1162. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, [c. early March 1806]

1162. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, [c. early March 1806] ⁠* 

Dear Sir Domine Gemine Gomine [1] 

In the first page of the last letter from Lisbon it is thus written. – ‘As to Harry I think with you that it may be of use to him to look about him before he starts, & with respect to myself it would be a great satisfaction to me to see him.’ [2] 

I am tempted to give you your new title already & begin calling you Senhor Henrique as you will be the moment you set foot on Portugueze ground. Oh the oranges that we shall eat – the wine that we shall drink – the fleas that we shall crack – the journies that we shall take – the shores that we shall see! – A little science would be very useful – enough to take the heights of mountains – & a little mineralogy. Thou hast no taste for bichos, [3]  & that’s a pity, as Job says of his own want of courage when he is philosophizing upon it in the water. – I do not know that a muzzle will be necessary, but you may take one with you for fear of accidents.

You had better when you are loose from Edinburgh come & take your leave of the Lakes – especially as you will then it is to be hoped see Coleridge. You may pay your visit to Norwich afterwards, & join me at Bristol – in September; we will then move westward – call upon Poole at Stowey – see the Charlses – Aunt Molly, & peep at the old Gentleman, [4]  – then make another stage to Crediton where Lightfoot will embargo us for a day or two, & then without farther interruption get on to Falmouth.

A letter from Tom dated Xmas day – well & without prize money. direct to him Barbadoes when you write, & pray write.

There is certainly Harry no way in which you can so well employ yourself awhile as by seeing Portugal, where you will have the advantage of the best introduction x at Lisbon, & find me an experienced traveller. We will go over the whole of the Northern provinces, carrying parasols instead of knapsacks. Your degree had better be put in your pocket, unless you want practise as you go along – I was once beset for a doctor by a set of xxxx semi-savages – but it will be well to take a few efficient medicines for our own use, & a case of instruments would not be amiss. I look &c <think> with much pleasure of showing you some particular scenes which have left upon my own mind a deep & indelible impression of delight, & of discovering many other such in the wilder parts of the country, which I have not yet seen – The probability of being established for some years at Lisbon is as you may suppose very satisfactory to me, on all accounts [5] 


I send you off this that you may know your own plans as soon as possible, & if you were to get a Port. Grammar it would not be amiss.

It is Heaven knows too long since I have heard of Wm Taylor. I am to write to know whether he will be in town – or if I must go to Norwich –

I am uneasy about the MS.S: let me hear about it. [6]  As W Scott is in town I wish he may stay there a month longer. Wordsworth goes up with me, & we think of Crumptonizing on the way – for the sake of seeing Roscoe. [7] 

God bless you –


I made an extempore poem last night at cards upon Mrs Coleridge – which you may perhaps like – only bear Sir Domine that it was perfectly extempore. There is some true feeling in it. – as I happened to be against her.

By my liver & lights – by my body & soul –

xxxxxx <Bold> Beaverum bōbus she plays for the vole! [8] 


* Address: To/ H. H. Southey Esqr/ Mr Guthries – Bookseller/ Nicholson Street/ Edinburgh./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. D. 3. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Dating from internal evidence. BACK

[1] A play on Latin words: ‘Domine’ means ‘reverend’ and ‘gemine’ means ‘doubled’. Southey’s nickname for his brother was ‘Sir Domine’. BACK

[2] Referring to a letter from Southey’s uncle, Herbert Hill, in Lisbon. BACK

[3] The Portuguese translates as ‘vermin’. BACK

[4] Aunt Molly, perhaps Southey’s paternal aunt, Mary Southey, also referred to as ‘Aunt Maria’. BACK

[5] Southey’s proposed visit to Portugal did not take place, but Harry went to stay with Herbert Hill in Lisbon in March 1807. BACK

[6] At the beginning of February, Southey had sent a manuscript volume containing rare medieval metrical romances, to Walter Scott, who had arranged its purchase by his friend Thomas Thomson (1768–1852; DNB), an Edinburgh advocate, record keeper and editor; see Southey to Walter Scott, 4 February 1806, Letter 1152. Subsequently learning that Scott was in London, Southey feared that the manuscript might have been lost and had asked his brother to check that it was safe; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 25 February 1806, Letter 1160. BACK

[7] Southey means to visit Dr Peter Crompton (dates unknown) of Eton House, Liverpool, a radical reformer who supported John Thelwall in the 1790s and who contested elections at Nottingham (1796, 1807, 1812), Preston (1818) and Liverpool (1820). In 1804 Crompton, had visited Southey in Keswick; see Southey to John Rickman, 6 August 1804, Letter 975. William Roscoe also lived in Liverpool. BACK

[8] Presumably a family joke, or nickname for Sara Coleridge; to play for the vole means to win all the tricks in a card game (and is particularly relevant to the popular game of Ombre). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)