560. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 10 December 1800 *
Wednesday 10 December. 1800. Lisbon.
My dear Danvers
The frippery box arrived on Sunday. not so our cheese. I have not yet seen Yescombe  but am in great fear that they have been stopt for the good of the nation & eaten at Falmouth by act of Parliament. – with regard to Lambe you have acted quite properly in shunning him. he had nothing but well-meaning to recommend him – & as he seems to have discarded decency, one may be allowed to avoid vulgar ignorance. – Mrs Madox  I have seen at your house, & her husbandsx person I recollect – having sometimes met him when walking with you. you will give me credit for sincerity in wishing I could be one of your rich customers.
I am hard at history.  the labour pleases me & I feel both power & inclination for the work. but the scantiness of my finances miserably cripples me. I cannot afford to buy two or three very costly works – which I must buy before any one page is in a state for publication. thus will I at last lose much time & labour in going over the old ground, when the hooks & eyes of connection shall between one author & another shall be mislaid in my memory. I must lay out thirty pounds – but in losing Thalaba  my sheet-anchor was lost. certainly there will be the first volume quarto of the History ready for the Press by next winter. the literary history  will soon follow – if success encourages it. Madoc is my Army of Reserve. – after a summer in Wales has been devoted to correcting it, its publication will be a question of prudence – , whether like your old wine it will increase in value by keeping – or whether I shall publish as soon as possible not to lose the yearly profits that may be expected. it would greatly delight me to give Mrs Danvers her poem in print.  You will not be surprized to hear that I am thinking of another long poem – the story imaginary – the groundwork Hindoo mythology. some progress in the plan is made, & probably in a few days I shall gallop thro the first book. 
I must send you more money & more commissions – but as I delay writing to John May for about a fortnight or three weeks, you will have the goodness to execute them on credit, till that time. imprimis  a copy of Joan of Arc  – Russia bound according to my fashion. if Jackson  has forgotten it there is the first Anthology  among the books we left, as a pattern. secondly – I am grown shabby & want a coat & pantaloons. my measure was left with Baker,  & probably his successor has retained the same foreman. if it should be lost there is I think an old black coat at Mrs Frickers by which a new one might be made. chuse me a good brown. velvet collar – covered buttons. worsted pantaloons the same colour – they are easily made to fit a long lean man. if my Uncle returns thro Bristol – he will take the parcel – my Mother can inform you of this. otherwise direct it to him as usual. my motive for sending so far is that a coat here would cost me five pounds. water carriage costs nothing – & I get it on shore without difficulty or trouble.
I have at last seen & seditionized with Davys friend.  a pleasant & able man. from whom I hope some useful introductions to those friars who are worth knowing. we have some pleasant English neighbours – a Biddeford family  with whom is a Miss Seton a very clever woman, who draws most admirably. I find no fault in her except a resemblance to Mrs Barbauld in countenance; & that is a heavy one. a friend of Capel Loft  is here – recommended to me as a man of literary acquirements. his name Du Bois  – I have as yet seen him but little. after all Thomas the Cat is my chief companion – & a most magnificent Thomas he is. fat as Rover, all life & good humour.
Our wet weather is now commenced after a series of the most delightful days I ever experienced. we had scarcely a cloud thro the whole November. now we sit by the fire – for we have removed to tenant my Uncles house during his absence. Lisbon grows weekly worse as to robbery & murder & I hope is now so bad that it must awaken the police. daily murders & robberies so impudent that they astonish everybody. our vacant house has been opened & searched but there was nothing left portable enough to steal. last Monday two boatmen stabbed a poor fellow by mistake – begged his pardon & left him dying. the robbers are usually soldiers & in several instances Cadets – answering to our Ensigns. it is not possible to conceive a more total anarchy as to all useful purposes of society. yet there is a germ of vitality – a living spark existing – we see only the worst classes of society – the highest & the lowest – the oppressors & the oppressed. in the middle class – the tiers-etats – & tis a prophetic name – there are many who think & feel – who remember the past – & look on to the future.
I have been admitted behind the curtain – introduced to one of the Censors,  shown his official reports of every books presented for publication – & thus know not only what is published – but those more important works that are not – that are strangled in the birth. this Censor was the Lutheran Minister here who changed his religion & is now as sincere in Popery – as he was in Protestantism. by his introduction he is of indispensable use to me, for he is a man of power, – communicative & very well informed. by his means the manuscripts are at my use. I even meditate the adventure of searching the records of the Inquisition. five written folios of the bloody chronicle whose outside I have seen with respectful eyes & itching fingers.
In writing history  I actually want an Amanuensis, so troublesome is the shifting from book to paper. I am sanguine as to the merits of this work – not as to its success. fashion – rank in life – connections are every thing. for six quartos Gibbon  got 8000 pounds. I shall be satisfied if I get 1500 for three – tho I expect a more durable & deserved reputation than that even of Gibbon. money – money is my only want. they reckon by moidores & six & thirties – & we learn like them to consider these pieces only as guineas – only as single coins – when alas there is a lamentable difference in the number of a yearly income. If Sam Reid calls here on his return – I should like to re[MS obscured] him – should the time suit my plans. conveniences are of little import to s[MS obscured] are Edith & myself. – a pot to be sick-in is the only article in requisition. & we should by embarking directly for Bristol save full thirty guineas – allowing a handsome price for passage & provisions. this is a material object. Why did you not tell me the name of his ship that I might have found him out?
I shall inclose my cousins letter to you – to spare her postage. Will you purchase for her such useful things as she probably would think too expensive to afford – & pay yourself when the remittance arrives. I will remit enough to leave something for her afterwards. much I cannot do. the call for the Thalaba money has quite crippled me.
Coleridge has never written – nor has Mrs C. written to Edith since her confinement – which is I think somewhat uncivil. why will he given his children such Heathenish <names?>. – did he dip him in the river & baptize him in the name of the Stream God? 
By the next packet I expect news of the parcels arrival both from you & Rickman. his negociation will I hope be succesful – & if so Thalaba ought to be now in the printers office & gone to the Devil at last. 
God bless you. our love to your Mother. Time runs away at an unmerciful rate & a few packets more will cross only, before we shall reach Bristol – still the port to which after every wandering I return.
* Address: To/ Mr Danvers./ 9. St James’s
Place./ Kingsdown./ Bristol
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 230–233 [where it is misdated 18 December 1800]. BACK
 Johann Wilhelm Christian Muller (1752–1814), came to Portugal in 1772 as chaplain to the Dutch Factory; entered the Portuguese civil service as a translator in 1790 and converted to Catholicism. BACK
- 1 of 2
- next ›