959. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 2 July 1804

959. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 2 July 1804 ⁠* 

Keswick July 2. 1804.

Dear Danvers

First I have to tell you that Messrs D & W. [1]  have done too much in deducting the whole price of the broken bottles. the loss should be shared – be pleased therefore to settle it accordingly upon this fair footing.

Some thing was said in my last (which crost yours upon the road) respecting your coming here. [2]  We expect & intend to remain here another summer – but Dear Danvers you know how little any man ought to calculate upon the stability of his plans, & I least of all men. So do not depend upon aught so uncertain, but come at once. About the Smiths I know nothing. you can easily find them out & know their plans, & regulate your own accordingly. Autumn is of course the weather for colouring, but summer has the great advantage of longer days, & of warmer weather for the Lake – which is a main thing to be considered. I should almost advise you to set off without delay for the country is indeed in its glory. Oh that you could have seen Skiddaw on Friday evening last! I never saw such an effect of sunset, many as I have seen.

The books arrived, & in admirable order, that box is my best traveller. my folios now assume a formidable appearance when it is considered that they have all travelled three hundred miles by land – & have another journey as long before they will be finally at rest. I get on steadily & con amore, [3]  – indeed so much so that nothing less than the arrival of a proof sheet will be sufficient to turn my attention to Madoc. [4] 

The child grows well – kicks bravely, takes notice & begins to occupy some of my time in playing with her. I am uneasy to observe how frightfully she starts at any sudden noise. She is dreadfully troubled with wind – so as to throw her into strange agitations during sleep – sudden starts, & uneasy sounds, & flinging about the arms. Ask Rex by what regimen of the mother – or child this can be relieved. it is worse after she has taken the breast, than after any other food, – for we let her eat. Ask him too to tell me some carminative which we may keep at hand & give often with least injury. her digestion goes on well, – which was rarely the case with her poor sister. these uneasinesses usually end in her throwing up the milk – all other food stays with her. She grows finely however. her eyes are growing very bright – & when you have seen her two or three times you will begin to think she is not ugly.

Bring down with you the little Romances del Cid [5]  which Barry [6]  had to bind, any new numbers of the Missionary Transactions from him [7]  – & any of the Baptist Missions Report since I left Bristol, from James. [8]  tell James too that Cape Gardefui should properly be called Gardefan which means the Straits of Burial. So says Bruce at the end of his first volume, [9]  & promises a reason afterwards which I have not yet found. I know not that this interpretation will be of any use to him, but it will show that I remember his projected work, & take an interest in its progress. It was probably there, says Bruce, Book 2. Chap. 4. where the East Wind drove ashore the bodies of such as had been shipwrecked in the voyage. [10] he will find other etymologies in the same chapter which may turn to good account in his hands.

I am uneasy about Tom. no letter for ten weeks, – & I know he would not lose any opportunity of writing. It does not appear whether or not the Galatea was at Surinam. [11]  – there are some excellent remarks upon the capture in the Iris. [12]  I wish you saw that paper regularly. its politics are more far-sighted than those of any London edition. – Harry not yet come. I suppose that in his Highland walk the Scotch have either given him a very good reception – or that he has caught the itch. he does not write & we are daily or rather hourly expecting him. – Where is your brother Dan? he will fall in with Coleridge at Malta – & may enquire for him if he does not, at Doctor Stoddarts. [13]  & how is your other brother going on? tho it is a question I ask with little hope.

Poor Tobin ! I was very sorry for his disappointment, & somewhat provoked at the absurdity of breaking it off upon a money question. poor fellow, he must find somebody who will [MS obscured] to the blind. – Have you received the Henrys History from Cork? [14]  – & what tidings of the books from Leghorn [15]  which were on their way a year ago? remember me to Sam Reid of whom this reminds me – & to William [16]  – & the Hort [17]  – & Estlin – & Mr Roe [18]  –. I have no prospect of seeing Bristol again, except for a single day or so, if I should spend a few weeks at Bath before I settle, which is not unlikely, for the Baths would probably be very useful to me. – Rex I conclude is very busy – remember me to him & the Queen. & tell me how the Princess goes on. [19]  & how his physic agrees with Joe. & what news of Cupid. [20]  My dog Dapper is the veryest coward that ever carried a tail. the very sucking pigs frighten him – but he is a good fellow for all that – & I shall be very happy Sir to have the pleasure of introducing you to him.

