1253. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 December 1806

1253. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 December 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

I have not received any answer as yet from Carlisle – for which there must be some reason, – perhaps his letter is waiting for a frank – I expect that he will be able to lessen your Hospital expences materially.

As for the newspaper, in the first place it was 2 & not 3 guineas per week – in the second I could not get you the situation, & in the third should not advise you to accept it if I could. – Here are a few more reviewing books – which shall be sent to London to you as soon as you let me know where to direct them. – & in the parcel certain drafts for dinners. – The first Tuesday you are in town call at No 4 Tavistock Street, Bedford Square – it leads from Tottenham Court Road into the square thus –

[sketch map]

About one o clock you will find John May there, – that being his day & hour. I have desired him to introduce you at Mr Burns [1]  – my letters will be to Sharon Turner, – to the River Tuffin, – & one from Edith to Mrs Gonne which will introduce you to a pleasant house. You have heard me speak of Mrs Gonne – of all human beings whom I have ever seen she is the most thoroughly excellent. I will also depute you to Bedford & Elmsley & Rickman – you need not fear having acquaintance in plenty. When you write to me consign the letter to Rickman.

I shall not join <you> quite so soon as was my purpose. My Uncle urges me to lay every thing else aside for the sake of getting out the portion of my history which relates to Brazil as speedily as possible. [2]  the MSS. materials which he has been half his life collecting, are of exceeding value & importance – & there never can be a time when information of this kind would be more eagerly received. I have therefore sent to London & Bristol for all my books & MSS. upon this subject & shall probably remain here till I get thro them, unless any lucky chance, such as a shower of gold, should enable me to remove Southbound & settle. This will not alter your plans; – when you have gone thro your hospital course you are big enough & ugly enough to get to Lisbon by yourself. – if my Uncle should not wish me to come over & compleat this business there.

Find William Dimond [3]  out, if he be in town. You may learn by inquiring of his publisher. He will be very glad to see you, & is very likely to have certain things called orders at his disposal.

I know not whether Coleridge will lecture or not. [4]  He went from hence this day fortnight to join the Wordsworths in Leicestershire, [5]  & took Job with him, – they assuring him that the cough which the children had was not the hooping cough. On his arrival he finds that it is. But as they disregarded the danger of bringing Hartley into it for the sake of having his company, so is he pleased with theirs that he keeps him in it. If Hartley was to catch it & die of it – & poor fellow there cannot possibly be a worse subject for the disease, Coleridge would break his heart – & deserve to do it. – It strikes me that he will not lecture – tho his name has been announced. Mrs C. & the other children  [6]  are to join him at Bristol in the early spring & go to his family in Devonshire, [7]  – so that we shall have the house to ourselves – I know not for how long, – but were they fairly to quit it, greatly should I be tempted to have the study plaistered & here take up my abiding place.

Wm Taylor asked me if I knew any thing of Ensor [8]  – since his letters came I hear that he is the brother in law of Isaac Weld – who went to America to see whether it would be wise in him to emigrate there, – did not like it, – wrote a book to say so, – & then had the modesty to ask a reward from the Irish Government upon the merit of the Anti-American book.  [9]  This Weld is now at Ambleside, & is said by Lloyd & Wordsworth to be a much less able man in conversation than his book promised, & moreover a very unpleasant one. He is a great coxcomb & ostentatious of atheism, which he says is also the opinion of Mr Ensor – as Wm T. surmised Ensor is therefore Irish & most probably in the revolutionary politics. I have not seen his book

Write to Lisbon. Tom is appointed to the Pallas Frigate. [10]  I have not heard from him since he set off to join her, but understand he is First Lieutenant –

God bless you – I am in much hurry, being very eager to clear off all that is on hand that I may set fairly to work upon Brazil. Remember me to Wm T. & to his father & mother especially – to others at your discretion, making remembrances when you think them due – I will only particularize Dr Sayers


Tuesday. Dec 30. 1806.


* Address: To/ H. H. Southey. M.D./ with Wm Taylor Esqr/ Surry Street/ Norwich
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK/ 8
Endorsement: 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d.3. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 432–434. BACK

[1] William Burns (dates unknown), a member of the English Factory, Lisbon. For Southey’s letter to May, see Southey to John May, 29 December 1806, Letter 1252. BACK

[2] The prospective flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil (occurred 29 November 1807) prompted Southey, at his uncle Herbert Hill’s request, to begin a history of Brazil, using papers sent him by Hill and stored by Rickman; see Southey to John Rickman, 23 December 1806, Letter 1247. Southey had asked Charles Wynn to use his position as Under Secretary of State in the Home Office, to ascertain whether the government might provide him support during the preparation of a work likely to supply useful information in the new political situation. BACK

[3] William Wyatt Dimond (c.1750–1812; DNB), actor and theatre manager. BACK

[4] According to a letter to Charles Danvers, Coleridge was to ‘lecture ‘at the Royal Institution upon the Principles common to the Fine Arts’; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 January 1807, Letter 1258. He did not in fact lecture there until 1808, on the subjects of the Principles of Poetry, Shakespeare and Milton. BACK

[5] Over the winter of 1806–1807 Wordsworth and his family were living in a farmhouse owned by Sir George Beaumont near his new house at Coleorton, Leicestershire. BACK

[7] Coleridge’s brother, George was a schoolmaster at Ottery St Mary in Devon. BACK

[8] George Ensor (1769–1843; DNB), Irish political writer, who published a treatise on The Principles of Morality in 1801. He wrote many books and pamphlets on Irish politics, in which he attacked the English government. BACK

[9] Isaac Weld (1774–1856; DNB), Irish explorer and topographical writer. In 1795, he travelled to the United States and Canada, spending over two years in America. In 1799 he published his account of his Travels Through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada During the Years 1795, 1796 and 1797. His book was well received in Britain, but was negative about aspects of American life compared to the Canadian territories. BACK

[10] Thomas Southey’s ship, launched in 1804, was a 32 gun fifth rate frigate, whose first captain was Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB), under whom she was involved in the capture of many French and Spanish warships. In 1807, command passed to Captain George Miller (dates unknown). BACK