971. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 2 August 1804

971. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 2 August 1804 ⁠* 

Dear Danvers

I will not talk of this disappointment – for that is of little consequence – nor have I any thing to say respecting the worst part of your letter. – only remember that in doing your duty something is due to yourself, & that if you reduced yourself to absolute want it would afford but a temporary Relief to your brother. as therefore no sacrifice on your part could permanently help him, none ought to be made which should materially inconvenience you, or at all xxxxxxx amerce you of your comforts. All this I have said to you before – & it will be said I well know by your friends at Bristol. That the creditors are little disposed to accommodation is probably no evil, certainly less than any false hopes would be which might tempt to a farther trial of plans which cannot succeed. The war opens the same resources as formerly, & he must submit to a separation from his family as the only possible means of ultimately providing for them, for in army or navy there may be a chance of obtaining some situation at last which would secure half-pay.

Your letter was indeed a sad disappointment. [1]  I jumped up from my afternoon nap on the sofa & cried this is the letter I wanted – & you may guess what an altered state of feeling its contents produced. I xx in To day I am going to Grasmere on my way to hear John Thelwall lecture at Kendal, & had calculated upon meeting you before my return. do not however abandon all thoughts of your journey. it is a cheap road – long coaches all the way. any time till December the country is beautiful.

News from Tom. a recapture which will give him £120 & set him on his legs for he was behind-hand – & a ship from Hambro [2]  detained, which if it be condemned (& they say there is every reason to suppose it will) will double his half pay. the ship very healthy – but they were going to the very head quarters of infection at Antigua for stores. however as the stay would not exceed 48 hours – probably only 24 – & they are on their guard I hope & trust they may escape. Tom is delighted with the small Islands – quite as much as ever King was. – I expected to have pleased you with his letters which are really very interesting. Do write to him at Barbadoes. his last letter is dated June 11. & he had never received one line from England – for three Packets had been taken. Provoking! there was a long letter in each, with scraps of Madoc [3]  written by Edith in double columns, all gone to edify the sharks. It was some relief to hear from Tom for I was really under considerable apprehensions, knowing what work pestilence was making there, & this letter brought good news.

Nine Sheets of Madoc corrected – & I am now in the 8th section of the second part which brings me into the old 8th book & compleats the new part of the poem except one section to be introduced in the eleventh book so that the labour is over. My Anthology pieces (the best of them) are now to be collected into a little volume – which will probably sell & yield me at least enough in the course of twelvemonths to pay for a years wine. [4]  I have been trying to do without it & do not succeed well. that accursed diabetes annoys me sadly. I shall else be excellently well. – here is fine swimming here & that is one of the enjoyments I had lookd out for you – all well.

God bless you


August 2. 1804.


* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ AUG 6/ 1804
Endorsements: Martha Peace/ Capt Thomas/ Jamaica / Feby
MS: British Library, Add MS 30928. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Danvers had been planning to pay a visit to Southey in Keswick. BACK

[2] Hamburg. BACK

[3] The poem Madoc, which Southey had written in 1797–1799 and since then had been intermittently revising. It was completed in October 1804 and published in 1805. BACK

[4] The Annual Anthology 1799 and 1800; Southey’s contributions to these volumes were republished in his Metrical Tales and Other Poems (1805). BACK

Places mentioned

Grasmere (Dove Cottage) (mentioned 1 time)