514. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 20 April 1800]

514. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 20 April 1800] ⁠* 

My dear Cottle

I begin with memorandums. pray let both volumes of the Anthology [1]  be left at George Dyers by your brother, for Rickman, one large for Biddlecome. Burton. near Ringwood.

Our journey was safe but not without accidents. at Plymouth I saw Mrs Tucker, [2]  who pressed us to dine with much earnest kindness. I was glad of the opportunity to introduce my brother Tom to her, as he has no acquaintance in Plymouth. we arrived here on Friday night & found the packet by which we wished to sail detained by the winds. the winds still continues unfavourable & we are watching it with deep anxiety.

A voyage is a serious thing , & particularly an outward-bound voyage. the hope of departure is never an exhilirating hope: inns are always comfortless, & the wet weather that detains us at Falmouth, imprisons us in the inn. dirt, noise, restlessness, expectation, impatience – fine cordials for the spirits!

However I get on with Thalaba, [3]  from which I steal the time now given to you. Devonshire is an ugly country. I have no patience with the cant of travellers who so bepraise it. they have surely slept all the way thro Somersetshire. its rivers are beautiful – very very beautiful – but nothing else high hills all angled over with hedges, & no trees – wide views & no object of beauty.

I have heard a good story of Charles Fox. [4]  when his house <here> was on fire & he found all efforts to save it useless – he went up the next hill to make a drawing of the fire. the best instance of philosophy I ever heard.

I have received letters from Rickman & Coleridge. [5]  Coleridge talks of fleaing Sir Herbert Croft – which may not be amiss.

God bless you. I shake you mentally by the hand, & when we shake hands bodily, trust you will find me a repaired animal with a head full of knowledge & a trunk full of manuscripts.

Remember me to all friends whom you see. tell Davy this is such a vile county that nothing but its merit as his birth place redeems it from my utter execration. I have found nothing in it but roguery, restive-horses, & wet weather. & neither pilchards, white ale, or squab pie were to be found obtained. Last night I dreamt Davy had killed himself by an explosion & the misery I felt awoke me.

once more God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Cottle/ Gloucester Street/ Brunswic Square/ Single
Endorsements: Southey 1800; (111) 55; Falmouth
MS: Berg Collection, New York Public Library. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 220–221 [in part; dated ‘1800’]; Adolfo Cabral (ed.), Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800-1801 and a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), p. 74 [in part; dated [c. 20 April 1800]]. BACK

[1] Annual Anthology (1799) and (1800). BACK

[2] Possibly connected to the Mr Tucker with whom Southey lodged in Exeter in autumn 1799; see Robert Southey to William Taylor, [started before and continued on] 1 September [1799], Letter 431. BACK

[3] The Islamic romance Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[4] Charles Fox (1740?–1809; DNB), poet, orientalist and artist. Southey retold this anecdote in his Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, p. 6. BACK

[5] Coleridge to Southey, [10] April 1800, E.L. Griggs (ed.), The Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 6 vols (Oxford, 1956–1971), I, pp. 585–586. BACK

Places mentioned

Burton (mentioned 1 time)