3084. Robert Southey to Charlotte Broome, 27 February 1818

3084. Robert Southey to Charlotte Broome, 27 February 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 27 Feby. 1818

Madam

I fear you may have thought me unmindful of my engagement − If the Inscription which I now transmit should not be suitable to your wishes, as very possibly it may not, it will not be for want of desire on my part to make it so. [1] 

I return the lines with which you favoured me. The thought upon which they turn could not have been better expressed in any other language; − & they may be adapted to the present occasion (for which indeed there would be a melancholy fitness in preferring them) merely by reading the fifth line thus

His grave, − a narrow space of Earth assignd –

Believe me Madam

Yr faithful & obedient servant

Robert Southey.

Epitaph.

——

Time & the World, whose weight & magnitude
Bear on us in this Now, & hold us here
Curb’d & enthrall’d, − what are they in the past,
And in the prospects of the immortal Soul
How poor a speck! Not here her resting place,
Her portion is not here; & happiest they
Who gathering early all that Earth can give
Shake off this mortal coil, & speed for Heaven.
Such fate had he whose relics lie below.
Few were his days, yet long enough to learn
Love, duty, generous feelings, high desires,
Faith & devotion; these are deathless seeds
That have their blossom in eternity:
And what beside could length of years have given? –
Joys frailer even than health or human life.
Temptation, certain sorrows, sin perchance,
Evils that wound, & cares that fret the heart.
Repine not therefore, ye who love the dead.

_______


Notes

* Address: To/ Mrs Broome/ Under the Hill/ Richmond/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ 2 MR 2/ 1818; [partial] Clock/ MR. 2/1818 F.N.n
Seal: black wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
Watermark: B. E. & S. BATH/ 1814
Endorsements: epitaph
MS: Morgan Library, MA 63. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In reply to Broome’s request Southey had undertaken to write an epitaph for her son Ralph Broome (1801–1817). It was engraved on a tablet in St Swithin’s Church at Walcot, Bath and later published in The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (London, 1828), p. [177]. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)

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