707. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [15 August 1802]

707. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [15 August 1802] ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I have been thinking & talking about our walk. which they wish me here to delay for a few weeks – you will easily guess why. [1]  I know not how soon after three weeks Edith may be confined – possibly before. & till that happens neither would she like me to go – nor should I be easy away. the sooner after the better, by the middle of September at latest. more probably at the beginning.

I opened the note. [2]  it was from Robt Hall. [3]  it is unlucky that I did not inspect it at first in time to call on him. he merely said “you all be supprized to find me here” – on his way to Ireland.

[MS torn]er has had a little done to his gums by King. not so much as it should have been – for he did not like being scarified. but he is the better for it. the Ancient Mariners temper is not so peaceable as his conduct at Copenhagen led me to imagine. [4]  He & Smut [5]  have entered into an offensive alliance against Danverss cat, & as soon as they get together away they go after Puss & hunt her all over the house. she only escaped one day by getting out of the garret windowx. Betty & Sally [6]  were up in arms & Joe got his threshings. but he has been at it again. I believe in your absence he does not consider himself subject to martial law. – By the by I this moment hear that his collar is missing. somebody has stolen it for the sake of the silver!

You have written me two letters & not one word of the Turtle!

The neckcloths & grammar shall go by Tuesdays coach. I think you were never more mistaken than in fancying yourself deficient in conversation. you have seen enough & remarked enough to make an opposite assertion true. – every man has his ignorant part as well as his strong one. to know what we know well, is better than knowing more superficially. I believe there are more companies wherein I should find myself compelled to silence than you would.

John Southey scowling over Thalaba [7]  is indeed a picture that my fancy never pourtrayed. I am almost inclined to see how he would treat any advances towards an acquaintance with me now – when he can not suspect that the civility is produced by want. sound the way for me – if you think it safe –. you may make my respects to him if you like it – & see what answer. Let what will happen to me I shall soon repose remove finally from this part of England [MS torn] one strong motive for making xxxx knocking at that door is – that when I am asked why I have never done it – I have not found a satisfactory answer ready.

Since you went I am more inclined to settle in Cumberland in spite of the latitude. the wolf skin you know would be useful there. of this we will talk at leisure. there is one possibility that I do not like to think of – & which indeed is but as one chance to five thousand. but if next month should unhappily break up my plans of life – I shall go farther afield – & leave England for a very long xxxxx wandering.

God bless you.

Robert Southey.

Shall I copy you in my next the Moro Alcayde [8]  – mark the words which you will most likely not recollect – & expect a translation back from you?

Danvers & Edith desire to be remembered. We miss Miss Phillott. [9]  – tomorrow I go Gentleman tester again to the Boiling Well. [10] 

Sunday night. –


* Address: To/ Thomas Southey Esqr/ with John Southey Esqr/ Cottage/ Taunton
Postmark: [partial] 122/ BRISTOL/ AUG
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Content indicates this letter was written on a Sunday in mid August 1803, probably 15 August. BACK

[1] Southey’s first child, Margaret Edith, was born on 31 August 1802. BACK

[2] The note enclosed in Southey to Thomas Southey, [14 August 1802], Letter 706. BACK

[3] Unidentified; a friend of Tom Southey’s, possibly a fellow sailor. BACK

[4] Tom Southey had possibly had his dog Joe with him at the Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801. BACK

[5] A dog that belonged to Danvers. BACK

[6] Servants employed by either Southey or Danvers; their first names and dates are unknown. BACK

[7] Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[8] ‘From the Spanish. Closely Translated. And in the Metre of the Original’, Morning Post, 21 July 1798. BACK

[9] A friend of Southey and his brother’s, she was probably a member of a prominent family of professionals and tradesmen centred on Bath. She later became a Methodist; see Southey to Tom Southey, 1-5 January 1806, British Library, Add MS 47890. BACK

[10] The Boiling-Well, a spring near Stoke’s Croft, Bristol. BACK

Places mentioned

Stokes Croft (mentioned 1 time)