857. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [27 November 1803] *
[Fifteen words crossed out] Senhora & thats all I have to say [five words crossed out] & for the impropriety of your song, either Mr. [ten words crossed out] seriously expects Bonaparte  to conquer England & you to be hung upon the same principle that Edward the first  executed the old Bards – or else the Mans a fool. by the by that execution is finely narrated by old Sir John Wynne – ‘he caused them all to be hanged by martial law, as stirrers of the people to sedition.’ 
We go on pretty much as usual. Edith but ailing – Coleridge quacking himself for complaints that would teaze any body into quackery – I myself pretty well I thank ye, bating eyes that like Bonaparte are always threatening mischief. Coleridge & I are the best companions possible in almost all moods of mind – for all kinds of wisdom & all kinds of nonsense to the very heights & depths thereof. I have a large room as a study – so large that God help me I look in it like a Cock Robin in a Church. the walls have only their first coat of plaister on (dont be frightened tis quite dry & has been so these two years.) the ceiling has all the cross lines of the trowel. my furniture is about as much as a poor fellow has in the Fleet Prison.  two chairs & a little round table. the wind comes in so diabolically that I could sometimes fancy myself in the cold provinces of Lucifer-land – if it were not that the view from the window is as heavenly as these on earth can be – so that from the mixture you may set it down to be my Purgatory – a state of torment with heaven in view. But I am going as we used to do at Westminster to string curtains across & so partition my self up into a corner with the fire place. here I sit alone. Piggarell only being permitted to enter. she passes about half her time here, I – all, but at meal times or when we walk. Here I have worked like a negro. One cargo of the “killed & wounded” i-e- the reviewed books – is sent away. A damned regiment are still to be killed off – all the trash that disgraces the English press – which is indeed at a miserable ebb. & I expect every day another batch to include Gobwins Life of Chaucer.  Oh! do you know who is the man who has published a volume of Poems under the assumed name of Peter Bayley Junr Esqr.  he talks of his native Wever  – which may be a sham – but that you know is in your part of the world. The Lord in Heaven have mercy upon that Gentleman – Scoundrel whosoever he be! for I have got him upon my thumbnail & shall – crack him Senhora, for a fidalgo.  He hath committed high treason against me in the first place, but what he is to be damned for is – first having stolen by wholesale from the Lyrical Ballads  – & then abusing Wordsworth by name. I will break him upon the wheel & then hook him up alive in terrorem  & make his memory stink in the noses of all readers of English present & to come. I wish he could know that his book has been sent to me to be reviewed & that Wordsworth has now got it to claim his own whenever he finds it. Every peacocks feather shall be plucked out & then his tail will be left – in a very fit & inviting condition for a cat-o-nine-tails.
I believe Coleridge has made up his mind to go to Malta for a change of climate & will set out by the first ship.  Remember you that this not being a country of fine trees summer & winter make a less difference to the painter than in the West of England. & as soon as the Spring begins to make every thing alive you must please to come & make us alive. do – do – draw figures instead of kickmanjiggery that you may make me some de[signs] for Madoc – which in good earnest I do mean to publish as soon as ever I can get a decent number of subscribers – I have got on bravely with it – & if my paper were larger could find in my heart to send you a delicate morsel. I will try to publish it myself for it is damned hard to spin out the very guts of ones brain & after all get less than a fellow in Paternoster Row,  because his breeches pocket is as full as my head, – heigh ho! Senhora! & my breeches pocket as empty as his numscull.
Will you not rejoice to hear that I am going to blow the Trumpet of alarm  against the Evangelicals? having got a History of the Methodists  to review. I will point up with precious effect of their Bands & Classes – the utter ignorance of human passions on which they are founded, & the utter destruction of all morals to which they tend. Is it not a happy hit to call them the Ecclesiastical Corresponding Society? indeed it is an alarming evil. the Wesleyans have in 30 years increased more than five fold – they are by their own statements 110,000 persons – & certainly the Whitfield  – the Calvinistic Branch must be more numerous. I write no more verses for the M. Post  – too much disgusted with its cant & folly & abominable proposal of giving no quarter  – since Stuart – has sold it & given up the management. My fraternal remembrances to Peter with a piece of the next pineapple. 
Harry is gone to Edinburgh to commence his studies there. – John Thelwall is expected to dinner here to day on his Lecturing Tour. John is thriving by Lecturing upon Elocution, & his name is in high odour – in spite of all old stories and prepossessions. he is a very honest-hearted man. a very excellent husband & fond father & I am heartily glad he is doing well. What news more? Only that Miss Bengay or Benjay or Bunjay or Bungy  tells everywhere the story of my playing at Pope Joan  & how she was disappointed  − there Miss Malice− that’s a sugar-plumb for you.
God bless you
yrs very truly RS.
* Address: To/ Miss Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick Jnr, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 71-75 [dated late November 1803]
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 253–256 [in part; dated Keswick 1804].
Dating note: Dated from internal evidence; Sunday was 27 November in 1803. BACK
 Peter Bayley (1778-1823; DNB), Poems (1803). ‘Bayley’ was not an assumed name. The first poem in his collection, ‘An Apology for Writing’, lines 46-55 and Note, attacked Southey’s Joan of Arc (1796) and (1798). The penultimate poem, ‘The Fisherman’s Wife’, could be read as a parody of Wordsworth and lines 115-119 had a Note, ‘The simplicity of that most simple of all poets, Mr Wordsworth himself, is scarcely more simple than the language of this stanza. Absit invidia dicto [let ill will be absent from these words].’ Southey contributed a coruscating review of Bayley’s book to the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 546-552. BACK