3296. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 May 1819

3296. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 19 May 1819⁠* 

My dear Harry

If you were within call we should still stand in need of your advice, for tho Edith is about again, she is far from well, & would perhaps listen to you when she will not to me. It would I believe have been better if the peccant matter in the system had discharged itself, – but this it did not choose to do.

Aunt Marys letter was to say that she is about to sell the cottages which fell to her thro her miserable brothers oversight: [1]  but the purchaser is cautious overmuch, & lest her title should not be good will have the purchase money vested in the funds for her use, but repayable to himself in case he should be ejected by course of law – four trustees to be appointed, she on her part naming your Lordship & my unworthy self. The sum is 400 £. – you will have the trouble of receiving her dividend, & at the end of 21 years from Thomas Southeys death, the principal is to be paid to her or her assigns.

I hope Harry Inglis will not have taken wing for his summer flight before I reach London. He deserves your patronage. A more really obliging man I have never met with, & that he is a really good man is beyond all doubt by his conduct. About the end of June I should be at his service. For if nothing unforeseen occur, & my purpose is to set off as soon as I have finished the last portion of copy for the press. [2]  I am in excellent good humour with my work, – tho a man of less patience might have been tempted to quarrel with it, when he saw it growing so interminably under his hands. 744 pages printed!

The whole Duncery of the country are in ink against Wordsworth, to his great amusement. [3]  He has another poem in the press [4]  for their provocation the subject is, – the putting down poor Jacksons great broad-wheeled waggon & taking to single-horse carts in its stead, – & the scene lies between Ambleside & Keswick; – so the localities will interest you & me. I have not heard the poem. After this which is called the Waggoner, he means from time to time to publish as many more pieces in small portions, as when put together may make a third octavo volume. [5] 

I believe I told you that Hartley has got a fellowship at Oriel [6] 

So the Ghost of Bullion is abroad again [7]  – & doing mischief! What a strange nation is this: – xxx the whole commercial interests of the country must be dislocated for the sake of – what? – a metaphysico – statistico politico-nonsensico Scotch question of theoretical statistics!!

God bless you


Keswick 19 May. 1819


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 22 MY 22/ 1819
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.100. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] On Thomas Southey’s death in 1811 he left no property to his family. However, his sister, Mary Southey, successfully claimed some cottages held under copyright tenure, on the grounds that the ‘custom’ of the local Manor of Tanton Deane made her Thomas Southey’s heir at law. BACK

[2] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[3] Wordsworth’s Peter Bell, A Tale in Verse (1819) produced a torrent of criticism and parody, some of it politically motivated. BACK

[4] Published by Wordsworth as The Waggoner. A Poem. To Which are Added Sonnets (1819). BACK

[5] The first two octavo volumes were Wordsworth’s Poems, in Two Volumes (1807). A third, The River Duddon, A Series of Sonnets: Vaudracour and Julia: and Other Poems, appeared in 1820. BACK

[6] Hartley Coleridge was elected to a one year Probationary Fellowship at Oriel College, Oxford, on 16 April 1819. BACK

[7] The House of Commons was debating legislation to recommence the convertibility of paper currency to gold, which had been suspended since 1797. The legislation passed on 2 July 1819 and convertibility was restored on 1 May 1821, but the period 1819–1821 witnessed a fall in commodity prices and rising unemployment. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)