2540. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [c. 13 January 1815]*
I have thought of something which will be better than either Comedy or Novel, – as involving no difficulties of plan, story or narration. – Scenes in Cumberland & Westmorland.  – You may put together all you know of the manners of the people in detached dialogues, – mix up with it what you like, – & make drawings for it, – to be engraved in some inexpensive way, – in outline as sketches: – or in the manner of Westalls Caves.  And these will be a book for sale among the Lakers. –
This is a dismal business here. Edith is less agitated than she was at first, – because the first alarm is over, – but she suffers a great deal in many ways, & God knows when the abscess will fill, – & when it will end, or how, – for it is in a place where the consequences may be very distressing. Edmondson went to Carlisle on Wednesday, & it was but returned yesterday. – Considering the situation of the thing, I cannot but think he would do better by trying to disperse it (if that be possible) than by bringing it on. But we have not seen him since Tuesday morning! 
God bless you
* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick,
‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp.
Dating note: dated from content, especially the account of Isabel Southey’s illness. BACK
 William Westall, Views of the Caves near Ingleton, Gordale Scar, and Malham Cove in Yorkshire was not published until 1818, but Mary Barker and Southey had probably seen early sketches for it. BACK