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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

952. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 12 June 1804 ⁠* 

Keswick. June 12. 1804.

Dear Danvers

You made a sad blunder about the manuscript. I sent for the single Chronicle which you have among the loose books, that it might be bound, because it cannot be made use of in its present state without injury, the board covers fretting the leaves as they open & shut. [1]  & you sent off instead of this a huge box for which I had no immediate need whatever – by the coach – which cost fourteen & ninepence. whereas what I wanted would have come for a couple of shillings.

I was thoroughly wearied in London, indeed never at any before so compleatly jaded & worn down to the very bone. I had no time to look for the Smiths – probably they will let me know their approach that lodgings may be provided for them, & you also will arrange this with them, that you may meet. September is the best month, or even later, for beauty. If you come during the cloudless weather of full summer you lose the lights & shades, the scene shifting & machinery of heaven which form so great a part of the mountain magnificence. Your route should be by way of Brummejam [2]  to Manchester. thence to Lancaster, & from thence take the stage across the sands to Ulverstone, by which means you enter the Lake country at the right end, & see Connistone Lake first – then Windermere – & from thence take Rydal, Grasmere & Wyborne-water in your direct line to Keswick. But of this more particulars when they shall be needed.

Edith & the Edithling are, on the whole, both doing well, & yet the young one has had some things against her. owing to the quantity of milk contained in her breasts the one has gathered & discharged, without however occasioning any apparent inconvenience to her. a more fretting evil is the wind with which she is perpetually troubled, alike after the xxxx mothers milk & after every other food with which we have tried her. – Ask King by what likely means we can hope to alleviate this. Edith herself has not this complaint at present, nor has had it of late. the young one struggles almost as if going into a fit, till it explodes with a loudness that sufficiently indicates the pain it must have occasioned in her little stomach & throat. Perhaps this may induce Rex to write. – My eyes are again annoying me. it is an epidemic evil. many hundred of the soldiers & volunteers at Manchester have been discharged in consequence of this complaint, which it seems came from Egypt, [3]  & is to be considered as one of our gains by the last war, & the only gains in which I have had a share. – What of the drawings? If they should be done while parliament are sitting inclose them to Rickman under cover to the Speaker asking him to inclose them to me. you will know how to do this without any blundering. the inner cover must have only his name – no mention or hint of mine – the outer one Rt Honbl the Speaker &c &c, Westminster. & tell yon King that the sooner these vignettes are in the Engravers hands the better. [4]  I wish to see them before they go to the Engravers that my descriptions may be improved from & fitted to the drawings. – Duppa procures for me some of the other designs from Pocock, Howard [5]  &c – & one or two will be done under my own eye & to my own taste by Miss Barker. [6] 

The Poem goes off on Thursday to Edinburgh to be printed there. [7]  this is Longmans arrangement, & will be so far convenient as Harry can correct the revises, the proofs will be sent to me. – I am also likely to reprint in a separate volume my own best pieces from the Anthology – advertising them as so republished to prevent all possibility of deceiving any purchaser. [8]  from the disproportion of sale between those volumes & my own acknowledged ones it is probable that 500 of this old publication will sell off at once. It must not be calld Volume 3rd as that would preclude xxx a fourth volume – or it may be so calld, & any after volume christened by some peculiar name which will perhaps be the better plan. – The Amadis [9]  has sold well – that is nearly six hundred are gone. it has sold more copies of this have gone off in one year, than of Thalaba [10]  in three. If this be not flattering the chance of my fifty pounds at the sale of the whole 1000 comes as a comfortable sweetener.

The box of lost goods came safe mirabile dictu! [11]  for it came in half on the road, & the waggoner secured it by cords. What Cardew [12]  means by the other books I know not. my Uncle gave me no reason to expect another, & yet another it seems was sent, & certainly never reached Bristol. – This loss of the Don Quixote is very serious. do stick up a paper in the Custom House offering half a guinea to whoever has found an odd volume of D Quixote, bound in red morocco, stating that it spoils a set. it may thus be possibly recovered – otherwise a set worth £3–12– in Portugal is utterly valueless. [13]  Have you received the books from Cork which Tom was foolish enough to send? [14]  – I am uneasy at not receiving any letters from him of late. We are in hourly expectation of Harry. – But all the Wordsworths are just arrived & I must therefore conclude.

God bless you Charles!

RS.

remember me to Betty. [15] 

how is Cupid? how is Joe. [16]  I have a dog Dapper.


Notes

* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol./ Single.
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK/ 2
Postmark: [illegible]
Endorsements: [Keep Powels/ Oxalic/ Salts Tartare a [illegible word] to a Glass take effervescent; [various other illegible notes]
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had asked Danvers to send him ‘the great Portugueze manuscript chronicle’; see Southey to Charles Danvers, [late May–before 1 June 1804], Letter 946. This was Fernao Lopes (c. 1385–after 1459), ‘Cronica del Rei Dom Fernando o Noveno Rei de Portugal’, no. 3829 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [April–May 1805], Letter 1063. BACK

[2] Slang, based on the locals’ unique accent, for the city of Birmingham. BACK

[3] Keratoconjunctivitis or ‘Egyptian Opthalmia’, a contagious disease that spread in epidemic proportions across Western Europe for the first time in the years 1798–1806, having been imported by the sailors and soldiers campaigning in, or against, the armies of revolutionary France in Egypt. BACK

[4] Southey had written to King to request some illustrations for Madoc (1805), but none by him were included in the published work; see Southey to John King, [1]–5 March 1804, Letter 904. BACK

[5] Nicholas Pocock (1740–1821; DNB): marine painter, formerly a merchant seaman. Pocock exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1782–1815 and was a founder member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1804. Southey complained that Pocock spoilt the image of Madoc’s ship that he had been commissioned to make, by drawing too modern a vessel. Henry Howard (1769–1847; DNB): portrait and history painter, full member of the Royal Academy from 1808 and its Secretary from 1811. Howard was also a book illustrator; besides Madoc, he was commissioned to provide designs for editions of The British Essayists (1823) and Alexander Pope’s (1688–1744; DNB) translations of Homer in 1806 and 1813. BACK

[6] Southey had requested his friend to provide designs for engravings to be placed in Madoc; see Southey to Mary Barker, 17 February 1804 (Letter 896), 3 March 1804 (Letter 906) and 29 December 18[04] (Letter 1009). In the event, the poem was published in 1805 with only two engravings, one of which, of a giant snake, was misplaced. BACK

[7] Madoc was printed by the Edinburgh firm of James Ballantyne. BACK

[8] Southey’s poems from the Annual Anthology (1799–1800) reappeared in his Metrical Tales and Other Poems (1805). BACK

[9] Southey’s translation, Amadis of Gaul, was published in 1803. BACK

[10] Southey’s poem Thalaba the Destroyer was published in 1801. BACK

[11] Meaning ‘wonderful to relate’. BACK

[12] Unidentified. BACK

[13] Apparently the missing volume was not recovered, for no. 3191 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), Don Quixote de la Mancha (1798), is described as ‘wanting vol. 6’. BACK

[14] Southey had asked his brother to buy a number of books for him; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 1 February 1804 (Letter 892) and Southey to John Rickman, 30 June 1804 (Letter 957). BACK

[15] Danvers’s servant. BACK

[16] Cupid was originally Southey’s dog; Danvers had inherited him; Joe was Thomas Southey’s dog and was being looked after by Danvers. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013