2324. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 5 November 
2324. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 5 November  *
There my dear Edith are some choice verses for you. I composed them in St James Park yesterday, on my way from the Chamberlain’s office where a good old Gentleman-Usher by name Wortham or Worthan,  a worthy sort of a fat old xxxx man in a wig & a bag & a snuff-coloured full dress with cut steel buttons, & a sword, administered an oath in which I swore to reveal all treasons which might come to my knowledge, & to obey the Ld Chamberlain upon the Kings service, & in his stead the Vice Chamberlain.  The Lord Chamberlain is the Marquis of Hertford, & Harry says that the Marchioness may perhaps be the Vice-Chamberlain.  Today or tomorrow I shall pay the fees.
Inclosed are half-bills for 160£.  I cannot yet learn when the Levee  will be. Rickman thinks not till Thursday, in that case I intend to get off on Friday, – but there is danger <a chance> of delay from a circumstance over which I have no controul. You must know that there is a possible danger that the Prince may ask me to dine with him, & no engagement is allowed to interfere with such an invitation. I do not think this will happen, & heartily hope that it may not, but it has been suggested by one or two persons that it may, & therefore I cannot venture to take my place in the mail, while there is this possibility of being compelled to lose it. At the worst it will be but a day or two delay, – bad enough. Xx At the best it exposes me to the chance of not finding a place in the mail when I go to take one after the Levee.
Upon this chance therefore you will give me a few lines by return of post to acknowledge the halfnotes. After paying Danvers, fees & all London bills & expences, & reserving ample enough for my journey & contingent expences, this is no xx scanty surplus which I now remit to you.
I came to Rickmans last night. Writing hastily, & at an uncomfortable distance from a poor fire I am rambling on without order or connection. While I was as the Pursuits of Literature said of me “musing in the Park, – my six lined poem – not a Joan of Arc”  Bedford met me, & we went together to Chelsea to look after a Mr John Lack,  the Uncle of the woman  xxx <to> whom Edward says he is married. This person he described as being such a man as Tom Southey. – I went to learn the girls history, & was prepared by this character to expect a sour & ill natured report. But I found an excellent old man & a dismal history of his brother the father of this girl, of her & all her connections.  It seems she past at one time for another mans wife, & most probably is not married now. The old man who was represented to me as a rich curmudgeon has impoverished himself in assisting this wretched family & at this time chiefly supports the girls mother, – tho she was never married to his brother. – this, he said, was her only fault, & but for this he never knew a more excellent <worthier> woman. He is between 70 [MS torn] 80 & has sons who are well off in official situations & in fortune.  The tears ran down his cheeks when he xx spoke of this poor woman, who is at this time dying, & told me how his rascally brother had forsaken her & was at this living with another woman in wretchedness & xxxx beggary, by xxx whom he has another family.
Wynn is in town & I go to him after breakfast. We left Woburn  at seven yesterday morning, & I did not see a newspaper till I got to the Chamberlains office at three. Was there ever such glorious news! 
I will see Martha to day, & Robert tomorrow. It is needless to say how I am hurried, & how incessantly occupied & engaged. A few days more will set me free, & if the levee be on Thursday I xxx heartily hope to be at home on the Sunday, – earlier, if an earlier day be fixed.
Breakfast is ready – so God bless you. Love to all – kiss the children for me – I cannot tell you to xxx xxx to xx discharge the same commission of love to yourself. – dear Edith once more farewell.
* Address: [in another hand] London Novr. five 1813/ Mrs Southey/ Keswick/ James Graham/ Cumberland
Postmark: FREE/ NO 5/ 1813
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 45 [undated; in part]; Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 86-88. BACK
 Francis Charles Seymour-Conway (1777–1842; DNB), who, as heir to the Marquessate of Hertford, held the courtesy title Lord Yarmouth. He was a close friend of the Prince Regent, who appointed him to the post of vice-chamberlain in 1812 – the Chamberlain was his father, the Marquess of Hertford. BACK
 Isabella Anne (1760–1834; DNB), who had married the Marquis of Hertford in 1776. She was an intimate friend, some said mistress, of the Prince Regent and therefore a power to be reckoned with in Court circles. BACK
 i.e. half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK
 A paraphrase of ‘and ponder in the park/ A six-weeks Epick, or a Joan of Arc’, Thomas James Mathias (1753/4–1835; DNB), The Pursuits of Literature, 2 vols (London, 1797), II, p. 48. BACK
 John Lack (1739–1824). He had served as Secretary to Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool (1729–1808; DNB), during his time as President to the Board of Trade, 1786–1803. BACK
 James Lack (b. c. 1744) had been married to Mary Goley (b. c. 1740). James and Mary had two daughters, Phyllis (b. 1769) and Elizabeth (b. 1772). BACK
 John Lack had two adult sons, Thomas (1770–1841) and John (1773–1850). Thomas was an official in the Board of Trade, rising to be Secretary to the Board. John was a customs officer. BACK
 The seat of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766–1839; DNB), the patron of Herbert Hill’s living at Streatham. BACK