2313. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 16[–22] October 1813

2313. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 16[–22] October 1813 ⁠* 

Saturday evening. Oct 16. 1813. Streatham.

My dear Edith

My letter of yesterday by a provoking blunder of the servants was left for todays post, & being sealed I could not open it when yours, as I had hoped it would, arrived from Q Annes Street. – Make yourself quite easy concerning money, – there will be plenty. My work here [1]  is finished, & as soon as I receive the ‘remuneration’ [2]  I shall send you a large supply. – The yearly insurance for 1000£, at my age is £34 three times that will be £102. the Laureateship will not quite cover this, but the few pounds which are deficient I shall willingly pay. There is no better mode of laying by money for a family. A policy for 5000£ was paid the other day, & the man had lived so long & the society is so flourishing that his Executors received 9000£.

Dear Edith you advise me still to make Ludlow in my way. My mind was made up to take the shortest road, for the round would occasion at least a weeks delay. One day to Worcester, one day there, one day to Ludlow, not less than two there, – then there is Wynn expecting me, & not willing to part with me when he gets me, & from him I should have to find my way thro vexatious delays, & expensive routes to Chester & Liverpool, whereas the strait road saves money, saves xxx trouble, saves uncertainty, & above all brings me home in three & forty hours. – If I promise Mr Brown to take you there in 1815 when I put my great book to the press, [3]  he will willingly forgive the disappointment now. In truth I am heartily homesick – & why should I be ashamed to confess it.

Thursday. 2 o clock. Q Anne Street.

Here I am, – engaged every day for a fortnight with only the exception of one. The delays about the Laureateship are at last over. In order that every body might have a finger in the pye Marquis Hertford chose to wait till Lord Liverpool should please to write to him, & ask it for me. This was done yesterday, & a note from Croker last night informed me the appointment was made. I go to Court with Croker, – which will be like seeing the last scene of a pantomime, & being on the stage myself. The Doctor riggs me in his Court-suit. The Levee will be held either immediately after the meeting of Parliament (which is fixed for the 2d. next Tuesday week) or perhaps before, – if there are any changes in administration. When it is over I shall write a full true & particular account to Herbert, – as being not the least curious passage in his fathers life. – On Wednesday next I go to the Insurance Office, – & then (including my former insurance), an improving legacy of 4000£ will be secured for the five who are come & the nine who are to make up my lawful number of children. – I should like to see whether you look vicious at reading this.

We go to Woburn [4]  about the 2d. meaning to stay one clear day & return the xxx next. Then I shall remove my quarters to Rickmans, & my present intention is to take my place in the mail for Tuesday the ninth of November so to reach home on this day three weeks, – after the longest absence I ever xxx made, or ever again expect to make. But I have been profitably employed. My business at Streatham is compleated to the full satisfaction of the person concerned, & I suppose the ‘goodly guerdon’ [5]  will not be delayed. As soon as it comes I shall send you a large remittance. You need be under no uneasiness respecting money. Employments crowd upon me, & every new publication will be more profitable than the last.

Friday. Mrs Morgan is better, & I hope the danger is not likely to return. Coleridge is gone to Bristol upon their business, he went Thur Wednesday, & is to return the end of the week. I had not seen him for ten days before, at which he was unreasonable enough to wonder & complain, when x if he had looked for me instead of expecting me to look for him, he would have found that I was not in town, – & when if he had reflected for a single minute he would have perceived that, if in town, my very minutes must needs be numbered. He means to come down with me.

We dined yesterday with Herries, where Harry was introduced to Croker. This morning I am to breakfast with Sharp, – from xx Mark Lane I return in this direction to Norton Street, for my second sitting for the bust – I sat for hours yesterday: it is not fatiguing, & the process being new to me was amusing. He e Smith [6]  expects to succeed entirely, & I believe my face is one of those which is better fitted for the sculptor than the painter. We go to Champion Hill [7]  to day where we shall meet Mrs Harrison. [8]  Tomorrow I dine with Stoddart, [9]  Sunday we go to Richmond, return on Wednesday to dine with Neville White, Thursday with Croker, Friday with Longman, Saturday with Murray, Sunday with Stuart. – I am working at present upon documents which Croker has supplied me with.

I found the Senhoras letter on my return last night, & Mr Littletons card with it. If possible I shall call on him today, – tomorrow at the latest. – See by what scraps I have written this scrawl, & now I must set off for Mark Lane – nearly an hours walk. So if at least it should be impossible to fill up the other side of the letter when I come back I will say God bless you here.



* Address: To/ Mrs Southey/ Keswick/ Cumberland
Postmark: BOC/ 22/ 1813
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 80-82. BACK

[1] Southey was writing a pamphlet entitled An Exposure of the Misrepresentations and Calumnies in Mr Marsh’s Review of Sir George Barlow’s Administration at Madras. By the Relatives of Sir George Barlow (1813). This was a defence of Sir George Barlow’s (1763–1846; DNB) conduct as Governor of Madras in 1807–1813, especially during the army mutiny of 1809. It was a direct reply to Charles Marsh (c. 1774–1835; DNB), Review of Some Important Passages in the Late Administration of Sir G. H. Barlow, Bart., at Madras (1813). BACK

[2] Love’s Labours Lost, Act III, scene 1, lines 136–137. BACK

[3] Possibly Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[4] The ancestral home of Herbert Hill’s patron, John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766–1839). BACK

[5] Edmund Spenser (1552–1599; DNB), Faerie Queene (1590–1596), Book I, Canto VII, Stanza 15, line 2. BACK

[6] James Smith (1775–1815), sculptor. BACK

[7] The home of the Gonne family, friends of Southey since his first visit to Portugal in 1796. BACK

[8] Unidentified. BACK

[9] The lawyer and writer Sir John Stoddard (1773–1856; DNB). In 1813 he was working as a leader-writer on The Times. BACK

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 2 times)