506. Robert Southey to John May, 2 April 1800

506. Robert Southey to John May, 2 April 1800 ⁠* 

My dear friend

Before my departure from England I proceed to state to you all my arrangements, as far as they are made. first as to pecuniary matters reviewing of course must be suspended, & I have for some months ceased writing for the news-paper, [1]  owing to inability from ill-health. the loss is not less than an hundred a year. but an old school fellow (a clergyman, by na name Elmsly) understanding from Wynn that I was going abroad, immediately offered me, thro him, an hundred pounds: a sum which will defray the expences of the journey, the voyage, & the personal expences necessary to clothe us for a twelvemonths absence. this done, my annual income remains, f £160. [2]  which you will receive quarterly for me, & to which amount I will draw on you. xxx there will be also from ten to twenty pounds due from the Critical Review, which I shall direct to be paid to you. – I shall send over my Thalaba for publication from Lisbon – this will assuredly, tho I reserve the afte copyright of the after editions, produce £100. Some one of my friends, [3]  who is connected with the booksellers, will transact the business for me, & the money shall be deposited in your hands. this is my fund for our return. if peace permits I will return over the Pyrenees – & in that case the journey will pay its own expences. my destined employment in Portugal you are acquainted with. in order to keep up my connection with the Critical Review I have engaged to review Portugueze books – & Spanish if I can get them. [4]  there will be so little to do that it cannot be estimated at more than ten pounds worth – but it continues my connection: the Annual Anthology remains charged for some articles which I wish to have sent for my Uncle in the autumn, & for ten pounds towards the maintenance of my cousin Margaret.

My brother Harry – this is the most awkward circumstance. I had been looking on to a house in London where he could have had a home when he left Mr Maurice. Harry was sixteen in January last – I know not how he can be better situated – or indeed otherwise situated, than where he is.

My Mother will remain with her sister. I wished her to have passed the summer at Burton – where she might easily have found some acquaintance to have accompanied her, & shared her house-keeping expences. she is never happy with her sister – a miserable women with whom no one can be happy. nothing <unpleasant> but this recollection will accompany me.

My worldly affairs, in case of death, are easily arranged. a copy of Madoc [5]  is in the possession of my friend Charles Danvers, incorrect as it now is, should I be summoned to another state of existence, its value will be considerably more than you imagine. Coleridge would edite this, & whatever else I may leave worth editing. the produce you would dispose of as might best serve Edith – & my Mother. xxxxx but if my Mother will not live with Edith, the little annuity that may be raised must not be lessened by the smallest part going into the College Green. My two younger brothers [6]  have uncommon talents – I trust I shall live to bring them forward so as to see them hold honorable & useful stations in society. if it be ordered otherwise, the name they bear will procure continue – or procure them friends, & their abilities remain a better inheritance than wealth.

Thus much for all that is of importance. we purpose setting off for Falmouth on the Thursday in the next week. but it is possible that I may not receive the money for my journey &c by that time. it passes thro Wynns hand & he may not then be in London. Edith is unwell – & I think of a journey to Falmouth on that account with unpleasant forebodings. I believe <a good> climate is almost as essential to her health as to my own.

In a few days you will receive the second Annual Anthology; [7]  & with it the papers respecting Chatterton. [8]  should the subscription fill sufficiently during my absence, I can transfer my papers to Coleridge & leave him to oversee the publication.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

Wednesday. April 2. 1800.

No. 10. Stokes Croft. Bristol.


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ 16. Charlotte Street/ Rathbone Place/ London/ Single
Postmark: B/ APR 3/ 1800
Endorsement: No 52. 1800/ Robert Southey/ Stokes Croft 2 April/ recd. 3 do/ ansd. 6 do
MS: Princeton University Library, Robert H. Taylor Collection, Box 17. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 101–104; Adolfo Cabral (ed.), Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800–1801 and a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), pp. 71–72 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey had ceased contributing poems to the Morning Post in December 1799. BACK

[2] The amount of Southey’s annuity from Wynn. BACK

[4] This arrangement fell through. BACK

[5] A fair copy of the 15-book Madoc 1797–1799; now Beinecke Library, Tinker MS 1938. BACK

[7] Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[8] Southey and Cottle’s The Works of Thomas Chatterton (1803). BACK

Places mentioned

Burton (mentioned 1 time)
College Green, Bristol (mentioned 1 time)
Stokes Croft (mentioned 1 time)