2343. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 9 December 1813

2343. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 9 December 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec. 9. 1813

My dear Danvers

I should not write to you just now, behind hand as I am with every thing in consequence of my long absence from home, if it were not for the purpose of speaking thro you to Coleridge. As for writing to one who never opens a letter, it is hopeless. Mrs C. looks daily to hear from him, – with just expectation enough to occasion disappointment, – tho it never amounts to hope. She wishes you to remind him that she is distressed for money, – all that she draws for upon Mr Wedgewood [1]  xx being required for the two boys: [2] xx it is impossible that frugality on her part can be carried farther; – & equally impossible to support herself & the three children upon 75£ a year paying more tax xx indeed less than 70£ when the income tax is deducted. I tell her that he will do something, – that he will bring out another play, & remit something from his lectures; – but of course every day lessens the faith with which this is listened to, & little as she is disposed to be anxious (less than any woman whom I ever knew) the cause for anxiety becomes more & more pressing, xx xxxxx xx it keeps her awake at night, – & no disposition of mind, or constitution of body can long withstand its effects. – Whatever be his plans or whatever his immediate means intreat him to write.

I have just compleated under the title of Carmen Annuum something which is more <like> an oration in verse than an ode. [3]  Four stanzas from it are to serve Sir Wm Parsons for the purpose of Ode in Ordinary, & I print the whole to be published separately on New Years day. It was my intention to have prefaced it with some lines addressed to the Prince, but I cannot yet xxx hit off a beginning, & am fearful that the time will pass by. In that case I shall must defer this said address (which I shall be sorry to do) till I can publish a series of Inscriptions for the events of our war in campaigns in the Peninsula, [4]  – for I shall fire away as Laureate, & do my devoir in a way which is very little expected.

Tom expects another child daily, – & we expect him immediately after the arrival.

One thing more respecting Coleridge. I took from his German books the two volumes of Romances [5]  £2-2, the volume of the Minnesingern [6]  £1-1. The Hist of Comic Literature 4 vols [7]  £1-8. The book about Fools, [8]  7/. Eschenburg: [9]  7/. – Platt Deutsches Worter Buch. [10]  16/, & Bliomberis [11]  5. sum total £6.6. – I suppose they are priced at as much as they cost. Had he been there I would willingly have taken many more, – & shall now be glad of Lessing, [12]  of all the historical works, & of any others which he would recommend, – at their original cost.

Shall we not see you next xxxx year? Where is David? & what plan of life has he resolved on?

Remember me to King. When next I journey Southward, (in 18 months if it be allowable to look on so far!) – I must give a week to Bristol.

We are well thank God, – & the country as delightful to me at this season as in summer. I walk every morning before breakfast with Herbert & the two girls, [13]  generally as far as the Crag, sometimes to Ormathwaite or the How. We all wear clogs & go clattering thro the town like a troop of cavalry.

God bless you.

Yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 1813/ Dec 9
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 88-90. BACK

[1] The brothers Thomas (1771–1805; DNB) and Josiah Wedgwood II (1769–1843) had created an annuity of £150 p.a. for Coleridge in 1798. Josiah II withdrew his half in 1812, leaving Mrs Coleridge £75 p.a. from Thomas Wedgwood’s estate. BACK

[3] Published, after some revision and the excision of five stanzas, as Carmen Triumphale for the Commencement of the Year 1814’ in a quarto of 30 pages on 1 January 1814. The five excised stanzas from the Courier version formed part of the ‘Ode Written during the Negotiations with Bonaparte, in January 1814’, published in the Courier, 3 February 1814. BACK

[4] Southey’s planned series of 30 ‘Inscriptions’ was not completed. While some appeared piecemeal, the 18 written were not collected until Southey’s Poetical Works, 10 volumes (London, 1837–8), III, pp. 122–156. BACK

[5] Unidentified. BACK

[6] Probably Samlung von Minnesingern aus dem Schwæbischem zeitpuncte CXL Dicter Enthaltend; durch Ruedger Manessen (1758); no. 2586 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Carl Friedrich Flögel (1729–1788), Geschichte der Komischen Litteratur (1784–1787); Southey’s edition of 1784–1789 is no. 1040 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] Unidentified. BACK

[9] An unidentified book by Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743–1820). BACK

[10] An edition of Johann Carl Dähnert (1719–1785), Platt-Deutsches Wörter Buch nach der alten und neuen Pommerschen und Rügischen Mundart (1781). BACK

[11] Johann Baptist von Alxinger (1755–1797), Bliomberis (1791). BACK

[12] Works by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781). In the early 1800s Coleridge had proposed to write a life of the German poet and historian. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)