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315. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 11 May 1798] ⁠* 

1798.

My dear Cottle,

In the list of the killed and wounded of the ‘Mars,’ you saw the name of Bligh, a midshipman. [1]  I remember rejoicing at the time, that it was not a name I knew. Will you be surprised that the object of this letter is to require your assistance in raising some little sum for the widow of this man.

I cannot express to you how deep and painful an interest I take in the history of this man. My brother Tom, an officer in the same ship, loved him; and well he might, for poor Bligh was a man, who, out of his midshipman’s pay, allowed his wife and children thirteen pounds a year. He wished to be made master’s mate, that he might make the sum twenty pounds, and then he said they would be happy. He was a man about thirty-five years of age; an unlettered man, of strong natural powers, and of a heart, of which a purer, and a better, never lived. I could tell you anecdotes of him that would make your eyes overflow, like mine. Surely, Cottle, there will be no difficulty in sending his poor wife some little sum. Five guineas would be much to her. We will give one, and I will lay friends in London under contribution. God bless you.

Yours truly,

Robert Southey.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847)
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), p. 217 [where it is dated ‘1798’].
Dating note: The strong similarities between the appeal for funds of behalf of the family of James Blythe in this letter and that to Wynn [11 May 1798] (Letter 315), suggest a date close to 11 May 1798. BACK

[1] Details of the fight between the Mars and L’Hercule on 21 April 1798 had been published, along with a list of the killed and wounded, in the London Gazette on 1 May 1798. The dead included the Midshipman James Blythe (1766/7–1798). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2011