Robert Southey, an English Romantic poet, writes to John May concerning the publication of his The Works of Chatterton and on the exploits of Napolean Bonaparte.
My dear friend
From the day of my last letter I have been in a comfortless state of compulsory illness occasioned by a complaint in my eyes. A [whole] confederacy of evil attacked me immediately - swelled face - to that I applied leeches - toothache - that was cured radically - symptoms of fever [which] were driven out at every rally port. I have got rid of all except the eye weakness & that is very matternally amended lancing the lower lids was the effectual remedy. Still they are weak - am beginning to read & write, but inconveniently & with caution.
A residence in Wales will not place me so much out of your reach as you imagine, if I succeed in obtaining Maer Goyn for so the house is called. I want to take it furnished, to avoid the first cost of furniture, & the encumbrance if by good fortune I be enabled to remove to a more conjenial climate. 20€ is the unfurnished rent - for the use of the foods from 10 to 15 more may be demanded, if the landlord will let them. it is a lovely spot in a vale among the mountains eight miles from [Neath] with canal carriage within 100 yards of the door. From Bristol to [Neath] is a distance of 80 miles. a friend [who should] leave Bristol by the mail at one in the mid-day, might reach me at breakfast bour the next morning. I will tell you more about it & all its desireablenesses of the [?] end as I wish.
We thank Mrs. May for the receipt. young Margaret I hope will not need it. as yet she has taken no other food but that Nature has provided for her. we are now beginning to give her cows milk likewise. but milk & milk only is to be her diet till her teeth indicate that she is old enough for other food. She has had the cow pox. This is seven days compleat - tomorrow or Thursday at farthest the disease will be at its height - as yet it has produced not the slightest inconvenience. The punctures look well & are in a fine state. I thank you for her. for what
is to come. direct it here 12. St. Farmers Place - Kingsdown - Bristol - the coaches all call at the White House cellar for parcels.
I have just received a most valuable book from Lisbon. the unpublished Chronicle of Fernando by Fernam Lopez. a [?] by its appearance almost as old as the original work - from 250 to 300 years old. I am obliged to keep [?] [with?] this feast before me for my eyes are by no means equal to the task of unravalling its characters. Only one chronicle is now [?] to compleat my Portugueze series.
You ask about Chatterton. the delay has been more owing to the quantity of new matter discovered than to any other cause. I daily expect to see it advertised. it makes three large volumes instead of two - at a guinea & half - Thus you see Mrs. Newton for 350 copies will receive what for her is a very large sum. I have gotten no notice of Croft. you will be very much pleased with a [?] of the front of Red cliff Church a frontispiece shewing that magnificent ascent of steps which is the finest thing of its kind in England. Mrs. Newton relates an odd dream - if ended it be not a waking dream akin in imagination & authenticity to Rowley's poems. She dreamt that her brother had a monument in Redcliff Church . The stones whereof were [?] with a hot stubstance that perpetually grew hotter & hotter - till at last it flamed out. that being about to dress her dinner she had no fire she remembered [?] [?] & [sent] to [?] & warmed her food upon her brothers monument. now says she my dream is out. surely this is too well put together to be a dream.
I must not trespass farther on my eyes. [?] by to be remembered to Mrs. May. young John I trust goes on well & [mite?] soon begin to find what legs were made for. As for Bonaparte, the rascal having a hard heart I should like to try to make him tender as they do legs of mutton - by hanging him quantum suff.
God bless you -
yours very truly
Tuesday 23 Nov. 1802