968. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 22 July [1804]

968. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 22 July [1804] ⁠* 

Keswick July 22.

Dear Danvers

Your way will be either to Manchester or Liverpool as you like best. the most expeditious is by the former place in the mails, but it is the most expensive & is too fatiguing. you had better make for Liverpool from thence in the long coach to Kendal – & there the coaches turn off & you must pursue your route by some other means. Kendal is 30 miles from Keswick but 20 of that distance lie thro the Lake country. In what trim are you for walking? – suppose you take chaise for Bowness, (ten miles) – this place is on the shores of Windermere, & from thence walk about ten more to Grasmere, where I will meet you. there is a little inn there where we can have decent beds, & Wordsworth will show us all the best walks in that neighbourhood. Grasmere is 13 miles from us, a most delightful road. from hence we can accomplish every thing else within a days distance by riding, except Ullswater, which must be left for your way back. Now then as to calculation of time – & here you will find I fear an inconvenient delay at Birmingham. the long coach from thence to Liverpool goes sets out at five or six, & gets in in about 20 hours. the next morning you start at six or seven for Kendal & arrive about 10 that night. the fare will be 5 or 8 & 20 shillings this last stage, & about 30 from Birmingham. do you therefore let me know when you mean to be at Kendal (there is always room in the long coaches) & on the following day I will be at Grasmere – or perhaps (if the weather be fine) at Bowness to meet you.

This plan you see is calculated for you if come alone. Should the Smiths come with you the house at Grasmere will not have room. you must then go from Kendal to Lowood Low-Wood, & I will meet thence to Keswick seeing Grasmere in the way. they should go to the Royal Oak here at first, & then if they stay as long as I hope – & as they should do to see the country, take lodgings, if good ones are to be had. I wish they may come while you are here, – we shall have some delightful days on the Lake.

Bring with you some hypercarbonated kali [1]  – for what we get by that name will not effervesce at all. & also some East India Sugar – a few pounds for your own consumption. Martha will have some little thing to send by you. & (to finish the paragraph of business) have the goodness to pay ten pounds to Mrs Fricker in Mrs Coleridges name.

Your intelligence about King alarmed me, tho I conclude from the tone of what followed & the tense, that all danger was over when you wrote. Davy has been here, he appeared to less advantage than he had done in London. Yesterday young Roscoe called, & dined with me – we thought his manners remarkably pleasant. he is said to be a cleverer man than his father. [2]  Harry arrived about three weeks ago, a good deal mannified both in person & manners since I had last seen him, & of course a more suitable companion. he knows a great deal, seems to have chosen his society well at Edinburgh, & is certainly a young man with whom any body would be pleased – I have at last got a birth for Scapegrace. he is to go to Plymouth immediately, & Admiral Colpoy [3]  will ship him off for a foreign station. this good I have got by the change of ministry.

I have corrected five proofs of Madoc. [4]  Ballantyne prints with such excellent accuracy that I never have any occasion to alter except for the sake of correcting the text itself or altering my own punctuation. I have nearly compleated all the new parts of the poem – a week, if no visitors come in, will bring me to the first introduction of Thalala [5]  – Book 8 in your copy, & then, except one section to be introduced in the old eleventh book, I shall have only to amend & ornament the old story. the labour will be over. it will be a relief to me when I have fairly done with it – after having for so many years considered it as a thing which was to be done.

It grows late – another proof in which I had a new passage to interpolate has detained me, & I will not delay the letter another day, that [MS torn] may have the more time to make your arrangements. How glad we shall be to see you! to introduce you to Skiddaw, my daughter, & my dog – Dapper, who is as great a favourite as ever Dapper Cupid was! [6]  – if there be any new number of the Missionaries or the Baptists bring them down. [7]  the first from Barry, [8]  the latter from James. [9]  I am grievously in want of a bookseller here, & also of a Juniper. [10] 

God bless you.



* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ JUL 25/ 1804
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Sodium bicarbonate, used to regulate acidity in food and create effervescence in soda water. BACK

[2] William Stanley Roscoe (1782–1843): poet, who was close to his father, William Roscoe, in outlook and tastes. Educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, he became a partner in his father’s bank, and was also a student of Italian literature. He published a book of poems in 1834. He married Hannah Eliza Caldwell (d. 1853) on 10 September 1818 and their son William Caldwell Roscoe was also a poet and essayist. BACK

[3] John Colpoys (c. 1742–1821; DNB), British naval officer who achieved notoriety for inciting the mutiny at Spithead in 1797. He was promoted to full Admiral in 1801 and appointed as Commander-in-Chief at Plymouth in 1803. In 1804 he gave up his command to take a seat in the Admiralty. 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] A character in Madoc. BACK

[6] Danvers’s dog, formerly Southey’s. BACK

[7] Southey refers to The Transactions of the Missionary Society, which 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 (London, 1804) beginning with further South African transactions. The Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society were published as a periodical beginning in 1793, but then as bound volumes from 1800. BACK

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

[9] 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. As an associate of 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), which Southey reviewed in the Annual Review for 1802 (1803), 207–218. BACK

[10] A ‘Juniper’ was Southey’s term for a bookbinder, and ‘juniperize’ meant to add a gold border and lettering to the bindings of his books. The allusion was to Friar Juniper (d.1258), disciple of St Francis of Assisi (Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone; 1181/1182–1226), who cut the silver bells off the gold border of an altar cloth to give to a poor woman begging alms. BACK

People mentioned

Roscoe, William (1753–1831) (mentioned 1 time)
Cottle, Joseph (1770–1853) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker family (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Edward (1788–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Ballantyne, James (1772–1833) (mentioned 1 time)
Smith, Thomas (c. 1770–1822) (mentioned 1 time)
Davy, Humphry (1778–1829) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Grasmere (Dove Cottage) (mentioned 5 times)
Keswick (mentioned 3 times)
Ullswater (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)