356. Robert Southey to Charles Biddlecombe, 6 November 1798

356. Robert Southey to Charles Biddlecombe, 6 November 1798 ⁠* 

Westbury. Nov 6. 1798.

My dear Sir

It is I believe nearly six months since I have had any communication with you, or any account of you but what the newspapers gave me. it is not however too late to offer you my congratulations & best wishes upon the occasion that placed your name there. [1]  did you receive a copy of Joan of Arc [2]  in May? I sent it the very day on which I left Bath for a long journey to Yarmouth & Norwich. On my return I found my mother in the bustle of quitting one house without having fixed upon another to remove to. We took one at last at this place, little more than two miles from Bristol, over Durdham Down, & this is likely to be our home till Ediths health can bear London air & London confinement.

My brother Tom soon recovered from his wounds, & as soon as he had joined his ship Lord Bridport removed him to the Royal George. We now shortly expect him home as the ship is at Spithead & about to be docked. he has about six months longer to serve & will I doubt not do well in the navy.

For myself, I am busy with a second edition of my Letters, & with a second volume of Poems, [3]  both which will be published by Christmas. you will find in them some tolerable ballads, & half-a-dozen Eclogues, in my own judgement the best of my smaller pieces. at present more time than I can either willingly or conveniently spare is taken up in walking eight miles every day, which I do in obedience to medical advice. I have been a good deal indisposed, & at the heart, which is an awkward place. they tell me I have sate too much & walked too little, & this daily journey, for so I may call it, is my chief prescription. it has I think already rendered the seizures I complained of less frequent & less violent.

Lloyd is at Cambridge, of Caius College. if you have not already seen your acquaintance caricatured, pray send for the first number of the Anti-Jacobine Magazine. [4]  the caricature is worth two shillings, & you will not be amused the less for not recognizing the likeness.

I have discovered that your chronicle is no other than Stowes, published after his death by Howes. [5]  there is a compleat copy in Ld Foleys Library, [6]  where I learnt this from the title page, & afterward found it mentioned by Thomas Hearne. [7] 

My Mother & Edith both desire to be remembered to you. believe me with best wishes

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

my direction is at Cottles.

Wine Street. Bristol.


* Address: To/ Charles Biddlecombe Esqr/ Burton/ near Ringwood/ Hampshire
Stamped: BRISTOL
MS: Columbia University Library, Jeanne d’Arc Ms. Coll, J6 So824. ALS; 3p. (c).
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Biddlecombe had married Catherine Lacy on 4 June 1798. The event was reported in the Press (e.g. Express and Evening Chronicle) on 9 June 1798. BACK

[2] Joan of Arc (1798). BACK

[3] A second, revised edition of Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal was published in 1799. Southey’s two volume collection Poems appeared in 1799: volume one was a third edition of the collection first published in 1797; volume two consisted of poems published previously (though not under Southey’s own name) in the Morning Post and the Monthly Magazine or published for the first time. It included the six ‘English Eclogues’. BACK

[4] Southey had been caricatured as an ass in James Gillray (1757–1815; DNB), ‘The New Morality’, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, 1 (1798), between 114 and 115. BACK

[5] Annales; or a general chronicle of England. Begun by John Stow ... and Continued ... Unto the End of this Present Yeere ... by Edmund Howes, Gent. appeared in a number of updated editions between 1607 and 1631. BACK

[6] Thomas Foley, 3rd Lord Foley (1780–1833). The family Library was at Witley Court, Worcestershire. Southey probably visited it during his stay in Herefordshire in August–September 1798. BACK

[7] Thomas Hearne (1678–1735; DNB), Ductor Historicus: or, A Short System of Universal History, and an Introduction to the Study of it, 2nd edn, 2 vols (London, 1704–1705), I, p. 208. BACK

Places mentioned

Westbury (mentioned 1 time)
Yarmouth (mentioned 1 time)
Norwich (mentioned 1 time)
Cottles (mentioned 1 time)