295. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 March 1798

295. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 March 1798 ⁠* 

My dear Tom,

I have not written to you from expectation of learning something from Ld Proby – & also because I thought St Patricks Purgatory [1]  would have been ready for you, it is not however yet finished – but tomorrow will compleat it, & it shall be copied for you this week.

My mother has caught fresh cold, & the plunge has been a severe one. I was with her last week, & left her some little better, & her letters tell me she still gets better, but slowly – & is very weak. I wrote to my Uncle desiring she might go to Lisbon, where I was am confident the climate & the quiet will restore her. In this case I must see her into the packet – & my Uncle take her out of it. You know what an effect society produces upon her. I shall therefore as soon as possible remove to Bath – but unluckily Edith is so unwell that I know not how to manage this. I know not how to remove her from Maurice [2]  & from this air.

Lloyd is in London – I have taken some steps between him & Sophia which will I believe make all things well again.

Edmund Oliver [3]  is finished, & we are in daily expectation of receiving Lloyds little volume of Blank Verse, [4]  now published. it will however be right not to send you these till my book [5]  is ready which will be in three weeks – tho if you are in want of fodder of this kind let me know, & they shall come first.

I shall want you Tom to work out six dozen of cyder now on the way to me. I wish now you were at Yarmouth – there you would have friends – & I might stand a chance of seeing you in May.

It is probable that I shall manufacture another volume of poems for this winter: & in that case it will be adviseable to have as many ballads as possible. if you hear any seamans superstition fit for such a purpose do communicate it. On finishing the corrections of Joan of Arc, which one evenings work will now conclude, the next job is to make the old 9th book into a volume. [6]  You shall have the Magazine volume. [7] 

Mowbray [8]  when I saw him had the temporary command of the Magicienne. the Fly sloop was his own vessel. has he lost this? he is a good natured man – & farther this deponent saieth not.

As for the invasion it must certainly be intended against Ireland [9]  – a country which will I expect soon be seperated from England. Time will explain all – & I am prepared to be a calm spectator of many changes. as for this country I think its liberties are destroyed, & hope one day to chuse a better. to take away the liberty of the press was the last stroke. [10] 

God bless you.

Yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

March 12. 98.


* 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 1996.5.181. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’, published anonymously in the Morning Post, 8 May 1798. BACK

[2] Possibly Joseph Maurice (fl. 1790s), a Bristol apothecary. BACK

[3] Charles Lloyd’s novel, Edmund Oliver (1798). BACK

[4] Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd’s Blank Verse (1798). BACK

[5] Joan of Arc (1798). BACK

[6] This became Southey’s Poems, 2 vols (1799), which included a revised version of the ninth book of Joan of Arc (1796). BACK

[7] Possibly a volume of the Monthly Magazine, or a selection of cuttings or transcripts of Southey’s prose and verse contributions to the periodical. BACK

[8] Richard Hussey Mowbray (1776–1842), naval officer, whom Southey had met in Lisbon in 1796. Mowbray had then been temporarily in command of the captured French vessel the Magicienne. Soon afterwards he returned to command the sloop The Fly. BACK

[9] There were widespread rumours in the spring of 1798 that France was preparing to invade Britain. Ireland was on the verge of a rebellion led by the United Irishmen and the French fleet had attempted to land in support of the rebels in December 1796. BACK

[10] The British government had been restricting the publication of radical opinions since 1792, particularly through the Treasonable Practices Act of 1795. BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 2 times)
Lloyd, Charles (1775–1839) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Margaret (1752–1802) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
Pemberton, Sophia (d. 1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Yarmouth (mentioned 1 time)