Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

253. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 September 1797 ⁠* 

Tuesday. Sep. 5. 1797

My dear Danvers

After exploring the treasures of Cottles parcel I sit down to what I have for some days intended to do. your letter has arrived in time for me to reply to it. What Lloyd has repeated to me of Coleridges expressions, was related to explain his own conduct towards me at Bristol, why he shunned me, & {why} when with me {he} was silent & reserved. he had it was after Coleridge & I were in habits of speaking that these expressions were used: the only effect they will produce upon me will be to prevent the visit to Stowey, which I had before two motives for wishing, that Edith might see her sister, & that I might see Wordsworth whose guests we were to be & from whom the invitation came. for refusing to go I have ostensible pleas enough. to what you say of the propriety of being on tolerable terms with him I compleatly assent, nor have I any intention of breaking them.

Lloyds opinion of Coleridge is what I apprehend yours to be — a perception of his inconsistencies but a belief that he never acts wilfully wrong: he has the opinion of his talents which every body must have, & that love for him which nobody else few others possess. this state of mind I have no wish to alter. I never did & I never shall make Coleridge a single enemy. I never attacked his character, but I have defended my own, tho seldom, & never of my own accord. for the opinion of the world I have acquired a thorough contempt, & the experiences of the last five or six years has taught me not to be anxious for that friendship of individuals. I would willingly be of service to Lloyd, therefore I went to Birmingham, & now give him a home do not suppose I am in the high frenzy fever of friendship, for I would do the same for any man who wanted my assistance & who I thought deserved it: from a general principle, not a particular feeling. he is well in health & spirits; the way is straight before him & he says he never was so happy as at present. the having him with me is rather unpleasant than otherwise — I do not want a companion; his habits of untidiness do not assort with mine, & he will most probably prevent me from spending that time at Bath & Bristol which would been very agreable to Edith & myself, & which I should find of very great use to my revisal of Joan of Arc, [1]  from the command of the Library.

My mother is with us, & very greatly mended by the Burton air. Tom too is here, so that I have a large family.

I am sorry you have your book bound as it will be spoiled. a book ought never to be bound till it has been printed at least a year; the oiliness of the ink requires that length of time to dry, & unless it be dry xmust spoil the opposite page.

I have blundered in the third book of Madoc for want of books to refer to. the Hirlas horn [2]  belonged to the chiefs of Powys — not those of Gwynedd.

I very much wish to pass a month at Bath. my revisal comes on well — I have met with some books here of infinite use, but I ought to have access to every book that possibly could be useful, & every hour I feel the want of some. the alterations will be many, & the new notes very numerous. Joan of Arc will perhaps be a more popular poem than Madoc. but I think what I have written of Madoc my best production, the emotions of the human mind are well observed & the language chaste.

What I have said of Coleridge & Lloyd is written only to yourself.

Edith is not very well. I wish to diet her with bark, or some tonic medicine — but this is not the place [MS obscured] advice or drugs. this is another reason why I wish to xx visit Bristol.

Have you observed a very extraordinary phenomenon — a star — or cle body of fire larger & brighter than any planet that rises every night E.S.E. & travels westward at a great rate?  [3] 

God bless you. Madoc is again at a stand. for the new edition occupies me. God meant me for a Poet — but Society suffers nothing to be what God meant it — & I have no right to complain.

Our love to your mother.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

yr story of poor Mrs Lloyd [4]  is a very excellent one.


Notes

* Address: To/ Mr C Danvers/ 9. St Jameses Place/ Kingsdown/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: RINGWOOD
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. 144–145. BACK

[1] The second edition of Joan of Arc appeared in 1798. BACK

[2] See Evan Evans (1731–1788; DNB), Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh bards (London, 1764), pp. 10–11. BACK

[3] The appearance of the Bouvard-Herschel comet. BACK

[4] Unidentified, but possibly a member of Charles Lloyd’s family. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009