451. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 October 1799 *
My dear Tom
For these last three weeks you have been “poor Tom!” & we have been lamenting the capture of the Sylph – & expecting a letter from you dated “Ferrol”.  the newspapers said your brig was captured & carried in there – & I have written word to Lisbon & my Uncle was to write to Jardine  at Coruna, & my mother has been frightened lest you should have been killed in an action previous to your capture – & after all it is a lie!
Five weeks were we at Exeter – I wrote to you directing Torbay – & I walkd round Torbay.  you cruized at an unlucky time, however if you have picked up an hundred pounds I am glad we did not meet.
We are in Hampshire, & shall get into our palace on Wednesday next. you will direct as formerly Burton near Ringwood.
So much hope had I of seeing you when I walked down to Dartmouth & round by Brixham & the Bay that I put the Annual Anthology  & the concluding books of Madoc in my knapsack for you.
Our dwelling is now in a revolutionary state – & will I trust be comfortable. small it is & somewhat quaint. but it will be clean, but there is a spare bed-room – but there is a pavilion which you know is not always to be found at Burton. & a fishpond, & a garden in which I mean to work wonders. & then my book room is such a room that like the Chapter House at Salisbury it requires a Column to support the roof. Tom I wish Portsmouth instead of Plymouth were your rendezvous then we might look to see you.
But you ought to have been taken Tom – for consider how much uneasiness has been thrown away – & here were we on seeing your handwriting expecting a long & lamentable tone & particular account of the loss of the Ville de Paris – the lapelles – the new shirts, books & all the Lieutenant-paraphernalia – & then comes a pitiful account of a cruise & 100 £ prize money instead of all these adventures!
Here was my Mother working away to make a new shirt thinking you would come home shirtless & breechesless, stinking garlick out of every pore – all oil! one great flea bite – & able to talk Spanish.
My Mother will write speedily, I am scrawling in haste that we may not lose the post. when will there be a hope of seeing you? I have no news to tell except that we expect Harry home for the Xmas holydays. Concerning my own employments – the Dom-Daniel Romance is re-christened – anabaptized Thalaba the Destroyer.  & the fifth book is begun. this I should like to show you – but God knows when we shall meet since you have so much employmen more business on your hands.
October 26. 1799
And now dear Miss hus[MS obscured] 
* Address: To Si/ Lieutenant Thomas Southey/ Sylph
Brig/ Plymouth./ Single
Stamped: CHRIST/ CHURCH
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), II, pp. 30–32 [in part]. BACK
 It was widely reported in the British Press in early October 1799, e.g. St James’s Chronicle, 5 October 1799, that the brig, Sylph, on which Tom Southey was serving, had been captured and was at the Spanish port of Ferrol. BACK
 Newspaper reports confirmed Tom Southey’s ship, the Sylph, had not been captured, but had safely returned to Plymouth after a long cruise; see, for example, Morning Chronicle, 26 October 1799. BACK