495. To Robert Southey Address: Robert Southey Esqre | St James's Parade | Kingsdown | Bristol Single Sheet MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. E. L. G. i. 258. Stamped: Blandford. Saturday Night, 12 o clock. March 12. [1803] My dear Southey I received your Letter this evening, & was very glad to receive it. -- Before I speak of it's contents, let me refer to a former Letter. You surely misunderstood my argument respecting the Cards -- I layed no Stress on the Figures; but I contended that if stamping Cards with Texts was printing, Stamping Metal Medals with Figures & Inscriptions (many of them long Inscriptions) was Printing -every Seal with words in it was a species of Printing. You say, that the Figures led to the Texts -- so be it! But still you have to prove that this led to our Printing or had any thing to do with it. Between these Stereotypes & moveable Types there is as great a distance as -935- between -- I will not say, picture-writing and Alphabetical Language; for that would be too much -- but precisely as great as between the Chinese character Language & Alphabetical Language. -- That Coins & Seals did not lead the Greeks & Romans to printing, first their Laws, & then their great Authors ( Homer &c) by Stereotypes, does appear strange. Luck & Accident must be taken into the account, tho' it is impossible to ascertain the degree & weight of their action -- but I think, that the multitude of Slaves, & the circumstance that the manuscript Trade was in the Hands of the wealthiest Nobles will of itself account for the phaenomenon / What Instrument for shortening field-labor was ever invented in the W. Indies? There were none in Europe, till the commercial Feeling extended itself to Agriculture. -- Your prophecy concerning the Edingburgh Review did credit to your penetration. The second number is altogether despicable -- the hum-drum of pert attorneys' Clerks, very pert & yet prolix & dull as a superannuated Judge. The passage you quote has been a slang Quotation at Gunville for the last week. The whole Pamphlet on the Balance of Power is below all Criticism -- & the first article on Kant you may believe on my authority to be impudent & senseless Babble. I rejoice at your account of Ritson's Book. 1 -- Do you read Italian? Whether or no (for there exists a good old English Translation) I conjure you to read thro' the historical & political Works of Machiavel. I prefer him greatly to Tacitus. -- Now for myself -- T. Wedgwood arrived here the Tuesday before last, hopeless, heartless, planless. There seemed to be no thought at all of my accompanying him / & I accordingly settled every thing for going without him. On Sunday last I wrote to London, to make inquiries for him respecting a young man, who has been lately on the continent, for his companion / for his objections to me were, my health, & my ignorance of French & Italian, & the absolute necessity of his having some one to take the whole business of the road off his hands. Yet still he could not bear to come to the point -- & Jos. was anxious, I believe, that Tom should not go without me -- however, on Wednesday Jos. came to me & said -- that T. W. could not bear the idea of losing me -- that he would dismiss his present Servant, & at any price procure a capapee accomplished Travelling Gentleman Servant, &c -- & that we would go together to London on Monday, March 14 -- & to France as soon as the Servant was procured -- / -- Of course, I assented / for I had promised that till the second week of April I would be at his Service, & that I would ____________________ 1 Joseph Ritson ( 1752-1803), Ancient Engleish Metrical Romanceës, 3 vols., 1802. -936- accomodate myself to his resolutions however rapidly changed or nakedly communicated -- / All being thus settled, pounce! comes this damned War-business! -- However, we still go on Monday. Josiah Wedgwood goes with us -- he has a [Dorset?] Address to present, as High Sheriff --. Where I shall be, I do not know -- for there is no bed for me at York St. However a letter will find me there -- 'Messrs Wedgwood & Byerley, York Street, St James's Place, London' -- & I intreat you, mention to no soul alive that I am in London / & communicate no part of this Letter to Tobin. ----- You would greatly oblige me, if you would immediately gain from Mr King or Dr Beddoes information, where in London I can procure a Bottle of the Gout medicine. I admire Dr Beddoes's part of the Pamphlet very much. It is far superior to the Hygeia 1 in Style, & Reasoning. And yet with the exception of the Essay on Mania the Hygeia is a valuable & useful work. Indeed when I think how Beddoes bestirs himself, I take shame to myself for having suffered tittle-tattle Stories respecting him to warp my personal feelings -- especially as to me he has always behaved with uncommon kindness. I do think, that Tobin's maxim of conduct is wise & good -- always keep on the best terms, you can, with an acquaintance, as long as, & in proportion as, he is an active & useful Man -- & this not only in your outward demeanour, but in your inner feelings. -- I wish from my heart's heart, that you were at Keswick -- & that Mary were pensioned off. My heart bleeds for her often / in my deepest conviction, her real misfortune is her heart & temper. Could I have dared answer Wedgwood's Question in the affirmative -- 'Is she kind, gentle, of a sweet & affectionate Temper?' I will not disguise from you, that I could have procured the Situation for her -- & she would never, never have been abandoned by them. But in proportion as Mr & Mrs Wedgwood are delightful in their own domestic character -- the children delightful -- & their intentions to a Governess, who should prove another mother & guardian to the children, in the highest degree liberal & grateful -- in the same proportion, you feel, that I could not dare recommend any one without my warmest & sanest Convictions. Indeed, it would have been as silly as wicked. For their penetration is fully equal to their goodness of Heart. -- Would to Heaven, you were at Keswick. Wordsworth means to reside ½ a mile from it -- & you & he would agree far better now, than you might perhaps have done 4 or 5 years ago -- & he is now ____________________ 1 Thomas Beddoes, Hygëia: or Essays Moral and Medical, on the Causes affecting the Personal State of our Middling and Affluent Classes, 8 vols., 1802-3. -937- fonder of conversation & more open. -- Kiss the Pearl, the dispassionate Pearl for me -- Little Darling! I have a Father's Heart for all of her age -- how much more for a child of your's, linked together as we have been, by good & evil, ple[asure] & pain. Would to God, to God, that in one thing, in which I am most unlik[e you,] that I were like you altogether! But the Time is past. -- S. T. Coleridge.