1944. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 August 1811

1944. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 August 1811 ⁠* 

Ludlow. Friday Aug 16. 1811

Here I arrived last night, & having written to Price [1]  from Bristol, found a note from him, & saw him this morning. We went to Lloyd [2]  & I have come away from him with quite as bad an opinion as you can possibly entertain. He affects to be offended at the manner in which his last letter was answered, as if throwing upon him the responsibility of farther proceedings, & when I told him that he required an answer by return of post, which was impossible, & that he had repeatedly been written to since, urging him to proceed, – he shuffled a good deal, & at last declared upon his word of honour, that he had never received a letter from you since. – I have little doubt that this is a lie, & Price has as little doubt of it as myself – but what could be said to a fellow who extricates himself by such means – or what is to be expected from him? – I urged him however to write to you immediately, & this he has promised to do. He says also that he will proceed without delay both against Mason & Dausey, [3]  – that it is not his way to let affairs mildew in his hands as this has done, but that the delay has taken place because he was hurt &c – . Price thinks he is unwilling to offend Dausey. However it is now brought to this point, that if he does not directly write to you & take proper measures, nothing is to be done but to get rid of him & place the business in other hands. If you find it necessary to do this, my friend Mr Browne desires me to offer his services; – he has but lately settled in Ludlow but as he is a man of xxx good fortune, & has bought probably the best house in the town, any <a> Lawyer whom he might recommend would feel as well disposed to discharge his duty under his inspection, as Lloyd seems inclined to neglect it – from fear of the Squire.

At Taunton I found that my aunt Mary is likely to save property to the amount of 4 or 500£ out of the wreck, – consisting of cottages & land bought after the will was made, & falling to her by the peculiar tenure of Taunton Dean. [4]  Mr T. Southey I believe has sold ten acres belonging to the Fitzhead property, which he had no right to sell, that having been entailed on me, – this however remains to be seen. There has been a great deal of villainy on the part of old Simon Oliver, [5]  & my Aunt is not without suspicions either of some flaw, or even foul play, in one of the wills. The conduct of the Olivers seems quite unaccountable unless they are conscious of something of this kind, – & this she means to spare no pains in investigating.

I had a note from Perceval to inform me of Tom’s promotion. [6]  in reply xx I took occasion to express <a hope> that he might xx one day have an opportunity of proving himself worthy of such patronage &c – hinting at the same time at his former services.

We go from hence on Monday to Sir Edd Littletons for two or three days, & from thence to Llangedwin, unless Heber be at Hodnett (in which case we shall probably halt with him on the way) or unless the King [7]  should die, – for then I believe Wynn is one of the vultures who would be gathered together. About this day fortnight I expect to reach home, heartily tired of travelling – & yet less weary of that than of idleness.

I got a copy of the Decretals of Gratian [8]  at Bristol, – one of the finest black letter books I ever saw. – Remember me to Mrs Hill, xxx xxxx the Man & his brother are too young to receive any messages of love.



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: LUDLOW/ 149
Postmarks: [partial]10 o’Clock/ AU 19/ 1811; [partial] 19 AU 19/ 1811
Seal: Partial, red wax
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Unidentified. BACK

[2] Possibly John Lloyd (dates unknown) of the Ludlow solicitors, Baxter and Lloyd. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] The ‘peculiar tenure’ of Taunton Deane was the local Manor’s custom of copyhold tenure. Mary Southey felt this allowed her to inherit some of her brother, Thomas Southey’s, copyhold property. Thomas Southey was also trustee of some of the property at Fitzhead of Cannon Southey (d. 1768), a distant cousin, whose complex will led to much litigation. BACK

[5] Possibly Simon Oliver (1732–1814), a Bristol linen merchant and old acquaintance of Thomas Southey, who was also in this line of business. His son, William Oliver (1775–1830) of Hope Corner, Taunton, may well have been the major beneficiary of Thomas Southey’s will. BACK

[6] See also Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 May 1811 (Letter 1921), and Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 August [1811] (Letter 1943). BACK

[7] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). BACK

[8] Gratian (fl. 12th century), Concordia Discordantium Canonum, known as the Decretum, an attempt to reconcile conflicting canon laws. BACK

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