275. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 3 [- 4] December 1797

275. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey [brother], 3 [– 4] December 1797 ⁠* 

Sunday. 3 December. 1797.

23. East Street. Red Lion Square

but direct under cover to C W Williams Wynn Esqr. 5. Stone Buildings Lincolns Inn.

My dear Tom

I cannot walk London streets on a Sunday, for two weighty reasons; an I never enter them but to call on some person, & the idle day is the most unlikely time to find them at home. & as the book stalls & picture shops are shut, there is no amusement. so it is a day of rest & of letter writing with me.

Harry comes to town tomorrow, on his way to Yarmouth. [1]  George Burnett very kindly & very handsomely undertakes the trouble of educating him, he boards in the same family, & his board will not exceed the usual school charges. this I think one of the best possible situations for him, & Burnett is admirably qualified for the task. he is the only man whom I should wish to live with, & that constant gentleness & eveness of mind which make him even desirable as an inmate give him great advantages as a tutor. is it probable that you shall ever put in at Yarmouth?

As you may well suppose Harry is happy — & well may he be so — for let him but behave as he should do, & he will not have one care to disturb him till he enters this ugly world. we shall keep him some week or ten days in London, to look about him; & visit the theatres &c. Edith has the same routine to go thro — & so you see I kill two birds with one stone.

My Mothers letters have considerably distressed me. the moment she is left to herself she considers only the obstacles to quitting the house, & seems ready to let slip the present opportunity of getting it off her hands. Thomas says he cannot come to Bath. this is unhandsome conduct, & perhaps my last letter may influence him to change it. at any rate lest it should fail, I have written to Cottle begging him to go over & manage the business. there is little to do — to show Williams & Brake [2]  that the furniture will discharge all, & give them bills payable in February, (when the rest of the money for the furniture will be paid — ) & to bind the man to his agreement for the house. Harry & Margery, the two great obstacles, are removed.

Coleridges play [3]  is rejected. this is using him very ill, for he wrote it at the request of Sheridan. [4]  there is some prospect of Wordsworths being brought out, [5]  & he & his sister are now in town. you heard much of her after Lloyd returned from Stowey, I believe.

Our pers present situation is a convenient one — & that is all. those friends whom I see most frequently live near, & its neighbourhood to the Inns of Court will save me many long wet & weary walks when I shall be with a Special Pleader. I & the Law go on & agree as well can as can be wished — it is almost as foolish for a man to quarrel with his profession as with his wife. a man is an ass if either he is enraged with what he cannot an ill which he cannot remedy, or if he endures one that he can. he must bear the gout — but there is no occasion to let a fly tickle his nose.

in 1799 — God permitting — I shall be practising — & making money — & when I have made enough — & my wishes are bounded by my wants, (no man has fewer.) — when I have enough Tom — tho my little house in the country be not bigger than Miss Barnes’s [6]  — I had forgot the poor damsel wanted a little house — but my small house Tom shall be so comfortable — that I <shall> lay down to sleep in it every night the lightest hearted man in the three kingdoms

Monday morning.

Harry is arrived. before he set off my Aunt spent an hour in warning him against Burnetts wicked principles, whom she calld a fool. if people will not do good, they should at least abstain from doing evil.

Lloyd desires to be remembered. Harry & Ediths love. God bless you.

yrs affectionately

R Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Southey/ H.M.S. Mars/ Plymouth
Stamped: Holborn
Postmark: [partial] DE/ 97
MS: British Library, Add MS 30,927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 154–155. BACK

[1] The town of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. BACK

[2] Unidentified; possibly landlords or creditors of Margaret Southey. BACK

[4] Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816; DNB). BACK

[5] William Wordsworth’s The Borderers was neither staged nor published at this time. BACK

[6] Mrs Barnes (first name and dates unknown) was Southey’s landlady at Burton in 1797. BACK