God bless you.



* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ JUL 5
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Danvers and White (first name and dates unknown): the wine merchants from whom Southey received his wine. Four bottles of wine in his last order had been broken in transit; see Southey to Charles Danvers 1 March 1804, Letter 905. BACK

[2] See Southey to Charles Danvers, 12 June 1804, Letter 952. BACK

[3] Meaning ‘with love’. BACK

[4] The poem Madoc, which Southey had written in 1797–1799 and since then had been intermittently revising. It was completed in October 1804 and published in 1805. BACK

[5] Juan de Escobar (dates unknown), Romancero e Historia del Cid Ruy Diez de Bivar en Language Antigo (1632), no. 3449 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, where it is described as a ‘fine copy, in green morocco’. BACK

[6] Bartholomew Barry (dates unknown), a Bristol bookseller and stationer. BACK

[7] The Transactions of the Missionary Society were first issued as separate numbers, each dealing with a specific mission, from 1798 onwards. They were gathered into volumes, the first including the transactions for the years 1795–1802 in the Pacific and South Africa, the second beginning with further South African transactions (London, 1804) and containing The Rev. Mr Kicherer’s Narrative of the Mission to the Hottentots, and Boschemen; with a General Account of the South African Missions. BACK

[8] Isaac James (b. 1759) was the son of Samuel James (1716–1773), Baptist minister at Hitchin. He came to Bristol in 1773 as a student at the Baptist Academy. During the late 1790s and early 1800s, James collaborated with Joseph Cottle in selling numerous works, mostly by dissenters. Among James’s own works were Providence Displayed: or, The Remarkable Adventures of Alexander Selkirk (1800). He also tried his hand at poetry, including The Pilgrim’s Progress. The First Part: Rendered into Familiar Verse (1815), as well as a polemical work, An Essay on the Sign of the Prophet Jonah (1802). An associate of the members of the Baptist Missionary Society Committee, James was well placed to supply the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society, 6 vols (1800–1817). These were published as a periodical beginning in 1793, but then as bound volumes beginning in 1800. Southey reviewed Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1800–1801), in the Annual Review for 1802 (1803), 207–218. BACK

[9] James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772 and 1773, 5 vols (Edinburgh, 1790), I, p. 443. BACK

[10] Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772 and 1773, I, p. 443. BACK

[11] Thomas Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea, was a fifth-rate 32-gun frigate. It did not participate in the invasion of Surinam, the Dutch colony lying between French Guyana and Guyana, which took place in May 1804 when a British expedition led by Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB) attacked and took possession of the colony. Surinam was returned to the Dutch later that year. BACK

[12] The Iris; or, Norwich and Norfolk Weekly Advertiser was the Norwich newspaper edited, from 1803–1804, by Southey’s friend William Taylor. BACK

[13] Sir John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB): brother-in-law, from 1808 of William Hazlitt and from 1803 to 1807 the king’s and the admiralty’s advocate at Malta, in which capacity he was an associate of Coleridge, who had recently taken up a temporary post there as private secretary to Sir Alexander Ball (1757–1809), the naval officer governing Malta. Later he was editor of The Times and The New Times, in which capacity he was satirised, alongside Southey, by William Hone, in A Slap at Slop (1821). BACK

[14] Robert Henry (1718–1790), The History of Great Britain, From the First Invasion of it by the Romans under Julius Cæsar (1771–1793), was delayed in the post, its despatch having been entrusted by Southey’s brother Tom to the bookseller in Cork. See letter 893 of this edition. BACK

[15] Livorno, on the western coast of Tuscany, Italy. BACK

[16] Unidentified. BACK

[17] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian minister and writer. BACK

[18] Probably John Rowe (1764–1832), assistant minister at the Unitarian chapel in Lewin’s Mead, Bristol, from 1798 until his death. BACK

[19] King’s child had been born in July 1803; his wife contracted childbed fever and was not fully recovered by November of that year. BACK

[20] Joe and Cupid were dogs in Danvers’ care. Joe was Thomas Southey’s dog, Cupid formerly Southey’s. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)