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

2656. Robert Southey to John May, 23 September 1815 ⁠* 

Cour Imperiale. Ostend.

7 o clock, Saturday morning. 23 Sept. 1815

My dear friend

The date will assure you of our safe arrival. We reached Ostend after an easy, but not quick passage of 16 hours, at four this morning. Had the wind with which we set out continued, we should have performed it in eight. But it is an ill wind which does not bring with it some good. Had we arrived last night on time to have landed, we should have found no beds; this place is full of persons returning from the coronation at Brussels. [1]  I fear we shall meet with the same inconvenience elsewhere, – but the nearer however we approach the more time the crowd will have to have dispersed. & Bruges, which we hope to reach to night, should the weather permit, is a much larger place than Ostend. Unluckily it is raining at present: & the wet, which kept me below when I would fain have seen the entrance of the port, will be inconvenient for our inland voyage.

I am dismally hungry. The breakfast of yesterday was only held in commendam [2]  for the fishes, like my Uncles living in Hampshire [3]  & al a meal which I accepted on the way was on no better terms. Therefore if there be nothing else in rebus inane, [4]  I am but too feelingly convinced that I carry a vacuum within me. But in order to husband my time well, I write while breakfast is preparing, & behold it comes. Sing O be joyful! [5]  & believe me my dear friend, omnibus in terris, [6] 

most affectionately yours –

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Endorsement: No. 181 1815/ Robert Southey/ Ostend 23d September/ recd: 25th do/ ansd. personally
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 144–145. BACK

[1] William I (1772–1843; King of the Netherlands, 1815–1840), had taken his oath to uphold the new State’s constitution in Brussels on 21 September 1815. BACK

[2] ‘In trust’; presumably because Southey had later been sea sick. BACK

[3] Herbert Hill had been appointed by the Crown to the post of Rector of Worting, near Basingstoke, in 1815 ‘in commendam’ i.e. only until a suitable replacement could be found. BACK

[4] ‘Trivial stuff’. BACK

[5] Psalms 100: 1. BACK

[6] ‘In all the lands’. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013