Appendix 1

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, Edited By Lynda Pratt, Tim Fulford and Ian Packer

Appendix 1

This appendix deals with two letters by Southey where the surviving manuscript is less complete than the version published by previous editors. In both cases, a transcript of the manuscript is in the main text of this edition.


Letter A: Robert Southey to Thomas Phillipps Lamb, 3 April 1793

[The letter reproduced below is a fuller version of that included in the main text of the edition as Letter 46. The text in this appendix is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 15–20.]

Ledbury , April 3, 1793.

Heavens, what a throne! from every eye retired,
Alone by solitude and thought inspired;
Wild fancy wanders o’er the primrosed side,
And scarcely dreams of bliss or worlds beside.
The brook rolls on, rough o’er the moss-clad stone,
With ceaseless roar, and foamy billows strown.
The mountain-ash, as eve’s soft breezes blow,
Depends its branches to the stream below;
The gay moss mantling o’er the secret bank,
The glistening pebbles and the verdure dank.

* * * * * * * *

From thence, my dear sir, had I bid fancy fly,
Expand her soft pinions and hasten to Rye.
Go, my goddess (I cried), skim aloft in the air,
Tell my friends how I am, and with whom, why, and where;
Go, give my best wishes — tell how we walked down
Miles sixty and eight from Stupidity Town, —  [1] 
Where we baited, where slept, whom we met, and what saw,
Nor forget to remind me to Mr. Megaw: [2] 
Go, tell Mrs. Lamb, since her counsel was best,
Here I am still a boy, with my coxcomb undrest;
Tell Tom that Majestas is mending each day:
All this and much more I intended to say,
When Edward [3]  stept down to the side of the brook, —
Up went pen and ink, and I shut up my book.
Since then we walked on here to Ledbury Town,
And here we remain, my dear sir, weather bound.
Ah! would fancy obediently hear what I say,
And the weather my every commandment obey,
I would send it just now to the cold northern sphere,
And entreat them to hail, snow, or rain all the year;
And behold, to my comfort, down floating, the snow —
Yes, the weather’s propitious and I cannot go:
Blest weather! blest snow! But, my dear Mr. Lamb,
I had almost forgotten to say where I am.
Twelve miles beyond Worcester stands Hatthouse, — a place
Which nature has decked with each natural grace:
Half-way up a small hill, at whose base winding on
The rock-broken rivulet runs winding along;
Hills, valleys, and roads all round us are seen,
And Malvern’s tall hills fix a bound to the scene;
Eighteen beyond that stands the town of Ledbury,
Where I am quite happy and pleased I assure ye.
O my legs! greatest blessing that nature bestowed,
Not cut out for the ball-room, but made for the road,
Not with delicate shape, formed genteelly, and taper,
A minuet to walk, or excel in a caper, —
I thank ye, some miles ye have brought me, — nor yet
Can I this great service despise or forget —
Enabled by you these thin bones to support on,
You led me to dinner at old Chipping Norton,
And carried me on to a night’s rest at Moreton.
At Broadway you taught me a breakfast was best there
To support me to dinner as far as Worcester.

* * * * * * * *

Sober prose, my dear sir, will best account for my not visiting Rye, and acquaint you with what I have seen. Our vacation barely consists of three weeks, out of which, in going and returning, five days must have been spent, and time flies so rapidly at Rye, that it is needless to shorten his career. One evening Seward asked me to walk into Worcester with him. You know I love walking, as it is the only exercise I excel in; you likewise know how little time my wise brain gives to consideration. I accepted the offer, and off we set. We breakfasted at Woodstock, seven miles from Oxford, and passed the environs of Blenheim [4]  without entering. Of this stoicism I fear I should not have been guilty, but for the remembrance that Coombe intended to go with me early in the summer. The day, too, looked uncertain, and we had eleven miles to Chipping Norton, where we proposed dining. At Enstone, however, Henrietta’s waterworks [5]  attracted us, made about some 150 years back by some fantastic esquire who had water on his brain like a friend of yours. They are very pretty, but it is so unnatural to imagine moss-clad rocks and springs in a room, that fancy could not so far blind the eyes of reason as to dress it with probability. The old woman who conducted us (for the man had lately broken his leg) was contented with showing it without wetting us, — the wit of the place. Ladies are desired to look at this and that; and the ground spouts up water — it rains — and, in short, you get completely sluiced for curiosity and amusement.

The time we spent there we did not think by any means thrown away. I shall know the practical jokes at Chatsworth, [6]  and have discovered that the hydromania is almost as bad as the hydrophobia. Lord Shrewsbury has a pleasant seat, Heythorp, [7]  near the village; but the situation is vile: and indeed the road from Oxford to Chipping Norton is very uninteresting. Some good cold beef, cold tongue, sallad, and a bottle of cider were productive of much entertainment: we deserved an appetite, and we had one. But Moreton lay eight miles on, and we soon proceeded.

