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

41. Robert Southey and Edward Combe to Thomas Davis Lamb, [23 January 1793] ⁠* 


Sweet scented student of the flowers of Edinborough —


At Balliol exactly fifty four minutes & thirty five seconds after nine by Combes watch & great Tom, have we heartily & sincerely pourd down a libation of negus to the Scocth fiddle upon thy recreant body wrists joints neck fingers knees toes &c &c &c &c &c &c &c &c provided & exempted always that thou doest avoid these curses by visiting us at Oxford within one month from the present day January 23. 1793. by way of atonement for preferring the odors of Edinborough to the sausages of Oxford. & we do sincerely hope desire pray & invoke that thou never mayst quit thy chambers without receiving the barrelld essences of gardy loo & we likewise intreat that whenever thou has the Scotch fiddle thy fiddlestrings may be short & there may be a lack of brimstone in the land of oatmeal & sheeps trotters — & we likewise hope that in default of sheeps trotters the butchers may lay hold of Lambs trotters. & now friend after all these kind wishes for thy health cleanliness & safety let us argue this matter cooly & dispassionately. what inducement can Scotland possibly hold out to thee? are oatmeal itch sheeps trotters brimstone & tub with pair of tongs preferable to Oxford sausages & Oxford brawn & — & Banbury cheese & temples of Cloacina adorned with compositions seasond with Attic salt & refind with stercorial purity?

Canst thou in the society of brutes blockheads boobies beasts Boswells [1]  & all the rest of the bs find wherewith to console thyself for the loss of all thy original friends — are thou so infected with Caledonian barbarity as to forsake thy friend the poet or tincturd with Scocth republicanism to desert thy friend thy King — true we are not allowed to play football in high street thou mayest never the less amuse thy self in thy own room — true thou are sworn not to play marbles in the pigmarket but thou mayest play billiards at Prideaux’s — true thou art not permitted to drive Phaetons but neither stage coaches nor gigs are included in the statute — true thou art not wished or desired to get drunk but this thou mayest do without command — true there are Proctors but the [MS missing] such an act of hamstringing — certainly there is a gallows but why not be hung for hamstringing a Proctor as well as any virtuous deed — certainly neither Martin Schram, Pouch Peter, Pαack, Peehaind — Izin — Coriton — Simon — Christopher — Brunck — Strabo — Ceevawt keene — nor Notokalupter are here — certainly Vitease is gone where all his labours cease yet Plαakease [2]  is here yet Elmsley & Wynn have playd backgammon here & there is no statute against that diversion — yet Little Joseph is here & as he is unprovided with a drawing master you may teach him perspective. & as he receives company (that is his private friends) in his loose gown all will be free & easy.

moreover shouldest thou fear a dearth of wit & sh[MS torn] thou apprehend that the great consumption of sausages occasion a lack of Attic {salt} know Morell [3]  is here. & thou mayest talk of old Punch & his various excellencies to horse-Cambell from morning to night — moreover thou mayest attend mathematical lectures in Greek Euclid with me — & {at the} anatomical lecture with Wyn[MS obscured] a fresh body being cut up scientifically — & go to chapel [MS obscured] a day — & compose a theme every Saturday — & make six copies of verses each fourteen lines — if you chance to be drunk the Proctors bulldog will convoy you home — if you chance to be sober you may knock them down & use your trotters while they are left — in short we expect hope desire & command your presence which will be very agreeable to your sincere friends

Robert Southey

an answer is desird immediately. &

E Combe  [4] 

two Turks are in town of whom you may learn the manners of Constantinople

NB. do not read turkies.


Notes

* Address: Thomas Davis Lamb Esqr/ Mountsfield Lodge/ Rye/ Sussex. [The address leaf also contains a number of additional comments and embellishments]: P.1/ Simplex munditus/ [left hand margin] Multum/ in Parvo/ God speed the plow/ with speed./ Ταυ [the name of the Greek letter ‘T’] /[right hand margin] extra bound —/ Tom drive the/ mail./ I. E. not slow/ δ’απα turn over. [The meaning of the Greek is obscure, it possibly represents a transliterated English name, perhaps a nickname used in Southey’s circle, if so the most likely candidate is Richard Duppa.]/[upper fold] Variorum P. 2/ sit grata/ [lower fold] tibi/ Indute coloribus aptis [The Latin translates, respectively, as: ‘excellent in simplicity’; ‘little in much’; ‘may she please you, dressed as you are in appropriate colours’.] / [drawing of a hand with fingers pointing to the right] direction on the/ other side — & moreover
Seal: traces of multiple seals in both black wax and red wax
MS: Pforzheimer Collection, New York Public Library, Misc. Ms. 3726. Tipped into front papers of Robert Southey, The Chronicle of the Cid. From the Spanish (London, 1808). Copy once owned by E. D. Coleridge [later Lord Coleridge], whilst at Eton 1839
Unpublished. BACK

[1] James Boswell (1740–1795; DNB), lawyer, diarist and biographer of Samuel Johnson (1709–1784; DNB). BACK

[2] A reference either to a series of nicknames for ex-school fellows or to an in-joke from Southey’s time at Westminster School. BACK

[3] James Morrell (1775–1854), a student at Christ Church, Oxford, matriculated 1792, BA 1796, MA 1799. BACK

[4] E Combe: Written in another hand. BACK

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March 2009