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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2269. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 15 June 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. June 15 1813

My dear Charles

Eliza arrived last week a few xxxxx hours before Edith & I returned from Lloyds, where we had been passing a week. I went there for the sake of being idle, – the weather was uninterruptedly fine, & we were as you may suppose always on the move. I have been perfectly well since I wrote to Rex, bating only a little annoyance from my summer cold, which however has been very much alleviated, & often suspended by small doses of James’s’ powder [1]  at night. Both my stomach attacks [2]  I verily believe were pr occasioned by eating crude roots: – if there be any diminution of strength in the stomach or derangement in the stomach itself, it is not owing to want of exercise, for I have taken more during this {last} winter than in any former one.

Poor George is very near his end. He is now so weak that he can do nothing whatever for himself & is carried up & down stairs. The use of one side is nearly gone, – every day, – every hour – his release may be looked for, yet he does not appear to have the slightest apprehension of his real state, & talks of buying new things &c – as if all that ailed him were a temporary indisposition. He suffers little except occasionally in his breathing: – the quantity of laudanum which he takes keeping him probably in a constantly xxxx xx xxxxxxx under its influence. You never saw a more ghastly object than he is, – a mere skeleton, dosing in his chair. I wish the last scene of the tragedy were over. He has been perfectly patient from the beginning, never uttering a complaint, & always saying he is better, – or comfortable, – or easy – &c – [3] 

You will have seen by my letter to King that I break off my connection with the Register [4]  with this volume. What loss I shall sustain is as yet uncertain, – that I am in very bad hands is but too certain plain: however I shall make the best of it, & suffer nothing of this kind to disquiet me. Henceforward my time will be more at my own free disposal, & I hope it will not be less productive. I mean to recast those parts of the Register which relate to the Peninsula, & write a regular history of the Spanish & Portugueze war: – this is settled with the booksellers; the the terms remain for consideration, but on this head there is not likely to be any difference or demur. [5]  I shall have the best documents which are attainable in this country, & have excellent channels open both in Portugal & Spain. xxxxxx

Tom is in this part of the world: he came to me last week & went this morning to Old Brathay. Lloyd has been xx better of late than I ever expected to see him, – & if he can be induced to take opium regularly without scruple, in such quantities as his own feelings dictate, if seems as if he might xxxx xxx subdue the diseased irritability to which he is subject. He lives almost wholly upon milk, seldom or never taking animal food.

A few days ago I received a long letter from S. Reid in answer to that which I wrote him in December last. [6]  His letter is a very interesting one, & leads me to conclude that he is more likely to remain where he is, & settle himself by marriage, than to go abroad upon schemes of which he begins to see the wildness & impracticability. I shall write to him again, with as soon as I have leisure.

I have learnt by mere accident from George that Mr Lunell [7]  has possibly a copy to spare of a book for which I sent to America without success: – it is an xxx a history of Three of King Charles’s Judges who took refuge there, & written (if I recollect rightly) by President Stiles. [8]  George says that Mr L. had several copies: pray try if you can obtain one for me. It is of main importance to me, because my next poem is founded upon this very history, my hero Oliver Goff [9]  being an imaginary son of one of these Judges. If Mr L. has not a duplicate copy left which he can spare me, he will perhaps have the goodness to lend me his own whenever there may be an opportunity of conveying it. – Mr Ariel [10]  called here while we were at Brathay. I heard of him from Mrs Smith of Coniston [11]  – he has been purchasing an estate somewhere near Kendal.

In the course of next month, if nothing unforeseen prevent I shall be in London. Edith-May has been had a respite from her intestinal tormentors ever since Kings letter arrived: – that letter however has been effectual in relieving me; & as soon as they xxxxxx renew their operations I shall commence a campaign against them according to his directions. – We have no electrical machine, otherwise I would certainly try the experiment which he proposes – it is exceedingly promising.

They have invited me to deliver a course of Lectures upon Poetry at the Royal Institution, [12] – & as you may suppose I have declined.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 1813/ June 15
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A popular patent medicine, invented by Robert James (c. 1703–1776; DNB), used to combat fevers and as a pick-me-up. BACK

[2] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 January 1813 (Letter 2196) and 21 May 1813 (Letter 2260). BACK

[3] George Fricker died on 24 June 1813; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 28 June 1813, Letter 2274. BACK

[4] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813) was the last issue to which Southey contributed. BACK

[5] Published in three volumes between 1823–1832 as the History of the Peninsular War. BACK

[6] See Robert Southey to Samuel Reid, 5 December 1812, Letter 2187. BACK

[7] William Peter Lunell (1758–1840), prominent Bristol merchant, antiquarian and anti-slavery activist, with premises in Brunswick Square. BACK

[8] Ezra Stiles (1727–1795), History of the Three Judges of King Charles I (1794). Southey obtained a copy, no. 2552 in the sale catalogue of his library. Stiles was President of Yale College, 1778–1795. BACK

[9] The hero of Southey’s posthumously published, and unfinished, ‘Oliver Newman’, published in Oliver Newman: a New-England Tale, Unfinished; with Other Poetical Remains (1845). BACK

[10] Either D. Ariel (d. 1817) or his son Miles Ariel (c. 1792–1840), Bristol residents, Nonconformists and merchants. BACK

[11] Juliet Smith (fl. 1770s-1830s), mother of the scholar and translator, Elizabeth Smith (1776–1806; DNB). BACK

[12] The Royal Institution, London, founded in 1799. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013