1907. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 20 April 1811

1907. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 20 April 1811 ⁠* 

My dear Sir Domine

News for you. Mr T Southey is gone – not to his fathers I hope for the sake of my own – but to his brother John. [1]  A certain name which looks remarkably well in black letter (vidi the Doctors card & my title pages) is not mentioned in his will. Mr William Oliver [2]  of Bristol has the Cottage bequeathed to him, & is residuary Legatee & Executor, having to pay the debts of Mr T.S’s bankruptcy out of the estate. The rest goes to his man Tom, [3]  & a few other such worthy objects of the favour of the deceased. – I have just received this intelligence in a letter from my Aunt Mary, who desires me to acquaint you & Tom. She is xxxx deeply wounded by it, & this is the only thing which I feel any sorrow for. I have written to her urging her to return here with me in July, & enquiring into the state of her own affairs, to the end that if she have not a comfortable & respectable sufficiency I may make it such, – tho this of course I have not said to her.

I am grievously afraid that during your holyday we shall be over the plains & far away, [4]  – for we cannot start before the end of May, so closely am I confined by the Register. [5]  Tell Tom I will write to him very shortly, & that we shall not quarrel about Parliamentary Reform, If he does not like my arguments against it when he sees them in print, [6]  why I will try & make them more explicit & forcible per letter, & if they xxxx fail to convince him then, it cannot be helped, no man can be damned for his politics, & there is not much danger now of being hanged for them.

Our love to Mary & Sarah. A word to the former – if she stands in need of a Godfather I am at the service of the unborn, – but if there be other in your eye of more possible profit, upon such occasions as this that is the one thing to be considered, & in that case I withdraw my offer, – not leaving her at liberty to accept it xx in exclusion of any one else.

God bless you


Keswick. April 20. 1811.

Brougham has written to my Uncle to say that he has been commissioned to propose to me, – what think you? – nay your curiosity shall be on the stretch till you have turned the paper upside down, – for it is too good a thing to be told in the plain straight forward course of writing

– to translate Lucien Buonaparte’s poem, while he is finishing it. [7] 


* Address: To/ Dr Southey./ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.77. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Southey’s death was reported in his local newspaper the Taunton Courier on 18 April 1811 and had been relayed to Southey by his aunt Mary Southey; see Southey to Herbert Hill [begun before and continued on 20 April 1811], Letter 1905. BACK

[2] Possibly William Oliver (1775–1830) of Hope Corner, Taunton. BACK

[3] Thomas Southey’s servant Tom (surname and dates unknown). BACK

[4] An adaptation of the title of the popular song ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’. BACK

[5] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[6] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 282–294. BACK

[7] – to translate … it: written upside down. Southey had been asked to translate Lucien Bonaparte’s (1775–1840) Charlemagne, ou l’Eglise Délivrée (1814). He refused the commission. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)