872. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 23 December 1803

872. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 23 December 1803 ⁠* 

Dear Danvers

I began to wonder at your silence – or rather in truth to feel very uneasy, considering your last account of your health.

First & foremost I have to tell you that what you have been wishing to take place is likely to come to pass by the latter end of spring. [1]  I have so little internally subdued the last loss that this is not as yet any matter of joy to me. I rather look on with a sort of cowardice – but all will come in xxx good time. my optimism is of a practical character – if we knew as much of the moral world as we do of the physical I believe we should find it as wisely & unerringly directed. secondly I wish you to give George Fricker five guineas for me. poor fellow I wish it were in my power to serve him essentially – if he had but the head of my brothers – or they had his good disposition, which God knows is worth ten times more – what a happy mixture it would be!

Whether or not I told you the whole history of Edward I cannot remember – that he drew on me two drafts – one for three pounds – the other for 5 – 13 – & inclosed me a taylors bill for 11 – 16 – 3½. before my Gentleman received the news that I should pay neither the one nor the other he writes to inform me, in answer to my letter about his going to sea again – that his Aunt had sold all his uniforms to a travelling Jew. of course I could then do nothing but tell him that he & she might settle their matters as they pleased, & so I have done with him. In his last letter he let the cat out of the bag, showing that he was still in correspondence with his Aunt. I have copied his letters & sent them to my Uncle that he may see that infamous womans conduct. I wish she knew that since she took the boy from the Brig, [2]  it has been so successful that his share of prize money, sharing only as a foremast man would have exceeded three hundred pounds, more money than Tom has made in ten years service. Tom tells me this. I wish she knew it because in all probability she would have fingered the money. – Tom is now first Lieutenant – & I am sorry to add – going out with convoy to the West Indies.

You will be glad to hear that I am in excellent good health, never better. Coleridge is set off for Devonshire – not Madeira, deterred by the dread of expences beyond his means & resolved to work for a supply by next autumn. I miss him – but still worse do I miss my poor dear books, & the booksellers shops. Can you not look in at Codys [3]  for me sometimes & see what Voyages & Travels he has – & so enable me to make purchases by letter. My second batch of reviewing is gone off & a third arrived just as it went, so that my hands are again full. but I shall soon have done.

About my Uncles books. those foreign ones which are in English binding are not liable to duty, & any person at all conversant in books can ascertain English from foreign binding as readily as English from Hebrew. In the small case he says there are many which would be useful to me – I wish he had sent me a list of them – & am almost tempted to have the case sent off. the loss of those from Falmouth sadly grieves me. what answer did you get from Russell [4]  the waggoner concerning them?

We have had frost & snow in their full beauty – & in truth nothing could be more beautiful. now after many days rain it is like June. I have sallied out like a bear from his den, & this morning walked round the Lake, which is a work of more than three hours. If I had but my books I should do very well here, & could with little effort forego society – but it will never do to live at such a distance from all libraries, hun[MS torn]ring & thirsting for them as I do, & daily as I learn more, discovering, how much I have yet to learn. however here we are, & here for awhile we must remain – probably till we fix definitively or till I go once more to Portugal. The wine not yet arrived – I shall write to Liverpool to inquire concerning it, for it ought to have been here surely by this time. – Inquire of James [5]  if there be any more numbers of the Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Mission [6]  since No XI – & if so get them for me – & let Barry [7]  get for me the Transactions of the Missionary Society, [8]  which are to be published half-yearly – he is the pleasantest bookseller in Bristol by far – & I like to keep up an acquaintance with him & James <Cody> at a distance. Jamess new Pilgrims Progress [9]  is upon a very excellent idea, & far more in old Bunyans [10]  spirit than any thing I ever saw. What news of my books from Leghorn by way of Sam Reid? or has Bonaparte [11]  swallowed ship & all?

Remember me to King – & to Hort [12]  – & I wish you could to Cupid [13]  – poor fellow he would be very jealous to see me play with Dapper, but tho Dapper is a very intelligent & well-informed dog he is not so good a companion as my poor Cupid. & how goes on Joe? [14]  – & how do you & Betty [15]  go on in your great house? but above all how are you? how I beseech you write – if only to answer that question.

Ediths love. God bless you –

yrs affectionately

R S.

Dec. 23. 1803.



* Address: To/ Mr Danvers/ Bristol
Stamped: [illegible]
Postmark: E/ DEC 26/ 1803
Endorsements: [illegible words and figures on address sheet]
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Edith Southey was pregnant with her second child, Edith May Southey, who was born on 30 April 1804. BACK

[2] HMS Suffisante, the brig-sloop on which Southey had found his brother a place. BACK

[3] Cody’s identity is uncertain. One possibility is that he is the book-auctioneer William Cody (dates unknown) whose business had been based in Dublin c. 1791-1797. If so, Southey may have made his acquaintance during his time in Dublin in 1802. Cody could be the same person as, or connected to, the bookseller and auctioneer of the same name who traded in Bristol c. 1820-1821. BACK

[4] Probably a reference to Thomas Russell & Co., the largest carriers in the West Country, who ran a service from Falmouth to Exeter and London. At this time the business was run by Robert Russell (fl. 1792-1816). BACK

[5] Isaac James (b. 1759) was the son of Samuel James (1716-1773), Baptist minister at Hitchin. He came to Bristol in 1773 as a student at the Baptist Academy. He kept a shop as a bookseller, teadealer (and sometimes undertaker) first in North Street and then in Wine Street. He was a member of the Baptist meeting at Broadmead and served as classical tutor at the Baptist Academy in Bristol from 1796 to 1825. During the late 1790s and early 1800s, James collaborated with Joseph Cottle in selling numerous works, mostly by dissenters. Among James’s own works were Providence Displayed: or, The Remarkable Adventures of Alexander Selkirk (1800). He also tried his hand at poetry, including The Pilgrim’s Progress. The First Part: Rendered into Familiar Verse (1815), as well as a polemical work, An Essay on the Sign of the Prophet Jonah (1802). An associate of the members of the Baptist Missionary Society Committee, James was well placed to supply the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1800-1817). These were published as a periodical beginning in 1793, but then as bound volumes beginning in 1800. BACK

[6] Southey had reviewed Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1800-1801), in Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803), 207-218. BACK

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

[8] Southey reviewed London Missionary Society, Transactions of the Missionary Society (1803) for Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 189-201. BACK

[9] Isaac James, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World, to That Which is to Come (1815). BACK

[10] John Bunyan (1628-1688; DNB), Pilgrim’s Progress (1678-1684). BACK

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

[12] William Jillard Hort (1764-1849), Unitarian Minister and writer. BACK

[13] Charles Danvers’s dog. BACK

[14] Tom Southey’s dog. BACK

[15] Danvers’s servant, her first name and dates are unknown. BACK

Places mentioned

Dublin (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)