706. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [14 August 1802]

706. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [14 August 1802] ⁠* 

Dear Tom

Your Agent has written to this effect. that he will honour your draft – that he will pay for the Charts when x called upon – & inform you when your journal is past. Moreover that your Copenhagen Prize Money is received. [1]  £16-0-6. which is just £8-0-3d a blow up, on your part not so bad a bargain if you recollect what it must have cost the Ordinance Office in cannon – without reckoning the expence of powder & shot. – Another letter which came the day of your departure I forwarded. here is also a note for you – from some gentleman at the Bush. [2]  perhaps I should have done well to open it – that if it were from Grove [3]  whom I now remember you expected here – I might have called upon him & shown him what civility lay in my power.

I have got your Spanish Grammar. you talked of sending it with some linen – but you have laid aside none. What will you have sent? let me know & it shall be shipped with the Grammar by the first Coach. that I may compleat the matter of business there only remains to mention Joe. [4]  Jaw as Bella [5]  calls him is out of spirits & wants his master sadly. What with this & his scurvy his appetite is very bad – we gave him milk this morning & he made a tolerable breakfast. King says his gums should be scarified – the operation I should as little like to perform as Jaw would to endure. Miss Phillott [6]  is gone to our loss – we found out the trees before she went. the rest of our acquaintance, including Smut, [7]  are as you left them. Wynn is drawing near me upon the Circuit & we shall probably meet somewhere – he wants the Mountain to go to Mahomet, but I wish Mahomet to come to the Mountain. [8] 

In overhauling a cargo of old letters the two which I received from your Uncle are come to light – one upon my fathers death civil & short – the other in reply to what I had written at Taunton – to borrow money. In this he seems offended that I had never deigned to notice him before. odd enough. & he enters into a statement of his brothers [9]  conduct to him – in which they do not seem to have used him well. but that was not our fault. tis a hard hearted letter – yet rather produced by feelings that were hurt than indicating a want of feeling.

If you take a journey in the West go this route – over Quantock to Stowey – thence to Minehead 6 – Porlock 12 & Lymouth where is the Valley of Stones. I cannot direct you back – but there is a way thro Dulverton or Wivelscombe which is said to be beautiful. if Satanella the crooked-backed Mule were here I should like to meet you for that is a lovely country. Even the Lakes do not exceed Porlock. in going thence to Lymouth keep the road by the channel side instead of crossing Exmoor. you must have a guide. my stupid one took me over the Moor – & so I lost the finest part. [10] 

farewell. I am going to Kehama [11]  – in which if the fit holds I shall soon make good progress. – tell me your goings on – & write soon that we may know what to send you. – King is going to analize the Boiling Well – & catch the air bubbles there. [12]  If I had a manufactory of such air as he has would I look after any other! –

God bless you –




* Address: To/ Thomas Southey Esqr / with John Southey Esqr / Cottage / Taunton
Postmark: 122/ BRISTOL/ AUG 1[illegible] 802
Endorsements: Bridens, Charing Cross –; Prittock. Lord Kings to Lymouth. Culbone –; Remember your promise; 787 – Mrs Nollski, Rijse journey/ 426 – Kotzebue journey to Paris/ Count Rumford, Philistines/ Essays 672; 53/ 31.800/100/ 293/ 2500 [Editors note: A list of books, possibly items from a catalogue. Mrs Nollski, Rijse and Philistines are unidentified; August von Kotzebue (1761-1819), probably an account of his journey to Paris in 1790; Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753–1814; DNB), Experimental Essays, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, possibly the new edition of 1802.]
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Content indicates this letter was written on a Saturday in mid August 1802. BACK

[1] Tom Southey had taken part in the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801, as a Lieutenant on HMS Bellona. He was slightly wounded. BACK

[2] The Bush Tavern in Corn St, Bristol. BACK

[3] Samuel Grove (d. 1817), naval officer and colleague of Tom Southey’s. BACK

[4] Tom Southey’s dog. BACK

[5] The Southeys’ servant, she died in 1804. BACK

[6] A friend of Southey and his brother’s, she was probably a member of a prominent family of professionals and tradesmen centred on Bath. She later became a Methodist; see Southey to Tom Southey, 1-5 January 1806, British Library, Add MS 47890. BACK

[7] A dog that belonged to Danvers. BACK

[8] A phrase first used by Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans (1561-1626; DNB), in ‘On Boldness’, Essays (1625). Southey noted the idea in Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 20, and intended to use it in the epic on Muhammad (570-632), Prophet of Islam, that he planned to write with Coleridge. BACK

[9] Southey’s father Robert, and his uncle Thomas. The ill feeling may have been generated by the failure of their drapery business. BACK

[10] Southey had walked a similar route in August 1799; see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp, 520-522. BACK

[11] The Curse of Kehama, published in 1810. Southey had begun drafting Book 2 on 4 June 1802. BACK

[12] The Boiling-Well, a spring near Stoke’s Croft, Bristol. BACK

Places mentioned

Stowey (mentioned 1 time)
Stokes Croft (mentioned 1 time)