2303. Robert Southey to John King, 17 September 1813

2303. Robert Southey to John King, 17 September 1813 ⁠* 

Streatham. Sept. 17. 1813

My dear King

Let me introduce to you a New-Englander, who has travelled in your country, [1]  studied at Rome, & will leave behind him as a painter, even if he should never produce another picture, a reputation higher than any artist of the age. He has been miserably ill (from the effects of white lead I believe) – & you I am sure for his arts sake as well as for mine, will give him any medical aid of which he may stand in need. He is a man of real worth as well as of high genius.

I will write to you more fully when I can find leisure. Of myself all I have to say is that I am in good health & grumbling; & that you will probably soon see me announced as Poet Laureate. You will please to congratulate, & not condole with me, upon this appointment. I take it upon an understanding that no odes are to be expected from me, [2]  & I mean to employ the whole salary in insuring my life. It will nearly, or perhaps quite, cover an insurance for 3000£ – & thus a thing which is paltry in itself, becomes of importance by enabling me to make this provision for my children.

I have become acquainted with M. Stael, [3]  – I expected only a clever woman, & found a sensible one. – If she goes to Bristol (which I fear she will not) I will send you an introduction to her.

God bless you

Yrs affectionately

Robert Southey


* Address: To/ John King Esqre/ Mall/ Clifton/ Bristol/ favoured by/ Mr Allstone
Postmark: illegible
Endorsement: Mr Allstone/ 5 Richmond Terrace
MS: British Library, Add MS 47891. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, p. 73. BACK

[1] King was originally from Switzerland. BACK

[2] See Southey to John Wilson Croker, [4 September 1813], Letter 2298. Southey was soon to be disabused and, for the first ten years of the Laureateship, found himself writing annual odes. BACK

[3] Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766–1817), the writer and salonnière, who had been much feted during her 1813 visit to England. She, too, was Swiss. BACK

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