278. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 14 December 1797
278. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 14 December 1797 *
Thursday. 14 Dec. 97
My dear Cottle
Your parcel & its contents arrived safe. I found it on my return from a library belonging to the dissenters  — in Redcross Street; from which, by permission of Dr Towers  one of the Trustees, I brought back books of great importance for my Maid of Orleans. a hackney coach horse turned into a field of grass falls not more eagerly to a breakfast which lasts the whole day, than I attacked the fol old folios so respectably covered with dust. I begin to like dirty rotten binding, & whenever I get among books pass by the gilt coxcombs & yet disturb the spiders. — But you shall hear what I have got. a Latin poem in four long books upon Joan of Arc. very bad — but it gives me a quaint note or two — & Valerandus Valerius  is a fine name for a quotation. a small quarto of the Life of the Maid, chiefly extracts from forgotten authors, printed at Paris. 1612. with a print of her on horseback, & another on foot in the same dress & attitude as the one I have.  A sketch of her life, by Jacobus Philippus Bergomensis  — bless the length of his erudite name! — this is short but the most valuable of all, inasmuch as I have his authority for her prediction of her <own> death — & that he has given me matter for a noble speech in Book 3. (I write in the spirit of prophecy for its nobleness.) by saying that her first vision was in a ruined church, where the weather drove her to pass the night with her flock. there are more treasures in this library — & I go there again on Monday next.
If you think what I am about to say to Biggs will spur him — read & send it. he behaves very unhandsomely. the book is wanted — & delay is a real loss.
John May & Carlisle were here last night, & we struck out a plan which if we can effect it will be of great use. it is to be called the Convalescent Asylum, & intended to receive persons who are sent from the hospitals — as the immediate return to unwholesome air — bad diet — & all the loathsomeness of poverty, destroys a very great number. the plan is to employ them in a large garden — & it is supposed that the institution in about three years will support itself. on a small scale — for 40 persons — but the success of one will give birth to many others. Wynn enters heartily into it — wex meet on Saturday again — & as soon as the plan is at all digested — Carlisle means to send it to Beddoes for his inspection.
We were led to this by the circumstance of finding a poor woman, almost dying for want, who is now rapidly recovering in the hospital under Carlisle.
God bless you — I am ashamed to see the fragment upon Malvern  in my desk — but if you saw how my visitors come drop in — you would excuse the appearance of neglect.
Rossers charge is so palpably unjust that I am sorry you have employed him in Lloyds book. you well know that the fault was wholly his own.
How is William Reids  arm?
I shall write soon to Danvers.
Have you found the conclusion of the first book?
* Address: [in another hand] London December fourteen 1797/ Mr Cottle/ High Street/
Bristol/ Williams Wynn
Endorsements: R. Southey/ Decr 14. 1797; (95)/ 44
MS: Columbia University Library. ALS; 4p. (c).
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 215–216. BACK
 Dr Williams’s library, London, which was established by a bequest from the dissenting minister, Daniel Williams (c.1643–1716; DNB). BACK
 Joseph Lomas Towers (c. 1770–1831; DNB), Unitarian minister and librarian of Dr Williams’s library. BACK
 Johannes Ravisius Textor (c. 1480–1524), De Memorabilibus et Claris Mulieribus: Aliquot Diversorum Scriptorum Opera (1521) was a source for Joan of Arc (1798). It contained a life of Joan of Arc by Valerandus Varanius (fl. early sixteenth century). BACK
 Jean Masson (dates unknown), Histoire Memorable de la Vie de Jeanne d’Arc, Appelée la Pucelle d’Orleans (1612). BACK
 Giacomo Filippo Foresti da Bergamo’s [also known as Jacobus Philippus Bergomensis] (1434–1520) De Claris Mulieribus (1497) was one of Southey’s sources for the second edition of Joan of Arc (1798). Southey probably read it in Johannes Ravisius Textor, De Memorabilibus et Claris Mulieribus: Aliquot Diversorum Scriptorum Opera (1521). BACK
 Probably Southey’s ‘To Joseph Cottle’, which was published as the dedicatory poem to Joseph Cottle, Malvern Hills: A Poem (London, 1798), pp. xiii–xv. BACK