The village of Salford is very pleasant, and the country mends much as you approach the four-shire stone — the boundary-mark of Gloucester, Worcester, Oxford, and Warwick shires. It is a neat stone, handsomer than even the Romans made Terminus, [8]  and yet not sufficiently so to tempt me to fall down, and worship it. Moreton-in-the-Marsh we reached to tea, — a vile, unhealthy, horrible town. Early the next morning we rose, after a curious division of the bed, — for we slept together. He took all the bed and I took all the clothes; but we did not need rocking. Over Camden Downs to Broadway. The hill above the town presented me with a most delightful view.

Equally rich, and far more extensive, than that from Madamescourt Hill, yet not so beautifully diversified, you see the fertile vale of Evesham, the town of the same name, Broadway just below, and at a distance the smoke of Pershore and Worcester, Malvern Hills melting into distance. A man of Exeter [9]  breakfasted with us at Broadway, who, in walking twenty miles in boots once, had lost his two toe-nails. He was mounted, but though we left Oxford together, we kept up with him, even into Worcester. The Abbey of Evesham is wonderfully grand; in a very different stile from Battle, but equally beautiful. A tower, a perfect sample of the simple Gothic, fronts the skeleton of the church, whose roof, in many places fallen in, affords light enough to show distinctly the inside, and casts a shade in many places. The grass grows in the high arched windows. Desolation makes it more striking; but unless some lover of antiquity gives assistance very shortly, it will, I fear, fall entirely. We reached Worcester to dinner, having never rested for twenty-one miles. Here, as you may easily imagine, we were not sorry to rest. To proceed twelve miles through a very clayey, wet country, was, though not impossible, very unpleasant. We remained that night, and the next morning being wet breakfasted with a clergyman. The day cleared up. I bought a trusty stick, drew on my Old Bear* [10]  (the luggage having arrived), and on we proceeded. The country had been pleasant before; it now became romantically beautiful, and I rejoiced in having journeyed to it; but the wet grounds and roads, such as in Sussex would be deemed impassible, made the travelling not good. It was a trifle, not worth consideration; but we grew hungry, for speed was impossible. .... [11]  The bread and cheese, cold pig’s face, tongue, and tarts, and cider, were most agreeable. It may seem strange, but I never found such pleasure in travelling as in this expedition. The highest pride is couched under humility, and in truth I was proud of travelling so humbly.

I have since visited Abberley, Bewdley, Kidderminster, and Malvern, each well worth seeing; but it is difficult to describe so many assemblies of houses in a different manner. Since our arrival here the snow has fallen; and I am inclined to hope, from the aspect, that we shall be weather-bound till the last moment. Arthur Young’s [12]  remark is very true, “It is the fate of travellers just to visit persons whom we could wish to be acquainted with, and then part.” Thanks be to the weather, I am shut up. T. Lamb promised me Mr. Lettice’s [13]  Travels *; [14]  His Majesty claims the same; and as I have some idea of walking with Collins over Scotland next year, it will be of much use.

Poor Anax! [15]  he was quite scaly before his departure, but is now recovering apace. Tom must come to Oxford at the installation;  [16]  I promise him house-room and good living: or, if Mrs. L. will come, it will give me much pleasure to procure lodgings for her. Such sights do not chance any day. Tom should have a sample of collegiate life, in order to prize his mode of education the more. In truth, there is little good learnt at Oxford, and much evil: society eternally of men unfits one for any thing else. At Westminster, friends were near; but at Oxford a man can never learn refinement. A company of all men is at all times bad; here it is abominable. His plan of study is hard, but it deserves more praise than I can give. I hope Mrs. L. will come; but, in any case, Tom must. The state of French affairs pleases you I hope. Peace! Peace! is all I wish for. But why should I give my sentiments? — yours are more deeply founded upon experience. Nor does it become a young mad-headed enthusiast to judge of these matters. Time may alter my opinions: I do not much think it will. Let those opinions be what they will, you will not despise me for them. I had some more lines to have sent, but as they might not exactly have accorded with what is politically good, they are suppressed. My best respects and wishes to all friends at Rye. Will you once more favour me with a letter to Oxford? I have no friend to advise me with respect to my conduct, and your advice will be good.

Yours most sincerely,

ROBERT SOUTHEY.

Letter B: Robert Southey to [Robert Lovell], [started before and continued on] 19 February 1796

[The text reproduced below is a fuller — but still not complete — version of Letter 147. The text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 262–67.]

Feb. 19. 1796.

