290. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 3 March 1798

290. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 3 March 1798 ⁠* 

Bristol. March 3. 98

My dear Tom

I have this day received my Uncles letter respecting Lord Proby, & will give you his own words. “My motive for writing is to desire you would consult with Thomas whether it would not be more advantageous for him to get on the Lisbon station, where perhaps I might be of use to him by means of Lord St Vincent. If he should wish it, Lord Proby who expects to have a Frigate given him & to return to that station has promised me to bring him out – that is to give him a birth, or an appointment on board his ship. You will write to Ld P. to inform him that Thomas will accept of his offer, & to give him Thomas’s direction that he might inform him whence & when he sails. There need not be any explanation with Capt. Hood till Lord P. writes to him, as you see, it depends on two contingencies. Lord P. may not get a ship, & if he does may not go to Lisbon. tho of this last he tells me he is certain”

Now Tom you must use your own judgement. if you see no impropriety in leaving Capt. Hood – & as the change would be so much to your advantage I should think he cannot but wish you to accept it, I can see no other objection. let me know immediately, that I may inform Ld. P.

You tell me you have left off sugar & rum. I do not know my dear Tom that this, or any circumstance could now raise you in my opinion – but I know well what in your situation the sacrifice must be. Be not surprized if I say that I do not wish you to persevere in it. When I first did the same, it was at a time, when, from the general agitation of the subject, & the number of abolitionists, there was a hope & prospect of mortally wounding the traffic by the disuse of West Indian commodities. that prospect is gone. it is now evident that the very few who persevere can do nothing. & my reason for still persisting as I ever shall, is from a respect to my own feelings, for the satisfaction I feel in being conscious that in no ways do I contribute to so accursed an evil as the Slave Trade, that if all else had acted as I act, that Trade must have been destroyed. for you Tom – your possible comforts God knows are few enough, nor do I think that you ought to abridge yourself of one, by indulging in which no actual evil is done <committed.> now it is true that the efforts of an individual can do nothing.

My last it seems (inclosing a 2 pound bill from my Mother) had not reached you when you wrote. it was directed to Torbay. I shall not send you a parcel till my Joan [1]  be finished, which will be now in about a month. In the Autumn I have some thoughts, & serious ones, of publishing another volume. to this my chief inducement is the hope of getting a house to call my own; & I think, if my literary plans do not sadly fail, to accomplish this by the next Christmas – & then Tom you shall come & chuse a cot & fit up a room in your own taste.

We came here on Wednesday last, & to night enter our lodgings, in the very house on Kingsdown Parade where my Aunt Mary once lodged. I shall have a barrel of cider there Tom – & if you can come to us we will work it merrily. I expect to hear from my Mother daily respecting her house. if she gets rid of that, & my Uncle reaches Lisbon well – why our family affairs will look better than they have long done. & God knows it is time we had a little sun shine. Edith is well – & I hope air & exercise will clothe her bones. for me I am the healthiest of all skeletons.

I mean to write a ballad soon. in the course of next week if nothing prevents me, & you shall see it as soon as done. the Magazines shall come with the parcel – but tell me what was the last number you had.

I hope you may go to Lisbon – far as the distance will be, & long as it would seperate us. your time would pass comfortably – & it is snug lying in the Tagus. I must prepare my Letters [2]  for a new edition with prints. & you shall have a noble set of impressions –

God bless you

yrs affectionate brother

Robert Southey.


* Address: To / Mr Southey/ H.M.S. Mars/ Spithead./ or elsewhere./ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
Seal: [trace] Red wax
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.180. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Joan of Arc (1798). BACK

[2] Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1799). BACK

Places mentioned

Kingsdown Parade, Bristol (mentioned 1 time)