Part Four, covering the period 1810-1815, was a crucial one for Southey’s career and reputation. It has, however, never before been fully documented or fully understood. By 1810 he was established in Keswick...
269. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 11 November 1797 *
11 November. 1797. Bath
My dear Tom
I have been some fortnight at Bristol, with Danvers, where the time passed with most pleasant speed. last night we returned. I heard complaints that you had not written to Lloyd, & saw your letter. twere needless to say with what satisfaction I read the account of your new situation.
Amos Cottles translation of the Edda is published, & I have brought over a copy for you. you know it was my intention to write him some lines that might be prefixed, & perhaps sell some half dozen copies among my friends. you will find them there.  the book itself will not interest you. it is only calculated for those who study mythology in general, the antiquities of the north, or who read to collect images for poetry. it happens to suit me in all these points.
We go for London on Monday week. if you do not write sooner, my Mother will inform you my town direction as soon as I have one. Do you know that Lloyd has written a novel,  & that it is going immediately to the press?
I would I had ought to inform you of. that my Mother has found some person to take her house, she must have informed you. (I have written to Thomas to come with all speed. & John May has offered me money for her small debts. you also know that Margery is become tutoress at a school) For myself — the most important personage in my drama of life — (in which drama, by the blessing of God I would have very few characters — this in a parenthesis) for myself — nothing has occurred to me worth pen ink & paper to record it — save only that after having inured myself to all weathers without a great coat for five years — I have mustered one at last, & now the old gentleman goes out in a bear skin wrapper to take care of himself. my new edition is in the press.  you will stare at the laborious alterations — perhaps Tom, the business & the uncertainty of life may prevent me from ever finishing Madoc,  on which I would wish to build my reputation — & so I would make the other as perfect as I can. my Letters  are all sold. more work! & as the Arabian said — the work is long — the day is short.  but we shall have prints to the new edition — in the best stile of aqua-tinta. this is settled.  you are on the seas — if at any time, the morning or evening appearance of the water strikes you as singularly beautiful — or strange — & you should not dislike to register the appearance — do keep some little log book of this kind for me. tell me its tints at sun rise & at sun set &c &c. but long habit has nauseated you of every thing belonging to the sea — & it has now perhaps no beauties for your eyes.
I have learnt to bind books. a great virtue — & moreover it may be useful in those days when a man will be glad of an honest trade. Ediths love — & Lloyds. & my Mother would send hers were she in the room.
now God bless you — & grant us no very distant meeting.
My Mother is very much better than when you left us.
* Address: To/ Mr Thomas Southey/ H.M.S. Mars/ Plymouth/ Single
Stamped: BATH; PLYMOUTH; PLYMOUTH/ DOCK
MS: British Library, Add MS 30,927
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections From the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 46–47. BACK