783. Robert Southey to John May, 16 May 1803

783. Robert Southey to John May, 16 May 1803 ⁠* 

My dear friend

Robert Lovell is seven years & seven months old. his disposition is good & he is sufficiently quick of comprehension. his fathers family are Quakers. the grandfather an opulent man – a pin-manufacturer. but tho opulent he has a very large family of young children by a second marriage & his household is expensive. he has very abominably thrown off this poor child, with some difficulty having been prevailed on to pay his schooling till Midsummer next in the hope that by that time he might be got into the Hospital. [1]  however there can be little fear but that shame will make <him> continue this supply longer. prospects the boy has none, he has abundance of wealthy relations by the fathers side, but they have all families of their own – & will not among them be at the charge of his education. his mother is with us, & would be very glad to get any situation as governess or companion that would enable her to support the child herself. he has only been registered among the Quakers – not baptized – but the Child has been in habits of going to Church & dressing &c like other children. I apprehend it will be necessary to have them him christened according to the Church forms.

When I go to London it will be alone. My Uncle has some commissions for Lord Bath [2]  & the D of Bedford [3]  which he wishes me to deliver, & for these I shall wait – this I have told him & they will probably soon arrive. my stay will not be long. I shall have a bed at Rickmans, & so be at little expense, except of time – but the Museum [4]  & the Kings Library [5]  to which I am promised access will enable me to collect some valuable matter. The book you mention may remain for you – but I should be obliged to you to open it & see if there be any letter. it is the Cronica del Rey D Affonso 4. by Ruy de Pina, edited by Pedro de Maniz, [6]  & it compleats my series of Portugueze Chronicles.

The prospect of war distresses me on every account. with a view to my own individual concerns I shall be materially inconvenienced if the French should eject the English from Lisbon. any communication with Madrid would be immediately cut off – no possibility of procuring more books – & no means of going over to collate written documents – & examine the scenery country as I else hope & trust to do in the winter of next year.

I shall be very glad to see you at Richmond & talk over with you the subject of our late letters & a hundred things beside – We beg our remembrances to Mrs May [7] 

God bless you –

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey

May 16. 1803.  Kingsdown.


* Address: To/ John May Esqr/ 4. Tavistock Street/ Bedford Square/ London/ Single
Postmarks: BRISTOL/ MAY 16/ 1803; B/ MAY 17/ 1803
Endorsements: No. 79 80 1803/ Robert Southey/ Kingsdown 16th May/ recd. 17th do/ ansd. personally; NB. I gave Mr Powell ye following acct of Robert Lovell. R.L. is 7 years & 7 ms old. his disposition is good & he is sufficiently quick of comprehension. His father is dead, & his mother is seeking ye situation of governess or companion to a lady, for ye support of herself & child; but, as to Education, she has not ye means to afford him any. Her family are in very indigent circumstances & her husbands relations have all large families of thr own to provide for & will not among them be at ye charge of ye lad’s education. [Editor’s note: Mr Powell is probably either James (dates unknown) or Hugh (dates unknown) Powell, both governors of Christ’s Hospital school.]
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Ramos, The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 78-79. BACK

[1] Christ’s Hospital, a public school, founded in 1552, which educated many pupils for free or at a reduced fee. BACK

[2] Thomas Thynne, 2nd Marquess of Bath (1765-1837). BACK

[3] John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766-1839; DNB). BACK

[4] The British Museum, London, opened in 1759. BACK

[5] The Kings Library at Windsor, collected by George III (1738-1820, King of Great Britain 1760-1820) and given to the nation in 1823. BACK

[6] Rui de Pina (1440-1521), Chronica de el Rey Dom Alfonso o Quarto do Nome e Settimo dos Reys de Portugal (1653), no. 3350 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Susanna Frances Livius (1767-1830). BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Mary (1771–1862) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)
Lovell family (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned