3542. Robert Southey to Robert Bill, 23 October 1820

3542. Robert Southey to Robert Bill, 23 October 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 23. Oct. 1820

My dear Sir

The event [1]  which you communicate could not be uninteresting to me, who spent so many happy days in childhood & boyhood with Louisa Dolignon, & received more kindness from her mother [2]  than I ever experienced from any other human being, my own mother alone excepted. When I see this infant, my acquaintance will then have extended to four generations of that line. May God bless & preserve both the child & the parents. You have now to expect pleasures & anxieties altogether different from any that you have ever felt before. So different indeed is the parental affection from every other, that it seems to show more aptly than any other illustration, how possible it is that man may contain within him xxxx instincts & senses which are not evolved in this state of being, but will be developed in another.

I now very much regret that I did not see Mrs Mary Delamare [3]  when I was in the South. Death is the best thing which can happen to a good old age, & hers might truly be called so. But I shall think more mournfully of Theobalds, which will be no longer the same place that I remember so vividly, & which many circumstances bring to my mind so often.

Should you be at Farley when next I travel southward – it will give me great pleasure to take that place in my way. But it will be a long while before I shall <can> leave my desk & my fire side, where I am fixed down by inclination & by numerous employments. I shall hardly move in less than two years, unless any unexpected event should call me from home.

My daughter Edith & her mother unite with me in kindest regards to Mrs Bill & Miss Dauncey. [4] 

Believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Robert Bill Esqre/ Farley Hall/ Cheadle/ Staffordshire
Seal: red wax, design illegible
MS: University of Kentucky Library. ALS; 3p. (c).
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Bill’s wife, Louisa Bill, née Dauncey, had given birth to their first child, Mary Louisa (1820–1835), on 12 October 1820. BACK

[2] Here Southey has slightly confused the names of the Dolignons. Louisa Bill’s mother, and Southey’s childhood friend, was Marie Dolignon (1769–1805); her mother was Elizabeth Dolignon, who acted as a kind of surrogate parent for Southey when he was at Westminster School 1788–1792. BACK

[3] Mary Delamare (c. 1740–1820) had died on 20 September 1820 at her home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. She was the sister of Southey’s childhood guardian, Elizabeth Dolignon. BACK

[4] Mary Sophia Dauncey (dates unknown), sister of Louisa Bill. She married, in 1826, John Henry Latham (c. 1796–1873), a West India merchant. BACK

People mentioned

Dolignon, Elizabeth (d. 1802) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Margaret (1752–1802) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
Dauncey, Louisa (dates unknown) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)