2854. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 25 October 1816

2854. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 25 October 1816⁠* 

I have been surprised to see how well the peasants in the Morea could manage a putrid fever. Some glasses of generous wine, pomegranates & limes are the things usually given to the patient, the beloved lancet being kept at a distance very cautiously. By these means I have known a patient recover very speedily. I have often seen intermittent fevers subdued entirely by a mixture of coffee & lemon juice, which is the general remedy for them all over the country. The proportions are three quarters of an ounce of coffee ground very fine, two ounces of lemon juice, & three of water; the mixture to be drunk warm & xxxxxx fasting.

Pouquevilles Travels. [1]  196

A fever attacked the French prisoners at Constantinople. Among those who recovered a singular aberration of mind & stuttering came on between twenty & thirty days after they were attacked, which did not wholly leave them again for a very long time; some of them totally lost their recollection, & seemed to have no idea of the past events of their lives.

Do. 270.

A year when fruit is plentiful, & bread dear, is commonly a fatal one at Constantinople, especially if it happens besides to be a hot & moist season.

Do. 295

Speaking of the coal pits in the north, M. Simond says “it is remarked that the men employed under ground enjoy better health than those on the surface, the regularity of temperature securing them against many disorders, & the air constantly renewed being sufficiently pure.

Vol. 2. p. 62. [2] 

My dear Harry

The last of these gleanings bears upon your consumptive prentices & you probably know enough of the collieries to know whether the observation be well founded.

You have such opportunities of hearing of & concerning me from Bedford that I perhaps for that reason write less frequently than I otherwise might do. For more than four & twenty years it has been so much one of my habits to write to him that when I have nothing else immediately to do, I take out a sheet for him almost as a matter of course. I am sorry to hear that his heels have behaved in so disorderly a manner, the more so as from your mention of a cricketeering dinner I am led to imagine that the cause of this remarkable mutiny must have been lain xx higher up. – Indeed I know of no similar case since that notable rebellion of the members against the belly related by Menenius Agrippa. [3] 

I wrote to John May last week inclosing him a draft upon the Long men for 100£. [4]  The letter would reach Tavistock Street whither it was addressed on Monday last – & three posts have elapsed without an acknowledgement. Yesterday I saw his Aunt death [5]  in the Courier, & account therefore easily for this silence: – but if you see him I should like to know that the remittance came safely.

Times are mending with me by help of Roderick [6]  & the Pilgrimage. [7]  the first edition of the latter gave me 215£. & for the first time in my life I am on the right side of Longmans books: – a long journey uphill I have had of it, but up the hill I am at last.

There is little likelihood of my coming to town & strong disinclination. I have plenty of work, more indeed than can be got thro without postponing things which xxxx would be better if they were quickly done. The review [8]  occupies much of my time; – far more than is fitting, were it not that it pays well. Perhaps another year may enable me to clear off all my debt, & then, as soon as it can be done with convenience, I shall bid the Grand Murray farewell, & devote myself wholly to such pursuits as are most congenial. The second vol. of Brazil [9]  is very nearly finished, & will appear by Xmas. Most likely also I shall bring up my Tale of Paraguay in the spring: – it will make such a volume as the Pilgrimage, & Nash is trying his hand at some designs for it. [10]  He has made admirable pictures of the children. I find, which I did not know before, that he still practises professionally, [11]  – so if you have any useful opportunity – remember this. He is now in Borrodale where the Senhora is building a house destined inevitably to be known hereafter by the name of Barkers Folly. Westall & I set out this morning to bring him home under an escort, but the rain drove us back & in returning I xxxx sprained my ancle somewhat severely. This is the younger Westall, who was with Flinders, [12]  an admirable artist & a man of great feeling & genius.

They have made me Surveyor of the Road. [13]  Some men says Malvolio have honour thrust upon them. [14]  I have appealed against the beginning of honours as being exempt by virtue of the Laurel: [15]  the success of the appeal I have not learnt – the Laurel is a precaution against lightning [16]  whether it be against parish offices I know not, tho I have boldly appealed to it.

Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne

God bless you


Keswick. 25 Oct. 1816


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 28 OC 28/ 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] François Charles Hugues Laurent Pouqueville (1770–1838), Travels in Greece and Turkey (London, 1813), pp. 196, 270, 295. BACK

[2] Louis Simond (1767–1831), Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain, During the Years 1810 and 1811, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1815), II, p. 62. Southey reviewed this work in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–574. BACK

[3] Southey is implying that Bedford was drunk and his limbs rebelled against him; Menenius Agrippa (d. 493 BC; Consul of the Roman Republic 503 BC), is credited by Titus Livius (59 BC–AD 17), Ab Urbe Condita Libri (27–25 BC), Book 2.16, with ending the secession of the plebeians in 494 BC by comparing their rebellion to that of limbs who were rebelling against the stomach and so harming the whole body politic. BACK

[4] Southey to John May, 18 October 1816, Letter 2853. BACK

[5] Margaret May (c. 1741–1816) died on 17 October 1816; her death was announced in the Courier, 24 October 1816. She was John May’s favourite aunt and left him the residue of her estate, including her house at 4 Tavistock Street in London. BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[7] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[8] The Quarterly Review. BACK

[9] The second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) appeared in 1817. BACK

[10] Nash’s death prevented this plan; A Tale of Paraguay (1825) was published with two engravings after designs by Richard Westall (1765–1836; DNB). BACK

[11] Nash was a physician as well as a painter. BACK

[12] Matthew Flinders (1774–1814; DNB), on whose voyage to Australia in 1801–1804, Westall was the official artist. BACK

[13] The upkeep of public highways was the responsibility of the parish. From 1691 each parish was required to appoint a Surveyor of the Highways every year to organize this duty. It was a potentially onerous (and unpopular) role, but its acceptance was compulsory. BACK

[14] A misquotation from Twelfth Night, Act 2, scene 5, lines 145–146. BACK

[15] Southey was claiming that his Court appointment as Poet Laureate exempted him from this office. BACK

[16] A common belief in Ancient Rome; Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), Naturalis Historia, Book 15, 134–136. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Tavistock St, London (mentioned 1 time)
Rosthwaite, Borrowdale (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)


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