2654.1 Robert Southey to Herbert Southey, [mid-September 1815]

2654.1 Robert Southey to Herbert Southey, [mid-September 1815] ⁠* 

HERBERT! Having some spare time
I will write to you in rhyme;
For, though you perhaps suppose
That I should write to you in prose,
Rhyming Son, methinks, should rather
Hear in rhymes from rhyming Father.

And if I in verse declare
Where we’ve been, and where we are,
Such odd names I needs must bring in
As will prove my skill in singing;
Skill, my son, which, you may guess,
It befits me to possess; —
Me, who, living by the Greta,
Am his Majesty’s Poeta! [1] 

At our outset, as you saw, son,
We for driver had James Lawson; [2] 
Carefully did young James guide
Chaise and horse to Ambleside.
Loth we were, the truth to tell,
To leave a house we love so well;
Yet we felt our spirits mend all
On the second stage to Kendal:
Thence we went to Kirkby Lonsdale.
(He, son, does not walk in bonds well
Who can make a name so ugly
Into couplets come so snugly!)

Thence we went to Ingleton
When our first day’s work was done.
Horses well upon their mettle
Carried us next day to Settle;
After breakfast then we skipt on
Merrily as far as Skipton;
Next a man, whose coat was motley,
Drove a pleasant stage to Ottley.
Thence a weary way proceeds
Up a heavy hill to Leeds.
Caetera desunt., [3] 


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Warter.
Previously published: John Wood Warter, Selections From the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 24–25.
Dating note: dating from content, which indicates this letter was written shortly after Southey left home in early September 1815. BACK

[1] i.e. Poet Laureate. BACK

[2] James Lawson (dates unknown) was probably the son of the Keswick carpenter, James Lawson (dates unknown). BACK

[3] ‘The rest is missing’. BACK