897. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 February 1804
897. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 February 1804 *
No 1. 6.
When I remember how many letters I wrote to you on your last West Indies Station, & that you never received one of the number – it seems as if this too was to be sent upon a forlorn hope however I will now number what I send, that you may see if any be missing & make enquiry for them.
I have wanted you to help me in weighing anchor for Madoc,  & for want of you have been obliged to throw into shade what else should have been brought out in strong light. had you been at my elbow he should have set sail in a very seasonable manner. if this reaches you it may yet be in time for you to tell me what I should say to express that the sails are all ready for sailing next day. I am afraid bent is not the word & have only put it in just to keep the place – designing to omit it & clap some general phrase in unless you can help me out in this. the whole first part of the poem is now finished – that is – as far as Madocs return to America. 3600 lines – the remaining part will be longer – as my guide once told me in Portugal – we are got half way for we have come two short leagues, & have two long ones to go, – & upon his calculation I am half into the poem.
The other day our Lake presented the most visionary & xxx unnatural sight I ever yet beheld. it was a fine day, the sun shining & a few white clouds hanging xxx motionless in the sky. we had walked down to the water-side. there was not a breath of wind stirring – so that the Lake being perfectly still became like a great mirror, & represented the shores mountains sky & clouds so vividly that there was not the slightest appearance of water. it is impossible to make you conceive the wonderful effect this produced unless you could conceive what the banks of Derwentwater are. in one part the mountains form an arch reversed the lower half of a vast circle,  & thro that magnificent <opening> a long vale is seen between <between> mountains, & bounded by mountain behind mountain. all this was in the water – the distance perfect as in the actual thing, the single houses far in the vale & the smoke from their chimneys, – the shadow & the substance joining at their bases so that the eye could not tell where each ended – & as I stood on the shore heaven & the clouds & the sun seemed lying under me – I was looking down into the sky, & the range of mountains having one line of summit under my feet, & another above me seemed to be suspended between two firmaments. My fancy never pictured any scenery so unnaturally beautiful, for it was beautiful & enchanting as eye could see or heart desire.
Of my own goings on, I know not that there is any thing which can be said. imagine me in this great study of mine from breakfast till dinner, from dinner till tea, & from tea till supper, in my old black coat, my corderoys alternately with the long worsted pantaloons & gaiters in one, & the green shade – sitting at my desk – & you have my picture & my history. When I go to the House appointed to all who are living, in the orchard I play with Dapper the dog, who loves me as much as Cupid ever did,  & when I return the Cat upstairs plays with me, for Puss finding my room the quietest in the house, has thought proper to share it with me. Our weather has been so wet, that I have not got out of doors <for a walk> once in a month. Now & then I get down to the river which runs at the bottom of the orchard & throw stones till my arms ache – & then saunter back again. James Lawson the carpenter  serves me for a Juniper,  he has made boards for my papers, & a screen like those in the frame with a little shelf to hold my ivory knife &c, & is now making a little table for Edith, of which I shall probably make the most use. I rouse the house to breakfast every morning, & qualify myself for a boatswains place by this practice, & thus one day passes like another, & never did the days appear to pass so fast. Summer will make a difference. our neighbour General Peche  will return in May – Harry also will come in May. Sir George & Lady Beaumont are expected to visit Mrs Coleridge. Danvers is to come in the Autumn. the Smiths of Bownham (who gave me Hayleys Life of Cowper)  will probably visit the Lakes this year, & most likely Duppa will stroll down to see me & the mountains. – I am very well – never better. Edith tolerable. God bless you! if you do not henceforward receive a letter by every packet the fault will not be mine.
Friday 17. Feby 1804
* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey./ H. M. S. Galatea./ Barbadoes/ or elsewhere/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ FEB 20/ 1804; [partial] A S E/ 1804
Endorsement: Miss [illegible word] Jamaica
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. (A)LS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 261–63 [in part]. BACK
 A draft of Madoc (1805), Part 1, Book 7. Verse written in Edith Southey’s hand in double columns. BACK
 Charles Danvers’s dog, formerly Southey’s.’ BACK
 A Juniper was, in Southey’s parlance, a bookbinding assistant. To juniperize meant to add a gold border and lettering to the bindings of Southey’s books. The allusion was to Friar Juniper, disciple of St Francis, who cut the silver bells off a gold border of an altar cloth to give to a poor woman begging alms. BACK
 John Peche (dates unknown), who had served in the East India Company’s army, gazetted as Colonel in 1796 and Major-General in 1798. BACK