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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

106. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 12 October [1794] ⁠* 

Dear Tom

Better are a few lines of pleasant information than a long letter of inanity. our plan is in great forwardness nor do I see how it can be frustrated. we are now twenty seven adventurers. Mr Scott [1]  (a brother of the one whom Collins accused) talks of joining us & if so five persons will accompany him. he drinks tea with me this evening — & Mary Baker [2]  who ardently wishes to be of our party.

I wish I could speak as satisfactorily upon money matters. my Mothers house [3]  is very thin & she could not answer a draft now. you shall hear from me in the course of ten days when I may perhaps write more agreably. money is a huge evil with which we shall not have long to encounter. all well.

You want news. the infamous falshood of the conspiracy to kill the King must have reachd you, & your own good sense must have made you see thro the ministerial artifice. [4]  the allies are every where defeated. the French every where victorious — the cause of Liberty every where gaining ground. the Poles are successful & the tyrant of Prussia totters upon his blood-cemented throne. Holland is on the point of ruin. in Spain nothing can oppose the Sans Culottes — Germany is beggared — the blood & treasures of England lavished by a corrupt administration . the sword of iniquity is drawn. two men [5]  suffer next week at Edinburgh for high treason. it is apprehended that Thelwall Horn Tooke & Thomas Holcroft [6]  & c will suffer {share} the same fate — the measure of iniquity must soon be full & then ———

thank you for the hanger. keep it for me. you shall not remain longer in the navy than January. live so long in hope. think of America! & remember that while you are only thinking of our plan — we are many of us active in forwarding it.

Would you were with us! we talk often of you with regret. this Pantisocratic system has given me new life new hope new energy. all the faculties of my mind are dilated — I am weeding out the few lurking prejudices of habit & looking forward to happiness.

Burnett has been with me. he left his fraternal remembrances to you.

I have the Bath volume [7]  printed. & expect fifty copies tomorrow or next day. you should have one were not the expence of sending it more than adequate to the pleasure you would receive — pshaw — this is an affectation unworthy of me — you will like them because they are your brothers — & I will send them. do we not understand the flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication [8]  of money?

Expect it in the course of a week. you are short of cash & we will pay the carriage. I expect money soon & then you shall not want. I wish I could transfuse some of my high hope & enthusiasm into you — twould warm you in the cold wintry night.

fare thee well. thy life is very uncomfortable — but contemplate all things with the eye of philosophy — & you will discover the jewel which Adversity possesses.

yours affectionately

Robert Southey

My thoughts outran my paper. I could have filled a huge sheet but dreamt not of it on beginning. [9] 


Notes

* Address: Thomas Southey/ Aquilon Frigate/ Torbay./ or elsewhere/ Single/ [then added in another hand] 2 Aquilon/ 10/ [in S’s hand] Sunday. Oct. 12
Stamped: BATH
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 80–82; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 221–222 [in part, where it is misdated 14 October 1794]. BACK

[1] Unidentified, a prospective Pantisocrat. BACK

[2] Unidentified, a prospective Pantisocrat. BACK

[4] This probably refers to the arrest, in September 1794, of some members of the London Corresponding Society on the charge of planning to assassinate George III (1738–1820; reigned 1760–1820; DNB) with a poisoned dart. BACK

[5] David Downie (dates unknown), an elderly goldsmith, was alleged to be treasurer of a committee planning an uprising in Edinburgh. He was condemned to death in September 1794, but reprieved. His co-accused, the Edinburgh wine merchant and ex-government informer Robert Watt (1761–1794; DNB), was executed on 15 October. BACK

[6] John Thelwall (1764–1834; DNB), John Horne Tooke (1736–1812; DNB) and Thomas Hardy (1752–1832; DNB) were tried and acquitted of High Treason in November–December 1794. The charges against Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809; DNB) were dropped. BACK

[7] [Robert Lovell and Robert Southey], Poems (1795). BACK

[8] A series of Latin words meaning ‘nothing’. An eighteenth-century invention, it has been defined as ‘the act of estimating something as worthless’. BACK

[9] My thoughts ... beginning: Written at the top of fol. 1 r. BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009