1221. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28–29 September 1806

1221. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28–29 September 1806 ⁠* 

Sunday Sept 28. 1806.

My dear Tom

Your inclosure did not catch my eye till the morning after your departure. it startled me – & I shall not attempt to say how much it made me feel upon opening it. I shall make use of the draft at present, rather than borrow of any else, – & replace the sum in your agents hands as soon as I can spare it. [1] 

I feel very lonely now you & the Doctor are gone, & more deprest by your departure than his – because I know when to meet him again, but when you & I separate, it is always doubtful when or where we may meet again. Besides Harry & I were not boys together. However whenever we have separated it has been each time with better hopes than the last, & whenever we have met in advanced circumstances – slow steps indeed, but sure ones. I have good hopes from the change in the Admiralty. By the by Admiral Markhams answer to Burn’s application is ‘I will endeavour to meet your wish for the employment of Lieutenant Southey as soon as opportunity offers’. [2]  It is not impossible that this opportunity may be some while delayed, but it is also not impossible that something better may come to you from a higher quarter. Wynn knows that nothing in the world would give me so much pleasure as your promotion & I have good hopes from him.

The best remedy for uncomfortable feelings is hard work. I turned to as soon as you were gone, & shipped off yesterday a cargo of Espriella, [3]  being a fourth part of the second-volume. The humour is on me & I shall stick to it till another batch be put out of hand. I wait only for Coleridges return to finish off the Preface, that he may give me a German extract which is wanted there. [4]  There came a letter from him to night saying that he is still waiting to see Lord Howick [5]  & hopes to leave London on Monday; – but this is very uncertain. – My eyes are better & I expect to get thro a world of work full speed. As soon as Espriella is done, & what little reviewing falls to my lot, I shall go to your letters. My heart is set upon this – & you will be surprized, when your information is methodized, to see how much you have collected. [6]  Do you meantime open another commonplace book & minute down all your recollections – every little thing you recollect <can call to mind> whether of man or beast, fish flesh fowl or insect. <– no matter how insignificant it may appear.> I shall send you letter by letter as launched to interleave & comment upon, – & believe me xxx my fingers itch to be at it.

We have been a good deal shocked since you left us. Miss Orton [7]  is dead. The xxx Colonel had <sent to> asked her to meet us at dinner last Wednesday – but she was gone on a visit to Cockermouth, & there on Thursday she died. From what I can understand she seems to have had some disease of the heart.

I have forwarded two letters to you, three to that Dog of Dumplings the Doctor. tell him I have manfully resolved to walk every day, that I began yesterday & have persevered to day & shall continue so to do. Mrs Peachy bids me say that both her Aunts will be gone to Seaton – so will the Trurims [8]  – so will the Hallidays. [9]  Somersetshire will be the duller for all this. I will however inclose a letter for Poole – which your sudden departure prevented me from getting ready in time – he is a self-taught man, who has done wonders for himself, he has a strong head & an honest heart, & I am mistaken if you do not like him – If you go to Minehead it will vary your route to go by way of Stowey & Watchett, – & if not – it is but a pleasant ride there over Quantock, for you & the Physician.

You have left the country too soon – Every day improves its beauty. If Bedford comes I must make him go to the Caves [10]  with me – it is provoking that I can get no companion for this easy journey – & to take it alone is to lose half the pleasure, – nothing is so hateful as a lonely evening at an inn. As soon as Edith is safe in bed please God – I shall write to Bedford.

Shall I send you the Poems, Joan of Arc & Last Annual [11]  to Taunton? or will you wait for them till you are housed on ship-board.

Send me any memoranda of your whole road which may do for Espriella – also any thing about Somersetshire Devon & Cornwall – & especially Plymouth – I shall gallop on with this book, & expect to report progress at a great rate. One walks on with the better will when half the journey is over, & better still the nearer the end is in view.

My daughter often enquires for you – where’s Uncle Tom? where’s Uncle Doctor? I want’em. – Why dont em come to breakfast? was the question this evening when she called to tea.

If Danvers have not yet sent off my books, & should in course of search for them discover a most xxx incurable duck [12]  wrapt up in paper – without covers or with ragged ones, imperfect & dirty to the last degree of duckishness, being the work of John – somebody the The Servant of the Lamb [13]  – a Quaker who went to Rome to convert the Pope, let him put it in the box – (which is to come by waggon –) But do not I do not wish him to take any trouble f in looking for it – only to lay hands on it if it comes in his way. I can make up an article from it for the Athenæum – [14] 

God bless you Tom. Remember me to all friends whom you may see at Bristol. I should like to see them myself – not forgetting Joe & Juniper [15]  in the number – you should show Juniper as one of the curiosities of Bristol to that brother of ours who has given us Esculapius as an Uncle.


Monday evening. Sept 29. 1806


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Thomas Southey./ with Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ OCT/ 1806
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Southey had left his brother £50 of the prize money he had earned while in the West Indies; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 18 October 1806, Letter 1229. BACK

[2] John Markham (1761–1827; DNB): naval officer who was a member of the Board of Admiralty (1801–1804 and 1806–1807) and MP for Portsmouth (1801–1818 and 1820–1826). William Burns (dates unknown), a member of the English Factory, Lisbon. Southey had asked John May if he could get his brother mentioned to Markham in the hope of securing promotion; see Southey to John May, 13 September 1806, Letter 1215. In the event, this attempt was unsuccessful; see Southey to John Rickman, 26 June 1807, Letter 1336. BACK

[3] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[4] Southey was writing the preface for Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807), which was being prepared for the press. Southey cites Coleridge in the preface for providing an extract from the German legend of St. Anno. Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, xi. BACK

[5] Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; DNB), Prime Minister 1830–1834 and leading Whig; he became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1806. He was briefly known by the courtesy title, Lord Howick, in 1806–1807, after his father, Charles Grey (1729–1807) was created Earl Grey. BACK

[6] These notes were eventually worked into a book, Thomas Southey, A Chronological History of the West Indies (1827). BACK

[7] Unidentified. BACK

[8] Unidentified. BACK

[9] Untraced. BACK

[10] In his letter to Charles Danvers, 3 February 1806 (Letter 1151) Southey had expressed his desire to visit some caves with a companion. They were probably those near Ingleton in Yorkshire, or those in the Peak District on the Derbyshire and Yorkshire border. BACK

[11] Joan of Arc (1796) and the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806). BACK

[12] Southey named his more dilapidated books ‘ducks’. BACK

[13] John Perrot (d. 1665; DNB), Battering Rams Against Rome. Or, the Battel of John, the Follower of the Lamb, Fought with the Pope, and His Priests, Whilst He Was a Prisoner in the Inquisition-Prison of Rome (1661). BACK

[14] Southey was planning to contribute articles to the Athenæum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (1807–1809). Perrot’s journey to Rome to convert the Pope is alluded to in Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807), letter 57. Perrot is not discussed in the Athenæum. BACK

[15] Joe was Thomas Southey’s dog, in Danvers’s care. Juniper (first name and dates unknown) was a Bristol carpenter who built book cases for Southey and also bound books for him. BACK

Places mentioned

Stowey (mentioned 1 time)