266. Robert Southey to Nicholas Lightfoot, 21 October 1797

266. Robert Southey to Nicholas Lightfoot, 21 October 1797 ⁠* 

8 Westgate Buildings. Bath. Oct. 21. 1797

I should be sorry my dear Lightfoot were all intercourse between you & I to cease. during two years of my existence, & those not the most unimportant, I cannot look back upon myself without remembring you. my intercourse with most men has been embittered by their follies or their faults, from you I recollect only acts of kindliness, during the whole of our intimacy. one & he the best of us, is in a better world, methinks the common friendship of poor Edmund Seward is a tie which should not be broken. I have a silver pencil from his brother for you, which he desired me to keep till an opportunity of sending it offered. were I within fifty miles of you I would bring it myself.

I am here for a short <time> only with my Mother. my place of abode is London, but as I live in lodgings there I can give you no direction. I have been a member of Greys Inn for twelve-months, shall go to a Special Pleaders Office after Christmas, & probably enter into that lines of business for myself the following year. — add to this that I & Edith are as well & as happy as you could wish us, (save only that I have no children) & you know all that concerns me. I have no wants for the present, no fears for the future. had a country life fallen to my lot I should have liked it better, but of the circumstances that make up comfort place is the least important — & I shall always be able to escape to green fields during the long vacation.

You will be pleased to hear that George Burnett is comfortably settled as minister to an Unitarian congregation at Yarmouth in Norfolk. he was to have passed some weeks with us in Hampshire (where we spent the summer in an out-of-the-way village near the sea) but the congregation invited him there, so that it is now fourteen months since we have seen each other. I hear from him frequently. every body loves him. he is the same as you knew him, but you will allow one who is an Unitarian himself, to say that George has theological learning enough to puzzle the whole bench of bishops.

Douglas [1]  called upon me in London, where he was studying physic. I do not like the terms of mere acquaintance, & was not sorry that our intercourse dropped with my returning his call. Combe is at the law there; we have the remembrance of intimacy with each other, & are always glad to meet; but we have no longer the same school boy pursuits, & it was only in these that any similarity ever existed between us.

The little volume of Poems which I printed last winter sold rapidly. the edition of 500 went in three months, & a second is published. [2]  I have a second edition of Joan of Arc in the press,  [3]  it will be in two pocket <volumes>. I have made very great alterations. every thing palpably miraculous is omitted. this has much employed me of late. but I have little leisure for such employments now.

I had a brother in Kingsbridge some four months ago almost pennyless, turned adrift from a French prison, with his bed & baggage to join his ship how he could. I wished he had known you when I heard of this. [MS torn] came from the shore to Kingsbridge, & among them just [MS torn] enough to reach Plymouth.

Let me hear from you. [MS torn] remain here till the 17th of November. a letter to Mr Cottle Bookseller Bristol will always reach me, & I shall always be glad to hear of you — still more glad to see you if you can ever come to London. [4] 


* Address: To/ The Reverend N. Lightfoot/ Kingsbridge/ Devonshire./ Single
Stamped: BATH
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 110. AL; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] James Douglas (dates unknown), educated at Balliol College, Oxford (matric. 1793, BA 1797, MA 1799, BMed 1800), was a university acquaintance of Southey’s. BACK

[2] A second, revised edition of Southey’s Poems (1797) had just appeared. BACK

[3] A second, revised edition of Joan of Arc was published in 1798. BACK

[4] London: Southey’s salutation and signature have been cut off. BACK

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