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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1308. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 20 April 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Danvers

I have a fear upon me least Coleridge should get at my books, & carry any of them off with them {him}: for in the first place he spoils every decent book on which he lays his hands, & in the next place the moment it in his hands he considers it to all intents & purposes as his own, & makes no scruple of bescrawling it, of giving it away, – in-short of doing any thing with it, – except taking care of it & returning it to its owner. – Perhaps I am too late, – but at any rate as soon as you can, set a man to box them up, & ship them off to me, – all except the box of German books, which may remain with the other articles where it is, being well secured: – the glass & china only may come with the books.

One box I would have sent by waggon containing the two Mss volumes – which will come to light in the search {packing} – that vol: of the Voyages & Travels which contains Nicholas Del Techos Hist: of Paraguay, [1]  the Scriptores Rerum Hispanicarum [2]  a folio of cruel weight, – & then as many of the smaller books as will fill the box, chusing those which by the costliness of their dress seem to be of most value – & having them well secured with paper. Sam Reid will I doubt not have the goodness when they reach Liverpool to look after them & see that they are forwarded either to Whitehaven or Workington, it matters not which. It is now a good time of year for the coast, – you will let me know the number of packing cases &c; – & this – Dear Charles – is the last trouble you will have with this, hitherto, unlucky library, – which is now thank Heaven about to be of some use, & to find its resting place. – I dare say you are little pleased at my settling here; – yet every body else (except perhaps my Uncle ) sees the fitness of the situation; & I think if you consider above all things, & above all what the expence of removal & furnishing a house would be, & how little able I am to meet the expence, you will see not only that I have chosen wisely, – but that in fact I could not have chosen otherwise. – So do not take this last trouble with an unwilling spirit, – but think rather what a joy it will be to me to see all my books about me, & to feel myself settled also – for be sure that tho I am, God be thanked, a chearful man under all circumstances, I shall be a happier one when all disquieting thoughts of uncertainty & unsettledness are thus removed.

Once in two years I mean to visit London, – & if you do not contrive to meet me there, I will make Bristol in my way there or back, – which indeed may conveniently be done – for the sake of halting at Liverpool, & afterwards at Penkridge with Miss Barker. My first journey will be in the close of this year, & then I promise you a visit on my way to Taunton.

God bless you –

yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.

The Batalha [3]  book should come in the box of linen which Edith is to have sent by waggon. But tie it & seal it – before you part with it to secure it from possible harm. I dread female fingers, Mrs C’s among the numbers. They never can see prints unless they touch them. – In this same box send me a or rather in a little hamper with it send me some underground – alias Jerusalem artichokes for planting setting. They are not known in this county, & will be a great addition to our stock of culinary vegetables. – Tell Rex that Dr Aikin has curtailed defrauded him of two laughs at two Millerisms expunged from the said last Omniana by the said Dr – for which the final quotation that he has tacked on (which is as old as Joe himself) is but a very bad substitute. [4] 

Should C. talk of taking any books say that I make a point of not lending my Uncles, & you know not which are his, nor which mine – all the Italian are his, & these he is most likely to chuse for himself, – for in plain English his borrowing is something worse than begging.

Monday 20. April 1807

Of course you will hire men to pack them, & spare no useful cost of paper – cordage &c &c –


Notes

* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/APR23/ 1807
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. 446–448. BACK

[1] Nicolás del Techo (dates unknown), Historia de la Provincia del Paraguay de la Compania de Jesus (1673). BACK

[2] Rerum Hispanicarum Scriptores aliquot, ex Bibliotheca R. Beli (1579). BACK

[3] James Murphy (dates unknown), Plans, Elevations and Views of the Church of Batallia, in Portugal (1792). BACK

[4] Aikin had removed two jokes from Southey’s contribution in ‘Omniana’ to the new magazine Aikin edited: The Athenæum, a Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (February 1807), pp. 138–40. Joseph Miller (1684–1738), was a popular comic actor on the London stage from 1709 until his death, after which the publisher T. Read issued Joe Miller’s Jestbook, compiled by the hack writer John Mottley (1692–1750). Many further editions appeared, and ‘a Joe Miller’ became shorthand for a bad joke. BACK

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August 2013