121. Robert Southey to Miss Fricker [probably Edith or Sarah Fricker], [9 January 1795] *
Friday night — no Coleridge!
I believe I should be very angry were it not for the hope that he has written to Bristol. your sister desired me to let you know when he arrived, & you must attribute these repeated letters to my wish of alleviating suspense as much as possible. you would be disgusted with my hand-writing were I to continue this — so from henceforth I will write no more on so unpleasant an occasion — if he comes you shall know. excuse me for having troubled you so often.
this state of expectation totally unfits me for any thing. when I attempt to employ myself the first knock at the door wakes all my hopes again & again disappoints them. tis a very unpleasant state — I cannot ask you to write because in hourly hopes of seeing him & then visiting you — so here I am — alone — & without the half-compensation of correspondence.
the looking glass represents me most melancholy in my sable suit. if my eyes were shut a true methodist parson but their cast is different. I have passed the evening with Mrs Selwood  — played two rubbers — & quitted an unpleasant company for supper & this unpleasant employment. strange my dear sister that writing to you should be unpleasant! yet so it is — I cannot give pleasure — & to communicate disappointment is hateful. Mrs Selwood goes tomorrow morning — she begs to be rememberd to your sister. remember me likewise — tell her that I found much pleasure in writing to her — but rather abandoned it than would run the risk of fatiguing her. —
for mercys sake console me here with a letter — I shall have it tomorrow night or Sunday morning — I am so heavy so dull so solitary! this vile expectation unhinges me so lamentably. they laugh at my punctuality — so it is — man delights to ridicule the virtue he does not possess that he may learn to despise the want of it! punctuality — why it is the very prominent feature in my character. I never have been laughed out of principles yet.
farewell — I am kept in exercise by walking to meet the coaches. did he say Wednesday positively to you? I told you about the middle of the week. why will he ever fix a day if he cannot abide by it. — the quarter boys at Christ Church were the most respectable characters I have met with for they never disappointed me.
farewell once more
my Mother is well & never wavers. do you know th[MS torn] I am almost afraid to write to you — since my f[MS torn] letter displeased you. I am a sad hand at turning[MS torn] a neat phrase & rounding a period — plain sincer[MS torn] aim at — & most sincerely do I wish to pleas[MS torn]
* Address: Miss Fricker/ Redclift Hill/ Bristol/ Single
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: E. L. Griggs (ed.), Collected letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 6 vols (Oxford, 1956–1971), I, p. 148 n. 2 [in part].
Dating note: Dating is from evidence within this letter and others written by Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in January 1795. Coleridge was expected to arrive in Bristol on Wednesday 7 January and this letter is written on Friday 9 January, by which time he had still not appeared. Southey left Bath on Saturday 10 January, arriving in London the following day. BACK