736. Robert Southey to John May, 25 November 1802

736. Robert Southey to John May, 25 November 1802 ⁠* 

Dear friend

Last night arrived a letter from my Uncle of which what follows is an extract. “I have just written to Dr Thomas respecting the application of the fine (the long disputed business with Downes [1]  I should tell you is just now settled upon my Uncles terms.) – ie – 1000£ to pay off the Mortgage on Bach-y-graig – & the remaining 155£ or whatever it may be to be remitted to J. May. I have taken this liberty with him, as you may tell him, because there is a communication open to him & me by means of his Uncle [2]  here, because he is in habits of correspondence with you, & because I know, should I stand in need of having any thing from London, or any business there, he will execute it for me. 200£ will be due from Downes, which you must contrive to get remitted there likewise at Xmas. As soon as he receives the remittance I could wish he would inform me.”

As this has led me upon matters of business – let me say something of myself. When Corry made me his secretary I hoped soon to have discharged my debt to you: how that became impossible ought to be explained. the salary was 400, & the first quarter being paid in Ireland <was> one tenth less. from Keswick to Dublin – a ten days residence there – a journey back to Keswick & thence to London, intrenched far upon the first quarter. I was nearly eight months in London where the whole expences of living are about 40 per cent above what they are here. the bills which I have paid on my mother & cousins account are from 90 to 100£. another years salary that had had no such draw back as this last would have set me upright – lasting so short a time as it did it just enabled me to meet that expence & the others which it occasioned – & left me no richer than it found me. My household expences are now increased by having my brother Tom with me, who has been with me three months & is likely to remain till the Admiralty chuse to employ him. five weeks ago I thought of all this as difficulties easily surmountable – for then I could calculate upon the labour of every day & its produce sooner or later. now these unlucky eyes condemn me to an unprofitable & uncomfortable indolence.

I have said this to justify myself, & because there are times when the thought of this had been painful. my ways & means are sufficient – but not more <than> so, & not without exertion.

Every line that I write in my history [3]  I look upon as money laid by – & to that fund looked for a permanent source of income. meantime – well as I know you – it was <is> right to say this & thank you & tell you that I neither forget debts nor obligations.

God bless you –

yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.

Thursday Nov. 25. 1802


* Endorsement: No. 71 1802/ Robert Southey/ Bristol 25th Novemr./ recd. 27th do/ ansd. 8th Decr
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 70-71. BACK

[1] William Downes (dates unknown), a gentleman resident in Hereford, who seems to have been in dispute with Herbert Hill over the lease of a property either owned by Hill or administered by him as Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral. BACK

[2] Thomas Coppendale (d. 1833) John May’s uncle and business partner. BACK

[3] Southey’s uncompleted ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
Dublin (mentioned 1 time)