1933. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 9 June 1811

1933. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 9 June 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. June 9. 1811.

I delayed writing, being apprehensive that a sick nursemaid, & some ailings among the children might put off our departure. At present our purpose is to set off on Tuesday, that is the day after tomorrow. We stop a day or two at Nottingham, – to save trouble as well as expence we shall travel by mail wherever we can, – so I think we shall breakfast with you on Monday the 17th. I would make it a day sooner, but you subject yourself to danger as well as delay if you go on the mail at those times when it is not bound to arrive in London at a given hour. They take that opportunity of breaking in new horses: – in which operation they had once nearly broken my neck. Hasker [1]  of the Post Office happened to be a fellow traveller, & he wondering at his <own> folly at having set out on that night, gave me a caution, which the circumstances impressed xxxx sufficiently enforced, – for the inconvenience occurred almost at every stage.

It is possible Dr Bell may direct a note to me at Streatham before I arrive, containing an appointment to meet him, about the business which he proposes. You had better open it, & answer it for me, in case he should name a day Monday. He wants me I suspect to write a book, – this I shall not do, but I may perhaps write a paper for the Quarterly. Murray has just sent me some books which seem designed for this purpose.

I finished the Register last night, & wrote an Advertisement explaining the cause of its length & late appearance, in a manner something different from a booksellers’ apology. [2]  Ballantyne requested me to do this. There will be about ten sheets to follow me to Streatham. The volume will be nearly 800 pages, – μεγα ΗαΗον [3]  both as to my time, & the publishers profits, – but not I trust in any other way. – I am so little weary of the work, that had it not been for my journey I should have commenced the next volume this very day.


I have some law-business to look after in town. My Aunt Mary tells me that between 2 & 300£ vested in the stocks, was awarded by Chancery to me after the death, or as Harry calls it, the descent, of Mr T. Southey. The money arises from the sale of xxx plate & furniture at Fitzhead, in pursuance of Cannon Southeys will, & I suppose three times the sum has been spent in litigating it. [4]  I have written to Turner to make xxx due enquiries.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ JU 12/ 1811 FNn; E/ 12 JU 12/ 1811
Seal: Partial, green wax.
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Hasker (1752–1837), Superintendant of Mail Coaches, 1792–1817. BACK

[2] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[3] ‘a great evil’. A shortened version of the famous quotation from Callimachus (310/305–240 BC), Fragments 465, ‘A big book … is a great evil’. BACK

[4] Cannon Southey (d. 1768) was a distant cousin of Southey’s. His exceptionally complex will, especially concerning his estates at Fitzhead, was a constant source of litigation. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)