3324. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 25 June 1819

3324. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 25 June 1819⁠* 

My dear Harry

The box is arrived – a very handsome & welcome present – the “smallest contributions” you know &c.

My opus [1]  is compleated, – & wound up much to my satisfaction. This evening I send [2]  off as many of the notes as belong to the first 700 pages. I thank every body in the Preface who has helped me in the work, – there is good policy in this because most people like to see themselves civilly in print, – & there is good reason for it, because it procures future help from those who are ambitious of a like acknowledgement. But there may be individuals who do not like it, & you can tell me <tell> whether Mr March [3]  is one of that number or one of the δι παλλοι. [4]  – If you think he would dislike to have his name mentioned, for giving me the Recordaçoens of Jacome Ratton, tell me so, & I will expunge it. [5]  And if it is to stand tell me whether I am to call him Mr M. or Mr Thomas M. for I know not whether he is the elder brother. I think you will like the way in which I have spoken of the imperfectness of the work, & at the same expressed a proper sense of its value, – somewhat in the spirit of an ancient. [6]  There are yet some six or seven <five or six> sheets in the printers hands, besides notes, tables Index &c – so that it will be a month or five weeks before the volume will be published.

I am out of order at one end, – luckily it is not at the top. God keep me sound there, & any other affliction will be comparatively light. What I used to take for hæmorrhoids I have reason to believe is prolapsus, the state of the part varies greatly at different times. A fortnight ago I walked up Saddleback without the slightest inconvenience, & now it comes down not only with the shortest walk, but as I sit at my desk I rise free from the complaint. It comes on about half an hour after stool, – the gut <ring> descending after it has been properly replaced. The cause I believe to be this. – Rectum is xxxxxxxxxx wrong with me; – & xxxx wrong xxx xxx how I cannot tell, but wrong it <certainly> is. In my ordinary course of life I am obliged to remain a long while upon the seat, before a motion is produced, – not by straining, – the tripes know what they have to do, only they are a long while about it; – & very xxx rarely discharge as much of their contents then at first as they ought to do. I suspect that the fæces which are brought lower down at that time, & still retained, occasion the protrusion, – because if in the course of the morning I can produ effect a farther discharge, the annoyance ceases. – After a walk I return with a considerable protrusion, – in an inflamed state, the reaction would not be worth a thought, & hardly occasion one, if I did not know what was the cause of it. I replace the <part> immediately when I come into the house, go to dinner, & as if the excitement of food acted as a general tonic, feel no more of it for the day, unless I go again to stool, – or walk. – When I have <been> xxxxxxx taking continual exercise, eating of course with increased appetite (probably twice the quantity of food that I do at home) & drinking liberally of good wine (Angels of Purgatory, revenge my case upon that wretched Pye, [7]  – inimical to Bacchus, & therefore hated by Phœbus & by all the Gods! – ) – then all has gone on well, the & springs of life are in fully play, colon makes no stop, but performs his business punctually, & rectum is right again. [8]  – I want to know whether frequent spunging with cold water would brace the part, – & if any tonics would be likely to prevent relieve <xxxx xxx> the infirmity, – or to prevent it from becoming worse. – The right cure would be to rescind that atrocious commutation for my lawful Butt, & to restore unto me the wine in kind – kind indeed! & kindly should I take the restoration as the true & only restorative. To be kept <keep a Poet like me> upon bad white wine, & worse port, – which at the best is bad, for me <one> who has a true tongue for Rhenish, Bourdeaux & Burgundy – & that too by the act of a water-gruel rhymester – Π Π! Φ Φ! [9]  Thy name should have been prophetic of thy destiny ox4 Π  [10]  for that abominable deed.

So, having drawn up my case,

God bless you


25 June. 1819 Keswick.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 28 AU 28/ 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[2] d: written over ‘t’. BACK

[3] Thomas March (1781–1859), British merchant from a family prominent in the trade with Portugal; in 1816 he married Mary Anne Gonne (b. 1792), sister of Louisa, Henry Herbert Southey’s wife. BACK

[4] ‘Hoi polloi’, i.e. the masses or the common people. BACK

[5] Thomas March (as ‘Mr. March’) was thanked at History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, p. vi, for providing Southey with Jacques Ratton (1736–1820), Recordações de Jacome Ratton: Sobre Ocorrências do seu Tempo, de Maio de 1747 a Setembro de 1810 (1813). This was listed as no. 3442 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, with a note as to its origin: ‘This book was printed only for private distribution. Robert Southey, from Mr. March, London, 15 Aug. 1817.’ BACK

[6] The final sentence of Southey’s work expressed indifference to its ‘immediate reception, in full reliance upon the approbation of those persons for whom it has been written, and of those ages to which it is bequeathed’, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, p. 879. BACK

[7] Henry James Pye (1745–1813; DNB), Poet Laureate 1790–1813, who had exchanged the Laureate’s traditional annual part-payment of wine (historically a tierce of canary or butt of sack) for an additional £27 per annum. This made him the enemy of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, and of Phoebus, an attribute of Apollo, Greek god of the sun and poetry. BACK

[8] Southey’s bladder and bowel movements. BACK

[9] A joke, using the Greek ‘Π’ (‘pi’) and ‘Φ’ (phi) to take another swipe at Henry James Pye: ‘Pye Pye! Fie fie’. BACK

[10] A further part of Southey’s joke at Pye’s expense, it probably approximates to ‘O Pye’. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)