379. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 12 February 1799 *
My dear Harry
Your shirts are at last finished & will immediately be forwarded. they will probably reach you at the same time with this.
You are now Harry placed in a more favourable situation than we could reasonably have expected or hoped. I trust you will see the necessity of profiting by it to the utmost. On the subject of your studies I am about to write to Mr Maurice. it is my particular wish that you should apply yourself to mathematics, as without a knowledge of them you will find it impossible to make any proficiency in the sciences hereafter. If when you leave school you are well grounded in mathematics & have a good knowledge of Latin & Greek, every thing will be easy & pleasurable to you. In the profession of surgery or medicine every thing may be accomplished by talents; as far as this will be in my power you shall have every advantage in pursuing your studies, & if you do not attain to eminence it will be your own fault. the profession itself is of all others the most useful, & I know enough of medical studies to be assured that they are the most interesting.
About your dancing Harry. we are not in a situation to allow of any expence that can be avoided. it is only by unremitting labour (to a degree indeed that has injured my health) that I can supply the wants of a large family, nor could you be supported in your present situation without the assistance of a friend. this is saying enough. nor is it of any importance whether you ever learn or no. If there be any opportunity of your learning French, I should wish you to profit by it. for tho you may at any time teach yourself to read the language, the power of speaking in it can only be acquired in youth. this I shall mention to Mr Maurice.
How are you employed? what books do you read?
Wednesday. 12. Feby. 1799.