186. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], [c. November 1796]

186. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], [c. November 1796] ⁠* 

Dear Tom

I give you joy of your safe arrival — if the Dutch-man had not been as heavy in his head as he is in his tail you would have been snug in a French port. it may perhaps be sometime before the Phoebe arrives for you — to which you will probably have little objection being now Commander in Chief & of course able to give yourself leave to go on shore.

Miss Russell [1]  is a pleasant old Lady. I wishd to have sent some <copies of> Joan of Arc to Lisbon by her means, but she could not serve me so — so I wait for Thomas to carry them — a 99th cousin of ours whom I found at Lisbon — he returned to England with me & is going again to Lisbon. I hope you may not left Falmouth till he arrives there, in which case I shall commission him to call on you.

what is the name of the Lieutenant of the Pomona who has orderd Joan of Arc?  [2]  tis a strange book for a Sailor to order & I therefore apprehend that he must have some knowledge of me — how — God knows.

I hope to send you a couple of volumes [3]  by Christmas. one of poems, & one of my letters from Spain & Portugal. they are both in the press & the latter far advanced.

Of the probability of peace I can give no opinion. I cannot suspect our minister [4]  of inconsistency enough to be sincere; yet he must want peace — he must want to terminate a war so xxxxx disgraceful in its cause & conduct. if it continues the commerce of England will receive a deadly blow. the Mediterranean is already shut upon us — so is every port in the Bay — & so will be the three Portuguese Ports — Lisbon Porto & Setuval. Hambro will likewise be shut. & thus the most important branches of trade will be annihilated.

My Uncle has plenty of acquaintance at Falmouth. Mrs Braithwait & Mrs Walkup at Flushing [5]  — Harris & Todd of the packets [6]  with all of whom I dined. I wish I knew enough of them to send you to them — however if you fall in with any of them mention your Uncles name.

You have seen Coruña then. is it not a striking situation? the Tower of Hercules the town almost islanded — & the rocky mountains of Galicia from down to Cape Ortegal form a bold & beautiful prospect. if you ever put in there call on Jardine the Consul — he perfectly fraternized with me. & will be glad to see you.

I saw your vessel off Lisbon when you attempted to convey us a letter. that would be a pleasant port to harbour in. Capt Mowbray of the Fly sloop was there some months when I was — & loth enough to leave it. he was then commander of the Magicienne Frigate. [7] 

is not your time of being a midshipman almost out? I will answer for getting you made Lieutenant. by & by you will be an excellent Admiral — when Admirals are what they ought to be. times will mend. I hope to be in London by Xmas, & then Tom whenever you can get leave of absence you will a comfortable home to come to.

Harry is I think much improved. I am very far from wishing to make a sailor of him. as soon as I have a house he shall live with me if he chuses to fit himself either for Law or Physic. he may take then to the Church if he pleases, as for breeding a man up to it, it is extremely ridiculous, for if he be of a thinking mind it is a thousand chances to one that he either turns infidel or heretic like your

unitarian brother

Robert Southey.

Saturday. Bristol.

Ediths Love


* Address: For/ Mr T, Southey/ Phœbe Frigate/ Falmouth/ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
MS: British Library, Add MS 30,927. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: The reference to the printing of Poems (1797) and Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797), as well as the Bristol stamp on this letter, suggest a date in November 1796. BACK

[1] Possibly a reference to Southey’s landlady during his stay in Falmouth in late November 1795. BACK

[2] The Pomona was a frigate in the British navy. The name of the officer who ordered a copy of Joan of Arc is not recorded. BACK

[3] Southey’s Poems (1797) and Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797). BACK

[4] The Prime Minister, William Pitt, the Younger (1759–1806; DNB). BACK

[5] Unidentified; presumably friends of Herbert Hill. BACK

[6] Unidentified; presumably friends of Herbert Hill. BACK

[7] Richard Hussey Mowbray (1776–1842), naval officer. BACK

People mentioned