815. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 2 August 1803

815. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 2 August 1803 ⁠* 

Dear Tom

I have written to Longman & Rees about your Amadis [1]  requesting them to inform either me or you by what conveyance it was sent, or if it was not sent, to forward it without delay. of course if you do not hear from them you will from me.

Rickman failed in one attempt to get Edward a birth. he has tried elsewhere & assures me that ‘the young gentleman shall be afloat ere long.’ I have given him your great coat to be midshipmannified, your white worsted breeches – & your chest. do you know his Aunt means to go with him to the port – & actually talks of setting off for Portsmouth before he has an appointment. I have talked of the madness of this to him that she may be prevented if possible.

Biddlecombe told me of your visit. should you be still at Yarmouth when Rickman is in the country he will be very glad to see you, & may perhaps come on board. that drawing which Mrs  B. has was a copy by Mrs Keenan from her husbands first picture of me. [2]  you shall have something better. I sate for Duppa when in London & he designs to engrave the likeness & strike off a few copies for friends. [3] 

Margaret is cutting more teeth & ailing in consequence, which has made her lose flesh.

I am still at history [4]  exclusively & have made a very rapid progress. this week more reviewing will come in – in which you could have helped me – for I expect Clarkes History of Naval Discoveries, & Capt Burneys Hist. of the discoveries in the South Sea. [5]  did I tell you that he was in the navy & had been twice with Capt. Cooke. [6]  he is now with Lamb s & his sister in the Isle of Wight – if you should hear of them claim acquaintance for your namesake. he is a very happy chearful little man – loves a quaint thing as dearly I do, & taught the people of Otaheite to make puns, for which they ought to deify him.

Danvers is in the midst of moving – always an unpleasant job – & with his state of feelings more particularly so. he has found lodgings in Orchard Street. Cupid [7]  is to be given away – not much to Bettys [8]  liking, nor to mine, nor to his own I dare say. he has been effectually shamed out of fowl hunting – by having a dead chicken hung round his neck for half a day. it was ridiculous to see him how miserably he was ashamed, sneaking into holes & corner, his tail between his legs, & those legs moving like a sloths – or at the pace that a thief walks to the whipping post. your friend Joe [9]  for whom you never enquire, visits home daily for his meals & looks very well, but limps a little at present. – King had a Princess [10]  born unto him on Sunday last.

I am going at last to commit a great extravagance, having vowed a vow that I will this buy a gold watch key, & no longer stink my fingers with old brass – a good vow for Mr Powell. [11]  the next act of prodigality I suppose will be a seal.

There are nearly two thousand volunteers [12]  in Bristol – so much for our loyalty. & orders are given to the Generals in case of actual service, to station them where they cannot run away – so much for their courage. Dogs. they have volunteered to do duty at the French prison in case of invasion – which is in the eye of the law – as if I being liable to pay one pound tax should volunteer to pay five shillings instead, for by law every man is compellable to fight in case of invasion, by law, even if his own nature did not impel him to it. This Irish business [13]  shocking as it is, is very fortunate. God knows what might have been the consequence had they waited for the aid of France there – or till we were embarrassed by invasion here in England. De Paddies always make some noble blunder – always too soon or too late – happily for all quiet people who have an objection to being murdered.

It vexes me to think how you are lying without hope! I am not surprized at the effect your Boatswains character produces – because I suppose the men are very much under his power – but are there no means of getting rid of him – no way of promoting him to get him out of the way?

I am going to the Post Office – for my watch key – & to see my old friend Juniper [14]  whom I have not seen these three months –

God bless you


Tuesday. Aug. 2. 1803.


* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H. M. S. Galatea/ Yarmouth/ Isle of Wight/ <by Lymington>/ Single
Postmark: BRISTOL/ AUG 2 1803
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 322-324. BACK

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

[2] John Keenan’s (fl. 1780-1819) latest portrait of Southey was being exhibited at the Royal Academy. Keenan’s wife was the sister of Daniel MacKinnon (1767-1830), whose Tour through the British West Indies Southey reviewed in Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 50-56. BACK

[3] The portrait by Duppa does not seem to have survived. BACK

[4] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[5] James Stanier Clarke (1766-1834; DNB), The Progress of Maritime Discovery (1803) and James Burney, A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean (1803); both were reviewed in Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 3-20. BACK

[6] James Cook (1728-1779; DNB), naval captain and explorer. BACK

[7] Charles Danvers’s dog. BACK

[8] Danvers’s servant. BACK

[9] Tom Southey’s dog. BACK

[10] Zoe King (1803-1881). BACK

[11] Possibly Edward Powell (fl. 1795-1818), a Bristol watchmaker. BACK

[12] In 1803 the government called for a new volunteer force to harass any French army that invaded Britain. BACK

[13] The abortive Irish rising on the night of 23 July 1803, led by Robert Emmet (1778-1803; DNB). BACK

[14] Juniper (first name and dates unknown), a Bristol carpenter who also seems to have been interested in bookbinding. BACK

People mentioned