1204. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28[-29] July 1806

1204. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28[-29] July 1806 ⁠* 

Monday July 28. 1806.

My dear Tom

For many days I have looked for a letter from you – the three lines announcing your arrival in England being all which have yet reached me. Yesterday the Doctor  [1]  & I returned home after a five days absence – & I was disappointed at finding no tidings of you. We were two days at Lloyds  [2]  & have had three days mountaineering, one on the way there, two on our return, thro the wildest parts of this wild country, many times wishing you had been with us. One day we lost our way upon the mountains, got upon a summit where there were three precipices below us, & found a way down thro a fissure, like three sides of a chimney, where we could reach from side to side, & help ourselves with our hands – This chimney–way was higher than any house considerably, & then we had an hours circuit afterwards over loose stones. Yesterday we mounted Great Gabel [3]  – one of the highest mountains in the country, & had a magnificent view of the Isle of Man, rising out of a sea of light – for the water lay like a sheet of silver. This was a digression from our straight road, & exceedingly fatiguing it was; however after we got down we drank five quarts of milk between us, & got home as fresh as larks after a walk of eleven hours. You will find it harder service than walking the deck when you come here.

Our landlord, who lives in the house adjoining us, has a boat which is as much at our service at <as> if it were our own; – of this we have voted you commander in chief whenever you shall arrive. The Lake [4]  is about four miles in length, & something between one and two in breadth, – however tired you may be of salt water I do not think you will have the same objection to fresh when you see the beautiful bason of, clear as crystal, & shut in by mountains on every side, except one opening to the N. W. We are very frequently upon it, Harry & I being both tolerably good boatmen, & sometimes we sit in state & the women row us – a way of manning a boat which will amuse you. The only family with which we are on familiar terms, live, during the summer & autumn, on a little Island here – one of the loveliest spots in this wide world. [5]  They have one long room, looking on the Lake from three windows, of which I know not which is the most beautiful – & in that room you may have as much music – dancing – shuttle–cocking &c as your heart can desire. They generally embargo us on our water expeditions. I know not whether you like dining under a tree, as well as with the conveniences of chair & table & a roof over head – which I confess please me better than a seat upon any moss however cushiony, & in any shade however romantic, – if however you do, here are some delightful bays at the head of the lake, in any of which we may land, – & if you love fishing – you may catch perch enough on the way for the boats company, & perhaps a Jack [6]  or two into the bargain.

One main advantage which this country possesses over Wales is, that there are no long tracks of desolation to cross between one beautiful spot & another. We are sixteen miles only from Windermere, & there are other Lakes on the way to it, sixteen only from Wass–water, as many from Ullswater, nine from Buttermere & Cromack. Lloyd expects you will give him a few days – a few they must be, for tho I shall be with you, we will not spare you long from home, – but his house stands delightfully, & puts a large part of the finest scenery easily within our reach. You will find him very friendly, & will like his wife much – she is much a favourite with me. The Bishop of Llandaff lives near them, to whom I have lately been introduced, [7]  & with whom I am in more favour, than I should be likely to be with any other man who wears an apron, for he is a staunch Whig, & would as willingly see the Athanasian Creed [8]  & half a dozen other absurdities struck out of the Liturgy as I should.

Your niece is mightily pleased to hear that her Uncle Tom is coming, & has this minute given me a kiss to send you [MS torn] dare say when you make your appearance she will n[MS torn] stand between my knees as quaint as a mouse, [MS torn] all the while. She is just now as happy as a new pair of yellow shoes can make her; the only way of persuading her to [MS torn] with any others was by assuring <her> that these were to be worn whe[MS torn] Mrs Peachey came; – & as Mrs Peachey has called in this evening, ‘Mrs Peachey’s comed now’ was the cry, & her ‘Pretty Pappa’ as she very dutifully calls him, was obliged to go hunt for the yellow shoes, in which all the pomps & vanities of the wicked world which has any temptation as yet for her, are included. I wish she may not have made a few punctures on the opposite leaf of your letter, by puncturing <piercing> thro a piece of paper upon it with a blunt pencil, – one of her main wishes being ‘to write a man’, or a house! as she calls it.

I have a year & halfs Monthly Magazines which you shall take back with you. Dr Aikin having quarrelled with Phillips  [9]  starts a Miscellany with the next new year, having Longman for his publisher, – the scheme was mine, [10]  & is not mended by the Doctors alterations. He calls it the Athenæum, & I shall be a contributor at first – for the sake of serving Longman. [11]  – I have got a few books for Harry to try his hand upon in the next Annual, – a good way of getting a few guineas, & the easiest way in which a young man can get them – tho certainly not the fastest for it requires practice & much knowledge to do it well. However I shall lend him a hand just to put him in the way.

God bless you – pray write – if I had not heard of you from Danvers I should have been uneasy –

RS. Tues


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Amelia/ The Downs/ or elsewhere Sheering/ Deptford [readdress and deletions in another hand]/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; DEAL / 74
Postmark: E/ AUG 1/ 18
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 48–51 [in part]. BACK

[1] Henry Herbert Southey graduated as MD from Edinburgh University on 24 June 1806. BACK

[2] Charles Lloyd lived at Low Brathay, near Ambleside. BACK

[3] Great Gable: a mountain at the head of Wasdale in the Lake District. BACK

[4] Derwentwater. BACK

[5] William Peachy and his family had a house on Derwent Isle, Lake Derwent. BACK

[6] A pike. BACK

[7] Southey had dined with the Bishop of Llandaff the previous month, for an account of which see Southey to John May, 18 June 1806, Letter 1191. BACK

[8] The Athanasian creed is the Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine, attributed to St Athanasius (c. 293–373) and used by Christian churches since the sixth century. BACK

[9] 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

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

[11] John Aikin became editor of the short-lived Atheaeum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (1807–1809), published by Longman. BACK

Places mentioned

Ullswater (mentioned 1 time)