451. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 October 1799

451. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 October 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

For these last three weeks you have been “poor Tom!” & we have been lamenting the capture of the Sylph – & expecting a letter from you dated “Ferrol”. [1]  the newspapers said your brig was captured & carried in there – & I have written word to Lisbon & my Uncle was to write to Jardine [2]  at Coruna, & my mother has been frightened lest you should have been killed in an action previous to your capture – & after all it is a lie!

Five weeks were we at Exeter – I wrote to you directing Torbay – & I walkd round Torbay. [3]  you cruized at an unlucky time, however if you have picked up an hundred pounds I am glad we did not meet.

We are in Hampshire, & shall get into our palace on Wednesday next. you will direct as formerly Burton near Ringwood.

Do you know that your old Captain Faulkner [4]  is Rickmans first cousin – his fathers nephew.

So much hope had I of seeing you when I walked down to Dartmouth & round by Brixham & the Bay that I put the Annual Anthology [5]  & the concluding books of Madoc in my knapsack for you.

Our dwelling is now in a revolutionary state – & will I trust be comfortable. small it is & somewhat quaint. but it will be clean, but there is a spare bed-room – but there is a pavilion which you know is not always to be found at Burton. & a fishpond, & a garden in which I mean to work wonders. & then my book room is such a room that like the Chapter House at Salisbury it requires a Column to support the roof. Tom I wish Portsmouth instead of Plymouth were your rendezvous then we might look to see you.

But you ought to have been taken Tom – for consider how much uneasiness has been thrown away – & here were we on seeing your handwriting expecting a long & lamentable tone & particular account of the loss of the Ville de Paris – the lapelles – the new shirts, books & all the Lieutenant-paraphernalia – & then comes a pitiful account of a cruise & 100 £ prize money instead of all these adventures!

Here was my Mother working away to make a new shirt thinking you would come home shirtless & breechesless, stinking garlick out of every pore – all oil! one great flea bite – & able to talk Spanish.

My Mother will write speedily, I am scrawling in haste that we may not lose the post. when will there be a hope of seeing you? I have no news to tell except that we expect Harry home for the Xmas holydays. Concerning my own employments – the Dom-Daniel Romance is re-christened – anabaptized Thalaba the Destroyer. [6]  & the fifth book is begun. this I should like to show you – but God knows when we shall meet since you have so much employmen more business on your hands.

God bless you. my shaving water is cooling all this while & the dinner waiting. love from Edith & my Mothe[MS obscured]

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

October 26. 1799

And now dear Miss hus[MS obscured] [7] 


* Address: To Si/ Lieutenant Thomas Southey/ Sylph Brig/ Plymouth./ Single
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), II, pp. 30–32 [in part]. BACK

[1] It was widely reported in the British Press in early October 1799, e.g. St James’s Chronicle, 5 October 1799, that the brig, Sylph, on which Tom Southey was serving, had been captured and was at the Spanish port of Ferrol. BACK

[2] Alexander Jardine (d. 1799; DNB), British Consul in Galicia, had died on 8 April 1799. Southey had met him during his 1795–1796 visit to Spain and Portugal. BACK

[3] Newspaper reports confirmed Tom Southey’s ship, the Sylph, had not been captured, but had safely returned to Plymouth after a long cruise; see, for example, Morning Chronicle, 26 October 1799. BACK

[4] Possibly Robert Faulknor (1763–1795; DNB). BACK

[5] Annual Anthology (1799). BACK

[6] The title under which the poem was published in 1801. BACK

[7] Written in another hand. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Burton (mentioned 2 times)