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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1008. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 December 1804 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec 26. 1804.

Dear Tom

Your letter reached me about a fortnight ago. I answered it hastily the same evening, [1]  that no time might be lost, – & now write again, lest my reply should by any accident miscarry, to bid you draw on Danvers for 30 £ – if you should be prest for money, as must needs be the case. The It had been stated in the Whitehaven paper [2]  that the first Lieutenant was killed, & the Lieutenant of Marines – so that I was in my heart persuaded that you & Hall had both gone overboard to the sharks. [3]  I am sorry for him, but after the newspaper account have rather to congratulate him on being alive than to console him for his loss of limb. As you for you – it is very well you were in the frying-pan. your rascally skipper might have got rid of you less dishonourably for himself by sending you in the boats. – I look very anxiously for another letter. long before this you must either be settled aboard once more, or else fairly adrift.

I have made some use of your letters in the third Annual Review. Mc Kinnen – a brother of Mrs Keenan who dmade that chalk drawing of me which Biddlecombe has – has published a tour thro the British West Indies – a decent book but dull.  [4]  In reviewing it I eked out his account with yours, & contrasted his words upon the slave trade, with some a passage from your letters. In doing this I could not help thinking what materials for a book you might bring home if you would take the trouble. as thus – describe the appearance of all the Islands you touch at from the sea – their towns how situated, how built – what public buildings. what sort of houses, the inside of the houses how furnished – what the mode of life of the towns people – of the planters in different ranks, & of the different European settlers. in short all you see & all you hear, looking about the more earnestly, & asking questions.  [5]  Many anecdotes of this & the last war you have opportunities of collecting – particularly of Victor Hughes. [6]  something also of St Domingo or Hayti as it must be now called [7]  – which I find means asperosa in Spanish – rugged. If you would bring home matter for a picture of the Islands as they now are – I could delineate what they were from the old Spaniards & there would be a very curious book between us.

While I was thus writing there came a letter from Wynn to whom I had written the history of your escape from the Lilly &c. [8]  he says ‘if you think 50 £ will be of any use {service} to him toward the heavy expence of an unemployed life in the West Indies that sum shall be ready for you whenever wanted.’ Draw therefore upon Danvers to that amount instead of the 30 – or, if you have already drawn, for 20 more. – if for the whole sum at once, at ten days sight. –

Lord Proby [9]  was sent to the West Indies by that old villain St Vincent [10]  because he voted against the ministry. that vote has now cost him his life. Any other Captain who had gone in his place might have share died in the same way, but what how infamous is it that the power of appointing to a pestilential station should be exerted as one means of ministerial influence. I never hear that old villain mentioned without telling Groves story. [11] 

They are printing the notes to Madoc which are to be all at the end. Harry superintended the press. [12]  he has been elected President of the Speculative Society, & also of the Medical Society, being the youngest man ever appointed to the last. I suppose the book will be finished within three weeks, & published in about six the journey to London requiring time, & also the putting the books in boards. Before that time I shall hope to hear what is become of you, & shall wait that intelligence before your copy be sent off. for if Commodore Hood [13]  does not give you an appointment – you will be coming home, & Madoc has already been very unlucky in his way to you, three letters full of him – or four – having been lost in the captured Packets. the Review [14]  shall also be sent you, according to your direction. by some Bristol vessel. – Amadis has gained for me a world of praise in the Edinburgh Review & British Critic. [15]  being only a translation it excites no jealousy. I think I have a fair chance of the fifty pounds depending upon the sale of the edition. My Specimens [16]  are only now going to press – because Grosvenor Bedford has charge of them, & he is a lazy lubber. I am hard at my annual work, [17]  & upon the point of finishing it – which will be a great relief. the history will then go on again [18]  – & I must turn-to to raise supplies for the year

Burnett – now Count Burnetski – is gone to Poland to be librarian to a Polish Count & teach his sons English!!! Lord have mercy upon us. he has nothing to do but say what is English for such a thing when they ask him. One has never dreamt of any thing stranger than this. – John Morgan has lost his mother. John Southey has bought an estate near Lyme, & is going to build there. for whom? – This is all the news I can recollect, – except that Hamilton [19]  is broke whereby I shall lose from 20 to 30 £ which he owes me for Critical work, & which I never was able to get. rather hard upon one whose brains & eye sight have quite enough to do by choice, & are never overpaid for what they do by necessity. – For nearer matter the Edithling has the cow pock, [20]  which is now overblown – for by the Lord eruptive diseases are just like flowers. you insert the seed – it takes root & blossoms, & that flower produces seed which would go propagating to all eternity if it finds a fit soil. Oh what a world of unintelligible things do we live in! – The little girl is not pretty – but she is a sweet child – so excellently good tempered – as joyous as a sky lark in a fine June morning, & so quick of eye & of action & of intellect – that I have a sad feeling about me of the little chance there is of rearing her. so do’nt think too much of her. –Whether this war with Spain will involve one with Portugal also is what we are all speculating about at present. I think it very likely that Bonaparte will oblige the Portugueze to turn the English out. a great evil to me in particular, tho should my Uncle be thus driven to England my settling will the sooner take place. At present I am as unsettled as ever, at a distance from my books, perpetually in want of them; wishing & wanting to be permanently fixed, & still prevented by the old cause. Make a capital prize Tom & lend me a couple of hundreds [21]  – & you shall see what a noble appearance my books will make. – N. B. I have a good many that wait for your worship to letter them. This Spanish war may throw something in your way – but I do’nt like this war, & think it is unjust & ungenerous to quarrel with an oppressed people, because they have not strength to resist the French. [20]  You know I greatly esteem the Spaniards. As for France I am willing to pay half my last guinea to support a contest for national honour against her. but it began foolishly & well will it be if we do not end it even more foolishly than we began.