I have an invincible dislike to saying the same things in two different letters, and yet you must own it is no easy matter, to write half a dozen different ones, upon the same subject. I am at Lisbon, and therefore all my friends expect some account of Portugal; but it is not pleasant to reiterate terms of abuse, and continually to present to my own mind objects of filth and deformity. By way of improving your English cookery, take the Portuguese receipt for dressing rabbits. The spit is placed either above the fire, below the fire, by the side of the fire, or in the fire; (this is when they have a spit, and that is little better than an iron skewer, for they roast meat in a jug, and boil it in a frying-pan;) to know if it is done they crack the joints with their fingers, and then lay it aside till it cools, then they seize the rabbit, tear it piecemeal with their fingers into rags, and fry it up with oil, garlic, and aniseed. I have attempted sausages made of nothing but garlic and aniseed; they cut off the rump of a bird always because they dress it, and neither prayers nor entreaties can save a woodcock from being drawn and quartered. R—— [17]  (who never got up till we were in sight of Corunna) lay in his bed studying what would be the best dinner when we landed; he at last fixed upon a leg of mutton, soles and oyster sauce, and toasted cheese — to the no small amusement of those who knew he could get neither, and to his no small disappointment when he sat down to a chicken fried in oil, and an omelet of oil and eggs. He leapt out of bed in the middle of his first night in Spain, in order to catch the fleas, who made it too hot for him.

Miss [18]  remains in Lord Bute’s stables, in Madrid: — she amused me on the road by devouring one pair of horsehair socks, one tooth-brush, one comb, a pound of raisins, do. of English beef, and one pair of shoes: Maber has as much reason to remember her. So you see Miss lived well upon the road. Tossed about at I have been by the convulsions of air, water, and earth, and enduring what I have from the want of the other element, I am in high health. My uncle and I never molest each other by our different principles. I used to work Maber sometimes, but here there is no one whom I am so intimate with, or with whom I wish intimacy. Here is as much visiting and as little society as you can wish; and a Bristol alderman may have his fill of good eating and drinking; yet is this metropolis supplied only from hand to mouth, and when the boats cannot come from Alentejo, the markets are destitute; at this time there is no fuel to be bought! Barbary supplies them with corn, and that as so low a rate, that the farmers do not think it worth while to bring their corn to market, so that the harvest of last year is not yet touched. They cannot grind the Barbary corn in England: it is extremely hard, and the force and velocity of English mills reduce the husk as well as the grain to powder. I learnt all this from the Vice Consul, [19]  who has written much to Lord Grenville [20]  on the subject, and proposed damping the corn previous to grinding it, so as to prevent the bran from pulverising. Lord G. has even sent for grindstones to Lisbon, in hopes they might succeed better. It is melancholy to reflect on what a race possesses the fertile coasts of Barbary! Yet are these Portuguese not a degree above them. You may form some idea how things are managed in this country from the history of the present war: by treaty the Portuguese were to furnish the English with a certain number of ships, or a certain sum of money; and the Spaniards with troops or money; the money was expected, but the Secretary of State, Mello, [21]  argued that it was more politic to lay it out among their own countrymen, and make soldiers and sailors. The old boy’s measures were vigorous; he sent for the general of one of the provinces, appointed him commander in Brazil, and ordered him to be ready at an hour’s notice; but old Mello fell ill, and the general, after remaining three months at Lisbon (for during Mello’s illness the other party managed affairs,) he found no more probability of departing than on the first day, and he accordingly sent for his furniture, wife, and family to Lisbon. Soon after they arrived the secretary recovered, — every thing was hurried for the expedition, — and the wife, family and furniture, sent home again. Mello fell ill again, every thing was at a stand, and the general once more called his family to Lisbon. The old fellow recovered; sent them all home again; put everything in readiness, fell ill again, and died. The measures of the government have ever since been uniformly languid; and, though the stupid hounds sent ships to England, and troops to Spain, they never believed themselves at war with France till the French took their ships at the mouth of the river!

The meeting of the two Courts [22]  at Badajos is supposed to have been political, and it was surmised that Spain meant to draw Portugal into an alliance with France: they, however, parted on bad terms. War with Spain is not improbable, and, if our minister knew how to conduct it, would amply repay the expenses of the execrable contest. The Spanish settlements could not resist a well-ordered expedition, and humanity would be benefited by the delivery of that country from so heavy a yoke. There is a very seditious Spaniard there now, preaching Atheism and Isocracy; one of Godwin’s school; for Godwin has his pupils in Spain.

