804. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [5 July 1803]

804. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [5 July 1803] ⁠* 

Dear Tom

I have spoken about Edward to Rickman & he has put things in a fair train so that he will doubtless soon be rated. it would never do to have him on board your ship – indeed the boy has sense enough himself to see & acknowledge that.

My time in London is grievously taken up – here there & everywhere – never at rest – a thousand & one acquaintance half of whom it is impossible to see – & yet they will take offence if I do not call at their door. however I see land thank God! & shall be at home on Monday on Tuesday at the latest. Amadis [1]  is finished & will be published this week. I shall send your copy from hence as soon as I can get one. the direction you gave me to the Barracks I have left at Bristol & cannot remember to whose care it was to be entrusted. so I will send off the Books directed to you to be left till called for & apprize you when they go.

You talked of taking a flying leap to London. I had rather you took a flying leap to Bristol, because there you are sure of jumping upon me – but here I am never one hour in one place & if you should come up hap-hazard for four & twenty hours, & find that I was gone East West North or South to Southgate or to Stockwell or to Richmond [2]  why it would vex us both.

I am glad to find you have so many men as you have – the frigate in which Edmund Palmer [3]  is has only 17 – & this war will last long enough to fill your pockets tho you stay these six months at Spithead. invaded we shall be – that seems beyond a doubt – but that the French should effect their landing is not quite so clear. to talk of row boats is nonsense. but all our measures of defence are miserably feeble & miserably inefficient.

the Annual Review [4]  will be published in about a month. it seems my articles therein are in high odour – & I am requested to take a large part in the succeeding volume: I have proposed a great work to Longman upon English Literature of which you shall know more when more is settled if it comes to any thing. [5]  it will be of great labour – great responsibility & great importance – I must have whole & sole management, & the free & full choice of all my associates. but if it be all so arranged it will be of sufficient consequence in every point of view to fix me near town.

God bless you. if you knew how London hurries me you would not wonder at a short letter – & I have the less scruple in sending it as it will have a frank –

yrs affectionately

R S.



* Address: [in another hand] Lieutenant Southey/ HMS Galatea/ Portsmouth/ Free J May
Postmark: FREE/ 1803
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: The letter was probably written on Tuesday 5 July 1803, at a time when Southey was in London and when discussions regarding his brother Edward’s joining the navy were ongoing. BACK

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

[2] It is not clear whom Southey was visiting at Southgate. Thomas Woodroffe Smith (c. 1747-1811), a wealthy Quaker friend of Grosvenor Bedford, lived at Stockwell Lodge, and John May lived in Richmond. BACK

[3] Edmund Palmer (1782-1834), naval officer who rose to be a Captain. He was the son of John Palmer (1742-1818; DNB), theatre proprietor in Bath and Bristol, postal reformer and MP for Bath 1801-1807. BACK

[4] Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803). BACK

[5] The ‘Bibliotheca Britannica’, a plan for a chronological account of literature written in Britain, which Longman and Rees abandoned in August 1803. BACK

People mentioned

Southey, Edward (1788–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)