627. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 19 November 1801

627. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 19 November 1801 ⁠* 

Dear Danvers

Of the books you mention I should like to have the Historical Collection of memorable accidents [1]  – & P. de Aquila [2]  Durandus [3]  – the Spanish book of heraldry, [4]  the Archbishop of Manilas charge to his clergy [5]  – of course good for nothing. Perizonius [6]  my Uncle has. I have a good copy of Burnett [7]  – indeed it is at your house. the Boethius [8]  I would have if it be clean & entire.

My Mother! – I always calculate upon her weakness & irresoluteness. as for the money she must not be trusted with it. God knows I have ways enough for money without letting Mrs Tyler pilfer me. is it not better give it to Mrs Lovell? for if my Mother has it before she be in the chaise she will turn it over to her sister. & either come up by stage or stay where she is.

I forgot to notice what King said about Dr Solomon. [9]  I do not think it quite fair even towards a rogue, to expose private conversations. neither would any good proceed from it. Dr Beddoes cannot weed out quackery – credulity is the common inclination of our nature, it may bend under reason – but rises again like a reed when the wind is past by. if the anecdote be inserted it should be without specifying what the Blockheads name was. [10]  “the most eminent of our Quacks” or some such term – & let him & Brodum [11]  quarrel for the title. I have learnt something about Brodum which I could not have suspected – that he is in league with the gamesters – invites his young patients to dinner – & produces the dice-box. if Beddoes be not aware of this it is worth communicating – & ought to be exposed – but Dr. B. must take heed how he does it lest he expose himself to an action.

Coleridge is here – for how long I know not. indeed his stay depends upon his inclination, & that is the most unsteady of all things.

I am plagued & puzzled about Edward. rescued he ought to be [12]  – but God knows how. I do not love the boy – for the last four years I was never with him five minutes in which he did not mortally offend my feelings of what was right & decent. there is in his very nature a miserable obliquity which I doubt whether any change of circumstances can remedy. perhaps my Uncle may soon be in England. I can do nothing with him. my own life is too unsettled to let him pass even his holy days with me, were I disposed to make so entire a sacrifice of my comfort & inclination for the time, which certainly I am not. as it is I never think of him but with sorrow & pain – & were he more with me, diseased as his habits are, those feelings would strengthen – I am sure they would, – into a strong & mutual dislike. none of my brothers resemble me – he least of all. I would do for xxx him all that is possible, for my Mothers sake, & a sense of duty, but I feel no impulse to do any thing for his own. indeed nothing is in my power.

One Trunk I think may surely come by the Chaise – that is we always carried three Trunks by Chaise – now my Mother & Mrs L will not probably have more than one [MS obscured]h. if they can take the large one – so much the better – as we shall pay less fo[MS obscured] the small. they will bring my desk, & I should be glad of <the> two small volumes in parchment – Guerras Civiles de Granada. [13]  they are lettered at length in great black letters on the back. – I cannot leave town myself – nor if I could would it be well to leave Edith. Is it quite impossible that you should fancy yourself subpœnaed – come up in the chaise & return in the Cheap Coach? a bed we could not offer you – but that for a man is easily procured –


You will have guessed why the remainder of the Bills has been delayed – that they might go in a frank. – Hamilton [14]  does not use me well – he promised me books & the account & has sent neither. Of Longman I enquired as to the sale of Thalaba. it has been slow. about three hundred only sold. the novel you mention is by John Thelwall [15]  – & in the assumed name of Beaufort you may trace the Lecturer in Beaufort Buildings.

I hope Burnett will upon fair trial discover how utterly unqualified he is for the trade which he has chosen. he can support himself certainly, & what he gets to do will be as well done as by any body else. but to have the subject & the length & the time fixed by such a fellow as Phillips! [16]  – I would rather turn journeyman taylor & sit cross legged in Joseph Estlins [17]  work-room. the young man with money was the West Indian who lived on Kingsdown & wrote the Pleasures of Solitude. John Jefferys [18]  by name – & who still more to render the cohabitation more abominably ridiculous in its name – translated & published the Eclogues of Virgil – including Formosum Pastor Corydon ardebat Alexin. [19] 

Thomas has not written to me, & his silence puzzles me – I will write again to find him out. tomorrow I go to dine at Ld Hollands. he is intimate with Wynn, & wants to see me for the sake of Thalaba – I want to see him for the sake of his Uncle. [20]  We have started some of our Lisbon acquaintance – & Mrs Gonne [21]  has found [MS obscured] whose name you know – so that Edith has a woman friend [MS obscured] living at an unlucky distance.

Remember me to King. if he has any thing to be done in town he should know that I should be glad to be commissioned by him. As Cottle I presume has not – I have got the Anthologies [22]  for him & they wait only a free conveyance down. I am obliged by the invitation to Edgeworth town. [23]  it did not reach me – or I should have expressed the obligation my sense of the attention.

