1326. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 25 May 1807

1326. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 25 May 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Danvers

Coleridges departure from Bristol is now probably so near at hand that it is time for me to say precisely what is to be forwarded here by water & what left at Bristol. The only things which I would have remain where they are, are the case with the cast of dogs, which I am afraid to trust, & so will contrive if possible to bring with me in the winter, – & the box with the dejeuné service of Wedgewood. –  [1] 

Every thing else to be shipt except the box of books which I specified in my former letter, [2]  & to which the Batalha [3]  had better be added, – & that which Mrs L. [4]  has I conclude before this time sent off. Concerning the linen Edith will write this week to her sister. There must be a case for the guns, – & the other <small> miscellaneous articles may come xxx xxx in some unfilled box of books – if they are not enough for a separate package. there is the Urn also & the box of hamper of china &c – & I must beg you to buy us a supper service, with two dozen & a half plates to it instead of one. you know what I shall like well enough for us to trust to your choice of pattern. And a dozen egg-cups, – if they match with the xxx supper-service so much the better.

Have you not got my prints of the Armada & the battle of the Mars & Hercule, [5]  – or will they be found in Ediths great chest? Wherever they may be I want when they appear I will beg you to ask a frame maker whether he can pack the former safely if framed, & if he can let him paste it, either on board or canvass he will best know which, & varnish it (– this print from its great size being always so damp) <for it is never glazed)> & put it in a broad – plain – flat – black frame with a narrow gilt moulding in the inside inner edge. I do not mean black enamel – but stained wood, far cheaper, & fitter for the purpose. [6]  The Mars I can get framed here, – but the other can only be varnished in a large town like Bristol. It should by waggon in a case made on purpose. – I wish Danvers I could think all this was chearfully done by you; – that belief would make my pen flow more pleasantly. Yet I think you must have seen the weight of the reasons which induce me to stay here. As for the Coleridges, – (if it be a secret at Bristol as perhaps it may – you will still keep it so –) C. is going to take the two boys [7]  & live with the Wordsworths entirely, – & if they settle in this country – so long as they stay there Mrs C with Sara will remain in this house – to which – Derwent being got rid of (who is by no means an amiable child) I have no objection weighty enough to counterbalance the infinite desirableness of such an arrangement for her. If I had not remained here C. has so little regard to common decency of appearances that he would have brought the Wordsworths here, & his wife must have removed; – that is if Jackson (who tho C does not know of it, abominates that family for their systematic selfishness) would xxx have permitted it, which he says flatly to me he would not. This affair is not in consequence of any disagreement, C. has been brooding over it during his absence, & for the three months that he went visiting about before he came home, – & this was the purpose with which he returned to his family. For her it is a very happy thing, for not only his habits are destructive to all comfort, – but – what I should once never have thought possible, his temper has become so too: & as the thing is done with systematic civility, & they are to continue the best friends in the world – I think it the wisest thing they can do xxx xxx things being as they are, tho that they are as they are, I consider, as I have told him, as his own fault. I hope it will prevent him from declaring every where in favour of easy divorces in the mischievous way he does, which has grievously provoked Rickman. When men of such mighty powers always shift their systems to their suit their own individual inclinations the mischief they do is very great; – & perhaps C. will be sensible when he has <openly> divorced himself, that every person must feel this to be his case.


We are in the midst of work & workmen. the parlour is finished – I wish you were here to help me to admire it, which I think I never can do sufficiently. It is a very – very – pretty room. The masons finished the ceiling of my study yesterday, they will do the walls within the week, & within the fortnight I expect to take possession again: so that the sooner the books are shipped the better as I shall have the shorter time to look upon empty shelves. – When you come to the Bank of Faith you had better lay hands on it, & let me keep yours.

[MS torn] other improvements J. is going to build a boat-house which will secure the boat from the boys.

