956. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 27 June 1804

956. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 27 June 1804 ⁠* 

June 27. 1804. Keswick.

Tis a heartless thing dear Tom to write from this distance & at this uncertainty. the more so when I recollect how many letters of mine were sent to the West Indies when you were last there, which never reached you. Two Packets, say the papers, have been taken. & if so two of my epistles are now deeper down than your sounding lines have ever fathomed – unless indeed some shark has swallowed & digested bag & billets. – We are uneasy at receiving no letter since that which announced your arrival at Barbadoes. I conceived you were on the Surinam Expedition, [1]  & waited for the Gazette to day with some unavoidable apprehensiveness. It has arrived & I can find no trace of the Galatea [2]  – which tho so far satisfactory as that it proves you have not been killed by the Dutchmen, leaves me on the other hand in doubt what has become of you & your ship.

My last was written in haste about May 30th from London just on my departure homeward. [3]  All is well. little Edith growing bravely, so as to be remarkably large for her age. Of her beauty I cannot say much yet – but that will come in time. I am daily – indeed hourly in expectation of Harry & have been so ever since my return. he has been rambling into the Highlands, & will make his appearance whenever he pleases – probably regulating the length of his expedition by the length of his purse. We have unlucky about Edward, – Capt Markham [4]  promised him a ship on some foreign station, but lost his own birth before he had given him one. I have now applied to Dickinson, an old schoolfellow, who is one of the new Lords of the Admiralty. [5]  We have not seen each other for thirteen years – I applied thro Wynn & received such an answer as I expected from a goodnatured man, who should <did> me many a good office when we were both boys, & he the biggest. – About the changes in the Navy <Admiralty> I must tell you a good thing of W. T. in the Iris. [6]  he said it was grubbing up English Oak, & planting Scotch fir in its place – for the use of the Navy. an excellent good thing! If however I am not pleased that Lord Melville [7]  should be in – I am heartily glad that his predecessor is out [8]  for no man ever proved himself so utterly unfit for the post. – Our home politics are become very interesting – & must ultimately lead to the strongest administration ever seen in England. Pitt has played a foolish game in coming in alone. [9]  it has exasperated the Prince who xxx is the rising sun to look to – & is playing for the Regency.

The Lakers & the fine weather have made their appearance together – as yet we have only seen Sharp – whose name I know not if you will remember. he is an intimate of Tuffin  [10]  or Muffin whose name you cannot forget – & like him an excellent talker; – knowing every body, remembering every thing, & being having strong talents beside. Davy is somewhere on the road. he is recovering from the ill effects of fashionable society, which had warped him. Rickman told me his mind was in a healthier tone than usual, & I was truly rejoiced to find it so. Wordsworth came over to see me on my return, & John Thelwall the Lecturer on Elocution, who is the King or Emperor or Arch Emperor of all coxcombs dined with us on his way travels. But the greatest event of Greta Hall is that we have had a Jack [11]  of two and twenty pounds, which we bought at three pence a pound. It was caught in the lake with a hook & line. we drest it in pieces like salmon, & it proved without exception one of the finest fish I had ever tasted. so if ever you catch such a one – be sure you boil it instead of roasting it in the usual way. I am in excellent good health, & have got rid of my sore eyes – for how long God knows. the disease it seems came from Egypt, [12]  & is in some mysterious manner contagious – so that we have naturalised another curse.

Madoc is in the printers hands, [13] Ballantyne of Edinburgh, who printed the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border – if you remember the book. Next week I expect the first proof. Do not be frightened to hear after this – that I have not done a stitch further in correcting & filling up the MSS [14]  since my return. I wait the arrival of a box, now on the road, with some new materials concerning Indian history & shall then fall to with a good will. in fact I am arrived so far xxx that what remains will require no material alteration, compared with what has been done, about 700 or 1000 lines of new story – & all the rest only to be heightened & interlarded. by Xmas the book may be published, if the Printer do his work as punctually as I shall do mine. You must give the directions how to ship you one – will it not be safest if consigned to some merchant – from Bristol, which can easily be done. –

Reviewing is coming round again. I have a parcel upon the road, & groan in spirit at the prospect. not but of all trades it is the least irksome, & the most like my own favourite pursuits, which it certainly must, in a certain degree, assist as well as in point of time, retard. There is much of mine in the second volume, [15]  – & of my best; some of which you will discover, & some perhaps not. If I thought you had the volum[MS torn ] mark down the articles. a sixth of the whole is mine – pretty hard wor[MS torn] 86£ was pretty good pay. – I get on bravely with my history, [16]  & have above three quarto volumes done – quartos as they ought to be of about 500 honest pages each. It does me good to see what a noble pile my boards make.

