881. Robert Southey to [Samuel Taylor Coleridge], [12 January 1804]

881. Robert Southey to [Samuel Taylor Coleridge], [12 January 1804] ⁠* 

I am going tomorrow with Wilkinson [1]  to Sir Wilfreds [2]  if the General [3]  will pay that proper xx respect to the Trinity & the Trimourtee [4]  as to ride three in his carriage. if it were not for the sake of bringing home some books – & that I know not when another opportunity may offer – I should rather have deferred the expedition that these books might have been cleared off – for another parcel arrived yesterday. –

Malthus is in a very bad way. [5]  the son of a bitch has made me angry & when Im [MS torn] – Lord have mercy upon him.

I do not see how you can better get on than by returning here & taking chaise at once for Penrith. if you wait for fair weather & fair spirits at Grasmere the Cuckoo may catch you there. – You suspect your skin of a diseased irritability – try then a leather waistcoat – it is Carlisles prescription & he says it is infinitely the best preservation against ill effects from change of temperament, in fact it is the perfect antithesis to fleaing. I heard in my childhood a tale of a fellow who had anti-bartholomized [6]  himself in this manner till an incarnation of his jerkin took place & there was an hypostatic union of manskin & sheepskin. If this became general what admirable appropriation of dress might we not attain to by the happy adaption of calves-skin, sheepskin, goatskin, morocco, yorkshire-tan, buckskin & asses-hides. – But soberly & seriously a wash-leather waistcoat may be of service to you.

no more time for more –



* MS: Wordsworth Trust, WL MS A Southey. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: From the internal evidence of Southey’s letter to Wynn, dated 12 January [1804], in which he also says he is going to visit Sir Wilfred Lawson tomorrow. BACK

[1] Joseph Wilkinson (1764–1831), Anglican priest, who lived at Ormathwaite Hall and subsequently became Rector of East and West Wretham, Norfolk. Wilkinson was an amateur artist whose drawings of the Lake District were published, with an introduction by Wordsworth, as Select Views in Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire (1810). BACK

[2] Wilfrid Lawson, 10th Baronet of Isell, Cumberland (c. 1764–1806). BACK

[3] John Peche (dates unknown), who had served in the East India Company’s army, was gazetted as Colonel in 1796 and Major-General in 1798. BACK

[4] The trimourtee of Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, was thought to be a Brahminic equivalent to the Christian trinity. Southey owned a copy of, and currently wished to re-read, A Code of Gentoo Laws, or Ordinations of the Pandits (1786), translated by Nathaniel Brassy Halhed (1751–1830; DNB). The trimourtee’s equivalence with the trinity features strongly in Halhed’s work. BACK

[5] Incorporating notes made by Coleridge, Southey was reviewing Thomas Malthus (1766–1834; DNB), An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society; with Remarks on the Speculations of W. Godwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers (1803). Southey’s review appeared in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 292–301. BACK

[6] A popular tradition asserts that St Bartholomew was flayed alive. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Grasmere (Dove Cottage) (mentioned 1 time)