406. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 May 1799
406. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 May 1799 *
My dear Tom
Blessed be God that whether the day be pleasant or unpleasant it passeth on – in London & at Brixton the day consisteth of twenty four hours & the hours of sixty minutes & the minute of sixty seconds exactly as at Martin hall, but upon my soul there is a strange difference sensible in the duration of the seconds minutes hours & days. it is almost not yet a fortnight since you & I embarked from home, & yet the thirteen days have seemd longer than the thirteen weeks that preceded them.
Your letters have reached me. bad as a seaport is you say it is better than London. I believe you & congratulate you on your release. on the 28th – perhaps on the night of the 27th I hope to reach home. in this accursed town (for even at Brixton I consider myself within its atmosphere) I will not remain an hour longer than is necessary. since you left town I have been there thrice, & hunted the book-stalls with some success as to French poetry. Of my Dutch grammar I know much but I beklaage myzelf  for not having a dictionary to read Jacob Cats, it is not worth while to purchase the dictionary unless I could take Cats home with me. William Taylor has sent me the Noah  & half tempted me to think of making a poem on that subject which might rank with Milton & Klopstock. 
I must not forget to give you a Dutch sentence in the grammar – “Ik beminde minne goeden en rikken broeder” – that is – I love you my good & rich brother. & in a following sentence there is the same love of a sister. Tom you & I have no Dutch affection – for God knows we are not quite so rikken  as we would wish.
Carlisle has prescribed for me bark & steel, which I have not yet begun to take. It is only at home that I can be regular in any thing, elsewhere there are a thousand little restraints which dog me & fritter away the hours. I have only written some thing in Madoc  to finish the canoe fight; – the Elegy Love Elegy upon the wig  – & this morning I have written a poem upon a pig,  at least enough of it for Stuart, which will I think when some thirty lines are added to it be the best of all my quaint pieces. this has been my weeks work & considering I have dined out once, drank tea twice, & walked three times to London, it is as much as well might be expected.
I am attacked about Lloyd’s cursed Anti-Jacobine letter.  how tho I abuse that jackass Letter & his nasty lines upon the fast  to you & to himself, yet I do not like to hear others abuse him, it gives me pain & while I blame the books I justify his motives.
Tomorrow I may perhaps hear from him as I purpose calling on Charles Lamb. plague on it it is Whit Monday I recollect – & I do not know where to find him.
Your Exeter bookseller  blundered a little. certainly he is right in saying the Joan  made my reputation, but about the smaller pieces he is wrong. you know my own opinion of Mary  – & you also know that I am not apt to think worse of my own poems than they deserve. if I should write about Noah, & it is not improbable, my fingers itch to be counting hexameters. 
George Dyer whose dirty dressing gown disgusted you, but [MS torn] knows every body, & who is esteemed by every body, is catering for my Almanac.  there is a double advantage in this, contributions not only save me, but interest the vanity of the contributors in the sale of the book.
About politics I can only give you a pun that escaped me last night. Grosvenor said we had the essence of Liberty in England, & I replied then it was the volatile essence – for it had all fled away.
God bless you. when shall we meet again? I shall have to go house hunting on my return.
your affectionate broeder
Sunday 12 May. Still de Koele May! 
* Address: To/ Mr Thomas Southey./ to be left at the Kings Arms/
Stamped: [partial] BRIDGE St / NOON
Postmark: BMA/ 13/ 99
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 70–72 [in part]. BACK
 Johann Bodmer (1698–1783), Noachide (1752). Southey thought it was a ‘bad poem’; see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 2. BACK
 ‘Love Elegy. The Poet Relates How He Stole a Lock of Delia’s Hair, And Her Anger’, published anonymously in the Morning Post, 10 May 1799. BACK
 Charles Lloyd, Lines Suggested by the Fast, Appointed on Wednesday, February 27, 1799 (1799). BACK
 Probably either Gilbert Dyer (1743–1820; DNB) or Shirley Woolmer (fl. 1781–1831); see Southey to Joseph Cottle, 22 September 1799, Letter 437. BACK
 First published in Southey’s Poems (1797) and much-reprinted as ‘Mary the Maid of the Inn’. BACK
 Southey was modelling himself on Johann Bodmer (1698–1783), whose epic Noachide (1752) was written in hexameters. For Southey’s plan see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 2–3. BACK