782. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 May 1803

782. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 12 May 1803 ⁠* 

Dear Tom

Joe [1]  arrived safely before your letter. he knew the house very well – but took no kind of notice of me. his first thing was to attack Cupid [2]  – then to lift up his leg in the kitchen. & now he is gone vagabonding. he shall be taken care off

Stuart has not had room to insert the history of the bottle [3]  – but has promised to do it as soon as he can. he had a similar account some months since. the bottle was thrown in half way to America & found at the Highlands – I know not the time or latitude. After the Kings birthday [4]  my poems will go in almost daily. [5]  You will see some more in the manner of Garci Ferrandez. [6] 

Two volumes of Amadis are printed. [7]  the other two both begun – & will go on with less delay than the former as I have directed all the proofs to go to Wynn for franking. I should think you may receive a copy in six weeks. I shall this day write to demand payment, which has been delayed – tho by the written terms of our agreement it was to be made upon delivery of the whole manuscript. I am not pleased at this delay. The book is talked of & expected in London in a manner which may perhaps considerably influence the sale

Thank you for the song [8]  – tho I should have liked it better in print. that Cross [9]  I take to be a man of Bath who lived in Kingsmead Street & in the year 90 & 91 wrote verses by the thousand in pamphlets & volumes & newspapers & magazines all deadilily bad.

The books for Tom Southey are finished all excepting one. Emery & Adams [10]  have bound them very neatly – Barry [11]  has made a tawdry business of the Chatterton. they will come dearer than he was aware of, my Operas being of some extent. Amadis will make 12 volumes of my Operas of the same size. & I expect to write for Stuart tales enough to make one day a volume under this title, Romances & Poems of Spanish History. [12]  I have already above six hundred lines.

Poor Bella [13]  is gone home at last. I am very sorry that she is gone & very sorry for the cause. she is in a wretched state of health, & will die at last of consumption. We may get a better servant – but not easily one whom I shall like so well.

This evening we go to the Morgans – where I have no intention – if I can help it of staying supper – because –. Bristol has been inconvenienced by the stoppage of Saverys [14]  bank – which now however goes on again. Puss is daily expected to lie in – the effect of bad company & wall-walking. Cupid is incorrigible in spite of daily beatings he retains his love of fowls & mutton & will certainly one day get shot. which I am very sorry for it for he <is > is a worthy feller – I never saw a more affectionate dog. – Joe is just returned.

Margaret grows & almost talks. she has a tooth just making its appearance. she continues to observe the fifth Commandment, [15]  the only one which I consider as binding upon her. Cupid is her darling delight.

War seems inevitable [16]  – & yet God knows what it is all about. today may perhaps decide the question – this week certainly must. remember you catch Jeremy [17]  coming over. Massena [18]  has said he would willingly sacrifice eight fleets of transport with 50,000 men on board each to get land the ninth. this news Stock [19]  heard at Paris & it is true. Well said Master Massena! but I suspect that if Bonaparte [20]  should lose one cargo the French will not let him send out another. – I expect more books from Lisbon. the worst thing the war can do for me will be to turn the English out of Portugal – Zounds what a calamity would that be to my poor history. I mean to go over next year – & a disappointment would half break my heart.

Ediths love. she & all are well. I have been much plagued with diabetes & am under Kings care for it – taking soap & soda – & the sulphat of iron.

God bless you –

R Southey.

May 12. 1803.

2 Joan of Arc

2 Poems.

2 Thalaba

2 Anthologys

4 Amadis  [21] 


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Galatea./ Portsmouth./ Single
Postmark: [partial] AY 13 1803
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Tom Southey’s dog. BACK

[2] Charles Danvers’s dog. BACK

[3] A bottle containing a letter that was thrown off ship-board by Tom Southey; see Southey to Thomas Southey, 22 April 1803, Letter 775. BACK

[4] George III’s (1738-1820, King of Great Britain 1760-1820) birthday was 4 June. BACK

[5] This was an exaggeration. Southey published eleven poems in the Morning Post, July-December 1803. BACK

[6] ‘Garci Ferrandez’ was dated ‘Bristol, 1801’ in Southey’s final edition of his Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837-1838), VI, p. 121. However, it does not seem to have been published until nearly a decade after its composition, appearing in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809, 2 vols (Edinburgh 1811), II, pp. 637-641. BACK

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

[8] Unidentified. BACK

[9] John Cartwright Cross (d. 1809), playwright and poet. BACK

[10] The Bristol bookselling and printing business Emery and Adams. BACK

[11] Possibly the Bristol bookbinder, printer and stationer Bartholomew Barry (fl. 1790s-1830s). BACK

[12] This project did not materialise. BACK

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

[14] Harris and Savery of Narrow Wine St, Bristol. BACK

[15] Exodus 20: 12, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’. BACK

[16] Britain declared war on France on 18 May 1803. BACK

[17] Unidentified. BACK

[18] Andre Massena (1758-1817), French general. BACK

[19] John Edmonds Stock (1774-1835), radical, Unitarian and doctor. He was an assistant to Thomas Beddoes at the Preventive Medical Institution for the Benefit of the Sick and Drooping Poor in Bristol (formerly the Pneumatic Institute). BACK

[20] Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821, First Consul 1799-1804, Emperor of the French 1804-1814). BACK

[21] 2 Joan ... Amadis: Inserted in another hand. BACK