1133. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 17 December 1805

1133. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 17 December 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Danvers

Inclosed is a draft on Longman for £40.

We daily expect to hear of Coleridges arrival. [1]  He left Malta early in September. his own letters say that he was to go to Naples & that Sir A. Ball [2]  was to use all his influence to get him sent with dispatches overland by our Embassador there, – at any rate he was coming by land. Since this letters have been received by Lamb from Stoddart [3]  saying that he had heard from Coleridge who had got as far as Trieste on his way. I conceive he would be at Vienna about the time of Macks rascally surrender [4]  – in time to get off, – & that he will make a sweep round thro Prussia. However, tho in good hope, I am somewhat more anxious than I chuse to say to Mrs C .

The Count [5]  leaves us on Friday for London. I have put him in the way of making a book which, if he can find means of subsisting, while it is in hand, will certainly be productive to him. Specimens of the English Prose Writers – chronologically arranged, with brief biographical & critical notices. [6]  I have given him a list which is as compleat as I can make it, & marked for him as many Specimens from the old & curious books here as will make at least a quarter part of a volume. Lamb will give him some help, & Wm Taylor some. He is in a fair way of making by these hearty shoves a book of much respectability, & of very likely sale, – & of acquiring more knowledge during the operation than he would ever have got by any other means. I take no small merit to myself for having discovered something which he can do, – a work <thing> nearly as difficult as to double the cube. You will not say to any body what I say in this tone of him. Poor fellow he wants <about> five hundred a year to make him in good health, good spirits, & a favourite with every body. However he is much better than when he arrived.

I am ominously fearful that another batch of my criticism has been burnt at the Printers! & dread every day to see a letter from King Arthur beginning ‘I am sorry to say &c.’ Luckily the Review can have been but just begun, & I am in no danger of being a pecuniary sufferer, except by as <eventually> in the former case, – except by loss of time.

I must go to London as soon as the reviewing season is over – which will be in March – Is there any chance of seeing you there? If not I shall at any rate see you at Bristol either then or early in the Autumn. It is not possible to determine any thing about taking Edith till we see what turn political affairs may take. If a continental peace be patched up x most likely Bonaparte will then bully the Portugueze – But I not much apprehensive of this. Prussia will either act as a mediator, or turn the scale against him, – the former the more probable, the latter the more desirable event. If Prussia takes part against I expect to see an attempt made to reestablish Poland. it is not likely to succeed, because all the peasantry are better off under their present Masters than they were under their former ones, – their nobles have posts & pensions, & their men of enterprise are engaged in the service of their new countries. Burnett has left me no wish for the reappearance of Poland as a separate state, tho they are a noble race of men.

Little Edith has for these two nights been very unwell with incipient ja jaundice. We have just given calomel [7]  & opium, & she seems better – tho the remedy has cannot have taken any effect. You would be surprized to see how forward she is in her tongue.

Espriella gets on well. [8]  I have told Longman it may go press by the first of February, by which time half will be transcribed. – it is my xxxx leisure work, taken up at intervals, but a months set-to would compleat it. Both that & the Cid [9]  will be published before the summer, if no ugly accident interfere. So that I have good reason to expect this next year will better my finances materially. And from Lisbon I shall return rich with materials. [10]  If Sir Domine’s love adventure do not stand in his way [11]  I shall wish him to go over with me, or join me there, & be my travelling companion thro the whole of the northern provinces.

Ediths love. Remember me to Basileus. it is a great loss that he is not at hand to look over Espriella with a foreigners eye.

God bless you –

yrs affectionately

R Southey.

Tuesday Dec. 17. 1805.


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ DEC 20/ 1805
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Coleridge had been acting as Public Secretary to the British Civil Commissioner in Malta. Though due to return home, he did not arrive in England until August 1806, and never went back to live in Keswick. BACK

[2] Sir Alexander Ball (1757–1809; DNB), the Civil Commissioner and de facto governor of Malta, from 1803 until his death. BACK

[3] Sir John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB), writer and lawyer, who from 1803 to 1807 was an advocate for the king and the admiralty at Malta, in which capacity he became an associate of Coleridge. BACK

[4] Lieutenant Field Marshal Mack von Leiberich (1752–1828), commander of the Austrian forces defeated and captured by the French army at the Battle of Ulm in October 1805. BACK

[5] Southey’s nickname for George Burnett after his employment with Count Zamoyski (dates unknown) as a tutor in Poland. BACK

[6] Burnett’s Specimens of English Prose Writers, from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century was published in three volumes with Longmans in 1807. This compilation formed a companion work to George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790, 2nd edn 1801, 3rd edn 1803) and Southey’s own anthology, jointly edited with Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[7] The common name for mercury chloride, which was taken for various ailments. BACK

[8] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[9] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[10] Southey’s projected visit to Portugal never took place. BACK

[11] While at the home of Charles Lloyd near Ambleside, Henry Southey had met Emma Noel (d. 1873). She was the daughter of Gerard Noel Edwardes, of Exton Park, Rutland (1759–1838; DNB), who had adopted the surname Noel in 1798, and inherited a baronetcy in 1813 to become the 2nd Baronet Barham. When her family objected to the couple’s plans to marry, the relationship soon ended; see letter 1117 of this edition. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)