1194. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 26 June 1806

1194. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 26 June 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Danvers

If you should have heard of John Southeys death, & not of his will, you will be in an uneasy state of hope on my account. He has left every thing from me. 2000£ in legacies, one estate, which I suspect is a large one, to a very distant relation of his mothers, – all the rest to his own brother Thomas, who is whole & sole executor, & residuary legatee. From him I received this intelligence yesterday evening, in a civil letter, concluding with an invitation to Tom & me to visit him at the Cottage. Brothers are nearer than Nephews, & the old man was right in setting me aside there; – but he should xxx not have given an estate to one almost a stranger, so very remotely related that I never heard of him before. However I was a stranger in every thing but blood, & certainly do not authorize the Devil to commence a suit against him on my account.

This will vex Tom, because if he had not unaccountably offended the old man, he would have had the property. He is on his way home with the Convoy & may soon be expected. [1]  The frigate will probably go into dock for a thorough repair, & in that case he hopes to obtain a months leave & come down to Keswick.

Palmerin & the Cid are no secrets, [2]  – Neither will Espriella be so long. [3]  my only motive is a wish that it may <pass> as a translation with those reviewers who criticise my books with no other object than to injure me. I have corrected eight sheets, twelve & a half make a volume. It may easily be out early in the winter.

Where is Mrs Tyler ? if I could hear that she was gone the same road as the old Gentleman that would be good news. I cannot for the life of me conceive how she can have got into the Spiritual Court. – As for trying to remove Edward into the regulars he must remain in one situation long enough to get a character, before any attempt at that can be made. The truth is that I have no hope whatever of him. That farce of turning Roman Catholick it seems is true. Martha saw him receive the sacrament at their Chapel on Good Friday. The only way of explaining this is that he gets money from some poor Papist by pretending to be a convert. The most unpleasant thoughts which ever cross my mind are when his name comes into it.

I do not want the Reviews – but Mr Madox’s [4]  name reminds me luckily of the cheeses – If it be not too late provide a couple for Lisbon. – The Macclesfield letter was from a school-boy – to tell me that he admires my poems; – there was better reason for his admiration than for his letter.

The Monthly Magazine will not be the worse for any change of Editor. Phillips has been the efficient conductor. [5]  He has provided the foreign journals from whence the best articles are made up, – he has bespoken specific articles – collected the notices, & arranged the deaths & marriages. The new Magazine which xxx Dr Aikin & Longman are arranging will be better if they adhere to my advice, xxx exclude gratuitous matter, & pay a good price for good work. [6]  Heaven knows which of Phillips’s merry men has succeeded to the doctor; but certainly it is not the Count. I left him living with Pople, & working at his book, which I prevailed upon Longman to purchase. [7]  If he continues to work as he was then doing, he will be reprieved from starving as long as 100£ will last.

Of late I have been unusually liable to take cold – & have indeed long expectorated habitually more phlegm than is fitting. I have put the flannel waistcoat next the skin, & given up the air bath. The slightest exposure to cold air makes me sneeze very violently six or eight times – this violent sneezing is a family-propensity, – but not the excitability to it by the slightest change of temperament. Perhaps King can tell me whether the expectoration can be stopt by any means, – I am subject to it whether I have a cold or not.

The two Ediths  [8]  are both in good health. in October I expect son or daughter. [9]  by the time the young one is capable of bearing the voyage I suppose that there will be peace, or that the fate of Portugal will be settled, but Peace is to be expected as far as I can see or learn.

Mrs Rickman is very ill, [10]  – better but not yet out of danger –

God bless you

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

Thursday. June 26. 1806.


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ JUN 30/ 1806
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Southey had been serving on HMS Amelia in the West Indies, as part of the British campaign to achieve naval dominance in the Caribbean during the Napoleonic wars. BACK

[2] Southey published an English translation of Palmerin of England, by Francisco Moraes in 1807, and his Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[3] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish was published in 1807. BACK

[4] Danvers lived in Park Street, Bristol, with his old business partner, Charles Madox (or Maddox) and his brother, John (dates unknown); see Southey to Thomas Southey, 1–5 January 1806, Letter 1140. BACK

[5] Phillips established the Monthly Magazine in 1796. It was edited by John Aikin until they quarrelled in 1806, when the editorship was taken over by George Gregory (1754–1808; DNB), until his death in 1808. BACK

[6] Aikin became the editor of The Athenaeum, published by Longman. BACK

[7] Burnett’s Specimens of English Prose Writers, from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century was published with Longman in 1807. This compilation formed a companion work to George Ellis’s Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790, 2nd edn. 1801, 3rd edn. 1803) and Southey’s own anthology, jointly edited with Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[9] The Southeys’ first son, Herbert, was born on 11 October 1806. BACK

[10] Susannah Rickman had suffered a miscarriage shortly after Southey left London; see Southey to Mary Barker, 26 May 1806, Letter 1187. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)