385. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 1 March 1799

385. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 1 March 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I go to London on May day, which happens on a Wednesday. if it will be in time, your journals had better be carried to London by me, than sent to Portsmouth where there is a possibility of their being lost. we shall, you see, meet in London. I have the whole month of May to pass there or in its neighbourhood, circumstances will determine whether I shall be with remain the whole of that time in London or pass one fortnight at Cambridge with Lloyd, [1]  to which the wish to be at the College Libraries induces me, but your stay in town will in a great measure regulate mine, or tell me all about this – that is as much as you know about it.

I this day send off two Letters [2]  – two Poems, [3]  to you. a large copy of the latter, uniform with the octavo Joan of Arc [4]  we will keep for you, the gleaning volume, [5]  which you heard me mention & of which I expect to furnish nearly half, will soon go to the press, – that is in about three weeks. & – that you may have all my literary history at once – the eleventh book of Madoc is begun; [6]  I have fixed upon a dramatic subject & just commenced the first scene. this is my reviewing time, & that must be cleared off before any other employment can be pursued with spirit. I have also an octavo volume in hand, which you have heard me speak of, the Analysis of Obscure Epic Poems. [7]  this will be the most disinterested of my labours, as I expect only to sell a small edition, but it will be valuable now, & daily becoming more so, as the books which it will rescue from utter oblivion daily become scarcer. criticisms will be scattered thro it, the compressed narration of each poem will not be uninteresting, there will be many translations, & perhaps sometimes when I see a fine subject massacred I may throw off a passage of my own to show what could have been made of it. this volume is my idle work – I read the necessary books as my leisure reading – & have my paper lying open before me.

My mother has is at Bristol, where she has been now a month – because Miss Tyler has quarrelled with her Maid [8]  & will not speak to her, so my mother remains as the medium of conversation! Peggy is laid up with her complaint.

Since the abatement of the cold I have found myself much better. & tho still indisposed complain more of the interruption to all my business by a daily walk to town, than of any thing else.

When we quit this house I go to the sea somewhere, bathing is recommended both to me & Edith, & as my pleasurable sensations as Lloyd would say, are always doubled when I am near the shore. the place which at present seems from what I hear to suit me is Minehead. I am told it is cheap & understand the channel shores in its neighbourhood to be uncommonly wild & beautiful. in that case our way will lie thro Taunton, but I believe my only visit there, should be as may perhaps be the case, sleep there one night, will be to Dr Toulmin [9]  – there I hope to set myself quite up, & do great things in the in that retirement, when Madoc will be off my hands.

Harrys direction is with the Rev. Mr Maurice. Normanstone. Lowestoff. Suffolk.

I have a coloured print which I wish you to see – the Destruction of the Spanish Armada is the subject [10]  – & I never saw any thing equal to it. it was given me & its price [MS torn] three guineas – yet is it strangely cheap – so admirable is the effect of the colouring.

Let me know about your journals.

God bless you –

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

Ediths love.

March 1. 1799

Edith & I are botanizing & looking with some impatience for the primroses.


* Address: To/ Mr Thomas Southey./ H.M.S. Royal George./ Portsmouth./ Single
Postmark: BRISTOL/ Mar 1 99
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Charles Lloyd had been admitted as a fellow-commoner at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, on 31 August 1798. BACK

[2] The second edition of Southey’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, published in 1799. BACK

[3] Southey’s two-volume Poems (1799). BACK

[4] The second edition of Southey’s Joan of Arc, published in 1798. BACK

[5] The Annual Anthology, the first volume of which appeared in 1799. BACK

[6] Southey completed a fifteen-book version of Madoc in 1797–1799; however, he revised the poem heavily before its publication in 1805. BACK

[7] The ‘Analysis’ never appeared. BACK

[8] Unidentified; possibly Sally, the sister of Southey’s childhood friend Shadrach Weeks. BACK

[9] The Unitarian minister and political campaigner Joshua Toulmin (1740–1815; DNB). BACK

[10] Possibly a print of Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740–1812; DNB), ‘The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 8 August 1588’ (1796). BACK