1268. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 30 January 1807

1268. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 30 January 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Charles

You have not quite so much forethought about you in packing a box as I should have expected, – or you would have remembered when you filled it up with waste sermons that I was to pay by weight for it & that waste paper weighs as heavy as books. Had you instead of <thus> filling that heavy Portugueze box (wood is cheap there & they put thrice the quantity in one that we do in England) bought a tea chest I should have had at least two stone less to have paid for, which on a journey of 300 miles amounts to a great deal. I wish too when you laid in the book of prints for Ediths amusement you had added the two volumes belonging to it for mine, in place of part of the abominable sermons.

However thank you for a great deal of trouble which you must needs have taken. __

I have just received yours. You had indeed in your letter of the 7th not expressed yourself unintelligibly, but made the very ingenious mistake of telling me that you could not find all the books which you had found, & that you had found those which it seems you could not find. All is right except the other two MS.S. about which however I will not again plague you, but there they are among the other books & not in the trunks. I will only say one thing more about the books & that is – if the great book of prints of Batalha [1]  has not suffered from damp – & there be any danger that it should – to beg you would take it into your care; at any rate – look at it to see, & if the prints be mouldy wipe them, which had not been done by the prints sent for Edith, – & I am sorry to say that wiping is even more essential for the insides of books than the outside.

Whitfields Journal is a sad duck [2]  – & is not that part of his Journals which I most wanted – but the Letters supply the place well. [3]  I am glad you have sent my pocket books.

I have had a touch of influenza which was soon shaken off. This very unseasonable weather has bred all sorts of infection about us, for which Keswick seems like a hot bed, – there is always a fever lurking there among the dirty poor. I lost three days by the attack & that was all. But three days are a good deal according to my present rate of travelling. – The conclusion of D Manuels second volume goes by this post to the printer, – & very little remains to compleat the third. I am hurrying Richard Taylor, [4]  & begin to be wishing to see how it looks in boards, & to hear what will be said about it, – a pleasure which you will have in perfection, for it is not that sort of book – that will be read & not talked about.

So William Reid is married! You never tell me any thing of Sam, & I should be glad to hear he was going on well. Is he still at Liverpool?

I cannot guess what is in the trunks, – but be it what it may they had better be opened lest the contents should spoil. When my book is ready for the Press Taylor-like I shall ‘go home with my work’, [5]  – & will then by a bit of what my poor Mother used to call a circumbendibus [6]  make Bristol in my way, & overhaul all my unhappy chattels which seem to want me as much as I want them. Settle them & myself too I certainly will with the first three hundred pounds I can get, & it is not for want of working that I have xxx not got it yet, – but it will come all in good time: most probably the neighbourhood of Bath, or Bath itself, will be my choice.

Mrs Smith sent me Edwards letters in the Box with a note wishing me to do something for him. On that subject my mind has long been made up. Any money bestowed upon him would be thrown away. If he is ever reclaimable, nothing but absolute want & suffering can reclaim him. After the opportunities which he has had – three times in the navy & once in the army, – & after the things which he has done – there is no hope. Sink he will & sink he must. He must be left to seek his fortune. Into whatever abject situation he may fall if he does his duty in it, whenever I am satisfied of that, (which it must require some time to be –) I will then help him up. But I cannot afford to throw money away where it will be of no use; neither if I could afford it, would I. If should go in some better direction.

Poor Tom writes in bad spirits. He suffers dreadfully from chilblains, & from the weather, having got a West Indian constitution. Nothing would give me so much pleasure as his promotion, & thank Heaven there certainly seems to be a good chance of it. He will be very glad to hear from you – direct Pallas. [7]  Plymouth –

Herbert has the same strange shaped eyes as all my children, – they are in colour singularly beautiful, & except in their shape – he is as fine a child as you have ever seen. My daughter is like my old books, ugly – but good, – She will be very plain certainly – But she has guts in her brains – to use a genteel phrase, – & is as quick as thought in her intellect. She would make a famous playfellow for you, & I heartily wish you were here to play with her.

There is some hopes that Rickman will come here in the end of the summer – bring Mrs R – leave her here – & go on upon business to the Highlands – in which case I will go with him. [8]  Mrs Wilson often talks of you. What an excellent good woman is that. – You will see Coleridge on his way to Devonshire & see him much altered. His countenance is more changed for the worse than I could have believed possible. the eyes have lost all their life – partly from fat – & still more from the quantity of laudanum which he takes, & the quantity of spirits. – nothing intoxicates him, & he is not sensible & will not be easily convinced that he drinks enough to kill any body, – frequently when he was at home nearly a bottle of rum in a day. Do’nt talk about this, for it is better kept to ourselves – but he is everyway the worse for his long absence except in his understanding.

God bless you –

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

Jany 30. 1807.


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ FEB 2/ 1807
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] James Murphy (dates unknown), Plans, Elevations and Views of the Church of Batallia, in Portugal (1792). BACK

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

[3] George Whitefield (1714–1770; DNB), Calvinistic Methodist leader, whose Journals were published in an unauthorised version in 1738. The authorised version, The Two First Parts of Whitefield’s Life, with his Journals Revised, Corrected and Abridged, appeared in 1756. In the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, no. 3010 is George Whitefield’s Select Collection of Letters (1772). BACK

[4] Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB), whose firm was printing Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[5] Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB) was printing Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[6] A roundabout way. BACK

[7] Launched in 1804, the Pallas 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

[8] Southey and Rickman did not visit Scotland together until 1819. BACK

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