1694. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 14 October 1809

1694. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 14 October 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick. Oct 14. 1809.

My dear Danvers

If you did not know how fully & overflowingly my time is occupied, I should feel it needful to begin this letter with an excuse for its delay, – but I am busier than ever & likely to be so for some time to come.

Miss Betham arrived the very day you left us, & staid here till the beginning of September. I wish you were in London that you might see the pictures she took, before they are framed & sent off to Keswick. Of me there is a not very chearful likeness, yet a likeness; of Edith a remarkably good one. of the Edithling & Herbert two whole length miniatures as good as they can possibly be. Saras & Mrs Coleridges were not finished but promised well, & Mrs Lovells was <is> one of the most striking resemblances I ever saw. Had she come a week sooner I should have begged you to sit, – & very very much do I regret that this was not the case.

The parcel had better set off without longer delay. About the shoes they would certainly be cheap at seven shillings instead of six, – but the charge of an additional shilling looks ill, & I will try this second batch before I order more.

My lease was executed about three weeks before poor Jacksons death. [1]  Mrs Wilson bears up well. She has hitherto had a good deal of bustle, which keeps her spirits up. His two brothers are here, – the one who is now my Landlord is a very striking & most respectable man, about fifty years of age. [2]  I have seldom seen a man with so benign & excellent a countenance, – & that he does not belie those outward & visible signs of goodness is proved by this circumstance, – that having succeeded to a living of 250£ a year, & the widow of the former incumbent being left in poverty, – he xxx regularly paid her 100 of it, – & that at a time when he had nothing more.

I was very sorry to hear of Kings accident, – it is however well that it was no worse. It was unlucky that Mr Heineken [3]  did not receive your letter, – for the future desire his brother to draw freely upon me for any civilities at Keswick.

Duppa has just left me after a visit of four days only, & with him I suppose our visitors end for the season. Thank James [4]  for me for his offer of Muratori, – but I have the original Italian. [5]  You may tell him that I wrote the defence of the Baptist Mission in the Quarterly. [6] 

What I wished Hort to do in the shape of a second volume was to draw up summaries of those other mythologies which have extensively prevailed in former times, or are at present existing. [7]  There is no book of this kind, & it could not fail of success. – the Druidical, – the Runic, – the old Persian system of Zoroaster, Manicheism, the superstition of the Hindoos, that of the Boodhists as existing in Siam, that of the or rather those of the Japanese, there being two established superstitions there, & the Mahommedan. If he thinks the hint worthy of attention I will with great pleasure write him a long letter upon the subject which may save him some trouble by directing him to the best materials.

I believe you know that Pople has offered to take Robert Lovell as an apprentice without a premium. This offer Mrs Lovell communicated to Mr Frank [8]  for the consideration of his fathers family, requesting that they would supply the boy with cloathing – she had no answer, – & this is the more unpleasant because it is time that Pople should have one. Will you be so good as to see Martha , & by her to ask of Mrs King (Lydia Lovell) [9]  – whether Mr Frank received the letter in question, & immediately to write & let her sisters know. I am also charged to desire that she will be pleased to buy two half-crown dolls, who if their heads are well covered with their night-caps may come in two of my shoes in the parcel.

I have written to Rickman, – tho with little hope of success. He has been prevented from coming here by the sudden death of his father, – a very fine old man.

The last Friend ought to please every body, – I was not surprised that the former numbers gave little satisfaction. He goes on to my great astonishment, – & I have no doubt whatever that as he goes on & gets thro his metaphysics enough will be found to amuse & delight every body. [10] 

Edward is quitting the Post-service, selling his mule, – & drawing bills upon Miss Tyler. – this is the last news of him viâ Durham by a letter which Mary has received from her father. [11]  It will be lucky if nothing worse than Botany Bay may be his lot at last.

So Burnett is playing the game of getting into the army by charity a second time! – I hold myself obliged to him for having thought proper to drop all correspondence with me, inasmuch as it has saved me the unpleasant feeling of cutting it off on my part. Never was there a more melancholy instance of a man corrupting his own nature. Had he staid in the army when he was there he would have been well provided for in time, – but he must needs go to Poland, & fall in love with a Princess, & pinch up French morality at second hand! –

I shall be glad of the Miss: Numbers, being soon to write again upon the subject. [12]  So the sooner the parcel sets off the better.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr./ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In September 1809, Southey signed a twenty-one year lease to rent Greta Hall. BACK

[2] Reverend Joseph Jackson (dates unknown). BACK

[3] Samuel Heineken (dates unknown), a Unitarian lawyer who lived for some time in Bristol, then in Swansea. BACK

[4] Isaac James (b. 1759), the son of Samuel James (1716–1773), Baptist minister at Hitchin. Isaac came to Bristol in 1773 as a student at the Baptist Academy. He kept a shop as a bookseller, dealer in tea (and sometimes undertaker), first in North Street and then in Wine Street. BACK

[5] Lodovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750), Il Cristianesimo Felice nelle Missioni de’ Padri della Compagnia di Gesu nel Paraguai (1752), translated as A Relation of the Missions of Paraguay: Wrote Originally in Italian, by Mr. Muratori (1759). BACK

[6] Southey reviewed the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[7] William Jillard Hort (1764–1849), Unitarian minister and writer. Southey is referring to his work entitled The New Pantheon, or, An Introduction to the Mythology of the Ancients, in Question and Answer: Compiled Principally for the Use of Young Persons (1809). BACK

[8] Arnee Frank (1766–1858), a prominent Bristol Quaker and ironmonger. His first wife, Edith (d. 1799), was an aunt of Robert Lovell, Junior. BACK

[9] Lydia Lovell (1777–1830), an aunt of Robert Lovell, Junior. BACK

[10] Coleridge’s periodical, The Friend, was published in 26 instalments from 1 June 1809 to 15 March 1810. The eighth number, of 5 October 1809, contained Coleridge’s speculations about illusions and ghosts, part of an entertaining biographical sketch of Luther. The ninth number, of 12 October, returned to the drier subject of ‘the grounds of government as laid exclusively in the pure reason’. BACK

[11] Her father was Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821) a wealthy Lisbon merchant. BACK

[12] Southey’s review of [James Sedgwick (1775–1851; DNB)], Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), appeared in the Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Mary (1771–1862) (mentioned 2 times)
Tyler, Elizabeth (1739–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Jackson, William (1748–1809) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Herbert (1806–1816) (mentioned 1 time)
Wilson, Molly (?–1820) (mentioned 1 time)
Lovell family (mentioned 1 time)
Coleridge, Sara (1802–1852) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)