719. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, [19] September [1802]

719. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, [19] September [1802] ⁠* 

Dear Edith

I write from Pile Inn – thirteen miles short of Neath Sunday evening Sept 20. – We mist the boat on Friday & were obliged to hire the small one – or lose the half day. our passage was quite pleasant – on the other side Miss Shapland [1]  past us in a chaise – so you will have learnt our safety I suppose from her thro Danvers. 15 miles to Newport – a bottle of excellent ale half way helped us on. the country fine as to produce, but of no remarkable beauty. On arriving I made a sad discovery – a huge & ugly blister on my right heel. Saturday 12 to Caerphilly – the country rather better, the castle there famous – & large – but not fine in its parts. a huge mass but nothing when compared to Obidos or Leiria. [2]  8 to Llantrissant – but they were Welsh miles – better measure than they give to their ale by the by. their pints are shamefully small – not above half measure. One noble scene on the Taffe – high hills & wood – & a clear – loud – rapid – shallow stream. we crost it on a scaffold-boat for the coal waggons – & following two Welsh guides lost a fine bridge which ought to have been seen. Llantrissant a decent estalagem [3]  – clean beds & that was all. no cream – no milk – no meat – bad ale – eggs & bacon & toasted cheese & gin about the price of otter of roses. today eleven to Bridgend. milk on the way – which was bono  [4]  – & a bathe on the way in a brook of lovely water which was bono, & the Landladys dinner ready at Bridgend when we arrived – bono – & bottled ale more bono than all the rest. 6 more to Pile Inn – an excellent inn in an ugly country – a foul country – high hills with hedges – nothing but hedges – & a muddy bay in sight. This is not a cheap country. meat 8–9.10 pence a pound – affected by the Bristol market – for we eat their beef & mutton.

But alas I am quite foundered. obliged yesterday & to day to go slip shop for the love of my great blister which is as big as the little Doctors fist [5]  – the looseness of the slipt shoe has blistered the sole of my foot – & the poor sole has been in purgatory – & is in purgatory – & no indulgences can help it out. I must try coach & a day’s rest. as for the other foot he is pretty well I thank you & I am not tired & can eat like a tyger & drink like a fish & sleep like myself. But I have seen no country to tempt me even to a wish for a residence there. lower down may be better – but if it be not – & if things be not cheaper – I shall leave you to decide between Bristol & Exeter – where you know the prices, & meantimes you had better look out about No. 12.

For sundry reasons my letter must be brief. because I am tired & my ink stand is dry – so that the pen is made dirty all the way up in striving to wet it. if we see any thing better you shall speedily hear of it, & if not you shall hear of our goings on tho there be nothing better to send you than what a mere book of the roads could give. We shall not I think exceed the fortnight. I hope not & believe not for I already wish myself at home, & am not quite easy about you & the young one –

remembrances next door. [6]  God bless you Edith. I am going to my old book & to supper & to bed.

yr RS.


* Address: To/ Mrs Southey/ Kingsdown/ Bristol
Stamped: CARDIFF/ 165
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 286-287.
Dating note: Southey misdates the letter by one day, Sunday was 19 September in 1802 and not 20 September as he states. BACK

[1] Possibly a relative of Joseph Shapland (dates unknown), an apothecary of Park St, Bristol. BACK

[2] Castles that Southey and Edith had seen on their journey in central Portugal in March 1801 (Adolfo Cabral, Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800-1801 and a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), pp. 15-33). BACK

[3] The Portuguese word for an inn. BACK

[4] The Latin translates as ‘good’. BACK

[5] As big as the fist of Southey and Edith’s new-born daughter, Margaret Edith Southey. BACK

People mentioned

Danvers, Charles (c. 1764–1814) (mentioned 2 times)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
Danvers, Mrs. (d. 1803) (mentioned 1 time)