1946. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 September 1811

1946. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 September 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. Monday Sept. 2. 1811

I reached home this morning, having travelled in the mail from Liverpool to Kendal, all night. We found every thing well, the children had not experienced the slightest ailment during our absence, – xx we ourselves during twelve weeks had only had two days <of> wet weather, & in the course of 800 miles which we travelled together, with another hundred which I travelled alone we never met with either accident delay, or any disagreable incident. Here then I am once more, God be thanked, in my own library & by the fire side, more thoroughly weary of long indolence & dissipation of mind than I ever was of the closest application.

Mr Withers [1]  books were ordered three weeks ago, & no doubt both he & you have ere this received your copies, for that the work [2]  is published I know, having seen it at Wynns. –

At Taunton I learnt that my Aunt has recovered property from 4 to 500£ value, consisting of tenements bought after the Will was made, & therefore devolving to her in common, or more truly speaking uncommon course of law, according to the custom of Taunton Dean. [3]  She suspects foul play with the wills, & is determined to go herself to London & inspect them, because she knows the handwriting. I cannot think there is any chance of detecting any villainy, tho many circumstances seem to render it very probable that some has been practised. About my own immediate concerns, I learn that Mr. T.S. sold ten acres of land recovered under Canon Southeys will, which it is believed he could have no right to sell, my claim to it being prior to his: – this I shall write to Turner about tomorrow, & leave the whole in his hands.

I learnt the news of Toms promotion first from Croker, then by a very handsome note from Perceval himself, the import of which was that he had obtained the promotion knowing that I was anxious it should be obtained. [4]  I wrote without delay to St Helens, but the Captain malgre lui  [5] (as he deserves to be called for the humour in which he joined the Elephant) [6]  made such haste that he outstript my letter [7]  & I suppose travelled by the same mail as his own, so that he carried the news himself.

At Teddesley I met with Mr Stafford Smith [8]  who desires particularly that I would remember him to you. – If you take the business out of Lloyds [9]  hands & it be necessary to employ a man of that country, I suppose my friend Mr Brownes recommendation will decide your choice. I think the name of the person whom he mentioned was Wellings, [10]  but am not certain, for I may have confounded it with that of a clergyman whom I saw frequently at his house. Lloyd assured me he would write to you immediately, – he is manifestly a liar, & the sooner you take the business out of his hands the better, after this second proof of falshood.

I found in Montgomeryshire Sir James Foulis [11]  who was in the Portugueze service from 1764/ – 78. – a pleasant & intelligent old man, who delighted to talk about the country & his old comrades. He did not know you, having resided almost exclusively entirely in garrison at Penamacor & Almeida.

The box which I packed at Streatham has not yet arrived, perhaps it was not sent off till some time after I left you. The later packages from Rickmans found their way here before me. I shall be glad to hear the delay of your chest (which is the more valuable one) accounted for.

I saw Mrs Dyson at Liverpool, but missed her husband, [12]  tho he called on me twice & displayed a sort of attentive civility which I did not expect from him. Henry Koster told <gave> me a good account of Pernambuco to which place he is returning, – he is a pleasant unaffected xxx young man, very desirous of informing <improving> himself. I think of enquiring what MSS. exist at Pernambuco, Bahia & the Rio in the monasteries there, – a catalogue will enable me to know whether we possess copies already, & we may perhaps obtain transcripts of such as seem to xx justify the expence.

Our love to xxx my Aunt.

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 6 SE 6/ 1811; 10o’Clock SP 6 1811 FNn
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A relative of Herbert Hill by marriage. Probably Herbert Hill’s father-in-law, Lovelace Bigg-Wither (c. 1742–1813), or his son, Harris Bigg-Wither (1781–1833). BACK

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

[3] The ‘uncommon course of law’ in Taunton Deane was the local Manor’s custom of copyhold tenure. This allowed Mary Southey 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

[4] See also Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 May 1811 (Letter 1921) and 16 August 1811 (Letter 1944), and Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 August [1811] (Letter 1943). BACK

[5] ‘in spite of himself’. BACK

[6] HMS Elephant was a 74 gun, third-rate ship of the line, launched in 1786. Between 1811–1814 it was stationed in the North Sea and the Baltic under the command of Captain Francis William Austen (1774–1865; DNB), a brother of the novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817; DNB). BACK

[7] This has not survived. BACK

[8] John Stafford Smith (1750–1836; DNB), musician, historian of music and organist at the Chapel Royal, 1802–1836. BACK

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

[10] Southey’s confusion is understandable. Edward Wellings (dates unknown) was a Ludlow solicitor. Thomas Wellings (d. 1841), was a clergyman, Rector of Church Clench, and later Vicar of Bromsgrove, and Lecturer of Ludlow 1791–1841. BACK

[11] Sir James Foulis of Colinton, 6th Baronet (d. 1825). BACK

[12] Possibly Thomas Fournice Dyson (1767–1843) of Everton. He had formerly lived in Lisbon and moved in the same circles there as Southey in 1800–1801. His wife, Anne Baldwin Sealy (c. 1780–1857), was the sister of Henry Herbert Southey’s first wife, Mary-Harriet. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Teddesley (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)