536. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 8 July [1800] 

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536. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 8 July [1800] ⁠* 

I write a few lines by you. so few that only the opportunity of a private hand could excuse them.

You will find at Congreve a copy of Joan of Arc [1]  which will arrive as soon as you can do. It will be an earlier remembrancer than the Packet could bring you. &, when you see Thalaba, it will serve like a bad drawing – to show improvement. [2]  I am not however ashamed of it.

If you go thro Plymouth & the fleet be there I have a brother on board the Bellona who will show you what is to be seen. Lieutenant Thomas Southey: he is better than the breed of Sailors in general. only send to him in my name, & he will have brains enough in two minutes to see that you are not a mere Lisbon acquaintance.

God bless you. I love Cintra dearly – but I would rather the rock [3]  went to England than you.

R.S.

Tuesday July 8.

Do not fail – or delay – to inform us of your arrival. I will watch all the seeding flowers – & send you my Wall & the Cork Tree [4]  in most accurate painting.

[The first letter I ever received from dear Southey MSlade

nee Barker] [5] 


Notes

* Address: To/Miss Barker [Bath]
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick Jnr, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 1–2
Previously published: H. Spencer Scott, ‘Some Southey Letters’, Atlantic Monthly, 89 (1902), 36 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey had sent a copy of Joan of Arc (1798) to Mary Barker’s home at Congreve, Staffordshire. BACK

[2] The Islamic romance Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[3] The Sierra, or mountain of Cintra. BACK

[4] Mary Barker was an amateur painter and may have been teaching Southey to paint. BACK

[5] The first … Barker: Marginal annotation in hand of Mary Barker; as Mary Barker signs herself ‘Slade’, this was written after her marriage in 1830. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2011