201. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 17 February 1797]

201. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 17 February 1797] ⁠* 

Sheet B.6.

P. 369. line 2. after “the lives of men” add <insert> “from various dangers”
370 — 10. after. considers — insert — that.
374. in the 5th line of the Spanish for Cuijas — read — cujas.
377. 6 — for She’s — She is.
—— 14 — for Zaydo — Zayda
— last but one — for troche — trochee
378 — 20 — after letra place a comma for a full stop.
—— 22 — for signem — siguen.
380 — last but 3. for Azargue — Azarque.
382 — 12 — for careel — carcel [1] 

A tolerable list of blunders from a single sheet, of which two leaves have already been cancelled! I have only to beg you will correct it carefully, send one fine copy to Danvers & the rest to me. have you sent the letters & poems to George Burnett?

My dear friend my correspondence with you will not for the future be filled with corrections & directions. I am now entered on a new way of life, which will lead me to independance. you know that I neither lightly undertake any scheme, or lightly abandon what I have undertaken. I am happy because I have no want, & because the independance which I labor to attain, & of attaining which my expectations can hardly be disappointed, will leave me nothing to wish.

I am indebted to you Cottle for the comforts of my latter time. in my present situation I feel pleasure in saying thus much


As to my literary pursuits, after some consideration, I have resolved to postpone every other till I have concluded Madoc. this must be the greatest of all my works; the structure is compleat in my mind, & my mind is stored likewise with appropriate images. should I delay it, these images may become fainter — & perhaps — age does not improve the Poet. thank God Edith comes on Monday next — I say thank God — for I have never (since my return) been absent from her so long before, & sincerely hope & intend never to be <so> again. on Tuesday we shall be settled — [MS torn] Wednesday my legal studies begin in the morning, & I shall begin with Madoc in the evening. of this, it is needless to caution you to say nothing — as I must have the character of a Lawyer — & tho I can & will unite the two pursuits no one would credit the possibility of the union. in two years the poem shall be finished; & the many years it must lie by will afford ample time for correction.

Mary has been in the Oracle. [2]  some of my sonnets in the Telegraph, with most outrageous commendations. [3] 

You know I suppose that we are to lodge at Mr Peacocks. I am very glad he could receive us, because it is pleasant to be with persons who will not impose upon us, & because the situation secures me from intruding visitors. I have declined being member of a literary club, which meets weekly, & of which I had been pre-elected a member. surely a man does not do his duty, who leaves his wife to evenings of solitude; & I feel duty & happiness to be inseperable. I am happier at home than any other society can possibly make me. with Edith I am alike secure from the wearisomeness of solitude, & the disgust which I cannot help feeling at the contemplation of mankind, & which I do not wish to suppress.

Do you know that Muir has made his escape from Botany Bay.  [4]  Hamilton Rowan [5]  at the expence of 500 pounds procured an American Ship bound to China to call there, a[MS torn] tho driven by stress of weather. the intelligence comes in a[MS torn] letter from Margarott to Hardy, [6]  & is certain. I [MS torn] not seen it in the newspapers.

I have cause of complaint against you for writing me so very short a letter. were you doing as you would be done by? I shall have no correspondents in your part of the world but you & Danvers. I have promised to send him Madoc, book by book, as it is compleated. he will lend it you, & there its circulation stops.

Here is a great deal about myself, & nothing about those whom I have seen in London & of whom we have all heard in the country. I will make a report upon them in my next letter. remember me kindly to your sisters & family.

I do not forget Old Bristol — & look forward with pleasure to the distant period when I may visit you, & Mr Fox & Mrs Fox, & the dog & the parrot [7]  & the rest of my acquaintance

God bless you

yrs sincerely

Robert Southey.


* Address: For/ Mr Cottle/ High Street/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: [partial] GE St/ Westminster
Postmark: FE/ 17/ 97
Endorsements: Southey/ Novr 1796; 12 (65)
MS: Hispanic Society of America, New York. ALS; 4p. (c).
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 199–200 [in part, and misdated ‘November 1796’]; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 303–304 [in part, where it is dated February 1797]; Catalogue of the Collection of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents formed between 1865 and 1882 by Alfred Morrison, 6 vols (London, 1883–92), VI, pp. 157–158 [in full, but misdated ‘17 November 1797’]. BACK

[1] The proofing corrections are for Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, published by Joseph Cottle in 1797. BACK

[2] Southey’s ballad, ‘Mary’, was published in the Oracle, a London newspaper, on 11 February 1797. BACK

[3] A number of Southey’s poems, including some sonnets and a variant version of ‘The Race of Banquo’, appeared in the London daily newspaper the Telegraph (1794–1797) in early 1797. It is very possible that Southey contributed to the paper on a regular basis, but it is impossible to estimate the true extent of his contributions, as few issues of the Telegraph survive. BACK

[4] The political reformer Thomas Muir (1765–1799; DNB) had escaped from Botany Bay in February 1796. He eventually made his way to France. BACK

[5] Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751–1834; DNB), Irish nationalist and landowner, whose involvement in radical politics led to a two-year prison sentence in January 1794. He escaped from Newgate jail, Dublin, a few months later, eventually settling in America. He was permitted to return to Ireland in 1806. BACK

[6] The political reformer Maurice Margarot (1745–1815; DNB), who was transported to Australia in 1794, and Thomas Hardy (1752–1832; DNB), the founder of the London Corresponding Society. BACK

[7] The poet and orientalist Charles Fox (1740?–1809; DNB) and his wife shared their home with a parrot, whose name is not recorded. BACK

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