1746. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 11 February 1810 *
Feby. 11. 1810.
My dear Tom
Your Balliol story  differs from most lies in this respect, that it has not the slightest foundation in truth. It not only is not true, but could not by possibility be so, – the American plan  not having been formed till after I left Oxford, – so that it was communicated to Robert Allen poor fellow, by letter from Bristol. They must be much at a loss for recollections of me, to invent so clumsy a story tale. As for beating people it has never been my habit on any occasion. The only approximation to a quarrel which I ever had at Oxford is I dare say remembered at Balliol by one of the present fellows, Cooke Rogers,  the only person who witnessed it. There was one Freke  who from not understanding a metaphysical conversation which he heard me carry on with somebody else, reported it about that I <talked blasphemy, &> avowd myself an Atheist. – Rogers who had a great regard for me came to tell me this, his Welsh blood boiling with indignation, & luckily we met Freke almost directly. After a lecture which xxxx my Gentleman most probably will remember as long as he lives upon the fitness of understanding <another persons> opinions, before he ventured to represent them. I concluded by first requiring him to go & contradict what he had said, & then Sir, said I, I have to desire that in future you will not blaspheme opinions me by mentioning my name at all. – You never saw a black looking fellows face bleached more effectually.
Coleridge will doubtless offend the Unitarians. – for it is upon that point that his opinions, or more accurately speaking, his professions are altered. As for his political notions, the main difference is not in the end & aim of them, but in the way of coming to those conclusions. In the conclusions themselves he will be found to differ very little from Wordsworth & myself, – both of us, as you know, tolerably plain-spoken men upon such matters. That C. writes worse than he did ten years ago is certain. he rambles now as much in his writings as in his conversation, – beginning at Dan & wandering on to Beersheba.  Still there are in those numbers of the Friend  some passages of first rate excellence, & the principles of morality are placed in them upon their only firm foundation. There his philosophy is firm as a rock, all other systems of ethics are built upon sand.
We shall not paint the boat till you come, – a reason why you should come soon. I look already with great satisfaction at the parchmentarians that have lain so long in humble expectation of your glorifying hand.
James & Edward Lloyd  with one of the Boddingtons  have had a most provident deliverance. The ice broke under them, & had <not> a chance passer seen them sink, & given the alarm by her shrieks, they must have been drownd. We talk of going to O. Brathay for a few days next week.
My Uncle I suppose will be making ready for his removal. You will probably see three of the printed sheets of Kehama  at Staunton, there are a good many material alterations in the six first sections. I have yet some insertions to make in the concluding section, & in the twelfth. The first sect. of Pelayo  is nearly finished, – slow & sure, – lighter mornings will give me more time.
Your better route from Hereford will be by Shrewsbury & Chester, for the sake of a new road. From Chester there is a canal navigation to the Mersey, & then a passage of about ten miles to Liverpool. We, that is to say, myself & the two Ediths  go to Durham in April, – your visit had best be at the same time, Sir Domine x can board us at the same time <together>, & bed you in my former quarters there, opposite his own. And one chaise will carry us.
Come speedily – for I have not had a walk these two months, & only one since the beginning of winter.
Remember me to all friends at Bristol. I hope my books are on the road. Tell Danvers that if Larramendi’s Basque Dictionary  in Gutchs Catalogue had been two guineas instead of four I would have had it. Perhaps some time hence, finding he cannot get more, he may be willing to let it go at this price, which I take to be about its value.
God bless you
* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ Wt
Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 194–197. BACK