692. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 9 July 1802
692. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 9 July 1802 *
The Bashaw writes because some five weeks have elapsed since he hath written – but what hath He of the three tails  to write about – of – or concerning? the tongue runneth faster than the pen – yea it hath more power. the pen commandeth only twenty six letters – it can only range between A and Z – these are its limits – like all before & after life. (I had forgotten and-pussey-and:)  but my tongue – my omnipotent manufacturer of all noises – who shall limit its creative allmightiness? – We have a parrot living five doors distant.  with him I do converse from the window. he hath taught me to articulate new tones. – Moreover there is no filling up the pauses of the goose quill with the little amiabilities that relieve conversation – with a whoop – or a whistle – or a twirl – or a face – as “that man” used to do. & besides I have no time for writing – & also I do’nt like, & likewise it is not my custom – & eke I approve it not – yea it is altogether idleness – very vanity & vexation of spirit – waste of ink – abuse of paper – wear & tear of pen.
The Grunter ought to write for me, & tell you all our goings on. how Mrs Lovell has had a swelled face – how Bellas  knee is be-blistered to the general inconvenience – & how Tom is arrived from the West Indies. but the Grunter would not tell you certain circumstances which ought to be made known in form of complaint from the offended & injured Bashaw – how he (guess Senhora if you can what the domestic disarrangement is?) – how he can – (stretch now your imagination as if it were made of indian-rubber to find it out –) how he can not – (go to the cunning woman and ask what –) he cannot get a pair of clean pantaloons.
The great Bashaw is just. Mrs Danvers does not take Irish blackguard.  he hath laid by the Snuff for the Senhora.
You have heard of George Dyers letter,  have you seen his Poems? the new Edition in two volumes?  brimfull of Dyerisms – for what other name will express that combination that characterizes all about him! – I hear of a review of my own poems inserted in the Poetical Register  – one of the works which has grown out of the ruins of the Anthology  – by Miss Seward.  they tell me it is like her poem to me  – praise & censure equally extravagant – sugared bile – oil & vinegar.
I have been historifying successfully  – Amadizing  with less good will. – poetizing little or none. yet Kehama  has got on a little way – very little – but good. & that in the uphill road of the connecting parts which having no interest in the matter must derive all their beauty from the manner. I shall soon arrive at the land of miracles & marvels & call up my storms & fears & darkness – & bring God’s & Ghosts into action. if it be not a good Poem Woe to my ears! & it must be written soon for a good reason. behold why.
My business with Corry is pretty well wound up – & I am paid off. now then at liberty to fix – you know there is a necessity for fixing. a library & a nursery ought to be stationary. I am resolved to live near Richmond if John May can find me a house. but what is a house without furniture? & how is furniture to be had without money? & how can I get money without writing? Therefore will the Curse of Kehama be forthcoming this next winter. Necessity sends some men to the gallows – some to prison. me it always sends to the press.
Do you go into Wales?  When do you go? if you go you must make Bristol going or returning in your way – if you do not go, you must make a journey to Bristol expressly. There is much to be seen about Bristol – & I am here for my last long visit. when once I quit it I return here no more except for a week or ten days just to see Danvers. the place is unpleasant to me. there are recollections that poison every path which I used to take with very different feelings. So if I do not show it you this autumn I shall never do it. besides you know we do not permit proxy  – it savoureth too much of king – & queenliness. 
fare you well. the whole rigmarole of remembrances you will consider as set down in due forms –
So God bless you –
Yrs affectionately – & in earnest at the end of the Letter
July 9. 1802, Kingsdown.
* Address: To/ Miss Barker/
Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire
Postmark: 22 Bristol July 9. xx02
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick Jnr, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 30-33.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 200–202. BACK
 In the Ottoman empire, bashaws (or pashas) signified their status by the number of horse tails on their standards; three tails indicated high rank. See Peter Pindar [John Wolcot (c. 1738-1819; DNB)], Tales of the Hoy (London, 1798), p. 58. BACK
 The parrot, whose name is unfortunately not recorded, belonged to the poet and orientalist Charles Fox (c. 1740-1809; DNB) and his wife. BACK
 Southey’s Annual Anthology, published in 1799 and 1800. A third projected volume did not materialise, partly because similar publications, like the Poetical Register, had appeared as competitors. BACK
 Anna Seward’s critique of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) appeared in The Poetical Register, and Repository for Fugitive Poetry, for 1801 (London, 1802), pp. 475-486. BACK
 Seward’s earlier, widely published attack on Joan of Arc, ‘Philippic on a Modern Epic’ (1797). BACK
 Mary Barker’s uncle, Sir Jeremiah Homfray (1759–1833; DNB), a Welsh ironmaster, lived at Landaff House, Glamorganshire. BACK
 Southey had asked Mary Barker to act as godmother to the baby Edith Southey was expecting. BACK