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

110. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 19 [October] 1794 ⁠* 

Bath. Sunday 19. 1794.

My dear brother Admiral

Heres a row! heres a kick up! heres a pretty commence! we have had a Revolution in the College Green and I have been turned out of doors in a wet night. lo & behold even like mine own brother I was pennyless — it was late in the evening — the wind blew & the rain fell & I had walked from Bath in the morning. luckily my fathers old great coat was at Lovells. I clapt it on — swallowed a glass of brandy — & off set I. met a old drunken man three miles off & was obliged to drag him all the way to Bath — nine miles! oh Patience Patience thou hast often helped out poor Robert Southey but never didst thou stand him in more stead than on Friday the 17th of October 1794.

Well Tom. here I am. my Aunt has declared she will never see my face again or open a letter of my writing. so be it. I do my duty & will continue to do it be the consequences what they may. you are unpleasantly situated — so is my Mother — so were we all — till this grand scheme of Pantisocracy flashed upon our minds & now all is in prospect delightful.

Open War — declared hostilities! the children [1]  are to come here on Wednesday & I meet them at the Long Coach on Wednesday next {that evening}. my Aunt abuses poor Lovell most unmercifully & attributes the whole scheme to him — you know it was concerted between Burnett & me. but of all the whole catalogue of enormities nothing enrages my Aunt so much as my intended marriage with Mrs Lovells sister Edith. this will hardly take place till we arrive in America — it rouses all the whole army of Prejudices in my Aunt breast — Pride leads the fury host & a pretty kick up they must make there.

I expect some money in a few days & then you shall not want. yet as this is not quite certain cannot authorize you to draw on me. Lovell is in London — he will return Tuesday or Wednesday & I hope will bring me some ten or twenty pounds. [2]  he will likewise examine the Will at Doctors Commons & see what is to be done in the reversion way. every thing is in the fairest train. Favell & Le Grice — two young Pantisocrats of nineteen join us — they possess great genius & energy. I have seen neither of them yet correspond with both. you may perhaps like this sonnet on the subject of our emigration by Favell. [3] 

No more my visionary soul shall dwell,
On joys that were. no more endure to weigh
The shame & anguish of the evil day,
Wisely forgetful! oer the ocean swell,
Sublime of Hope I seek the cottaged dell
Where Virtue calm with careless step may stray,
And dancing to the moonlight roundelay
The wizard passions weave an holy spell.
Eyes that have ached with anguish! ye shall weep
Tears of doubt-mingled joy — as theirs who start
From precipices of distemperd sleep
On which the fierce-eyed fiends, their revels keep,
And see the rising sun — & feel it dart
New rays of Pleasance — trembling to the heart.

this is a very beautiful piece of poetry — & we may form a very fair opinion of Favell from it. Scott [4]  a brother of your acquaintance goes with us. so much for news relative to our private politics.

This is the age of Revolutions — & a huge one have we had in the College Green. poor Shadrach is left there in the burning fiery furnace [5]  of her displeasure. & a pure hot birth has he got of it. he saw me depart with astonishment — Why Sir you be’nt going to Bath at this time of night & in this weather! do let me see you sometimes & hear from you — & send for me when you are going.

We are all well — & all eager to depart. March will soon arrive. & I shall hope you will be with us before that time.

Why should the Man who acts from conviction of rectitude grieve because the prejudiced are offended? for me I am fully possessed by the great cause to which I have devoted myself. my conduct has been open sincere & just — & tho the world were to scorn & reject me I would bear their contempt with calmness.

fare thee well.

yours in brotherly affection

Robert Southey.

You will think much upon the intelligence communicated in this letter. my Aunts displeasure will affect you but little. our path lies straight before us — it is the path of Justice & leads to the abode of Happiness.


Notes

* Address: Thomas Southey/ Aquilon Frigate/ Torbay or elsewhere./ Single Sheet
Stamped: BATH
MS: British Library, Add MS 30,927
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 222–225 [in part; postscript not reproduced]. BACK

[1] Probably a reference to Southey’s younger brothers, Henry Herbert and Edward. BACK

[2] Exactly which works by Southey were being hawked by Lovell is unclear. During his visit to London, Lovell met Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809; DNB). See William Hazlitt: The Complete Works, ed. P. P. Howe, 21 vols (London, 1930–1934), III, pp. 278–279. BACK

[3] The sonnet is by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and had been sent by him to Southey on 18 September 1794. BACK

[4] Unidentified; the same person visited Southey on 12 October 1794 (Letter 106). BACK

[5] A jokey reference to Daniel 3: 15. BACK

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March 2009