46. Robert Southey to Thomas Phillipps Lamb, 3 April [1793]

46. Robert Southey to Thomas Phillipps Lamb, 3 April [1793] ⁠* 

early the next morning we rose after a curious division of the bed for we slept together he took all the bed & I took all the cloaths but we did not need rocking — over Camden downs to Broadway — the hill above the town presented me with a most delightful view equally rich & far more extensive than that from Madams courts hill, yet not so very beautifully diversied — you see the fertile vale of Evesham — the town of the same name — Broadway just below — & at a distance the smoke of Pershore & Worcester. Malvern hills melting into distance. a man of Exeter [1]  breakfasted with us at Broadway who in walking twenty miles in boots once, had lost two toe nails — he was mounted but though we left Oxford together, we kept up with him even unto Worcester. the abbey at Evesham is wonderfully grand — in a very different stile from Battle but equally beautiful. a tower, a perfect sample of the simple Gothic fronts the skeleton of the church, whose roof in many places fallen in affords light enough to show distinctly the inside & casts a shade in many places — the grass grows in the high archd windows — desolation makes it more striking but unless some admirer of antiquity gives assistance very shortly it will I fear fall entirely. we reachd Worcester to dinner having never rested for 21 miles — here as you may easily imagine we were not sorry to rest — to proceed 12 miles thro a very clayey wet country was tho not impossible very unpleasant — we remained that night & the next morning being wet breakfasted with a clergyman. the day cleared up — I bought a trusty stick — threw on my old bear as the luggage had arrived & on we proceeded — the country had been pleasant before it now become [MS torn]lly beautiful & I rejoiced in having journied to it but the wet ground & roads such [MS torn] in Sussex would be deemed impassable made the travelling not good th[MS torn] trifle beneath consideration but we grew hungry for speed was impossible & alehouses [MS torn] nondescript in our journey. the bread & cheese cold pigs face tongue tarts & cyder were most agreable — it may seem strange but I never found such pleasure in travelling as in this expedition — the highest pride is couched under humility & in truth I was proud of travelling so humbly.

I have since visited Abberley Bewdley Kidderminster & Malvern each well worth seeing but it is difficult to describe so many assemblies of houses in a different manner — since our arrival here the snow has fallen & from the aspect I am inclined to hope we shall be weather bound till the last moment. Arthur Youngs [2]  remark is very true — it is the fate of travellers just to view persons whom we could wish to be acquainted with & then depart — thanks be to the weather I am shut up.

T Lamb promised me Mr xx Lettices travels [3]  — his Majesty claims the same & as I have some idea of walking with Collins over Scotland next year it will be of much use. poor Anax! [4]  he was quite scaly before his departure but is now recovering apace. Tom must come to Oxford at the installation [5]  I will promise him house room & good living — or if Mrs L will come it will give me much pleasure to procure lodgings for her. such sights do not chance every day. Tom should have a sample of collegiate life in order to prize his mode of education the more. in truth there is little good learnt at Oxford & much evil — society eternally of men unfits one for any thing else — at Westminster friends were near — but at Oxford a man can never learn refinement. a company of all men is at all times bad — there it is abominable — his plan of study is hard but he deserves more praise than I can give — I hope Mrs L will come but in any case Tom must.

the state of French affairs pleases you I hope. peace! peace! is all I wish for. but why should I give my sentiments? yours are more deeply founded upon experience nor does it become a young mad headed enthusiast to judge of these matters. time may alter my opinions — I do not much think it will. let those opinions be what they will you will not despise me for them. I had some more lines to have sent but as they might not exactly have accorded with what is politically good they are suppressed. my best respects & wishes to all, friends at Rye.

will you once more favour me with a letter to Oxford? I have no friend to advice me with respect to my conduct & your advice will be good.

yours most sincerely

Robert Southey.

Ledbury. April 3rd. 1791. [6] 

I must be at Oxford Saturday week next.


* Address: Thomas Philips Lamb Esqr/ Mountsfield Lodge/ Rye/ Sussex./ Single.
Stamped: LEDBURY
Postmark: AP/ 9/ 93
Endorsement: Southey
MS: Duke University Library, Southey papers. ALS; 2p. (c).
Previously published: John Wood Warter, Selections From the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 15–20 [a fuller version than exists in the Duke MS. This text is reproduced in Appendix 1].
Dating note: Southey misdates this letter as 3 April 1791, but the postmark and the events described confirm the year as 1793. BACK

[1] Unidentified; perhaps an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford. BACK

[2] Arthur Young (1741–1820; DNB), Travels During the years 1787, 1788 and 1789, Undertaken More Particularly With a View of Ascertaining the Cultivation, Wealth, Resources, and National Prosperity of the Kingdom of France (Bury St Edmunds, 1792), p. 79. BACK

[3] Probably John Lettice (1737–1832), employed as travelling companion and tutor to Thomas Davis Lamb and author of Letters on a Tour Through Various Parts of Scotland, in the Year 1792 (1794). BACK

[4] Ancient Greek word for ‘king’, so possibly a reference to Edward Combe, whose nickname was ‘King of Men’. BACK

[5] William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809; DNB), Prime Minister 1783 and 1807–1809, was installed as Chancellor of the University of Oxford on 1 July 1793. BACK

[6] The postmark and the events described confirm the year as 1793. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Mountsfield Lodge, Rye (mentioned 1 time)