2767. Robert Southey to John May, 22 April 1816

2767. Robert Southey to John May, 22 April 1816⁠* 

22 April. 1816

My dear friend

I thank you for your letter, – for your sympathy & for your prayers. [1]  We have been supported almost beyond my hopes, & even according to our need. I do not feel any return of strength, – but it will soon be restored, – anxiety has worn me to the bone, – while that state continued I was incapable of any employment, & my time was past – day & night, alternately in praying that the worst might be averted, & in preparing for it, if it should take place. Three things I prayd, – the childs recovery if it might please God, – that if this might not be, his passage might be made easy, – & that we might be supported in our affliction. The two latter petitions were granted, – & I am truly thankful. But when the event was over, then like David I roused myself, [2]  & gave no way to unavailing grief, acting in all things as I should wish those persons to act who others to act when my hour also is come.

I employ myself incessantly, taking however every day as much exercise as I can bear without injurious fatigue, – which is not much. My appetite is good, – & I have now no want of sleep. Edith is perfectly calm & resigned; – her fortitude is indeed exemplary to the highest degree, – but her employments do not withdraw her from herself as mine do, & therefore I fear she has more to struggle with.

Perhaps we were too happy before this dispensation struck us. Perhaps it was expedient for us that our hearts should be drawn more strongly towards another world; – this is the use of sorrow, & to this use I trust our sorrow will be sanctified

Remember us to Mrs May & believe me

my dear friend

ever most truly & affectionately yours

Robert Southey.


* Endorsement: No. 188 [written over ‘182’] 1816/ Robert Southey/ No place 22d April/ recd. 25th do./ ansd. 30th do
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 166–167; Charles Ramos (ed.), The Letters of Robert Southey to John May: 1797–1838 (Austin, Texas, 1976), pp. 151–153. BACK

[1] Southey’s son Herbert had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[2] In 2 Samuel 19: 1–30, David (c. 1040–970 BC; King of Israel c. 1002–970 BC) mourned bitterly over the death of his son Absalom, but then returned to affairs of state. BACK

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