311. Robert Southey to John May, 5 May [1798]

311. Robert Southey to John May, 5 May [1798] ⁠* 

May 5. Bristol

My dear friend

You will I hope receive Joan of Arc [1]  on Tuesday morning – I have sent Burns [2]  copy with it – & one also for Carlisle which I will be obliged to you to convey to them. I came here only to see them dispatched. My Mother I hope will recover – tho she often alarms me. Edith gives me deeper apprehensions – I often fancy her better – but the next day destroys the hopes I would indulge – & makes me think that she is slowly – but certainly declining.

My dear friend I am prepared for the future – & it is well therefore as much as possible to lose myself in the present.

We expect Tom home daily – & with some anxiety on account of his wounds. I have written to Lisbon. have you any account of my Uncles health? this sometimes makes me uneasy. Our prospects were brightening – & if Death should get among us now! – I have begun my additions to the 9th book – & shall dilate it to a little volume. [3]  You have I suppose seen Lloyds. [4]  I am much displeased with his conduct to Sophia. very much displeased indeed. it is not a time to weigh objections now, when he has gained her love, & when the wedding day has once been fixed. I believe we must never trust a fluctuating mind. surely the right road is always very plain & very strait & a man need not be loitering backward & forward to find it out.

I shall be in town the 18th. & leave it the 22nd. it will give me much pleasure to see you. meantime when you write do not hint at the apprehension I entertain for Ediths danger. if she suspects my fears it would probably depress her & be of ill consequences. I write in haste –

God bless you.

yrs truly & affectionately

Robert Southey.

I shall perhaps find my brother at Bath this evening.


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ 4. Bedford Square/ London
Watermark: Crown and horseman
Endorsement: 1798 No. 17/ Robert Southey/ Bristol 5 May/ recd:/ ansd:} 10 do
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 30–31. BACK

[1] The second edition of Southey’s epic, published in 1798. BACK

[2] Possibly William Burn (dates unknown), a member of the British Factory, Lisbon. BACK

[3] One of the most significant changes Southey made to Joan of Arc (1798) was to replace the ninth book with entirely new material. The old ninth book (as published in Joan of Arc (1796)) was revised and appeared as ‘The Vision of the Maid of Orleans’ in Poems, 2 vols (Bristol, 1799), II, pp. [1]–69. BACK

[4] Charles Lloyd, Edmund Oliver (1798). BACK

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