LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 31 December 1803

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Dec. 31. 1803.
“Dear Tom,

“I have just received yours, and regret that I did not write sooner, upon a reasonable calculation
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 245
that convoys are even more uncertain than packets. A letter, per Bottle, I see by the newspapers, thrown in on the way to the West Indies, if I recollect right, in latitude 47, has found its way to the Isle of Sky, having travelled five miles per day against prevalent winds—therefore a current is certain. I will send into town for the paper, and send you the particulars in this or my next. Do not spare bottles in your passage; and be sure that I have a letter from the Western Isles.

“For God’s sake adapt your mode of living to the climate you are going to, and abstain almost wholly from wine and spirits. General Peche, an East Indian officer here, with whom we dined on Christmas-day, told me that in India the officers who were looking out for preferment, as a majority, &c., and who kept lists of all above them, always marked those who drank any spirits in a morning with an X, and reckoned them for nothing. ‘One day,’ said he,. ‘when we were about to march at day-break, I and Captain —— were in my tent, and we saw a German of our regiment, so I said we’d try him; we called to him, said it was a cold morning, and asked him if he would drink a glass to warm him. I got him a full beaker of brandy-and-water, and, egad! he drank it off. When he was gone, I said. Well, what d’ye think; we may cross him, mayn’t we? Oh yes, said he, cross him by all means. And the German did not live twelve months.’ Spice is the stimulus given by nature to hot countries, and eaten in whatever quantities can do no harm. But the natives of all hot countries invariably abstain from spirits, as deadly.
Eat fruits plentifully, provided they do not produce flux; animal food sparingly in the hot season: fish will be better than meat. Do not venture to walk or ride in the heat of the sun; and do not be ashamed of a parasol,—it has saved many a man’s life. I am sure all this is very physical and philosophical sense. But I will desire King, who knows the West Indies, to write out to you a letter of medical advice. This is certain, that bilious people fare worst, and nervous people, for fear predisposes for disease: from these causes you are safe.

Edith will go on with Madoc for you, and a letter full shall go off for Barbadoes this week. My last set you upon a wide field of inquiry; I know not what can be added, unless you should be at St. Vincent’s, where the Caribs would be well worthy attention; making the same queries of and to them as to the negroes. Of course there are no Spanish books except at the Spanish islands. Oh! that I were at Mexico for a hunt there! Could you bring home a live alligator? a little one, of course, from his hatching to six feet long; it would make both me and Carlisle quite happy, for he should have him. And tray pray, some live land-crabs, that they may breed; and any other monsters. Birds lose their beauty; and I would not be accessory to the death of a humming-bird, for the sake of keeping his corpse in a cabinet: but with crocodiles, sharks, and land-crabs it is fair play—you catch them, or they you. Your own eyes will do all that I can direct them. How unfortunate that neither of us can draw! I want drawings of the trees.

Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 247

Thompson, the friend of Burns, whose correspondence with him about songs fills the whole fourth volume, has applied to me to write him verses for Welsh airs: of course I have declined it; telling him that I could as soon sing his songs as write them, and referring him to Harry, whom he knows, for an estimate of that simile of disqualification. Still I am at reviewing; but ten days will lighten me of that burthen, and then huzza for history, and huzza for Madoc, for I shall be a free man again! I have bought Pinkerton’s Geography after all, for the love of the maps, having none; it is a useful book, and will save me trouble.

“We shall not think of holding any part of St. Domingo. What has been done can only have been for the sake of what plunder was to be found, and perhaps also to save the French army from the fate which they so justly deserved. God forbid that ever English hand be raised against the negroes in that island! Poor wretches! I regard them as I do the hurricane and the pestilence, blind instruments of righteous retribution and divine justice; and sure I am that whatever hand be lifted against them will be withered. Of Spanish politics I can say nothing, nor give even a surmise. Here at home we have the old story of invasion; upon which the types naturally range themselves into a very alarming and loyal leading paragraph. Let him come, say I, it will be a fine thing for the bell-ringers and the tallow-chandlers.

“I trust this will reach you before your departure. Write immediately on your arrival, and afterwards
by every packet, for any omission will make me uneasy. I will not be remiss on my part

“God bless you! Edith’s love. A happy new year, and many returns!

R. S.”