2497. Robert Southey to Neville White [fragment], 8 November 1814 *
Keswick, Nov. 8. 1814.
My dear Neville,
I was not sorry that we did not meet at Ambleside merely to take leave. It is one of those things which, since my schoolboy days, I always avoid when I can; there are but too many of these long good-byes in life; and to one who has experienced in the losses you have sustained that fearful uncertainty of life which only experience makes us fully feel and understand, they are very painful. Our repast upon Kirkston wore a good face of cheerfulness; but I could not help feeling how soon we were to separate, and how doubtful it was that the whole of the party would ever be assembled together again … After our return Isabel was seized with a severe attack, and was brought to the very brink of the grave. I so verily expected to lose her, that I thought at one moment I had seen her for the last time. There are heavier afflictions than this, but none keener; and the joy and thankfulness which attend on recovery are proportionately intense. She has not yet regained her strength; but every day is restoring her, God be thanked.
I am glad you have seen these children. . . , If, by God’s blessing, my life should be prolonged till they are grown up, I have no doubt of providing for them; and if Herbert’s life be spared, he has every thing which can be required to make his name a good inheritance to him …
O dear Neville! how unendurable would life be if it were not for the belief that we shall meet again in a better state of existence. I do not know that person who is happier than myself, and who has more reason to be happy; and never was man more habitually cheerful; but this belief is the root which gives life to all, and holds all fast. God bless you!
Yours very affectionately,