1482. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 July 1808

1482. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 July 1808 ⁠* 

Wednesday. July 19. 1808.

My dear Harry

It seems to me that the eventual removal of William Taylor from Norwich takes away the main reason for preferring it to any other place, – & that the competition of Dr Reeve, [1]  married into the very connection by which you would have been supported, would take away a main part of the practise to be scrambled for. The nearer distance between London & Norwich, is I think less desirable than the easy journey from Keswick to Newcastle – especially as Tom has set his heart upon setting up here, if ever he be enabled to settle any where. In point of country you are better off than in Norfolk, – in point of expence better, in point of climate not worse. And it is pleasant that you are able to ride here in two days when your patients can spare you, – & that I can walk to you in three, when I can spare time, & muster up resolution.

The Peacheys are not coming this year. This has been long determined on. They have taken Combe Flory, [2]  & xxx <Mrs P.> is said to be pretty well. The Imperial took a hyper-imperial freak into his head some months ago; – he thought Europe could not be delivered without his exertions, & negociated an exchange into some regiment on service. Just when every thing was concluded, some difficulties were started at the War-Office, which broke off the business, & he remains therefore in inglorious inactivity.

For one day I should be hardly be glad to see you. Make it something longer, & come the sooner come you come the better: the old boat is in good order, the old stones at the marooning-point in the same place, – & we will make the most of the time you can spare.

As for Mr Southey it is plain that we must disinherit him for an undutiful Uncle. There must be something very like craziness both in that man & his elder brother, or they never would have acted so unreasonably – It is well the breed is mended

My Cid [3]  will be published in three or four weeks, – & you will find it a book after your own heart. I have begun to put in order my Travels in Portugal, which the books I have around me, & my Uncles corrections & additions will enable me to render very compleat. [4]  The first portion of ‘Brazil [5]  ‘is just going off to him for his revision. Heaven knows when the price of paper will fall, – a few weeks ago there appeared no possibility of such a change, – at present the political prospect is very different. I am confident the Spaniards will succeed in their struggle, – & it is likely that the North of Europe will make some effort to deliver itself, whenever the French armies are employed elsewhere; – then the ports of the continent will be open – rags will come over once more, & my book go to press. Heaven help us that such an earthquake should be necessary for the birth of a mouse!

The Annual has not yet reached me, – there is a parcel on the way, in which it ought to be contained. You will see in it what I said of Spain twelvemonths ago, [6]  – & I shall look with some curiosity for your articles. Those in the Medical Review [7]  please me well & promise well, & this reminds me of one of the medical things which you may or may not know, but which it is not amiss to mention upon the chance. A practitioner somewhere in the middle of England has started a new theory respecting small-pox: that the cold treatment by not suffering the disease to exhaust itself in eruption, leaves behind a leaven in the system, – which is the cause of the increased ravages of consumption. – You will disbelieve this as I do, – but such things may serve for reference in to be referred to in some of your reviewals – Some physician or surgeon at Birmingham gives great relief in inveterate asthmas, by having the chest rubbed with spirits every morning – In the last Vol. of the Asiatic Researches is a paper upon ‘the Remarkable Effects of Sol-Lunar influence upon the Fevers of India’ [8]  – in which an unaccountable correspondence with the Tides is asserted; – a strong testimony in favour of this opinion is to be found in Piso’s treatise de Medicinâ Brasiliensi. P. 13. [9]  Should you have occasion for it I will transcribe the passage. The connection seems imaginary, & the paper is by no means satisfactory, yet unless the it had been thought so in India, it would not have been inserted in such a work. –

You had better trouble Arthur Aikin with a line. – We are going on well, – except that I have one of my obstinate colds, now almost a month old, – & every return of hot-weather as usual freshens it. Herbert & Emma have just been vaccinated – the former was very ill in a bilious fever about five weeks ago; – the disease went thro the place, – scarcely any children escaped it. Rhodes lost his eldest & this was the only death, – but it went very hard with Herbert & reduced him very much.

Ediths love – a kiss from my daughter , – & Mrs Coleridge desires to be gratefully remembered, I having taken care to remind her that you saved her life three times.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henry Reeve (1780–1814; DNB), physician and traveller, who after a European tour on which he met many leading men of science, settled in Norwich, marrying in 1807 Susan Taylor (1788–1853; DNB) of whom Henry had been enamoured. BACK

[2] A village in Somerset, Emma Peachey’s native county, of which her maternal grandfather was rector. BACK

[3] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[4] Southey did not produce this projected book; but his 1797 Letters written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal were reprinted in an expanded form in 1808 as Letters written during a Journey in Spain, and a Short Residence in Portugal. BACK

[5] Southey’s History of Brazil published in three volumes from 1810–1819. BACK

[6] See Southey’s review of Robert Semple (1777–1816; DNB), Observations on a Journey through Spain and Italy to Naples; and thence to Smyrna and Constantinople (1807), in the Annual Review for 1807, 6 (1808), 118–130. BACK

[7] The London Medical Record, to which Henry Southey was contributing articles. BACK

[8] Francis Balfour, ‘Observations Respecting the Remarkable Effects of Sol-Lunar Influence in the Fevers of India: with the Scheme of an Astronomical Ephemeris for the Purposes of Medicine and Meteorology’, Asiatick Researches, 8 (1808), 1–34. BACK

[9] Willem Piso (in Dutch Willem Pies, in Latin Guilielmus Piso, in Portuguese Guilherme Piso) (1611–1678), a Dutch physician and author of Historia Naturalis Brasiliæ (1648), in which the Dissertation on the Medicine of Brazil forms the first section. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)