2318. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 28 October 1813

2318. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 28 October 1813 ⁠* 

Q Anne Street . Thursday 28 Oct. 1813

Well, my dear Edith, some of my business is got thro, thank Heaven, & the rest is in a fair train. My appointment is compleated, & I have only to take the oaths & pay the fees. – for the first of such operations I must wait till Saturday, Mash [1]  being out of town till that day. Yesterday I presented myself at the Insurance Office, Mr Edmondson will receive a letter enquiring my character as to health, by this days post I believe, & when his answer is returned, the policy will be compleated, & I shall have secured a provision of 4000£, which will increase according to the length of my own life. My movements depend upon the Levee, I shall figure there one day, & set off for Keswick the next.

MrLittleton has been very civil, he has called twice, & invited me to dinner on Tuesday last, – unluckily however we have never yet met. I shall call again at his door this morning (for I am writing before breakfast.) The bust [2]  will probably be finished this week, & admirably like it will be: the little modelling master means to send the Senhora one. Where will you find a place for one? The likeness is infinitely more striking that that of any portrait which has yet been made of me.

You will not much wonder to hear that Edward has turned up in the world again. Wynn recognized him among a company of strollers at Welsh Pool by his xx resemblance to me, & one more effort in consequence will be made to save him. It seems he is married, [3]  but has no children living. In what way he can be benefitted, or rather in what way it will be proper to attempt to benefit him, depends very much upon the circumstance of his marriage, & I can decide nothing till I know something about his wife. If there is nothing amiss about the match but its imprudence, it offers the best chance of steadying him, & in that case Harry & I & John May agree that he had better continue in the vocation which he has chosen, & endeavour to get an engagement at some respectable theatre. This or the Spanish Service is the alternative, & if he takes the latter he must leave his wife to live by the stage as she can. He says she is known to Kemble, [4]  & that 50£ a year has been settled upon her & her children after the death of an Uncle [5]  who lives at Chelsea. I have a letter from him, written in a manly & proper style & spirit. My first business must be, as soon as I learn who his wife was, to make enquiry into her history & conduct & if this turns out well, I shall have good hopes & expectations for the rest. Wynn offers to assist in fitting him out for the Spanish service, & we could easily get him a commission. But I am unwilling that this plan should be followed, from a fear that if it be, he will again return to the stage: & indeed if he found his wife in <a> reputable xxx way of life, I will never be instrumental in separating them, unless it be at her express desire, & for the manifest & undoubted welfare of both.

Wynn is exceedingly pleased with his manners.

On my next visit to town in the spring after next, God willing, you must accompany me with Shedaw & the Moon, who are both warmly invited to Richmond by Mrs May.

3 o clock

I have seen MrLittleton, & expect in consequence gracious communications from his father-in-law. [6]  Coleridge is not returned from Bristol, & Mrs Morgan & her sister [7]  not being at home, I could learn nothing about more. His nephew John C. was at Richmond Sunday & Monday, a man perfectly unassuming & of very prepossessing m[MS torn] promising ability. John Mays two little girls [8]  are s[MS torn] eldest about a year younger than Shedaw, xx & [MS torn] her sister as near in age as possible. The boy [9]  I did not see for he is at school.

I am now about to lay in some cold meat preparatory to a seven o clock dinner! that done, I shall work upon Crokers papers till your tea time, when I must begin to dress for dinner. Of my Uncle I shall see nothing till Tuesday next, when he is to call for me as near ten o clock as he can, in order to reach Woburn [10]  a little after five. Let me find a letter at Rickmans on Thursday upon my return. I am a little disappointed at not receiving one today.

Tell Miss Malone that her maids [11]  receipt is lying in my desk, & that I keep it there, thinking it more likely that she may be at Keswick to receive it, than in Ireland, & unwilling to send it in this uncertainty. I fear they will winter xxx in Cumberland, & am sorry for it, tho it will be so much our gain.

The Doctors vile ink makes me write a sprawling hand. – My next will probably be to Son Lunus, for I promised to write to him about the Indian Jugglers. [12]  Remember in your next to tell me everything which you wish me to bring. – I have always forgetten Cs direction. It is 19. London Street. Fitzroy Square. He means to return with me, this however will make no difference in my movements, for certainly I shall be like Time & Tide upon this occasion, & will wait for no man.

So God bless you my dearest Edith! Kiss the children, give my love to Wilsey, & believe that the happiest moment during my whole long absence will be that in which I seat myself in the mail coach to return. RS.


* Address: To/ Mrs Southey/ Keswick/ Cumberland
Postmark: BOC/ 28/ 1813
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 84-86. BACK

[1] Thomas Mash (1767–1840), First Clerk to the Lord Chamberlain and a Gentleman Usher. BACK

[2] A bust of Southey was being sculpted by James Smith (1775–1815). BACK

[3] Edward Southey had a female companion (a Miss Lack), but on making further enquiries into her background and visiting her grandfather, Southey discovered that they were not married. BACK

[4] The actor and theatrical manager John Philip Kemble (1757–1823; DNB). BACK

[5] John Lack (1739–1824), Secretary to Charles Jenkinson, 1st Lord Liverpool (1729–1808; DNB), President of the Board of Trade 1786–1803. BACK

[6] Marquis Wellesley, whose illegitimate daughter Hyacinthe Mary (1789?-1849) had married Littleton on 21 December 1812. BACK

[7] Charlotte Brent (dates unknown). BACK

[8] Mary Charlotte May (born 1804) and Susanna Louisa May (1805–1885). BACK

[9] John May (1802–1879). BACK

[10] The ancestral home of Herbert Hill’s patron, John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766–1839; DNB). BACK

[11] Sarah Ansell (dates unknown) was a servant in the household of one of the two sisters of Southey’s friend Richard Malone, Lord Sunderlin, Henrietta Malone (c. 1745–1824) or Catherine Malone. Southey had invested some money on Sarah Ansell’s behalf; see Southey to Edith Southey, 5[–7] September 1813, Letter 2299. BACK

[12] Three jugglers from India were performing in London in summer 1813. BACK

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