I have had a letter from Edward. he found out by [MS torn] being at Crediton, that Lightfoot was a friend of mine, & called upon him [MS torn] my direction, – upon L’s asking for what purpose he wanted it he said his name was Edward Tyler Southey, &c &c – & told a long story – the result of which was that poor Lightfoot kept him to dinner, & wrote off in the joy of his heart to tell me he had found my lost brother, – imagining that I knew not what had become of him, – & that he was likely to do credit to my situation &c – Edwards letters stated that he had left the regiment because he could not pay for his regimentals, – said not a word about the Roman Catholic business – the French prisoner nor the horse, – and that he wrote as much in justice to me as to himself, asked me to get him a commission in the regulars, or in the marines, or a situation as commercial traveller, – if I would do neither a line saying that I would have nothing to do with him would save me all farther trouble. My answer let him know that I knew more of his history than he supposed – that I could not do any thing for him, neither if I had the means would it be practicable to procure him any situation of trust after what had past, but that in whatever situation – however humble – he should learn to conduct himself decently, & do his duty I should gladly xxx him acknowledge him as my brother. [8]  I expect to hear no more from him. – What is become of Miss Tyler?

Espriella [9]  draws fast to a conclusion. I shall not send you a copy at first – in order that you may see it in the natural course of things. But when you have seen it by other means then you shall have your copy. Palmerin [10]  will be out about the same time – both within the <a> month I think. It is a pity you have no relish for romance however I shall send you the book, & one for Rex at the same time – & also a copy of the small edition of Madoc [11]  which you will give Hort. [12]  Rexs Espriella shall come when yours does – but not sooner, unless you give orders to the contrary.

Tom has taken a privateer as perhaps you saw in the paper. I know not what it will give him, but guess from 50 to 100£. – I wish we could expect you this summer – & remember I bespeak you for the first when you <can> afford the time & the journey. The feeling of being settled at last is a very comfortable one, & I think when my books are once assembled, if no unforeseen calamity occur to mar my enjoyment, – I shall feel nearly as happy as man can be. – Did I ever tell you Mrs Fletcher in Edinburgh – (Miss Smiths [13]  friend) said of me? – that xxx I was ‘all that was intellectual, but that it was plain from every feature in his face that he was a man acquainted with woe.’ This tickled me not a little.

God bless you


May 25. 1807.

I have found laudanum in small doses – 8 drops thrice a day – a specific in incipient colds. Miss Barker told me that nine months ago, & since that that time xxx every cold which has attacked me has yielded in one day. This is a very valuable recipe to me whose colds used to be so intolerably violent. Try it when you stand in need. – Delightful weather. I have been bathing, & wish you were here to occupy the cork jacket.


* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ M
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 450–453. BACK

[1] Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795; DNB), whose pottery firm pioneered the marketing of dinner services to the middle classes. BACK

[2] See Southey to Charles Danvers, 20 April 1807, Letter 1308. BACK

[3] James Murphy (dates unknown), Plans, Elevations and Views of the Church of Batallia, in Portugal (1792). Southey had previously suggested that it ‘should come in the box of linen which Edith is to have sent by waggon’; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 20 April 1807, Letter 1308. BACK

[4] Unidentified, but perhaps the second wife of Robert Lovell’s father. BACK

[5] HMS Mars, a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line, fought in 1798 an action against the French seventy-four gun Hercule. After a bloody battle, Hercule surrendered, having lost over three hundred men. On Mars 31 men were killed and 60 wounded, including the captain. One of the combatants was Southey’s brother Thomas. BACK

[6] The print of the Armada was not framed as Southey intended; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 28 July 1807, Letter 1347. BACK

[8] See Southey to Nicholas Lightfoot, [c. 18 May 1807], Letter 1324. BACK

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

[10] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

[11] The second, duodecimo edition of Madoc (1807). BACK

[12] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian Minister and writer, who taught in the Bristol school run by John Prior Estlin (1747–1817; DNB). BACK

[13] The sister of Thomas Smith. BACK