3192. Robert Southey to John Spedding, 12 September 1818

3192. Robert Southey to John Spedding, 12 September 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 12 Sept. 1818

Dear Sir

By yesterdays post a letter from Mrs Clarkson brought an answer to your enquiries concerning the school at Bury. [1]  I transcribe her words.

“–to reply to your enquiries after Bury School, I think it is, if possible, increasing in reputation, & I am sure that Dr Malkin [2]  gives unremitting attention to it, & takes an interest in his scholars far beyond the generality of Masters. As a school for the education of the sons of gentlemen, & particularly of gentlemen who reside in Bury & have their sons under their own eyes, I should think there is scarcely one equal to it in the kingdom. The town is a good one, & there are schools & masters of all descriptions. – We shall always feel ourselves under the greatest obligation to Dr Malkin for the patient attention which he paid to our boy [3]  who was by no means fond of learning, & therefore not likely to reflect that sort of credit on the Master, which boys of brilliant habits talents & studious habits do.”

This is a very satisfactory account, –but you have an opportunity now of learning every thing concerning both the school & the town from Mrs Peachys mother. [4] 

Yrs faithfully

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Spedding Esqr. Mirehouse
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: red wax, design illegible
Endorsement: Letter from Robt Southey/ the Poet – Sep. 1818 -
MS: Wordsworth Trust, WLMSS 2/ 6/ 20. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Spedding was seeking a school for his sons: John (1806–1839); James (1808–1881; DNB), future literary editor, biographer and member of the Cambridge Apostles; and Edward (1811–1832). He was clearly pleased with the results of his enquiry and John, James and Edward were sent to the Grammar School at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. BACK

[2] The schoolmaster and antiquary, Benjamin Heath Malkin (1769–1842; DNB). From 1809 to 1828 he was headmaster of the Grammar School at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The school’s curriculum placed unusual, for the time, emphasis on the study of English literature and on essay writing. BACK

[3] Thomas Clarkson (1796–1836), only child of Thomas and Catherine Clarkson. BACK

[4] The mother of Susannah Henry (dates unknown), a widow, who had married William Peachy in 1812. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)