103. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 7 September 1794

103. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 7 September 1794 ⁠* 

Sept 7. 1794. Bath. Sunday.

My dear Tom

Three letters have I written to you. two of them very long & all of them of importance. one contained my proposals for publishing Joan of Arc by subscription at One Guinea. one was almost full of good sonnets from scripture with political applications, [1]  & one desired you to go immediately to Cambridge, & sojourn with our brother Coleridge till February. as you have changed ships it will be better to remain till the beginning of next year. in March we depart for America. Lovell his wife, brother & two of his sisters. all the Frickersmy mother <Miss Peggy> & brothers [2]  — Heath, [3]  apothecary & man-midwife — G BurnettST ColeridgeRobt Allen — & Robert Southey. of so many we are certain, & expect more. whatever knowledge of navigation you can attain will be useful — as we shall be on the banks of a navigable river & appoint you Admiral of a cock boat. I imagine that the money you will receive for pay will be enough to rig you out — allowing fifteen pound for that business. if not it devolves upon me. have you received any prize money?

My Aunt knows nothing as yet of my intended plan — twill surprize her but not very agreably — every thing is in a very fair train, & all parties eager to embark. what do your common blue trowsers costs? let me know as I shall get two or three pair for my working winter dress. & as many jackets either blue or grey. so my wardrobe will consist of two good coats — two cloth jackets — four linen ones — six brown holland pantaloons & two nankeen do for dress. two new waistcoats will set me up in that article, & I shall not wear brogues.

My Mother says I am mad — if so she is bit by me for she wishes as much to go as I do. Coleridge was with us nearly five weeks & made good use of his time — we preachd Pantisocracy & Aspheterism everywhere. there Tom are two new words. the first signifying the equal government of all — & the other — the generalization of individual property. words well understood now in the city of Bristol. we are busy in getting our plan & principles ready for printing to distribute privately — you shall have one in course. & in three weeks may expect our Bath volume of poems. [4]  you will hardly be able to get me any subscribers for Joan [5]  I fear.

Rover [6]  has got the mange — & so has Peggys bedfellow the old rank black Tom cat!!!

The death of Robespierre [7]  is one of those events on which it is hardly possible to speak with certainty. the charges brought against him after his execution are most futile & contemptible — on the other hand I see much to commend in the Convention. they debate freely & set many prisoners at Liberty. Tallien [8]  in one day delivered 700. Coleridge & I wrote a tragedy [9]  upon the subject in 24 hours which he has in London now, either to sell or print on our account.

The thoughts of the day & the visions of the night all centre in America. time lags along heavily till March — but we have done wonders since you left me.

fare thee well. write to me & that frequently. think that we have now an object worth living for — that we are going to breathe the air & eat the bread of independance.

affectionately yours

Robert Southey.

I hope to see <thee> in January. it will then be time for you to take leave of the navy, & become acquainted with all our brethren the Pantisocrats. you will have no objection to partake of a wedding dinner in February. once more farewell.

I suppose that Son of a bitch Capt B. [10]  has stopt my three letters.

enquire concerning them. they were very long.


* Address: Thomas Southey/ Aquilon Frigate/ Plymouth [deletion in another hand] Portsmo/ or elsewhere./ Single
Stamped: BATH
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 74–76; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 220–221 [in part, where it is misdated 20 September 1794]. BACK

[1] The sonnets are possibly related to a series of four on biblical subjects that Southey published anonymously in the Morning Post between 11 July and 10 August 1798. BACK

[3] Heath (first name and dates unknown), a prospective member of Pantisocracy, and an apothecary in Bristol. Possibly the brother of Charles Heath (1761–1831; DNB), topographer and twice mayor of Monmouth. BACK

[4] [Robert Lovell and Robert Southey], Poems (Bath, 1795). BACK

[5] Southey was at this time planning to publish Joan of Arc by subscription. The publisher was to be Richard Cruttwell (c. 1747–1799; DNB), who produced the Lovell-Southey collaboration Poems (1795). The latter included an advertisement for subscribers to Joan. BACK

[6] A Southey family dog. BACK

[7] Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre (1758–1794) was executed on 28 July 1794. BACK

[8] Jean-Lambert Tallien (1767–1820), President of the Convention and leading figure in the overthrow of Robespierre. BACK

[9] The Fall of Robespierre (1794) was published under Coleridge’s name only. BACK

[10] Robert Barlow (1757–1843; DNB), knighted in 1801. The captain of Thomas Southey’s ship the Aquilon. BACK