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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1021. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 15 January 1805 ⁠* 

Keswick. Tuesday Jany 15. 1805.

Dear Danvers

It is so long since you have written that I begin to look with some anxiety for tidings of you. – I have letters from Tom, twice since my last. The first to say that he had been brought to a Court Martial by his Captain, for disobedience of orders, neglect of duty, & contempt of his superior officer. The two first charges were not proved. But it was proved that when Captain Heathcote [1]  had accused him of these offences, he had replied I beg your pardon Sir I must contradict you. This was contempt in the Court Martial sense of the word, & for this he was sentenced to be dismissed the ship. – He now writes word that Commodore Hood, [2]  having seen the minutes of the trial, & spoken with some of the Captains who were on it, has made him First Lieutenant on the Amelia,  [3]  a much finer frigate than the one he has left, & speaks so highly of him that his present Captain [4]  says he expects to see him a Commander in six months. The Commodore has even said he was fitter to command the Galatea than Heathcote.

As soon as his first letter arrived I wrote hastily to bid him draw on you for thirty-pounds. [5]  While I was writing the second letter after some days, lest the first should have miscarried, Wynn to whom I had told the story, very unexpectedly wrote to say that if fifty pounds would be of any help to Tom it was at my disposal for him. – As things now stand, I take it for granted he will not draw: but if he should do you honour his drafts, & the money shall be remitted to you as speedily as the posts will admit. – This prevented him from being in the affair of the Lilly. he was under arrest & could not go, & the Lieutenant who went in his place, – fell! [6]  – Still I am uneasy about him, for the yellow fever was raging on board his ship, having killed Lord Proby [7]  (a cousin of Wynn) & the First Lieutenant whose stead Tom now supplies.

No news of Coleridge for so very long a time that I am really very anxious about him. tho I remember how long you often were without letters from the Mediterranean. – We go on well. the Edithling thrives as we could wish. she has {as yet} only two teeth, which came without inconvenience, & we daily expect the two upper ones to make their appearance. Edith is very weak & fatter than ever you saw her. & I myself just as usual, or as to the eyes better than usual.

The printer lags with Madoc. [8]  six sheets of the notes are done, & there are above six more to do, which he unwarrantably loiters about. When you write tell me how your copy is to be directed – I will send Kings with it, & one which I will beg you to for ship for Tom to Barbadoes, directed to the care of Mr Nathan Jackson. [9]  Will you believe that Tom has actually eat some land crabs, & thinks them most excellently good? miracles will never cease. He has promised to bring me home a brace, whom I shall keep in a cage like singing birds for the amusement of all my acquaintance. [10] 

I am still Annualizing. [11]  more work coming on just as I fancy it is over. Hamilton of the Critical is broke – & in my debt. something from 10 to 30£ which I could not make him settle, & which is now gone to the dogs. [12]  It is provoking to recollect how much more pleasantly the hours bestowed upon thim ought have been employed. It seems Phillips has bought the Review, which is rather a good thing, for tho that fellow is the most compleat & perfect rascal this day existing, he takes the right side in politics, & is likely to keep it. [13] 