God bless you



* Address: For/ Lieutenant Southey./ to be left with Nathan Jackson Esqr/ Barbadoes/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [partial; obscured] E/ DEC
Endorsements: 3/ 1000/ 333/ 10/ 10 –
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 309–311 [in part].
Note: Nathan Jackson is unidentified. BACK

[1] That is, Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 December 1804, Letter 1004. BACK

[2] The Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser. BACK

[3] On 14 August 1804, the boats of Thomas’s ship, HMS Galatea, made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe. Of the 90 men sent on the mission 65 were killed or wounded and Southey suspected that his brother was among the dead. Thomas had been the first lieutenant but was absent from the raid because he had been placed under arrest. Charles Hayman (d. 1804) was made first lieutenant in his stead and died in the attack. Hall (first name and dates unknown) was the Lieutenant of Marines on board HMS Galatea. BACK

[4] Mrs Keenan (dates unknown) was the sister of Daniel MacKinnen (fl. 1800s), whose Tour through the British West Indies (1804) was reviewed by Southey in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 50–56. Her husband, John Keenan (fl. c. 1780–1819), exhibited a portrait of Southey at the Royal Academy in 1803. BACK

[5] Thomas Southey did eventually publish such an account in his A Chronological History of the West Indies (1828). BACK

[6] Victor Hughes (1770–1826) was a Jacobin commissioner who overthrew the British on the island of Guadeloupe. The British had invaded and seized the island from the French in 1794; Hughes, sent by the revolutionary government of France, rallied black resistance, expelled the British and proclaimed slavery to be abolished. Many of the white French plantation owners fled to Martinique, and there followed a period of black republican rule. In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a French force which re-took the island and re-established slavery. BACK

[7] On 1 January 1804, Jean Jacques Dessalines (1758–1806) declared independence for Haiti (formerly the French owned island of Saint-Domingue) becoming its first emperor. BACK

[8] See Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 18 December 1804, Letter 1006. BACK

[9] William Allen Proby, Lord Proby (1779–1804), eldest son of Sir John Joshua Proby 1st Earl of Carysfort (1751–1828; DNB). Proby was the captain of HMS Amelia, who, having been sent to the disease-ridden Leeward Islands station, died on 6 August at Surinam, from yellow fever. BACK

[10] Admiral of the Fleet John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (1735–1823; DNB). BACK

[11] Samuel Grove (d. 1817), naval officer and colleague of Thomas Southey’s. His ‘story’ has not been recorded. BACK

[12] Madoc (1805) was in the process of being printed by James Ballantyne in Edinburgh, where Harry was studying for his degree in medicine. BACK

[13] Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1762–1814; DNB), in command of the fleet in which Thomas Southey served. BACK

[14] The Annual Review. BACK

[15] Southey’s 1803 translation of Amadis of Gaul was reviewed in the Edinburgh Review, 5 (October1803), 109–136, and in the British Critic, 24 (1804), 471–481. BACK

[16] The project that Southey undertook with Grosvenor Bedford and published with Longman in 1807 as Specimens of the Later English Poets. BACK

