668. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 April 1802

668. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 April 1802 ⁠* 

Monday. April 5. 1802.

My dear Danvers

I write this letter in the hope that it may reach you before Losh visits Bristol – taking it for granted that he will call upon you. should it so prove, will you ask him in my name, if he could give William Taylor a letter of introduction to Benjamin Constant? [1]  he is a man whom Wm T. is desirous of knowing – & the more so as he visits at houses to which he has already passports Madame Condorcet [2]  – & Madame Staëls. [3]  I had often designed to ask Losh & as often forgot it. it may be directed to me.

Our long meditated visit to Theobolds [4]  takes place tomorrow. it will not I think keep us more than three days.

Biggs is setting the first sheet of Chatterton. [5]  the copy of Rowley which was once Herbert Crofts has been lent me. it contains many m.s.s. notes, & also two poems by Chatterton in Crofts writing – which I shall publish with some pleasure, to make the rascal serve the book against his will. Biggs’s new types under my direction will make a beautiful work, as I have taught him how to make the glossary ornament the page – which in every other edition it disfigures. twill be a troublesome business over.

Edith continues to mend. xxx I spoke of lodging near you instead of being with you, because we are no longer unincumbered. We have a servant – & we have also Mrs Lovell. this makes all visiting quite out of the question. if we can lodge Mrs L & Bella [6]  seperately for a few days while we look out more leisurely – I shall be very glad to be your guest again, your parlour has been the scene not only of my pleasantest but also of my best employed hours.

Old Lovell now consents to allow twenty pounds for Roberts support for one year – till he can (if he can) be got into Christs Hospital. [7]  the truth is the old rascal thinks to make me support his sons widow & child. by the blessing of God I hope to see him & tell him my opinion of his conduct.

Edith mends – but she is in a strange state of health.

Tonight I have the two greatest Welshmen coming to give me some remarks on my Welsh manners in Madoc. Owen, & Edward Williams the Welsh Bard. [8]  my poetry is quite dead & buried in London. it will not thrive in this atmosphere – I have not written a line since the beginning of the year. in fact historical labour [9]  so satisfies indolence & all industry at once that it weans me from other pursuits. there is always the amusement & employment of reading – never the troub effort of invention. However something will grow in a fallow fields, & I feel certain sprouts are about to vegetate. the spirit is beginning to move me – & I suppose ere long I shall fall in good earnest to work & gallop thro a few more books of Kehama. [10] 

My letter at last is gone to King. I have begged him to make a drawing for the vignette to one of the volumes, of the inside of the room wherein the Rowleyan Manuscripts are said to have been found. [11]  the old Trunk, & the old room with its window will make a good subject, & it will suit better than any other possible device. Rickmans drawing of the Church goes for the other Volume. [12] 

Carlisle will think of your brother. [13]  I am fearful the scheme is not a very feasible one, for apothecaries & druggists are numerous every where in London, & connections must at first be necessary.

Burnett is about to leave Lord Stanhope who has very handsomely given him a years salary. [14]  Coleridge is safe at Keswick – the cloathes & books which he wisely entrusted to follow him by stage-coaches round by way of York are not arrived of course – & of course he will lose them. Of his plans we only hear from Mrs Coleridge that he means to keep another servant & a horse. I have little doubt that he is deranged. the conduct about his wife while he was in town is utterly inexcusable – & now he is gone home to her – as tho he had abused her to all his most common acquaintance! –

I am daily expecting money to remit to you – my Uncle has not written to me lately. I doubt whether he will [MS obscured] Portugal after all – & wonder whether the old saddles & hal[MS obscured] to be sent back again. the old guns are valuable one.

Mrs Tyler has written to Harry to demand from me five tablespoons – a piece of cambric designed for stocks for my Uncle – & the money for produced by the sale of the furniture in Westgate Buildings. [15]  she adds that a statement only of the heads of the ill usage she has received from my family would fill a quire of paper – & that she is almost out of her senses. I have directed Harry to reply that she must apply immediately to me if she wants any thing answered. that Edith will make my Uncle’s stocks – & that the less she says of money matters the better for her own credit.

Our love to Mrs Danvers. we shall hope to see her in May.

God bless you –

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.

N.B. Keep a hedge-hog in your garden to eat the grubs.


* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Kingsdown/ Bristol./ Single
Stamped: [partial, illegible]
Postmark: CAP/ 5/ 1802
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (1767-1830), Swiss-born philosopher, writer and French politician. Losh had published a translation of Constant’s Observations on the Strength of the Present Government in France in 1797. BACK

[2] Sophie de Condorcet (1764-1822), the widow of the mathematician and philosopher Maire Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794). She hosted a noted Parisian salon. BACK

[3] Anne-Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766-1817), influential author, thinker and hostess, and a close friend of Constant’s. BACK

[4] Theobalds was the home in Hertfordshire of Mrs Dolignon and the Miss Delameres, childhood friends of Southey. BACK

[5] Southey and Joseph Cottle’s planned subscription edition of the works of Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770; DNB), eventually published in 1803. BACK

[6] The Southeys’ servant, she died in 1804. BACK

[7] Robert Lovell Jnr was not sent to school at Christ’s Hospital, London. BACK

[8] The poet and forger Edward Williams (1746-1826; DNB), who published in English and Welsh and used the pseudonym Iolo Morganwg. BACK

[9] Southey was working on his projected ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[10] The Hindu romance The Curse of Kehama was not published until 1810. Southey began Book 2 on 4 June 1802. BACK

[11] The muniment room in St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, where Thomas Chatterton had supposedly discovered manuscripts by the monk Thomas Rowley (c. 1400-1470). John King’s drawing was used for the engraving opposite the title page of The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), II, unpaginated. It was entitled ‘Interior of the Room in Redcliff Church where Rowleys Manuscripts were Said to have been Deposited’. BACK

[12] Rickman’s drawing did not appear in Southey and Cottle’s edition; see Southey to Joseph Cottle, 24 June 1802, Letter 684. BACK

[13] Probably the surgeon and apothecary, John Danvers (d. 1812), then of Woolwich, London, declared bankrupt in The National Register (3 July 1808), 426. BACK

[14] Burnett had been employed as tutor to Charles Stanhope (1785-1809) and James Stanhope (1788-1825), younger sons of the controversial politician and inventor Charles (‘Citizen’) Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753-1816; DNB). The boys’ flight from their father’s house had rendered his post redundant. BACK

[15] Presumably money raised by the sale of furniture belonging to Southey’s late mother, Margaret, when she gave up her boarding house at Westgate Buildings in Bath in 1798. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 3 times)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 3 times)
Biggs, Nathaniel (dates unknown) (mentioned 2 times)
Losh, James (1763–1833) (mentioned 2 times)
Fricker, Mary (1771–1862) (mentioned 2 times)
Taylor, William (1765–1836) (mentioned 2 times)
Tyler, Elizabeth (1739–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Lovell, Robert (1771–1796) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)