2330. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 November 1813

2330. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 November 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov. 16. 1813

I expected to have seen you at my toilet on Thursday last, when you would have seen not only the best-drest Poet in Christendom, but also the Poet Laureates commission, – which is a curiosity. I got from the Levee [1]  at four o clock, slipt into more comfortable clothes, & by a quarter after five was in the coach office at the Bull & Mouth, securing a place for the following evening. My first nights journey was rather cold, for want of company; on the second I was more fortunate, & I reached home by five o clock on Sunday afternoon fresh & unfatigued. My ankles are somewhat swoln, but I had neither head ache, nor inconvenience of any kind from so long a spell in the mail coach. All were well at home, & this day I resumed my walks before breakfast with the children.

Before my departure I dined with Gooch. Aldermanbury being conveniently near the Bull & Mouth. Harry met me there & brought with him a note directed to me with the addition of P. L. to my name. It was from Sir Wm Parsons, requesting I would let him have the Ode [2]  or the beginning <commencement> of it by the end of this week as he wished to begin upon it. So the Mus Doc would allow me six days to write the ode, that he might have six weeks for setting it to music! Tomorrow I shall write to him, & tell him in civil terms that the ode must needs be written before it can be composed. [3]  Unhappy Sir William! He must wait my convenience whether he likes it or not, & I am not so impatient to have my verses married to immortal music that I should set about writing them without proper consideration & a plan which satisfies myself.

Give my love to my Aunt. I was sorry to leave Streatham, & think the more seriously of moving southward because I liked <it> so well. Remember me also to Mrs Heathcote [4]  & Miss Bigg [5]  & tell xx the Duke, & the Marquis & the Earl that their cousins are all well, & enquiring about them with proper earnestness.

I find letters from Spain, among others one from D Pedro Maria Ric [6]  respecting Palafox, [7]  – a very able & important letter, refuting in the noblest & most satisfactory manner aspersion which had been thrown upon xxx him. – He tells me also that he has applied to the Junta of Aragon for a series of their Gazettes, [8]  – the few which I possessed made me very desirous of obtaining the whole for they are written with great ability, & with perfect freedom; – & give a clear view of events & misconduct which are glossed over in the Government-accounts. – I have a load of letters to clear off, & shall then fall to my usual employments, for which I hunger & thirst after this long abstinence.

I hope the Goat is as well as can be expected, by this time

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [Partial] 10 o’/ NO/18
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey, in his new role as Poet Laureate, had been presented at Court. BACK

[2] i.e. The New Year Ode (Carmen Triumphale) Southey’s official position dictated he write. Parsons, as Master of the King’s Music, was required to set part of this to music for performance at court. BACK

[3] Southey’s letter to Parsons appears not to have survived. BACK

[4] Catherine Hill’s sister Elizabeth Bigg-Wither (1773–1855), widow of the clergyman William Heathcote (1772–1802). BACK

[5] Alethea Bigg (1777–1847). BACK

[6] The Spanish aristocrat and politician Pedro Maria Ric y Monserrat, Baron de Valdeolivos (1776–1831). BACK

[7] José Rebolledo de Palafox y Melzi (1780–1847), Spanish general. The ‘aspersions’ probably concerned his conduct of the defence of Zaragoza in 1808–1809. Since the fall of the city he had been a prisoner in France. BACK

[8] Southey’s collection eventually ran to 24 volumes of Spanish Gazetas, 1808–1813, no. 3472 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

People mentioned

Parsons, William (1745/6–1817) (mentioned 2 times)
Hill, Errol (1812–1844) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Edward (1809–1900) (mentioned 1 time)
Gooch, Robert (1784–1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Bull and Mouth (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)