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693. Robert Southey to George Dyer, 12 July 1802 ⁠* 

Dear Dyer

Your parcel arrived safely & I will deliver the copies [1]  duly. I have sent Beddoes’s by one who is in the habit of seeing him which I am not. Estlins I will deliver myself & leave Coatess [2]  at his brothers for he is gone to France for a long journey. for my own copy I have to thank you. your ‘Padlocked Lady’ [3]  is rather an unfortunate title – methinks you ought to take it as sufficient praise that I can only find such a fault. Do you know the riddle-my-riddle-my-ree of your Polly Whitehead & Penelope Trotter [4]  quite puzzled my dull wit – till blind Tobin saw thro them!

I have also to thank you for some trouble taken in the Chattertonian business – which I hope is drawing to a close. [5]  you will give your opinion to Cottle as a weighty one upon all I may have advised or suggested – for tho mine be a voice potential & double as the Dukes [6]  – I have not the least inclination to exercise it autocratically. I am only Grand Turk in the business – Cottle is Grand Vizir – & you shall either be a Bashaw with three tails [7]  – or Aga of the Janizaries [8]  – which you like best – or Mufti. [9] 

I am hard at work – or rather have been hard at work – & am now idling in a sort of holy day with my brother who is just returned safe from the West Indies after having escaped the fever & the land crabs there, & the bullets at Copenhagen. [10]  mine are slow labours – therefore the better.

Our Ladies for whom you enquire are all well – we miss Miss Barker as you may suppose. indeed I miss many London friends – but the quiet of the place – & the fields & the noble old elms which I see from the window make me heartily rejoice that I have escaped from the eternal noise & filth of the Strand. Your friends the Estlins [11]  are well – I know not if there be any one else here in whom you take interest enough to listen to their transactions – except indeed Charles Fox [12]  – he has been doing something. a long Persian poem into blank verse which is to make two volumes [13]  – & which I heartily & selfishly wish published – for he is too jealous ever to communicate any of his knowledge before it is in print. this is foolish. if he had given me any information by which I could have profited in Thalaba [14]  – I should have amply repaid him in a note which would have advertized his book permanently.

Remember me to such of my friends as you may see – I particularize Lamb & his sister. Anna Seward I hear has been mixing oil & vinegar for me. [15]  I have not seen her criticism – but I like her for honestly signing it, & am more pleased by her frankness than I can be offended by her censure.

God bless you,

yrs truly

Robert Southey.


The Ladies desire their remembrances

July 12. 1802.


Notes

* Address: George Dyer
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14117
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Of Dyer’s Poems and Critical Essays (1802). BACK

[2] William Coates (dates unknown), was a Clifton resident. He was known to Davy and Coleridge and was a subscriber to a number of Bristol literary works. His brother was Matthew Mills Coates (d.1819) of the law firm Morgan and Coates, Small St, Bristol. Both brothers were radicals and may have been related to John Prior Estlin’s first wife, Mary Coates (1753-1783). BACK

[3] George Dyer’s ‘The Padlocked Lady. A Vision’, Poems and Critical Essays, 2 vols (London, 1802), II, pp. 177-210. BACK

[4] George Dyer’s ‘Funeral Procession of Polly Whitehead’ and ‘A Monody on the Death of Penelope Trotter’, in his Poems and Critical Essays, 2 vols (London, 1802), II, pp. 216-228 and 229-235. BACK

[5] Southey and Joseph Cottle’s planned subscription edition of Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770; DNB), eventually published in 1803. BACK

[6] Othello, Act 1, scene 2, lines 13-14. BACK

[7] In the Ottoman empire, bashaws signified their status by the number of horse tails on their standards; three tails indicated high rank. See Peter Pindar [John Wolcot (c. 1738-1819; DNB)], Tales of the Hoy (London, 1798), p. 58. BACK

[8] The chief of the standing army of the Ottoman empire. BACK

[9] In Sunni Islam, a scholar who is an expounder and interpreter of Islamic law. BACK

[10] Tom Southey had been slightly wounded at the Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801; see the London Gazette (15 April 1801). BACK

[12] Charles Fox (c. 1740-1809; DNB), orientalist, poet and parrot owner. BACK

[13] Fox never published his two-volume translations of Persian poetry. BACK

[14] Southey’s annotated Islamic romance Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[15] Anna Seward’s critique of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) had appeared in The Poetical Register, and Repository for Fugitive Poetry, for 1801 (London, 1802), pp. 475-486. BACK

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August 2011