939. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 11 May [1804]

939. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 11 May [1804] ⁠* 

This evening my dear Edith I leave Liverpool at six & hope to be in London rather before the same hour on Sunday, tho in case of my feeling so disposed they allow me to stop four and twenty hours any where upon the road. I write from Kosters desk. Harriet I have not seen for she is confined by the ear ache to which she is subject. Charlotte looks alarmingly thin tho with no known complaint but for this I should say she is wonderfully improved, for her face is become strikingly fine. I was somewhat shocked to find they had lost their finest boy – Tom whom you must remember. Mrs K has two born since her arrival in England.

Paper is too dear here & may be bought better in London, for as it comes from London they charge of course the difference of carriage, besides their own profit. Beg your sister to let Wordsworth know that the Merchant well remembered having his book, but could not remember what was become of it. I have desired him, if he finds it, to send it to Koster where it will be safe, if it comes too late for me, & will travel to Keswick when he himself visits the Lakes.

Roscoe is in London – Currie [1]  gone to Scotland, & a Mr Clarke [2]  who is as great a Lion as either – gone to the sale at Ormathwaite [3]  which is the talk of the country – they ask me who made the Catalogue & I say I don’t know, because it is so laughd at for its exceeding ignorance in the language of painters & connoisseurs, which is quite shameful they say. I have been to the Athenæum, [4]  where the little Librarian [5]  seemed heartily to enjoy half an hours conversation which will serve him a reasonable time for <with> conversation for all his acquaintance – for I am no small Lion myself.

I have little time to write, & little inclination to stand long at a counter, having been walking all the morning, & having to pass two nights & days in a stage coach, this is certainly a wonderful place to thank God I am not condemned to live in it, such docks, such warehouses, such business, such creation! but huzza for old Skiddaw, with before me such a neighbour as that, & Dapper [6]  for society – & a fig for cities & homos.

The Gonnes are going to reestablish their house in Lisbon. Crispin [7]  it seems had mismanaged – they are in town & have given up their house in the country – this is lucky. – If I could but know just now how you & the Edithling are going on! – write dear Edith without delay. God bless you


You cannot hear from me before Wednesday

Friday May 11.


* Address: To/ Mrs Southey/ Keswick/ Single
Stamped: [partial] VERP
Postmark: LIVERPOOL 206/ 11 May/ 1804
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Dr. James Currie (1786–1805; DNB): Liverpool resident and editor of The Works of Robert Burns; with an Account of his Life, and a Criticism on his Writings (1800). BACK

[2] Possibly William Clarke (1753–1805), friend of Roscoe and partner in the Leyland, Clarkes and Roscoe bank. BACK

[3] The sale at Ormathwaite Hall, near Keswick, of the books, pictures and scientific instruments of William Brownrigg, (1711–1800; DNB). A doctor and natural philosopher, his experiments on the gases found in the Whitehaven coal mines led to his being awarded the Copley medal of the Royal Society, and with Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) he demonstrated on Lake Derwent that oil could be used to calm the motion of lakes and seas. BACK

[4] Founded in 1797 by, among others, Roscoe and Currie, this Liverpool gentleman’s club offered a forum for intellectual discussion. BACK

[5] Dr Lant Carpenter (1780–1840), a Unitarian minister who held the post of librarian at the Liverpool Athenaeum from 1802 until 1805, when he left to become pastor of a chapel in Exeter. BACK

[6] Southey’s dog. BACK

[7] Unidentified. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)