Hartley is from home visiting Mrs Wordsworths sisters near Penrith. [14]  it is impossible to give you any adequate idea of his oddities – for he is the oddest of all Gods creatures & becomes quainter & quainter every day. It is not easy to conceive what is perfectly true – that he is totally destitute of any thing like modesty, yet without the slightest tinge of impudence in his nature. His religion makes one of the most humorous parts of his character. ‘I’m a boy of religious turn!’ he says, – for he always talks of himself & examines his own character just as if he was speaking of another person, & as impartially. Every night he makes an extempore prayer aloud, but it is always in bed, & not till he is comfortable there, & got into the mood. When he is ready he touches Mrs Wilson who sleeps with him, & [MS torn] listen! – & off he sets like a Preacher. If he has been behaving amiss, away he goes for the Bible, & looks out for something apposite to his case in the Psalms, or the Book of Job. the other day after he had been in a violent passion, he chose out a chapter against wrath – ‘ah! that suits me!’ The Bible is also resorted to whenever he ails anything, – or else the prayer book. He once made a pun, upon occasion of the belly ache – tho I will not say that he designed it – Oh Mrs Wilson I’se got the Colic! [15]  read me the Epistles & Gospel for the day. – In a part of his character he seems to me strikingly to resemble his father, in the affection he has for those who are present with him, & the little he cares about them when he is out of their sight. It is not possible for one human being to love another more dearly than Mrs Wilson loves him – & he is as fond of her as it is in his nature to be of any thing, & probably loves her better than he does any body else. Last summer she was dangerously ill, & Hartley in consequence came & lived at home. He never manifested the slight uneasiness or concern about her, nor ever would go near her. I do not know whether I should xxxx wish to have such a child or not. there is not the slightest evil in his disposition, but it wants something to make it steadily good. physically & morally there is a defect of courage. He is afraid of receiving pain, to such a degree that if any person begins to read a newspaper, he will leave the room least there should be any thing shocking in it. This is the explication of his conduct during Mrs Wilsons illness. he would not see her, because it would give him pain, & when she was out of sight, he contrived to forget her. – I fear that if he lives he will dream away life like his father, too much delighted with his own ideas ever to embody them – or suffer them if he can help it, to be disturbed. – I gave him Robinson Crusoe two years ago. he never has read, nor will read beyond Robinsons departure from the Island. No – he says – he does not care about him after wards, & never will know. – You will find infinite amusement from him when you come to visit us. – I have a noble jack ass whom you will find of use – for you must not fatigue yourself, & by Johns [16]  help twelve or sixteen miles may be accomplished without exertion.

Ediths love – how are my friends Cupid & Joe? [17]  You abuse Richardsons correspondence properly – but how delightful are the letters of Klopstocks wife there! [18] 

God bless you.

R. Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ JAN 18/ 1805
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 309–312. BACK

[1] Captain (later Admiral) Sir Henry Heathcote (1777–1851), in command of HMS Galatea 1803–1805. BACK

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

[3] HMS Amelia was a finer ship than Thomas Southey’s previous ship, the Galatea, because she was a 38-gun Hébé-class frigate of the French navy captured in 1796 and commissioned into the navy. BACK

[4] William Charles Fahie (1763–1833). BACK

[5] See Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 December 1804, Letter 1004. BACK

[6] On 14 August 1804, the boats of Thomas Southey’s ship the 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. Southey had suspected that his brother was among the dead, having read in the newspapers that the first lieutenant had been killed. Thomas had been placed under arrest and Lieutenant Charles Hayman (d. 1804), his replacement on the raid, died instead. BACK

[7] 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 1804 at Surinam, from yellow fever. BACK

[8] Southey’s poem Madoc, published in 1805, was printed by the Edinburgh printing house of James Ballantyne. BACK

[9] Untraced, he was the addressee for Tom Southey’s letters in the West Indies. BACK

[10] See Southey to John Rickman, 20 January 1804 (Letter 886) and Southey to John King, [1]–5 March 1804 (Letter 904). Although Thomas Southey returned with some land crabs, the last of them died on the journey home; see Southey to Richard Duppa, 5 August 1806, Letter 1206. BACK

[11] Southey refers to his work for the Annual Review. In the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), he reviewed the following books: 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

[12] Samuel Hamilton (dates unknown), owner of the Critical Review 1799–1804. His departure from the Critical left Southey unpaid for reviews he had written. BACK

[13] The Critical Review was in fact bought by Joseph Mawman (1763–1827). BACK

[14] Joanna (1780–1843) and Sara Hutchinson, the sisters of Mary Wordsworth (1770–1859), Wordsworth’s wife. They were resident from 1804 at Park House Farm, near Dalemain, at the head of Ullswater, a farm taken by their brother Tom (1773–1849). BACK

[15] The pun is on the Collect, the short prayer that features in the Anglican and Catholic masses. BACK

[16] The name of Southey’s ass. BACK

[17] Dogs, belonging to Southey and his brother Thomas, but left in Danvers’s care. BACK

[18] The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1804). Margaretha (Meta) Moller (1727–1758) married the German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) in 1754. Her correspondence with Samuel Richardson (1689–1761) ended with her untimely death aged thirty-one. Her last letter is full of hopes concerning her, as yet, unborn first child; it ends with her determination not only to mother but also to nurse it herself. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013