well worn off, & I shall begin my operations with a good will. My last years reviewing was little short of 90£. [12]  so much better do I get paid for criticising other peoples books, than making my own.

Sir Dominie has past his examination, & will be doctored about midsummer. [13]  We shall then see him here. I wish we had your visit now to expect, instead of to remember. However we shall meet when I am on my way to Lisbon, – an expedition which I begin to suspect will be delayed till the spring instead of autumn for two or three reasons. Perhaps Bonaparte may furnish one worth them all. – I find the two Ediths [14]  well, the little one perceptibly grown during my absence. No letters from Coleridge of a later date than August. We hear of him by several quarters: he was at Rome in the beginning of February, much noticed there, & going to spend a few weeks in the country on a visit. [15]  This is the news from Englishmen who saw him there. It is not to be supposed that letters should regularly arrive from other persons, & all his be lost. Wordsworth thinks he has delayed writing till he finds it painful to think of it. Meantime we daily expect to hear of his return. I am more angry at his silence than I chuse to express – because I know no doubt whatever that the reason why we receive no letters is that he writes none. when he comes he will probably tell a different story, & it will be proper to admit his excuse without believing it.

God bless you

yrs affectionately

R Southey


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 1806
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 374–377. BACK

[1] Rickman’s servant (last name and dates unknown). BACK

[2] Thomas Woodruffe Smith, a wealthy Quaker merchant of Carshalton, and his second wife, Anne Reynolds, were friends of Bedford and his family, as well as Duppa. BACK

[3] Phillips established the Monthly Magazine in 1796. It was edited by John Aikin until they quarrelled in 1806, when the editorship was taken over by George Gregory (1754–1808; DNB), until his death in 1808. BACK

[4] See Southey to [Thomas Norton Longman], [10 January 1806], Letter 1144. BACK

[5] John Aikin became editor of the short-lived Athenaeum magazine (1807–1809), published by Longman. BACK

[6] Southey’s poem Madoc was published by Longman in 1805, in a luxurious quarto, costing two guineas. The second edition, more cheaply produced and priced, was published in 1807 with little alteration. BACK

[7] Southey republished his contributions to the Annual Anthology (1799–1800) under his own name in Metrical Tales and other Poems (1805). BACK

[8] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807) was printed by Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB), printer and naturalist, who would go on to establish the publishing firm of Taylor and Francis with his son William Francis (1817–1904; DNB) in 1852. Southey wanted to keep his authorship a secret because he hoped this would prevent negative reviews from his enemies, which he feared would have a detrimental effect on its sales. BACK

[9] Southey’s joint project with Grosvenor Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets, published with Longman in 1807 as a companion to George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790; 2nd edn. 1801; 3rd edn. 1803). The printer was S. Hollingsworth, Crane Court, Fleet Street. BACK

[10] Southey published an English translation of Palmerin of England, by Francisco Moraes in 4 volumes in 1807. BACK

