487. Robert Southey to Michael Maurice, 7 February 1800 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

My brother Henry will return to Normanstone in the course of a few days. he has been visiting at Bath, & this has been one cause of an improper delay. I find him very greatly improved in every respect, indeed more so than I could have ventured to hope. it has not been in my power to continue his studies, we have not been under the same roof, & the state of my health condemns me to exercise & idleness. I have however seen enough of his acquisitions to be truly thankful for the attention which you must have bestowed upon him.

I thank you also Sir for noticing a tendency which it is of the utmost importance that he should subdue. I have myself observed the same fault & endeavoured to counteract it rather by example, & conversations so indirect that he himself must feel rather than perceive their object. immediate precepts would produce only a painful feeling & a momentary effect. But he is not always with me, & I am sorry to perceive that his other relatives want the thought & the steadiness to check his thoughtlessness. my endeavours have been directed to impress upon th him that without habits of frugality, it will be difficult to preserve integrity, & impossible to retain independance.

My health is considerably amended. I believe the use of the extraordinary gas [1]  discovered by my friend Davy has been greatly beneficial to me. but it is only from change of climate that I can expect compleat recovery. whether I shall wait till the Autumn & then revisit Portugal, or employ the summer in travelling thro Vienna to Trieste is yet undetermined. If our wise governors had acted with common honesty or common sense France & Italy would have been open. [2]  – to Italy indeed there is still access, but that country will probably again become the seat of war, & I should not willingly trust myself among our Russian allies.

with respects to Mrs M. believe me

yrs thankfully & sincerely

Robert Southey.

Feby. 7. 1800. Kingsdown. Bristol.


* Address: To/ The Reverend M. Maurice/ Normanstone/ near/ Lowestoff/ Suffolk/ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: B/ FEB 8/ 1800
Endorsement: Mr. Southey/ Febry 1800
MS: University of Kentucky Library
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’. BACK

[2] Southey is suggesting that if the French suggestions for peace negotiations at the end of 1799 had been taken up by Britain, then the Continent would be at peace. BACK

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August 2011