I can see no paper here but the London Chronicle, and those every other day papers are good for nothing. Coleridge is at Birmingham, I hear; and I hear of his projected ‘Watchman.’ [23]  I send five letters by this post to Bristol, and two to London, — a tolerable job for one who keeps no secretary. I shall send four by the Magician frigate, and four more by the next packet. Thus is pretty well, considering I read very hard, and spend every evening in company. ..... I know not why I have lost all relish for theatrical amusements, of which no one was once more fond. The round of company here is irksome to me, and a select circle of intimate friends is the summum bonum I propose to myself. I leave this country in April; and, when once I reach England, shall cross the seas no more. O the super-celestial delights of the road from Falmouth to Launceston! Yet I do believe that Christian, in the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ [24]  felt little more pleasure at his journey’s end than I shall in traversing the lovely hills and plains of Cornwall. .... John Kett [25]  was of great service to me in Spain, and will return to England, where, as soon as I have pitched my tent, I purpose burning him a sacrifice to the household gods, and inurning his ashes with a suitable epitaph. Then shall sans culotte  [26]  be hung upon the wall, and I will make a trophy of my travelling shoes and fur cap. I am not going out to dinner; then to see a procession; then to talk French; then to a huge assembly, from whence there is no returning before one o’clock. O midnight! midnight! when a man does murder thee, he ought at least to get something by it. [27] 

Here are most excellent wines, which I do in no small degree enjoy: the best Port; Bucellas of exquisite quality; old Hock, an old gentleman for whom I have a very great esteem; Cape, and I have ‘good hope’ of getting some to-day; and Malmsey such as makes a man envy Clarence. [28] 

Farewell Love to Mrs. L.

Robert Southey.


Notes

[1] Oxford. BACK

[2] Unidentified. BACK

[3] Possibly a mistranscription for Edmund. See Edmund Seward. BACK

[4] Blenheim Palace had been funded by the public purse in gratitude for the victory of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722; DNB), at the battle of Blenheim in 1704. BACK

[5] Water features erected by Thomas Bushell (bef. 1600–1674; DNB) on his estate at Enstone, Oxfordshire. Charles I (1600–1649; reigned 1625–1649; DNB) and his wife Henrietta Maria (1609–1669; DNB) visited them in 1636. BACK

[6] The ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire. BACK

[7] Heythrop House was the ancestral home of the Earls of Shrewsbury. The owner in 1793 was Charles Talbot, 15th Earl of Shrewsbury (1753–1827). BACK

[8] Roman god of boundaries. His statue was kept in his temple on the Tarpeian rock. BACK

[9] Unidentified, perhaps an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford. BACK

[10] *: Warter adds footnote: ‘His great coat, to which there is an ode in a MS. letter to G.C. Bedford, December 14. 1793.’ BACK

[11] ....: Warter adds footnote: ‘MS. illegible, and part torn out.’ BACK

[12] Arthur Young (1741–1820; DNB), Travels During the Years 1787, 1788 and 1789, Undertaken more particularly with a View of Ascertaining the Cultivation, Wealth, Resources, and National Prosperity of the Kingdom of France (Bury St Edmunds, 1792), p. 79. BACK

[13] Probably John Lettice (1737–1832; DNB), clergyman and author, employed as travelling companion and tutor to Thomas Davis Lamb. BACK

[14] *: Warter adds footnote: ‘Letters on a Tour through various parts of Scotland, in 1792 London.’ [Editorial note: John Lettice, Letters on a Tour through Various Parts of Scotland (1794).] BACK

[15] The ancient Greek word for king, so possible a reference to Edward Combe, ‘King of Men’. BACK

[16] William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809; DNB), Prime Minister 1783 and 1807–1809, was installed as Chancellor of the University of Oxford on 1 July 1793. BACK

[17] Mr Raynsford (first name and dates unknown), a companion of Southey’s during some of his time in Spain and Portugal in 1795–1796. BACK

[18] Life and Correspondence adds footnote, ‘A favourite dog.’ BACK

[19] Unidentified. BACK

[20] William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Lord Grenville (1759–1834; DNB), Foreign Secretary 1791–1801, Prime Minister 1806–1807. BACK

[21] Martinho de Melo e Castro (1716–1795), Secretary for the Navy and Overseas Affairs 1773–1795. BACK

[22] A meeting between the Spanish and Portuguese monarchs. BACK

[23] Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Watchman appeared between 1 March and 13 May 1796. BACK

[24] John Bunyan (c. 1628–1688; DNB), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). BACK

[25] Southey is referring to a walking stick. BACK

[26] Southey is referring to a walking stick. BACK

[27] An adaptation of Macbeth, Act 2, scene 2, line 33. BACK

[28] George, Duke of Clarence (1449–1478; DNB), was allegedly executed by being drowned in a vat of Malmsey, a type of wine. BACK

Published @ RC

February 2009

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