[11] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[12] Southey reviewed in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806): James Bruce (1730–1794; DNB), Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the Years 1768–73 (2nd edn, 1804–1805), 2–16; Thomas Lindley (dates unknown), Narrative of a Voyage to Brazil; ... with General Sketches of the Country ..., and a Description of the City and Provinces of St. Salvadore and Porto Seguro (1805), 27–32; Joseph Skinner (dates unknown), The Present State of Peru, Comprising its Geography, Topography, Natural History, Mineralogy, Commerce, the Customs and Manners of its Inhabitants; Embellished by ... Engravings of Costumes (1805), 49–60; John Griffiths (dates unknown), Travels in Europe, Asia Minor and Arabia (1805), 67–77; James Stanier Clarke (1765?-1834; DNB), Naufragia, or, Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks (Vol. 1; 1805), 99–100; Charles François Dominique de Villers (1765–1815), An Essay on the Spirit and Influence of the Reformation of Luther (1805), trans. B Lambert (dates unknown), 177–187; William Roscoe, The Life of Pope Leo X, Son of Lorenzo de Medici (1805), 449–467; Arthur Cayley (1776–1848), The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh (1805), 477–483; Dieudonné Thiébault (1733–1807), Original Anecdotes of Frederic the Second, King of Prussia, and of his Family, his Court, his Ministers, his Academies, and his Literary Friends: Collected During a Familiar Intercourse of Twenty Years with that Prince (1805), 488–495; William Parr Greswell (bap. 1765–1854; DNB), Memoirs of Angelus Politianus, Joannes Picus of Mirandula, Actius Sincerus Sannazarius, Petrus Bembus, Hieronymus Fracastorius, Marcus Antonius Flaminius, and the Amalthei: Translations from their Poetical Works: and Notes and Observations Concerning Other Literary Characters of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1805), 509–515; George Ellis, Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances (1805), 536–544; Henry John Todd (bap. 1763–1845; DNB), The Works of Edmund Spenser (1805), 544–555; William Lisle Bowles, The Spirit of Discovery (1804), 568–573; William Hayley (1745–1820; DNB), Ballads; Founded on Anecdotes Relating to Animals, with Prints, Designed and Engraved by William Blake (1805), 575–576; John Hoppner (1758–1810), Oriental Tales: Translated into English Verse (1805), 576–578; Francis Burroughs (dates unknown), A Poetical Epistle to James Barry Esq. (1805), 578–579; Vincenzo Monti (1754–1828), Penance of Hugo: A Vision (1805), trans. Henry Boyd (1748/9–1832; DNB), 581–588; James Grahame (1765–1811; DNB), The Sabbath (1805), 588–591; Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769–1850; DNB), Rhymes on Art, or, The Remonstrance of a Painter (1805), 592–596; Samuel Whitchurch, (dates unknown), Hispaniola, a Poem (1804), 596–597; Matthew Rolleston (dates unknown), The Anti-Corsican, A Poem (1805), 597–598; Charles Grant, Baron Glenelg (1778–1866; DNB), Poem on the Restoration of Learning in the East (1805), 598; Edward Coxe (dates unknown), Miscellaneous Poetry (1805), 598–600; Malcolm Laing (1762–1818; DNB), The Poems of Ossian, Containing the Poetical Works of James Macpherson in Prose and Verse, with Notes and Illustrations (1805), 615–620; Archibald Macdonald (1739–1814; DNB), Some of Ossian’s Lesser Poems Rendered into Verse [from Macpherson]; with a Preliminary Discourse, in Answer to Mr. Laing’s Critical and Historical Dissertation on the Antiquity of Ossian’s Poems (1805), 620; Philip Massinger (1583–1640; DNB), Plays (1805), ed. William Gifford, 625–634; Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), Nathan the Wise; a Dramatic Poem in Five Acts (1805), trans. William Taylor, 634–639; John Collett (dates unknown), Sacred Dramas: Intended Chiefly for Young Persons (1805), 639; Henry Mackenzie (1745–1831; DNB), Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, Appointed to Inquire into the Nature and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian (1805), 679–699; Hannah More, Hints Towards Forming the Character of a Young Princess (1805), 708–713; Joseph Lancaster (1778–1838), Improvements in Education as it Respects the Industrious Classes of the Community (3rd edn, 1805), 732–736; Samuel Jackson Pratt [pseud. Courtney Melmoth] (1749–1814; DNB), Harvest-home: Consisting of Supplementary Gleanings, Original Dramas and Poems, Contributions of Literary Friends and Select Re-publications (1805), 736–738; William Henry Ireland (1775–1835; DNB), The Confessions of William Henry Ireland Containing the Particulars of his Fabrication of the Shakespeare Manuscripts (1805), 743–745. BACK

[13] Southey’s nickname for his brother, Harry, who graduated as MD from Edinburgh University on 24 June 1806. BACK

[14] Southey’s wife Edith, and daughter Edith May. BACK

[15] Coleridge was in the process of returning from Malta via the continent and reached England in August 1806. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Paternoster Row, London (mentioned 1 time)