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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1101. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 2 September [1805] ⁠* 

Monday night. Sept 2.

Dear Danvers

We began to wonder at your silence, & to look uneasily for your letters, till the parcel arrived. Whether Sir Domine has yet written to thank you for the chain I know not, as he is now at Ambleside with Lloyd, – whose wife you will be glad to hear is safe in bed, with a fine girl.

I did not like leaving you, – & as there has been no farther news of Elmsley yet, am sorry he prevented me from seeing the caves in better company that is likely again to fall to my lot. [1]  Parting is at all times a bad thing, & we took leave in no very agreable circumstances – you had the prospect of solitary sickness – I & Sir Domine of a wetting, – & a precious wetting we had. It rained incessantly for twelve miles, then cleared off till we reached past Ambleside, & then began again. At Grasmere we were persuaded to stay & dine with Clarkson, which I could not well refuse not having before seen him. accordingly we changed ourselves, – Harry walked on in the evening, the weather being fine, in Wordsworths shoes, & I remained the night, letting my own dry. Tho I was not footsore upon this walk, yet the soaking had been so compleat that the skin of all my toes is peeling off.

We have missed you much – the more so being the daily & present sight of you, seemed like the removal of a customary thing. I have been on the lake since you went, & in the lake, – but never walked anywhere. I have made great progress in swimming in a single lesson by help of the cork jacket, going fairly on my back in the jacket, & then without it, – an important achievement, for in swimming what is once learnt is never lost.

My time has not been very much my own since you went. George Koster arrived the day after my return, [2]  & stayed several days – WordsworthSarah Hutchinson & a Lady of their acquaintance have been here. [3]  We have also had two evening parties – one for the Calverts [4]  & a poor fellow who having been a good Lawyer is gone crazy & turnd bad poet; [5]  – of course he brought me two vols his poems – two great books full! another evening the Islanders came here [6]  – & tomorrow the Speddings [7]  come to the long talked of dinner. Friday there was a ball – to which I did not go – Mrs Peachey & her sister came here in the morning purposely to request that the favour of my appearance, but I was inexorable, & staid at home. My time was well spent in correcting the Vision of Joan of Arc for the press, [8]  & clearing off part of a heavy debt of letters.

Jackson has heavy damages to pay 400£ – as I understand the matter chiefly by the wretched manner in which his law proceedings were conducted. the costs also will be heavy. I am very sorry, for there does not live a better-hearted or honester man – & this is all for want of a little prudence. – Miss Davies goes this week. [9]  so much for the news of Keswick. I myself shall go to Grasmere in about a week – dine one day with Lloyd, & return with Domine & Wordsworth along the top of Helvellin, – which will in all probability compleat my mountaineering for the year, which thanks to your Indefatiguablship has been a sharp campaign.

I am at present reading Bruce in order to review the new edition. [10]  my reviewing work accumulates, & I shall instantly begin – what with that & the Don [11]  I design to do a fair 200£ worth before the winter be over, & if no ill-fortune impede shall execute what I design. – my daughter continues well, & Job sticks to his Latin with a patience quite surprising. We are dreadfully infested with wasps & want you here to assist in hunting & destroying their nests – The day when I bathed there were hundreds in the Lake who had dropt in as they were flying over, & we were obliged to keep a sharp look out while in the water, lest one of these devils should come swimming in ones mouth. – remember me to Rex – to your brother – Hort [12]  & all else who enquire for me – I write in haste to save the post –

God bless you –

yrs very affectionately RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK
Postmark: E/ SEP 5/ 1805
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 398–399. BACK

[1] The caves near Ingleton in Yorkshire, examples being Ingleborough Cave and White Scar Cave. BACK

[2] George Koster (1785–1808), the eldest surviving son of Southey’s friend John Theodore Koster. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] William Calvert (1771–1829; DNB), who was at school with Wordsworth at Hawkshead, where he later became schoolmaster. On the death of his father, Calvert became a man of independent means, inheriting, with other property, the estate of Bowness on the east shore of Bassenthwaite, near Keswick (DNB). His younger brother Raisley (1773–1795) left Wordsworth a legacy of £900. BACK

[5] Anthony Harrison (1773–1827), a contemporary of Wordsworth in his childhood at Hawkshead and an attorney of Penrith, published in 1806, Poetical Recreations. The book was, as Southey forecast, damned by the critics. Harrison helped Coleridge proof-read his journal The Friend in 1809. BACK

[6] William Peachy and his wife Emma, who were friends, and convivial hosts of, Southey and his family at their home on Derwent Isle, Derwentwater. BACK

[7] John Spedding (1770–1851), of Mirehouse, near Keswick. A boyhood friend of Wordsworth who became a close friend of the Southey family. BACK

[8] The third edition of Joan of Arc was published in 1806, with the ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans’ – originally published in the second volume of Poems (1799) – printed at the end of the poem. For the alterations, see Robert Southey. Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), I. BACK

[9] Unidentified. BACK

[10] Southey’s review of James Bruce (1730–1794; DNB), Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the Years 1768–73 (2nd edn, 1804), appeared in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806), 2–16. BACK

[11] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[12] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian minister and writer. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013