345. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 29 August 1798

345. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 29 August 1798 ⁠* 

Hereford. Aug. 29. 98.

My dear Tom

Your letter was very agreable for we began to doubt whether or no you were in the land of the living. We have been a fortnight in this part of the world with Thomas, part of the time at Dilwyn the original seat of the Tylers, [1]  & Shobdon was one of the places we visited. our absence from home will not exceed a month, & tho the time has passed pleasantly, I shall not be sorry to sit quietly down once more at Martin hall. my mother was when I left her wonderfully better & certainly growing fat – I hardly expect to find her so well on my return, as she will be most of her time I believe in the College Green.

For Mrs Blythe [2]  I have done nothing, but have no negligence to accuse myself of. Wynn left London in haste before he had collected what he purposed. this he will do on his return, & the loss of time will be of no great consequence. he is now in Ireland but will not remain there long.

I have heard nothing from Lisbon which somewhat surprizes me, as I expect by every packet some supplies for my Mother from that quarter. it is very fortunate that I have been more profitably employed than usual, or I know not how we should have managed. however all goes on well – & will I trust go on better – for surely Tom the world is mending with us. the great difficulty is over & my Mother comfortably recovering her health. She is positively growing young again. & Edith is I think growing somewhat less like a skeleton.

I have heard high commendations of you somewhat in a roundabout way from a Taunton Lady [3]  – who writes to a friend of hers “the gallant Southey for me!” – now Tom who the Devil this Taunton Damsel is I could not find out – for the name was dropt by the way – so you must guess if you can.

My Letters [4]  are in the Press – & my volume will soon go – it will include the Vision. [5]  I have begun my English Eclogues [6]  & written two which I rather like. My Kalendar also is greatly advanced since you left us, it now extends to some 1400 lines, & much of the remainder is planned out. [7]  I have learnt to rise at early when at home, & written two new books of Madoc wholly before any one else in the house was up.

Do you know that I have been caricatured in the Anti-Jacobine Magazine [8]  together with Lloyd, Lamb, the Duke of Bedford [9]  – Fox [10]  &c &c &c? the fellow has not however libelled my likeness, because he did not know it – so he has clapt an Asse’s head on my shoulders.

I have done a great deal in the planning way since I have been in Herefordshire. you would I think be pleased with the skeleton of a long poem upon the Destruction of the Dom Danyel, of which the outline is almost compleated. [11]  God however only knows when it will get farther. I have much on my hands. my Kalendar will probably fill three volumes, & the more the work gets on the better does it please me.

Edith has learnt to ride here – she thinks of entering <among> the Light horsewomen – & I hope to get her the rank of a Corporella. Did you hear of the glorious take in about Buonaparte at Bristol? [12]  oh Tom I saw the newspaper boy pass by Martin hall with a paper cap inscribed Buonaparte taken! & the bells rang most villainously all day Sunday & <all day> Monday.

Tuesday I was at Cottles when the Mail was expected. the Volunteers were ready to strike up. two men kneeling on the church & post office with the flags ready to let fly. N.B. it rained very hard, the four streets full of people all assembled to see the triumphal entry of the Mail Coach crowned as it was to be with laurels. You never saw so total a blank as when all proved to be false! it did me a great deal of good.

Your letter just reached me when I began – so you see no time has been lost in answering it. for money – Capt– Dalton [13]  has not yet paid my Mother. we must embargo some of that for you. at any rate the first that can be spard shall be set aside for you. I shall now do better one year than the last. so Tom let us hope all things for we have weathered worse times than we shall ever know again I trust.

Ediths love. God bless you.

yrs. RS.


* Address: To/ Mr Southey/ H. M. S. Mars/ Plymouth./ Single
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), I, pp. 346–348 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey’s maternal relations, the Tylers, originated from Dilwyn, Herefordshire, see Charles John Robinson, The Mansions of Herefordshire and Their Memories (London, 1873), p. 93. BACK

[2] Southey had been attempting to raise money for the widow of the Midshipman James Blythe (1766/7–1798), killed in the fight between the Mars and L’Hercule on 21 April 1798. BACK

[3] The lady and her friend are unidentified. BACK

[4] The second edition of Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, published in 1799. BACK

[5] Poems (1799) included the ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans’. BACK

[6] Six ‘English Eclogues’ appeared in Poems, 2 vols (Bristol, 1799), II, pp. [181]–232. Southey had probably written ‘The Old Mansion House’ (published in Poems, II, pp. 185–193) and ‘The Wedding’ (later published in Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800), pp. 119–126) by this time. BACK

[7] The ‘Kalendar’, a sequence modelled on Ovid’s (43 BC–AD 17) Fasti, was never completed. BACK

[8] Southey had been caricatured as an ass in James Gillray (1757–1815; DNB), ‘The New Morality’, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, 1 (1798), between 114 and 115. BACK

[9] The Whig politician Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1765–1802; DNB). BACK

[10] The Whig politician Charles James Fox (1749–1806; DNB). BACK

[11] An early plan of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 181–188. BACK

[12] Possibly a rumour had circulated in Bristol about the capture of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). If so, it was not a unique occurrence. In early June a story had gone round that Napoleon had been taken by John Jervis, Earl St Vincent (1735–1821; DNB). It was soon disproved; see the London newspaper the Star, 8 June 1798. BACK

[13] Unidentified. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Martin Hall (mentioned 2 times)
College Green, Bristol (mentioned 1 time)
Cottles (mentioned 1 time)