He of Antwerp writes me word that Joe is under a course of physic. [17]  your right title to his Jacobship is still preserved, as the tax is paid in my name by Danvers – my Agent Plenipotentiary. Of Cupid he says nothing. [18]  My dog Dapper is as fond of me as ever he was – this is a well bred hound of my landlords, who never fails to leap upon my back when I put my nose out of doors, & who, never having ventured beyond his own field till I lately tempted him, is the most prodigious coward you ever beheld. he almost knocked Edith down in running away from a Pig, but I like him, for he is a worthy dog, & frightens the sauntering Lakers as much as the Pig frightened him.

The Scotch Reviewers are grown remarkably civil to me. partly because Emsley was, & partly because Walter Scott is connected with them. my Amadis & the Chatterton have been noticed very respectfully there. [19]  I told you in my last that Amadis sold well – as much in one year as Thalaba [20]  in three! But I feel & my booksellers feel that I am getting on in the world, & the publication of Madoc will set me still higher.

How goes on the Spanish? keep to it by all means – for it not impossible nor an improbable thing that you & I may one day meet in Portugal, & if so take a journey together. you will then find it useful – for it turns speedily into Portugueze. My Uncle & I keep up a pretty regular intercourse. I am trying to set his affairs here in order, but D. T. is the most negligent of all agents. a cargo of books value about eleven pounds which were lost for twelve months have been recovered, & I am feeding upon them.

God bless you Tom! lose no opportunity of writing. Ediths love.



* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Galatea/ Barbadoes/ or elsewhere./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK / 298
Postmark: E/ JUN 30/ 1804
Endorsement: Received in Antigua Hospital Sepr 28. 1804
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 295–298 [in part]. BACK

[1] In May 1804 a British expedition led by Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB) attacked and took possession of the South American Dutch colony of Surinam, between French Guyana and Guyana. The colony was returned to the Dutch later that year. BACK

[2] Tom Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea, was a fifth-rate 32-gun frigate commissioned in 1794; it did not participate in the invasion. BACK

[3] For this, see Southey to Thomas Southey, 1 June 1804, Letter 947. BACK

[4] John Markham (1761–1827; DNB): naval officer, member of the Board of Admiralty (1801–1804 and 1806–1807) and M.P. for Portsmouth (1801–1818 and 1820–1826). BACK

[5] William Dickinson (1771–1837), a pupil at Westminster School, who later went on to Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1793, MA 1795) and was Civil Lord of the Admiralty, 1804–1806. BACK

[6] The Iris; or, Norwich and Norfolk Weekly Advertiser was the Norwich newspaper edited, from 1803–1804, by William Taylor. BACK

[7] Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742–1811; DNB), was from 1804 First Lord of the Admiralty; previously (1792–1801) Secretary of State for War. BACK

[8] John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (1735–1823; DNB) was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1801–1804. BACK

[9] Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth (1757–1844; DNB), who had been Prime Minister since 1801, was forced from office in May 1804 by a coalition of former enemies William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), Charles James Fox and Lord Grenville. However when the King refused to countenance a government which included Fox, Grenville was unwilling to enter a coalition without his ally, and Pitt was left to form his second government. BACK

[10] John Furnell Tuffin (fl. 1806), an associate of Wordsworth’s, but of whom little else is known. BACK

[11] A pike. BACK

[12] Keratoconjunctivitis or ‘Egyptian Opthalmia’, a contagious disease that spread in epidemic proportions across Western Europe for the first time in the years 1798–1806, having been imported by the sailors and soldiers campaigning against the armies of revolutionary France in Egypt. BACK

[13] The poem Madoc, which Southey had written in 1797–1799 and was revising for publication. It was published in 1805. BACK

