3146. Robert Southey to William Wilberforce, 3 June 1818

3146. Robert Southey to William Wilberforce, 3 June 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 3 June 1818.

My dear Sir

I would not answer your letter till every enquiry had been made in this neighbourhood, – very sorry I am that the result should be unfavourable! There is but one house here which would be large enough for your accommodation, Ormathwaite, formerly Dr Brownriggs, [1]  now belonging to Sir John Benn Walsh. [2]  It is a mile & quarter from Keswick, – two miles from the Lake. The furniture is little & bad, but enough would be added to render it habitable. It would not however be possible to engage it for the month of August, as a tenant in the meantime may very likely be found.

The regular lodging houses are very small, – the best of them has only three beds pour maitres, & those for servants are not such as any other part xxx of the family could put up with, being in every respect inconvenient. The case is the same about Ambleside, – there is no large house, & smaller ones cannot be engaged at that distance of time. Ormathwaite would do, if it should be disengaged when you want it, – & tho something too far from the waterside, its home view is the finest in this whole vale. As August approaches I can inform you whether it be still vacant.

I heard lately from Koster, he has probably by this time finished his translation of Clarksons book, [3]  concerning which he wrote to you last year, by a ship direct to London (the St Nicholas). Pernambuco is rather a melancholy place of abode for him, since the fatal revolution which has one way or another involved in misery or ruin most of the natives with whom he was in habits of most intimacy. [4]  But I fear the hopes of establishing him at Maranham have past away, – from the length of time that has elapsed since you were kind enough to interest yourself in his behalf. [5] 

Believe me my dear Sir

with the greatest respect

yrs faithfully

Robert Southey.


* Endorsement: Mr Southey Keswick/ House
MS: Berg Collection, New York Public Library. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] William Brownrigg (1711–1800; DNB), doctor, scientist and businessman, had lived at Ormathwaite, below Skiddaw. BACK

[2] Brownrigg’s nephew, Sir John Benn, 1st Baronet (1759–1825), MP for Bletchingley 1802–1806, had inherited Ormathwaite. He changed his name to Walsh on inheriting a fortune from his wife’s uncle. His main estates were in Berkshire and he rented Ormathwaite out. BACK

[3] Southey had interested Wilberforce in Koster’s proposal to translate into Portuguese, and thereby aid the abolition of slavery campaign in Brazil, Thomas Clarkson’s History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (1808). BACK

[4] The revolt against Portuguese rule in Pernambuco March–May 1817. BACK

[5] Southey had been trying (unsuccessfully) to obtain the Consulship at Maranhao for Koster. BACK

People mentioned

Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)
Clarkson, Thomas (1760–1846) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
Ambleside (mentioned 1 time)