I am hurt at my Mothers return to her wicked sister. do not let her have the bills for fear. Mrs Lovell had better have them.

We are sorry to hear of your Mothers weakness in the hand – very sorry – her & you I miss sadly –

God bless you –

R Southey.


* Address: [in another hand] Mr Danvers/ Kingsdown Place/ Bristol
Stamped: [partly legible] BRIDGE-St.
Postmark: FREE/ NOV 19/ 1801
Endorsement: London Novr Nineteen 1801/ C W Williams Wynn
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. 254-257. BACK

[1] Probably either A Chronology of Some Memorable Accidents, from the Creation of the World to Year 1754 (1755), or T. Leonard (dates unknown), Memorable Accidents and Unheard Of Transactions, Containing an Account of Several Strange Events (1733). BACK

[2] A work (whose identity Southey does not clarify) by Peter de Aquila (d. 1361), Italian theologian, bishop and interpreter of Duns Scotus (c. 1265–1308). BACK

[3] A work (whose identity Southey does not clarify) by the French philosopher and theologian Durandus of Saint-Pourçain (c. 1275-1332/1334). BACK

[4] Possibly Francisco Xavier de Garma Y Durán (d. 1783), Adarga Catalana. Arte Heraldica y Práticas Reglas del Blasón, con Ejemplos de las Piezas Esmaltes y Ornatos de que se Compone un Escudo, Interior y Exteriormente (1753). BACK

[5] Possibly El Arzobispo de Manila á los Parrocos de Su Obediencia (1775). BACK

[6] Jakob Voorbroek (1651-1715), Dutch classical scholar. The only book of his that Southey possessed was Origines Babylonicae et Aegypiacae (1736), no. 2215 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Probably Gilbert Burnett (1643-1715; DNB), History of the Reformation of the Church of England (1681-1753), no. 477 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (c. 480-525), Consolatio Philosophiae (524), a work Southey admired. BACK

[9] Samuel Solomon (1768/9-1819; DNB), manufacturer and promoter of the best-selling quack medicine ‘Cordial Balm of Gilead’. Southey met him on his crossing to Ireland earlier in the year. BACK

[10] The anecdote was not incorporated, but Beddoes did attack quack medicine, see Hygëia: or Essays Moral and Medical, 3 vols (London, 1802), I, pp. 40-43 n* ; II, p. 73. BACK

[11] William Brodum (fl. 1795-1814), quack medicine seller. He had been the mentor of Samuel Solomon. BACK

[12] i.e. from the baleful influence of Southey’s aunt Elizabeth Tyler. BACK

[13] Gines Perez de Hita (c. 1544 -c. 1619), Historia de los Vandos, de los Cegries, y Abencerrages, cavalleros moros de Granada, y los civiles guerras que huvo en ella, hasta que el Rey Don Fernando el Qunito la gano (1731-1733), no. 3403 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Samuel Hamilton (fl. 1790s-1810s) owned the Critical Review, 1799-1804. BACK

[15] John Thelwall, The Daughter of Adoption (1801), published under the pseudonym ‘John Beaufort’. Beaufort Buildings in The Strand was where Thelwall had delivered many of his political lectures in the 1790s. BACK

[16] Sir Richard Phillips (1767-1840; DNB), publisher and magazine proprietor. BACK

[17] Joseph Estlin’s identity is unclear. He was possibly the son (d. 1811) of John Prior Estlin’s first marriage to Mary Coates (1753-1783), or perhaps a more distant relative. BACK

[18] John Jefferys (dates unknown), The Pleasures of Retirement (1800). BACK

[19] John Jefferys, The Eclogues of Virgil (Edinburgh, 1799), pp. 7-11, contained a translation of Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BC), Eclogue 2. Southey quotes line 1, which translates as ‘Corydon the shepherd was passionate for the beautiful Alexis’. Southey’s point is that as Eclogue 2 was a celebration of homosexual love, it should have been excluded from Jeffreys’ edition. BACK

[20] Holland’s uncle was the Whig politician Charles James Fox (1749-1806; Foreign Secretary 1782, 1783, 1806; DNB). BACK

[21] Wife of William Gonne (d. before 1815), the packet agent at Lisbon. BACK

[22] Possibly copies of Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[23] Edgeworthstown, County Longford, was the home of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817; DNB), educational writer and engineer, and his daughter, the novelist Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849; DNB). Her sister, Anna Maria (d. 1824), was married to Thomas Beddoes, and another sister, Emmeline (1770-1847), married John King in 1802. Presumably, Southey had been invited to visit the family while he was in Ireland. BACK

People mentioned

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35 Strand, London (mentioned 1 time)