317. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 21 May 1798
317. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 21 May 1798 *
Monday 21. May. 98.
My dear Edith
Or my dearest Edith – or to speak more earnestly my dear dear Edith – tis an Italian superlative & I like it. I am writing Edith because Burns  business by preventing him from meeting me this morning allows me leisure, which I cannot employ better or more agreably. I went to Brixton to breakfast yesterday & spent a comfortable day, it was very comfortable – I got at Sir John Maundeviles Travels, & as I am as fond of a good lie as our modern metaphysicians pretend to be of truth, passed the morning in making abundant extracts, to what purpose you will see in the next poem I write.  The whole family received me with their usual welcome, even Snivel yelped out her how d ye do, & licked my fingers by way of shaking hands. This morning I departed after breakfast with Grosvenor, & after we seperated went to Lamb. He seemed glad to see me – you must direct his book & picture to 45 Chapel Street, Pentonville, near Islington, near London. send it soon & pray let it be packed with all possible care. I then called upon Arch  – & there met Benjamin Flower of Cambridge; grown quite young again & blooming. he recognized me with much cordiality. from thence I journeyed to Bedford Square, where I now am sitting in an armed chair considerably wearied “thinking in sorrow of my evening ride.” 
I have told poor Blighs  story with some effect. it drew tears at Brixton, & what was better half a guinea from Grosvenor presently after another half from Mrs B. & when no one was by the old gentleman put a 2 pound bill into my hand. John May has given a one pound bill, & will go a begging for me. Wynn will give five guineas himself – & says he doubts not that Richards  will do the same. let this be communicated to the Admiral. It is pleasant to beg with success on these occasions.
The diabolical Benchers of Grays Inn have made a law that three dinners must be eat to keep a term, & those in different weeks – curse them. It is not to take place the next term however. I met Montague in the hall, he told me that Wordsworth was going to Germany. Daly  sat next me at dinner.
Lamb has some hopes of escaping the requisition  – he says, he x hopes the country can sa be saved without his exertions but that if nothing but his right arm can protect it, he must be content. Dapple is a light horse-man. 
This is a very wicked place – I always as you know gape about me in London streets & read the Advertisements like a Loon just come from the country – among these I see a child advertised as lost, a boy as absconded from school – a gentleman as having left his family, & a young woman as x stolen – & by her own account in a letter “confined & not permitted to say where or by whom.” Now these things seem improbable in novels.
I am about to write a note to Burn, & the money he has in his hands will be sent down in consequence. I know not the exact sum, but understand it is about 100 pounds.
My hand is now grown somewhat cold, for you know how soon the Londoners leave off fire. moreover I have said everything & may as well conclude. is it necessary Edith to say that I am weary & restless, & wish myself with you? pray write – & tell me how you are. You shall hear from me again this week – that is if time permit the posts. I must versify at Yarmouth. Phillips  I did not see but left the brogues
God bless you.
yr Robert Southey.
I have not had time to see my mothers friend George Dyer. Carlisle was at Brixton when I went – I saw him for about half an hour Harry Bedford also was there, he is a wonderful lad.
Did you see my advice about your hat. pray wait for the new fashion – nothing can be more simple & more elegant. If I had had a woman with me I should have sent one done – but I could not bargain with a milliner.
* Address: To/ Edith Southey/ 8 Westgate Buildings/ Bath/ Single
Stamped: Tottenham/ Court Road
Postmark: AMA/ 21/ 98
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14169. ALS; 4p.
 Probably ‘The Origin of the Rose’, published anonymously in the Morning Post, 23 June 1798 and renamed ‘The Rose’ in Poems, 2 vols (Bristol, 1799), II, pp. –80. The origin of the story is noted in Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 91. BACK
 John and Arthur Arch (fl. 1792–1838), publishers, booksellers and stationers, whose premises were at this time at 23 Gracechurch St, London. BACK
 Unidentified; Southey is possibly quoting from one of his letters to Edith which has not survived. BACK
 James Blythe (1766/7–1798), the Midshipman killed in the fight between the Mars and L’Hercule on 21 April 1798. BACK
 Each county was required to provide a certain number of men for the cavalry militia, to protect Britain from invasion. BACK
 ‘Dapple’ (a nickname for Bedford derived from that of Sancho Panza’s ass in Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), Don Quixote (1605–1615)) had joined a company of volunteer cavalry, probably the Light Horse Volunteers of London and Westminster. BACK
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