1847. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [December 1810]

1847. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [December 1810] ⁠* 

My dear Senhora

I fancied that I had written to you at no very distant date, – but I believe the circumstances of having said something to Mrs Montagu which I meant also to have said to you, has been running in my head as if you had received it. – This circumstance is, that the presence of Mrs M. disturbed me during her whole stay at Keswick, – first by the very striking resemblance which she bears to my mother , – & that when that feeling was abated, by a perpetual apprehension that she was in a far worse state of health than any other person supposed her to be, – in fact that she [was] wasting away by some species of atrophy. This of course I have not told her. But being exceedingly struck, as you may well conceive, by her whole mind & manner, – it constantly hung upon me.

Poor Jackson, you perhaps do not know, began a house adjoining what we used to call the wood-house. [1]  His brother [2]  is compleating it & it will be habitable next summer. It is a badly constructed house but would suit you perfectly should it happen to be unoccupied when you want it .

Be [MS cut]

Kehama [3]  is perhaps by this time on his road to Teddesley for you. You do not seem to have seen the Edinburgh Annual Register, [4]  [fifteen words heavily crossed out] at which I am a little disappointed, for I expected that my portion will please you well. I am busier than you can imagine, & employments thicken on me. Longman last night tells me a new edition of Joan of Arc is wanted, [5]  – & tho this is nothing to me in the way of profit, I cannot let it go forth again to the world without a thorough revision. It is not a good thing to be idle, Senhora, – but it is a very good thing to feel that you may be as idle as your heart could wish if you chuse it.

There is nothing that you can do for me in town, – all my wants there lie at the booksellers, & with them I have regular communication. Edith is to accompany me in the spring to visit my new Aunt in Streatham. I hear there is a new cousin expected in that quarter. The more the merrier is my maxim for my friends as well as myself.

My correspondence with Mrs Montagu was concerning Coleridge who went to London for the express purpose of putting himself under Carlisle to be cured of – evil habits, [6]  – a disease of which nothing but absolute coercion [word crossed out] will cure him. I suppose he is going on just as usual & consider[s] the vice incurable. A dismal thing. The soreness of the sorrow has been past with me for many years. but the sense of the loss which it is to mankind, increases.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Miss Barker
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 341–343
Dating note: dated from contextual evidence, the publication of the Curse of Kehama. BACK

[1] This became Greta Lodge. BACK

[2] Jackson’s brother, his first name and dates are unknown. BACK

[3] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[4] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810). BACK

[5] Joan of Arc (1812), the fourth edition of the poem. BACK

[6] i.e. opium addiction. BACK

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Teddesley (mentioned 1 time)