3758. Robert Southey to John May, 10 December 1821

3758. Robert Southey to John May, 10 December 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 10 Dec. 1821.

My dear friend

It is not often, that I allow myself to wish the accidents of fortune had been more in my favour & that I were in possession of that property, which in the just & ordinary course of things ought to have devolved upon me. [1]  But I cannot help feeling that wish now.

By this post I write to Bedford desiring that he will transfer to you 625£ in the three percents. [2]  The history of which accumulation is this, – the first hundred is my wifes, – 325 were recovered from Ballantyne, (leaving me still no small loser) [3]  – & the other 200 were part of that sum from which the last hundred which you received was drawn. [4]  – I wish it was more, or that I had more at command, in any way. – I shall in the spring, if I am paid for the first volume of my history [5]  as soon as it is finished. One hundred I should at all events have sent you then; [6]  – it shall be as much more as I may receive.

One word more. I intreat you, break away from business if it be possible as early in the spring as you can, & put yourself in the mail for this place. Tho you cannot leave your anxieties behind you, yet you may by means of change of air & scene, be assisted in bearing them, & lay in here a store of pleasant recollections, which in all moods of mind are wholesome.

Bedford is generally to be found at the Exchequer from eleven till three or four. But you may arrange your movements with him by note, either directed there, or to his house, 9 Stafford Row, Buckingham Gate.

I cannot write to you about indifferent things, troubled as you needs must be, & sympathizing as I must do with you. Yet I trust that you x now know the extent of the evil, – & that when this storm is weathered there may be prosperity & comfort in store for one who so eminently deserves them.

God bless you my dear friend

Yours most affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Endorsement: No. 223 1821/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 10th December/ recd.> 13th do ansd>
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14144. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), V, pp. 102–103 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey had not received legacies from his wealthy paternal uncles, John and Thomas Southey; nor had he benefited from the estate of his wealthy relative, John Cannon Southey (d. 1768). BACK

[2] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 December 1821, Letter 3757. Southey lent May his entire accumulated savings in government stock in order to help May out of financial difficulty. BACK

[3] John or James Ballantyne. Southey had recovered the £209 he had been persuaded to invest in their Edinburgh Annual Register, and some of the money he was owed both from the Register’s profits and for writing the historical section of the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[4] Southey had been paid for writing a ‘private Memoir’ of David Pike Watts (1754–1816), a fabulously rich wine merchant and philanthropist, who had been an important supporter of Andrew Bell’s educational schemes and owned the Storrs Hall estate on Windermere. He was also the uncle of the painter John Constable (1776–1837; DNB). The work had been commissioned by Watts’s daughter and heiress, Mary Watts-Russell (1792–1840), who had married, in 1811, another heir to a business fortune, Jesse Watts-Russell (1786–1875), MP for Gatton 1820–1826. Southey had mentioned it to John May on 15 November 1820, Letter 3556. BACK

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

[6] The sum to pay for Southey’s life assurance policy with the Equitable Life Assurance Company, of which John May was a Director. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Stafford Row (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)