799. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [21 June 1803]

799. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [21 June 1803] ⁠* 

Dear Tom

Edward has just told me that it is settled between his Aunt & Uncle that he should go to sea. now tho he is somewhat too old – yet is this better than staying on shore for him. How do you suppose his mad Aunt has been disposing of him – she sent him down to visit a gentleman in Herefordshire [1]  – whom he had never seen. where he staid seven weeks – & after that a fortnight at an Inn at Kington waiting for money to return for which after all he was obliged to apply to Dr Thomas. Zounds I could swear for pure anger & vexation. – damnation – but to the point – can you get the boy a Royal Reefers [2]  birth – of course on board any ship but your own? if you can do it with as little loss of time as possible – & if you cannot – tell me. that I may try & bestir myself – but I suppose you will find no difficulty. Poor boy I am always angry with him, & then angry with myself for feeling so – & yet it is enough to anger me to see such a sad whelp – to know what abilities he has, & who was his mother – & yet to see such a lamentable & shameless coxcomb.

Your letters & mine always cross. your shoes & gaiters shall be sent as soon as Amadis [3]  is ready. tell me how to direct them.

I am vexed that you should be so idly at Spithead. however this war [4]  will last long enough – & you may yet be out in time for the first harvest of Spanish prizes. we are in a scrape & all Europe will be against us – Amen! So be it! & if Old England do not make them sore & sick of their envious enmity – . that shutting up the ports is an evil that affects themselves as well as us. the products of the East & West Indies are become part of the necessaries of life throughout Europe. if they shut their ports against us – we close them against all other commerce – & even if we did not – whence are they to get sugar, if not from England by some conveyance or other.

What do you think? Mr Tafis [5]  writes to say I may have Maes Gwyn & the outhouse by way of kitchen for ten pounds a year. I have just returned for answer that if Mr Williams [6]  will make it into a kitchen for me & accommodate me with the heavy furniture I will give him twenty – & at the twelvemonths end – if the situation suits me upon trial – take the furniture at a fair valuation. huzza! if I should have it after all!

I go to London on Sunday next with Danvers, where I shall stay not longer than a fortnight. direct to me with John Rickman Esq. St Stephen’s Court. New Palace Yard. Westminster. but you will probably write to me sooner respecting Edward. – Margery goes on well – she is a very different animal from what you left her & more alive & kicking than ever.

God bless you – yours in haste –

R Southey.


What is become of Grove? [7]  – Joe [8]  breakfasted at home this morning. he & Cupid [9]  both desire to be remembered.


* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Galatea/ Spithead./ Single
Stamped: [partial] BRISTOL
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 295-96 [misdated December 1802].
Dating note: Probably written on Tuesday 21 June 1803, by which time Tom Southey was based at Spithead, and Southey was planning a trip to London ‘next Sunday’. BACK

[1] Unidentified. BACK

[2] A post as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. BACK

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

[4] War was declared between Britain and France on 18 May 1803. BACK

[5] Unidentified; but perhaps connected to the agent for Maes Gwyn, William Gwyn (d. 1830). BACK

[6] Rees Williams (d. 1812) of Aberpergym, prominent landowner and coal owner in the Vale of Neath. He was a patron of the literary revival in Glamorganshire. BACK

[7] Samuel Grove (d. 1817), naval officer and colleague of Tom Southey’s. BACK

[8] Joe was Tom Southey’s dog. BACK

[9] Charles Danvers’s dog. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Maes Gywn, Neath (mentioned 1 time)