[14] A reference to the progress of Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[15] Southey reviewed, in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804): James Burney, A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean ... Illustrated with Charts (Vol. 1; 1803), 3–12; James Stanier Clarke (1766–1834; DNB), The Progress of Maritime Discovery, from the Earliest Period to the Close of the Eighteenth Century, Forming an Extensive System of Hydrography (1803), 12–20; James Curtis (dates unknown), A Journal of Travels in Barbary in 1801 ... With Observations on the Gum Trade of Senegal (1803), 20–23; Louis Maria Joseph, Count O’Hier de Grandpré (1761–1846), A Voyage in the Indian Ocean, and to Bengal ... To Which is Added a Voyage in the Red Sea, Including a Description of Mocha, and of the Trade of the Arabs of Yemen (1803), 48–54; John Davis (1774–1854), Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America, During 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, and 1802 (1803), 54–59; Lockhart Muirhead (dates unknown), Journals of Travels in Parts of the Late Austrian Low Countries, France, the Pays de Vaud and Tuscany in 1787 and 1789 (1803), 59–63; Charles William Doyle (1770–1842), A Non-Military Journal; Or, Observations Made in Egypt, by an Officer upon the Staff of the British Army: Describing the Country, its Inhabitants, their Manners and Customs (1803), 63–66; William Wittman (fl. 1799–1804), Travels in Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria, and Across the Desert into Egypt During the Years 1799, 1800, and 1801, in Company with the Turkish Army and the British Military Mission (1803), 66–71; [Ann Blund (dates unknown)], Journal of a Short Excursion among the Swiss Landscapes (1803), 79–80; Isaac King (dates unknown), Letters from France (1803), 88–90; Part the First of An Address to the Public from the Society for the Suppression of Vice, Instituted, in London, 1802, Setting Forth, with a List of the Members, the Utility and Necessity of such an Institution, and its Claim to Public Support (1803), 187; Transactions of the Missionary Society (Vol. 1, 1803), 189–201; William Myles (1756–1828), A Chronological History of the People called Methodists ... With an Appendix, Containing Two Lists of the Itinerant Preachers ... With the Last Will and Testament of the Rev. J. Wesley (1803), 201–213; Thomas Malthus (1766–1834; DNB), An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society; with Remarks on the Speculations of W. Godwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers (1803), 292–301; William Godwin, Life of Geoffrey Chaucer ... Including Memoirs of ... John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; with Sketches of the Manners, Opinions, Arts and Literature of England in the Fourteenth Century (1803), 462–473; George Mason (1735–1806; DNB), The Life of Richard Earl Howe (1803), 499–501; Joseph Ritson (1752–1803; DNB), Ancient Engleish Metrical Romanceës (1802), 515–533; George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (3rd edn 1803), 538–542; Richard Mant (1776–1848; DNB), The Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Warton (1802), 543–546; William Hayley (1745–1820; DNB), The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper, Esq. (1803), 457–462; Peter Bayley (bap. 1778–1823; DNB), Poems (1803), 546–552; Henry Kirke White, Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems (1803), 552–554; Josiah Walker (d. 1831), The Defence of Order, a Poem (1803), 557; The Inquiry. Part 1, 557–558; William Barnes Rhodes (1772–1826; DNB), Epigrams (1803), 558; James Woodhouse (bap. 1735–1820), Norbury Park, a Poem with Several Others Written on Various Occasions (1803), 558; Henry William Tytler (1752/3–1808), The Voyage Home from the Cape of Good Hope (1803), 559; Luke Booker (1762–1835; DNB), Calista, or a Picture of Modern Life, a Poem (1803), 564; D. A. G. B. Cassano (dates unknown), Il Fiore della Poesia Italiana (1802), 562–563; Percy Clinton Sydney, 6th Viscount Strangford (1780–1855; DNB), Poems from the Portuguese of Luis de Camoens (1803), 569–577; William Lisle Bowles, The Picture, Verses Suggested by a Magnificent Landscape of Rubens (1803), 582; John Peter Roberdeau (bap. 1754–1815), Fugitive Verse and Prose (1803), 582–583; George Owen Cambridge (d. 1841), Works of Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq. with an Account of his Life and Character (1803), 583–585; Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1766–1817), A Treatise of Ancient and Modern Literature (tr. 1803), 643–650; Asiatic Researches; or Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal for Enquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Science and Literature of Asia (vol. VII, 1803), 898–908. BACK

[16] Southey’s projected ‘History of Portugal’, which was never completed. BACK

[17] Joe was originally Thomas Southey’s dog, and had been given to Danvers to look after while he was abroad; see Southey to Thomas Southey, [January–]11 February [1805], Letter 1030. BACK

[18] Cupid was initially Southey’s; Danvers had taken over his care; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [12 July 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Two, Letter 131. BACK

[19] Walter Scott reviewed Amadis of Gaul (1803) in the Edinburgh Review, 5 (October 1803), 109–136. Southey’s edition of The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London: Longman and Rees, 1803) was reviewed in the Edinburgh Review, 7 (April 1804), 214–230. BACK

[20] Southey’s poem Thalaba the Destroyer, published in 1801. BACK

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