659. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 23 February [1802]

659. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 23 February [1802] ⁠* 

My dear Danvers

You will rejoice with me that an arrangement is proposed about Chattertons works very advantageous to Mrs Newton. [1]  If I had a frank I would write immediately to her. that not being the case I am sure you will willingly be the bearer of good tidings.

Our list of subscribers is 300. poor encouragement! Longman & Rees however will take the work & give Mrs Newton 350 copies. the book will be charged at a guinea instead of 16 shillings – now a fair price. these copies will, the greatest number, not have to pass thro booksellers hands, so that her net profits will be somewhat about 300 guineas, more rather than less. state this to her, inform her also that I have consulted with Mr Freeling, who entirely approves the arrangement, & Losh also, who is in town. that if she agrees with us, we shall immediately close the bargain & the work will be put to press as soon as Cottles press is ready to work – that is immediately. be so good as to send me up all the bundle about Chatterton <now> in the bookcase in your room. there will be no delay whatever.

Another circumstance also you will be glad to hear. Cottle the Methodist knew nothing of the rascally charge which Biggs made for the twelve large paper poems. [2]  of course I shall not pay it.

Old Lovell is as great a scoundrel as I apprehended. he will do nothing for Robert, pleading inability, & hoping “that the child will not want.” I think of endeavouring to place him at Christs Hospital. [3] 

Rickman is coming over to continue with Abbott, & officially he must wear a bag & sword. [4]  We shall sorely want him in Dublin when we remove. Corry has been dangerously ill & is I think still in a precarious state. I myself have mended but Edith continues exactly the same. [5]  in the hope that change of air may benefit her I have written to Professor Burnett to see if he can find lodgings for us in any village in that neighbourhood [6]  for a week or fortnight. I begin to be sick after a green field – & it would do us all good. This is a hateful place, & for me the most unprofitable of all possible residencies. With my Thousand & One Acquaintances no time is left for myself. visit after visit, engagement after engagement – one endless round which I cannot break.

Cottles Methodist. [7]  Certain of the Elect in Bristol took it all in sober serious earnest & said the author of such a wicked poem ought to be burnt alive! he has been rewriting his John the Baptist with an intention of printing it seperately that he hardly yet ventures to acknowledge. [8]  Sunday I dined at Dr Aikins – the Barbaulds [9]  are very gracious towards me, & I begin to fancy myself exceedingly polite. to day I am engaged to Perry [10]  of the Morning Chronicle – tomorrow to Losh – Saturday to Carr [11]  whom you have seen. if Burnett looks out in time we will shift our quarter the beginning of next week. I do not like to lose a day. Edith has never been so ill so long together.

As for Harrys being in a bad state of health I know nothing of it, & believe it to be a lie of Edwards. I had a letter from him Saturday last & heard likewise lately from Wm Taylor. had he been ill one or other would have mentioned it. Have you seen the review of Thalaba in the Monthly Magazine Supplement? [12]  it is written by William Taylor, & most quaintly written it is.

Will you in your next send me the receipt of your Royal Toothpowder that I may have some manufactured. x remember me I beseech you to the Prescriber thereof [13]  whom I shall be heartily glad to see at Bristol, as soon as I can get my congè. [14]  I hear that Thomas Poole fell in with him in a stage & was of course exceedingly pleased with his companion. Of Davy I see some little. his situation, lucrative as it is, is yet beneath him. instead of acquiring knowledge himself he is wholly employed in imparting what he already knows to people who are likely to make no use of it. he lectures very well. I do not often go hear him. with my little knowledge of chemistry it is time ill bestowed. It seems so long a time since I have heard from you, that I shrewdly suspect it must be a very long time since you have heard from me, & that ought not to be the case. in plain truth I feel little inclination for writing – or for any thing else, – the weather is so bad – so unwholesome – so anti-Portugueze – & Edith so unwell & uncomfortable in all her feelings. But I will not let such long intervals elapse again.

Our love to Mrs Danvers. I would give one of my ears (they are become my common stake at present) for a peep at her crocuses. you I suppose have commenced your campaign against the snails. I am afraid we shall have worse campaigns by & by – have you turned the Corsican Scoundrel out of your parlour yet? [15]  there is now but one he deserves to hang somewhere else.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey

23. Feby.


* Address: To/ Mr Danvers / Kingsdown/ Bristol./ Single
Postmark: AFE/ 23/ 1802
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey and Joseph Cottle’s planned subscription edition of The Works of Thomas Chatterton, eventually published in 1803, intended to benefit the poet’s widowed sister Mary Newton (1749-1804; DNB) and her daughter. BACK

[2] The large copies of his works that Cottle had allowed Southey as gifts for friends. In 1801 Southey had unexpectedly been charged for a new set of large copies of Poems (1797); see Southey to Charles Danvers, 26 January 1802, Letter 652. BACK

[3] Robert Lovell Jnr was not sent to school at Christ’s Hospital, London. BACK

[4] Rickman’s employer, the politician Charles Abbot (1757–1829; DNB) had become The Speaker on 10 February 1802. Rickman had accepted the post of Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons. The posts of both Speaker and Secretary required the wearing of official – some might say eccentric – dress. BACK

[5] Edith Southey was pregnant with her first child. BACK

[6] As Burnett was still living with Charles (‘Citizen’) Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753-1816; DNB), presumably Southey meant somewhere in the neighbourhood of Chevening in Kent. BACK

[7] Cottle had published a pseudonymous satire, The Methodist (1801). It was reviewed as ‘entirely of the ironical kind, and is intended as a severe and biting satire against those who are not Methodists, particularly of the Established Church, and, above all, the Bishops. The author writes in the character of a zealous opposer of Methodists’, British Critic, 20 (September 1802), 320-321. Methodists in Bristol had taken the poem at face value and been suitably enraged. BACK

[8] Joseph Cottle’s ‘John the Baptist’ had first appeared in his Poems (1795). In 1802 he published a new version, John the Baptist: A Poem. BACK

[9] Anna Letitia Barbauld, poet and essayist; and her husband Rochemont Barbauld (1749-1808). BACK

[10] James Perry (1756-1821; DNB), part-owner and editor of the Morning Chronicle 1790-1821. BACK

[11] Possibly John Carr (1732-1807; DNB), schoolmaster and translator. BACK

[12] Monthly Magazine, 12 (Supplement, 1801), 581-583. BACK

[13] Possibly a toothpowder prescribed by John King (hence the epithet ‘Royal’). BACK

[14] i.e. permission to depart. BACK

[15] Danvers had, presumably, had an image of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821; First Consul 1799-1804; Emperor of the French 1804-1814) hanging in his parlour. BACK

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