112. Robert Southey to Miss Fricker [probably Sarah Fricker], [25 October 1794] *
Miss Palmer has sent for you! my dear sister she is a vile woman — fool enough to be contemptible & rogue enough to be odious. ten years knowledge of her enables me to speak with the asperity of truth. I think you should go to her but not alone. I should be frenzied at the idea that you & Edith were exposed to her insults, — take Burnett with you. he will remain one day in Bristol for that purpose — tell him it is my wish & tell him likewise why. — if this seems foolish to you act as you think best. I am a good deal agitated at the circumstance — that detestable woman insulted your sister once — my blood boils at the recollection. would it not be better to take Burnett with you? she would not admit Lovell. — Bra xxxxxxxx sapey xxxxxxx xxxx <only> while? Miss? Bowles her servants with you xx hxxxxx hxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx it is my decided opinion that you ought not to go. she is our bitter enemy — Shad,  tells me so in a letter — the woman who could so insult your sister is capable of any thing. for Gods sake do not let Edith expose herself to a repetition. do not expose yourself.
Your sister is like the lilly of the valley lovely in humility but like that delicate & lowly flower she would bend before the storm of pride. if error can be amicable the error of too much humility is so. I wish Edith would think more highly of herself. tis the only fault I have discovered in her & that is almost a virtue!
I am lonely & dull. poetry is again the employment of a heavy hour — I fall into the daydreams of fancy & sorrow to be roused from their delusions. but a few months & we shall part no more — would I could sleep over the interval.
I have begun another letter to your sister — for in fact I have been unfitted to day for any other employment. but perhaps I am too assiduous — if she felt pleasure at receiving a letter she would communicate it by writing herself — but she suffers me to write rather in compliance to my wishes than her own. I must not trespass on this sufferance by writing as often as my heart would dictate. you smile at my weakness — at the weakness of the stern serious philosophic Robert Southey. but mine is the philosophy of the heart — & to indulge its virtuous affections has been always a favourite maxim with me.
The people talk strangely of us! so let them. can you not smile at the envy & absurdity of the many?
my dear sister I cannot write to you upon any subject but my own reflections. a trifling incident to day has called up a long train of recollections. your sister is not fond of writing — & why indeed should I plague others with the emotions of this strange mind.
farewell. this is a dull egotistic letter. my heart is heavy — but I should spare your patience.
I heard from Lovell by the same post that brought your letter. let me hear from you. do you tell me how your sister is — she dislikes writing herself & I ought not to urge her against her inclination.
* Address: Miss Fricker/ Redclift Hill/ Bristol./ Single
MS: Houghton Library, MS Hyde 77 (9). ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 84–85.
Dating note: Dating follows Kenneth Curry’s and assumes this letter is written just over a week after Southey’s violent expulsion from the home of Elizabeth Tyler. BACK