[17] Southey reviewed, in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805): John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), An Account of Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa, in the years 1797 and 1798, including Observations on the Geology & Geography, the Natural History ... and Sketches of the Various Tribes Surrounding the Cape of Good Hope, Vol. II (1804), 22–33; Robert Percival (1765–1826), An Account of the Cape of Good Hope (1804), 34–41; Daniel Mackinnen (1767–1830), A Tour Through the British West Indies, in the years 1802 and 1803 giving a Particular Account of the Bahama Islands (1804), 50–56; John Barrow, Travels in China: Containing Descriptions, Observations and Comparisons Made and Collected in the Course of a Short Residence at the Imperial Palace of Yuen-min-yuen, and on a Subsequent Journey from Pekin to Canton (1804), 69–83; Sir John Froissart’s Chronicles of England, France, and the Adjoining Countries, from the Latter Part of the Reign of Edward II to the Coronation of Henry IV, trans. Thomas Johnes (1748–1816; DNB) (1804), 189–194; George Heriot (1766–1844), The History of Canada, From its First Discovery: Comprehending an Account of the Original Establishment of the Colony of Louisiana, 194–197; Part the First of An Address to the Public from the Society for the Suppression of Vice, Instituted, in London, 1802, Setting Forth, with a List of the Members, the Utility and Necessity of such an Institution, and its Claim to Public Support (1803), 225–231; Edward Ledwich (1738–1823), The Antiquities of Ireland (1804), 398–413; Original Correspondence of Jean Jacques Rousseau, with Mad. La Tour de Franqueville and M. Du Peyrou (1804), 485–488; Anna Seward, Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin, ... with Anecdotes of his Friends and Criticisms on his Writings (1804), 488–93; David Irving (1778–1850), The Lives of the Scotish Poets; with Preliminary Dissertations on the Literary History of Scotland and the Early Scotish Drama (1804), 493–499; Walter Scott, Sir Tristram: A Metrical Romance by Thomas of Ercildoune (1804), 555–563; Charles Abraham Elton (1778–1853), Poems (1804), 564–565; William Day (dates unknown), The Shepherd’s Boy: being Pastoral Tales (1804), 567–568; E. Warren (dates unknown), The Poet’s Day, or, Imagination’s Ramble (1804), 568; Cupid turned Volunteer: in a Series of Prints, Designed by her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth; and Engraved by W. N. Gardiner, B.A., with Poetical Illustrations by T. P [Thomas Park (1758/9–1834; DNB)] (1804), 568–580; Thomas Green Fessenden (1771–1837), Original Poems (1804), 571; John Blair Linn (1777–1805), The Powers of Genius (1801), 571; Thomas Clio Rickman (1761–1834; DNB), An Ode in Celebration of the Emancipation of the Blacks of Saint Domingo, November 29, 1803 (1804), 572; Robert Bloomfield, Good Tidings (1804), 574; William Robert Spencer (1770–1834; DNB), The Year of Sorrow (1804), 574–575; British Purity: or, the World we Live in. A Poetic Tale, of Two Centuries…By Lory Lucian and Jerry Juvenal, … Assisted by S. Scriblerus, etc. [pseud.] (1804), 575; William Falconer (1732–1769), The Shipwreck, (1804), ed., James Stanier Clarke (1766–1834; DNB), 577–580; William Tooke (1777–1863), ed., The Poetical Works of Charles Churchill: with Explanatory Notes and an Authentic Account of his Life, (1804), 580–585; J. Amphlett (dates unknown), Invasion: a Descriptive and Satirical Poem (1804), 585; Joseph Jefferson (1766–1824), Horae Poeticæ. Poems, Sacred, Moral and Descriptive (1804), 586–587; Alexander Campbell (1764–1824; DNB), The Grampians Desolate, a Poem in Six Books (1804), 587–591; William Crowe (bap. 1745, d. 1829; DNB), Lewesdon Hill (1804), 593–594; John Finlay (1782–1810), Wallace, or, The Vale of Ellerslie, and other Poems (1804), 594–596; Jessie Stewart (dates unknown), Ode to Dr. Thomas Percy (1804), 597; John Belfour (1768–1842), Fables on Subjects Connected with Literature. Imitated from the Spanish of Don Tomas de Yriarte (1804), 597–598; Transactions of the Missionary Society (1804), 621–634; Edward Davies (1756–1831; DNB), Celtic Researches, on the Origin, Traditions, & Language, of the Ancient Britons; with some Introductory Sketches, on Primitive Society (1804), 634–644; [Anon.] No Slaves - No Sugar: Containing New and Irresistible Arguments in Favour of the African Trade by a Liverpool Merchant (1804), 644–648; William Tennant (1758–1813), Indian Recreations, Consisting Chiefly of Strictures on the Domestic and Rural Economy of the Mahommedans and Hindoos (1803), 658–670; John Gardiner (fl. 1758–1792), Essays Literary, Political and Economical (1804), 670–674; Richard Duppa, Heads from the Fresco Pictures of Raffaele in the Vatican (1802), 918–923. BACK

[18] Southey’s projected ‘History of Portgal’, which he never completed. BACK

[19] Samuel Hamilton (dates unknown), owner of the Critical Review 1799–1804. BACK

[20] Edith May had been inoculated against smallpox, using cowpox serum; a method popularised by Edward Jenner (1749–1823; DNB) in An Inquiry Into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ (1798). BACK

[21] It was customary for naval officers to be allotted a share of the value of ‘prizes’, meaning ships and their cargo, captured in armed conflict. BACK

[20] Spain declared war on Britain on 14 December 1804. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013