3315. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 13 June 1819

3315. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 13 June 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 13 June. 1819.

You will not see me till the fall of the leaf. This postponement is occasioned by an old engagement to join Rickman whenever he should go to inspect his canal in the Highlands: [1]  his intentions have been prorogued three successive years, – last year because of the Queens expected death, [2]  the year preceeding because of my excursion to the Alps. But the concluding Report concerning the Canal [3]  must now be compleated, & therefore his journey must take place without farther delay, as soon as Parliament releases him. He takes Mrs R. to Edinburgh by sea, & leaves her there, while he & Telford the Engineer pursue their vocation, – & I take the third place in their the postchaise. It would not have been wise to let this opportunity of seeing the Highlands go by. It will give me time to bring out Wesley, [4]  & to recruit my finances from the QR. which have been brought low thro the expence of time upon the Brazilian campaign. That campaign will be finished in a very few days. Indeed if I had not been cultivating the muscles (as Harry would call it) this last week, during a three days visit from Wordsworth, I should have been in the last portion of MS. for the press. I have got into S Paulo, & have only S Catharines & the R. G. de S Pedro to conclude, – with a very little general matter. [5]  The finale is written.

I hope my namesake [6]  is gaining strength. The young one here is ailing with a bilious affection, – the commonest malady to which they have all been subject in infancy. This I hope is a slight attack, – we have had serious ones formerly, & once a fatal one. [7]  The season tho very delightful is not a healthy one; – we have a hot sun, & cold winds from the S. & W. as if ice were floating in that direction. I was on one of our mountains yesterday, for the first time this year. The good which exercise of this kind does me is not only perceptible by myself in my own feelings & fun animal functions, – but visible to those about me.

I had a letter from Edward the other day, – to say he was without means of getting from Plymouth to Worcester. His demands of this kind are not frequent & xxx always moderate, – I wish I could say any thing more in his praise, – but this is something. He finds his own name I perceive more serviceable the for campaigning than any nom de guerre.

My journey into Scotland will not be lost time, – I want such a journal as it will give me opportunity of making, as garnish for some new volumes of Espriella [8] 

The tribe of Tahomas [9]  were here yesterday, in their equipage the char–a–charbon, [10]  which hawls coal for me, & serves as a chariot at other times. – Edith has still an uneasiness in the breast, – otherwise I should think her quite well. Love to my Aunt & the young ones –

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ Basingstoke
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ JU 17 / 1819
Seal: [trace] red wax
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 181. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Rickman was Secretary to the Commission responsible for the construction of the Caledonian Canal 1803–1822. BACK

[2] Queen Charlotte (1744–1818; DNB) died on 17 November 1818. BACK

[3] This was unfortunately highly optimistic; the canal opened in 1822 when it was still incomplete and the Commissioners continued to issue Annual Reports. BACK

[4] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[5] Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 845–879. BACK

[6] Robert Southey Hill, Herbert Hill’s youngest child; later a doctor and botanist. BACK

[7] The death of Emma Southey in 1809. BACK

[8] Southey did not publish a sequel to his Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807), but he kept a journal; see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[9] The family of Tom Southey. BACK

[10] Literally ‘carriage for coal’. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)