719. Robert Southey to Edith Southey,  September  *
I write from Pile Inn – thirteen miles short of Neath Sunday evening Sept 20. – We mist the boat on Friday & were obliged to hire the small one – or lose the half day. our passage was quite pleasant – on the other side Miss Shapland  past us in a chaise – so you will have learnt our safety I suppose from her thro Danvers. 15 miles to Newport – a bottle of excellent ale half way helped us on. the country fine as to produce, but of no remarkable beauty. On arriving I made a sad discovery – a huge & ugly blister on my right heel. Saturday 12 to Caerphilly – the country rather better, the castle there famous – & large – but not fine in its parts. a huge mass but nothing when compared to Obidos or Leiria.  8 to Llantrissant – but they were Welsh miles – better measure than they give to their ale by the by. their pints are shamefully small – not above half measure. One noble scene on the Taffe – high hills & wood – & a clear – loud – rapid – shallow stream. we crost it on a scaffold-boat for the coal waggons – & following two Welsh guides lost a fine bridge which ought to have been seen. Llantrissant a decent estalagem  – clean beds & that was all. no cream – no milk – no meat – bad ale – eggs & bacon & toasted cheese & gin about the price of otter of roses. today eleven to Bridgend. milk on the way – which was bono  – & a bathe on the way in a brook of lovely water which was bono, & the Landladys dinner ready at Bridgend when we arrived – bono – & bottled ale more bono than all the rest. 6 more to Pile Inn – an excellent inn in an ugly country – a foul country – high hills with hedges – nothing but hedges – & a muddy bay in sight. This is not a cheap country. meat 8–9.10 pence a pound – affected by the Bristol market – for we eat their beef & mutton.
But alas I am quite foundered. obliged yesterday & to day to go slip shop for the love of my great blister which is as big as the little Doctors fist  – the looseness of the slipt shoe has blistered the sole of my foot – & the poor sole has been in purgatory – & is in purgatory – & no indulgences can help it out. I must try coach & a day’s rest. as for the other foot he is pretty well I thank you & I am not tired & can eat like a tyger & drink like a fish & sleep like myself. But I have seen no country to tempt me even to a wish for a residence there. lower down may be better – but if it be not – & if things be not cheaper – I shall leave you to decide between Bristol & Exeter – where you know the prices, & meantimes you had better look out about No. 12.
For sundry reasons my letter must be brief. because I am tired & my ink stand is dry – so that the pen is made dirty all the way up in striving to wet it. if we see any thing better you shall speedily hear of it, & if not you shall hear of our goings on tho there be nothing better to send you than what a mere book of the roads could give. We shall not I think exceed the fortnight. I hope not & believe not for I already wish myself at home, & am not quite easy about you & the young one –
* Address: To/ Mrs Southey/ Kingsdown/ Bristol
Stamped: CARDIFF/ 165
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 286-287.
Dating note: Southey misdates the letter by one day, Sunday was 19 September in 1802 and not 20 September as he states. BACK
 Castles that Southey and Edith had seen on their journey in central Portugal in March 1801 (Adolfo Cabral, Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800-1801 and a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), pp. 15-33). BACK