406. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 May 1799 *
My dear Tom
Blessed be God that whether the day be pleasant or unpleasant it passeth on – in London & at Brixton the day consisteth of twenty four hours & the hours of sixty minutes & the minute of sixty seconds exactly as at Martin hall, but upon my soul there is a strange difference sensible in the duration of the seconds minutes hours & days. it is almost not yet a fortnight since you & I embarked from home, & yet the thirteen days have seemd longer than the thirteen weeks that preceded them.
Your letters have reached me. bad as a seaport is you say it is better than London. I believe you & congratulate you on your release. on the 28th – perhaps on the night of the 27th I hope to reach home. in this accursed town (for even at Brixton I consider myself within its atmosphere) I will not remain an hour longer than is necessary. since you left town I have been there thrice, & hunted the book-stalls with some success as to French poetry. Of my Dutch grammar I know much but I beklaage myzelf  for not having a dictionary to read Jacob Cats, it is not worth while to purchase the dictionary unless I could take Cats home with me. William Taylor has sent me the Noah  & half tempted me to think of making a poem on that subject which might rank with Milton & Klopstock. 
I must not forget to give you a Dutch sentence in the grammar – “Ik beminde minne goeden en rikken broeder” – that is – I love you my good & rich brother. & in a following sentence there is the same love of a sister. Tom you & I have no Dutch affection – for God knows we are not quite so rikken  as we would wish.
Carlisle has prescribed for me bark & steel, which I have not yet begun to take. It is only at home that I can be regular in any thing, elsewhere there are a thousand little restraints which dog me & fritter away the hours. I have only written some thing in Madoc  to finish the canoe fight; – the Elegy Love Elegy upon the wig  – & this morning I have written a poem upon a pig,  at least enough of it for Stuart, which will I think when some thirty lines are added to it be the best of all my quaint pieces. this has been my weeks work & considering I have dined out once, drank tea twice, & walked three times to London, it is as much as well might be expected.
I am attacked about Lloyd’s cursed Anti-Jacobine letter.  how tho I abuse that jackass Letter & his nasty lines upon the fast  to you & to himself, yet I do not like to hear others abuse him, it gives me pain & while I blame the books I justify his motives.
Tomorrow I may perhaps hear from him as I purpose calling on Charles Lamb. plague on it it is Whit Monday I recollect – & I do not know where to find him.
Your Exeter bookseller  blundered a little. certainly he is right in saying the Joan  made my reputation, but about the smaller pieces he is wrong. you know my own opinion of Mary  – & you also know that I am not apt to think worse of my own poems than they deserve. if I should write about Noah, & it is not improbable, my fingers itch to be counting hexameters. 
George Dyer whose dirty dressing gown disgusted you, but [MS torn] knows every body, & who is esteemed by every body, is catering for my Almanac.  there is a double advantage in this, contributions not only save me, but interest the vanity of the contributors in the sale of the book.
About politics I can only give you a pun that escaped me last night. Grosvenor said we had the essence of Liberty in England, & I replied then it was the volatile essence – for it had all fled away.
God bless you. when shall we meet again? I shall have to go house hunting on my return.
your affectionate broeder
Sunday 12 May. Still de Koele May! 
* Address: To/ Mr Thomas Southey./ to be left at the Kings Arms/
Stamped: [partial] BRIDGE St / NOON
Postmark: BMA/ 13/ 99
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 70–72 [in part]. BACK
 Southey was modelling himself on Johann Bodmer (1698–1783), whose epic Noachide (1752) was written in hexameters. For Southey’s plan see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 2–3. BACK