772. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 16[-18] April 1803

772. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 16[-18] April 1803 ⁠* 

Saturday. April 16. 1803

Dear Tom

I have been day by day delaying to write, that I might tell you by what waggons Halls [1]  shirts are to go. for the box is found, but tho either I or Danvers have gone daily we have not yet got at this information. xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx perhaps he was in a fair <way> of losing <them> if you had not written. they are gone by Lyes waggon. [2] 

Your damned Dutchmen! [3]  I wish you had submitted to Kings extirpation system. as for the drink recommended I suspect nothing that goes into the mouth can do much towards remedying the other end.

You may guess my history since your departure. house at Stoke let, too small, & too dear. House in Church Lane uninhabitably bad. no house in view – but some in hearsay. Capt Adamson [4]  thinks there may be one at St Georges that is a village between Pill & Posset, where I conceive it would not be safe to bathe for fear of sharks. I sent off all the English books to Hamilton [5]  on the Sunday after you left us. then turned to & finished Amadis, [6]  & tomorrow shall turn to & finish the preface. huzza! then for these Italian poets [7]  & to be once more my own master. A volume of the Encyclopædia [8]  came down with my books for Tom Southey – which I wish you had seen for the sake of a fine heraldry print – Amadis is advertised at the end as by Robert Southey Esqr – that Esqr looks as if Robert Southey, in his publishers opinion, were getting up in the world.

That story of Victor [9]  is a very good one. quite a fine sailor anecdote.

Your friend Cupid [10]  is my constant visitor. to his great astonishment pigs, goats, cocks, hens & horses are included under the statute against sheep-hunting – & for his own sake I am obliged to protect the humble-bees by the cry of Ware-sheep!

Have you heard of the Duke of Kents [11]  regulations as to dress at Gibralter? they have been in some of the papers I understand but Tobin told them to me upon his brothers [12]  authority. he beats Paul [13]  hollow. he not only sent out pattern xxxx – how the devil do you spell q–s? boots & stocks but seeing two fellows with fine hair & plenty of beard, had them cut dressed & shaved under his eye as patterns for all the rest of the army. It is has been absolutely necessary to recall him. he was as offensive to the officers as to the men. the man actually drilled old Officers – of threescore.

I begin to think there will be no war, because there is so much preparation, they are as long about it as if they were making peace. now war is usually made in a hurry. if the business be settled what you say of the want of hands makes it likely that you will be paid off again, tis an even chance that you are back in time for the first gooseberry pudding.


I saw King last night who strongly advises you to have the Dutchmen tied up. troublesome as that could be it may prevent a worse operation, which might possibly else be one day necessary.

Another house in view – the Cherry Orchard. away went Charles & I early this morning – the answer as usual – let last week.

To day I dine with Rowe, [14]  where I shall not break a decanter. before dinner I shall have the satisfaction of booking at the Bush [15]  the last parcel of Amadis – containing the Finis – Index Preface & Title Page. & at the same time sending intimation thereof to MessrsL & R whose answer must be Pay to Robert Southey Esqr – or order – huzza! there is a pleasure in finishing a long job. My next will tell you how the Italians are knocked on the head too & then I go on gaily.

All well – remembrances in course – & particularly from Danvers. Oh – I had nearly forgot – Cupid caught a hen yesterday & amused himself by picking her tail & throwing the feathers over his head. The Reprobate was detected in this sabbath breaking time enough to [MS torn]ve the hen –

God bless you –



* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey./ H.M.S. Galatea/ Portsmouth./ Single.
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Unidentified; a friend of Tom Southey’s, possibly a fellow sailor. See Southey to Thomas Southey, [15 August 1802], Letter 707. BACK

[2] George Lye (dates unknown) operated a wagon service that departed from the ‘Bunch of Grapes’ in Thomas St, Bristol, three times a week, and called at various destinations in southern England. BACK

[3] Tom was suffering from haemorrhoids. BACK

[4] Possibly the Bristol-based merchant sailor and circumnavigator Captain John William Adamson (fl 1790s), whose exploits in the Jenny involved voyages to California, Nootka Sound and China. BACK

[5] Samuel Hamilton (fl. 1790s-1810s), owner of the Critical Review 1799-1804. BACK

[6] Southey’s translation of Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

[7] Possibly a reference to G.B. Cassano (fl. 1802), Il Fiore della Poesia Italiana (1802), reviewed by Southey in Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 562-563. BACK

[8] Abraham Rees (1743-1825; DNB), The New Cyclopaedia (1802-1820). Published by Longman and his partners, Southey’s translation of Amadis was advertised on the end papers for volumes published in 1803. BACK

[9] Southey does not seem to have left a record of this story. BACK

[10] Charles Danvers’s dog. BACK

[11] Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767-1820), fourth son of George III. He was appointed Governor of Gibraltar in May 1802 with orders to restore military discipline. But his measures provoked a mutiny by the Royal Fusiliers and 25th Regiment on 24 December 1802. The Duke was recalled from his post in May 1803. Accounts of these events soon appeared in British newspapers, e.g. Derby Mercury, 27 January 1803. BACK

[12] John Tobin (1770-1804; DNB), playwright. BACK

[13] Paul I (1754-1801, Tsar of Russia 1796-1801), famed for his obsession with military drill. BACK

[14] John Rowe (1764-1832; DNB), Unitarian minister at Lewin’s Mead Chapel, Bristol. BACK

[15] The Bush Tavern in Corn St, Bristol, was the starting point for coaches to London, operated every day by John Weeks (dates unknown). BACK