416. Robert Southey to John May, 10 June 1799
416. Robert Southey to John May, 10 June 1799 *
My dear friend
I have been daily in hope of knowing our destination after Midsummer certainly enough to communicate it. but this is still unsettled. the day after I last saw you a letter from Biddlecombe reached me at Brixton. it stated that there was a place at Burton which he thought would suit us – it had been divided into two tenements, both which with a little garden we might have for not more than eight pounds a year. I immediately wrote that this would do if there were the required number of bed-rooms – that is – rooms for myself – my mother – a servant – & one for a friend. to this I have daily & vainly expected an answer. it will probably bring intelligence that the place is ours – but time presses & I now wait with some impatience.
This house, or rather tenement to speak with singular propriety, is about two hundred yards from our former abode at Burton, & Biddlecombe says, in every respect more convenient. I shall feel disappointed if we do not fix there. in that case we shall be within reach of you, & if as you expect Mrs Tonkin & her family  should settle near Salisbury, I shall not be at so great a distance as to prevent me from sometimes seeing them.
In my journey home I collected one piece of information which you may use as a useful warning. when they have new horses to put in the Mail they always put them in first on a Sunday night, because they carry no letters & there is of course time for an accident. so I was endangered quite enough to resolve upon no more Sunday night mail-coaching.
Edith I found – or rather she found me, for I reached Bristol before dinner & she not till after tea; I found her then however better than she had been at Stowey. My Mother is recovering from a sad plunge. her cough which is habitual increased violently by some accidental cough, & she relapsed into all her old alarming symptoms; now however she is rapidly growing well. I should think my Mother consumptive were it not for her often recovering when apparently in so hopeless a state. she has all consumptive symptoms except the quick pulsation. however I am going to try the fox glove, by Beddoes’ advice  – & by Davy’s I am going to try the Nitrous acid as a tonic for Edith. 
Myself I am without complaints or unpleasant feelings. the season suits me, & I have the appetite & the sleep which I wanted thro the whole winter.
The papers tell me you are an Uncle.  I congratulate you. I am used to the name, but it gave me at first strange notions of age.
This instant I have been a good deal alarmed – tidings have reachd me that Edward has this morning broken his arm. he is however in a way of doing well: my Mother is not to know it – it would be useless & might injure her – indeed necessarily would. he had got upon a strange horse in the street. if it lessons him it will be well, & I believe there is no hope from any thing but from a rough lesson. The boy vexes me.
I hardly know what I write now. be good enough to remit my mothers money. you shall know our destination as soon as it is known.
God bless you –
Monday. June 10. 99.
* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ 4. Tavistock Street/ Bedford Square/
Postmarks: [partial] BRISTOL/ JUN 12; [partial] B/ JU 13/ 5/ 99
Watermark [partial] 1796
Endorsement: 1799 No. 37/ Robert Southey/ No place 10 June/ recd: 17 do/ ansd: 18 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. 44–45. BACK
 The Tonkins were friends of Southey’s uncle Herbert Hill. They had formerly lived in Lisbon, where Southey had met them during his visit of 1795–1796. BACK
 For Thomas Beddoes’s advocacy of the use of fox-glove see his Essay on the Causes, Early Signs, and Prevention of Pulmonary Consumption for the Use of Parents and Preceptors (Bristol, 1799), pp. 265–271. BACK
 For Humphry Davy’s researches on the use of nitrous acid and nitrous oxide, Researches, Chemical and Philosophical, Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide, or Dephlogisticated Nitrous Air, and Its Respiration (1800). BACK