2961. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 1 April 1817

2961. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 1 April 1817⁠* 

My dear Senhouse

I am very sorry to inform you that my movements are suddenly suspended by the cares of this world, in a very unexpected manner.

My wretched rogue of a Landlord [1]  is at this moment in Carlisle prison under an Extent. Yesterday evening the gentleman who has taken out the Extent against him, (& who happens to be brother in law to my friend Mrs Lloyd [2] ) called upon me, & I had to make up my mind in the course of the evening, whether to purchase the property, – or have it cut up piecemeal in building-lots, & thus be turned adrift by having the whole comfort & beauty of the residence destroyed. To make short of the story I chose the former part of the alternative, upon an understanding that the great mortgage upon it may remain, & in the reasonable expectation that in the course of three years I may be able to pay off the whole sum, – having nothing to begin with at present. The matter is in suspense at present, Mr Harding (the Extentor) being gone to Carlisle to negociate with Tolson, upon the plain proposition that I will give him what he gave for it, which is 2000£ with incumbrances of legacies & annuities amounting to 800£ more.

Here then are my travels frustrated, – & heaven knows by no wish or desire of my own. I could not of course be at go from home till all the forms of the business were compleated, – neither can I afford a three months holyday, – when the purchase money must come from the grey goose quill. I am vexed at breaking my engagement with you, – vexed at losing a journey from which I had anticipated much pleasure, – vexed at having any <thing> to do with business, – for which I am of all men the most compleatly unfit. – Excuse me I pray you in a case where I cannot help myself. – If my place be taken I must of course forfeit the half fare – or such deposit as may have been made.

Remember me to your cousins, [3]  – & forget not my love to my friend Humphrey. [4] 

& believe me my dear Senhouse

yrs very truly

Robert Southey

I am just finishing a short pamphlett in the form of a Letter to Wm Smith, – being a receipt in full for all favours. [5] 

Tuesday morning. 1 April. 1817.


* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Esqre/ Netherhall/ Maryport
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: black wax, design illegible
Watermark: B.E. & S. BATH. 1814
MS: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A writ of extent in aid was a legal process to recover debts, under which the belongings of a debtor were seized and the debtor was jailed; unless the debt was paid in seven days, the debtor’s goods were sold to meet their liabilities. Greta Hall had suffered from the complicated financial and legal entanglements of its owner, Samuel Tolson Jnr (dates unknown), who was by April 1817 in Carlisle jail for debt. BACK

[2] The creditor was William Quintus Harding (1778–1870), of Copeley, Warwick, who had married Rebecca Pemberton (c. 1779–1854), sister of Sophia, the wife of Southey’s friend Charles Lloyd. BACK

[3] Mary Anne Wood (1782–1860) and Frances Wood (dates unknown). BACK

[4] Humphrey Senhouse (1809–1834), Senhouse’s only son. BACK

[5] William Smith had denounced Southey in the House of Commons on 14 March 1817 in the debate on the Seditious Meetings Bill, condemning ‘the settled, determined malignity of a renegado’ and comparing Southey’s arguments against radical views in the Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 227, with those expressed in Wat Tyler (1817), Act 2, lines 103–112. Southey’s response was his A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817). BACK

People mentioned

Pemberton, Sophia (d. 1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Smith, William (1756–1835) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)