2766. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 22 April 1816*
22d April. 1816.Keswick.
I ought sooner to have written to you, – but ill news always finds its way, & I was willing to shrink from another repetition of the same tale.  The affliction which has befallen me is heavier than any person can conceive who had not seen the habits of my domestic life, – how closely they were connected with the studies & the amusements of the child whom I have lost, & how he became as naturally my companion as I became his playmate. There is but one source of consolation, – but that source is all-sufficient, & I have drank of it largely. My happiness can never again be what it has been; – yet will the difference be rather in kind than in degree; – there will be less of earth about it, less that is insecure & perishable. He was the main object of my hopes, – those hopes have now xxx no fears to alloy them (for this calamity was always before my eyes) & at this moment with a feeling of perfect resignation at xxx his removal, I thank God for having during so many years blest me with a son who was in every quality of disposition & intellect entirely after my own heart. No mother could possibly have behaved with more admirable fortitude than Edith did during the whole severe trial. We are both as you would wish to see us under such a dispensation, – resigned to the will of God, & grateful for the blessings which we still possess, – blessings such as fall to the lot of few.
I am very much reduced in body & in strength. But I am taking all care of myself, & a short time will recruit me. I employ myself incessantly, & find not only relief in mental exertion, but even pleasure.
God grant that you may never be visited with a sorrow of this kind. My love to my Aunt & the children. I cannot love Edward more than I already loved him, – but as far as is possible he will be to me hereafter in the place of my son.
God bless you.
* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert
Hill/ Worting/ near/ Basingstoke/ Hampshire
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 25 AP 25/ 1816
Seal: black wax, design illegible
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 151. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 23–24. BACK