3462. Robert Southey to Wade Browne, 5 April 1820

3462. Robert Southey to Wade Browne, 5 April 1820⁠* 

Keswick 5. April. 1820

My dear Sir

After many delays, arising from various causes, I am at length able to fix the precise time of my departure for the South. On Monday the 17th of this month it is my intention to leave home, & make the best of my way to Llangedwin, near Oswestry, where I shall stay with my friend C Williams Wynn, till the Saturday. On that day I shall leave him, & endeavour to reach Ludlow, if it be convenient for you to receive me at that time. But if this should xxxx happen to interefere with any of your engagements, it will make no difference to me: in that case I will proceed straight from Llangedwin to London, & take Ludlow in my way back at the end of June.

The influenza which has prevailed so generally throughout the kingdom, has been very prevalent here. Mr Edmondson never remembers one either so general, or so severe in the course of xx seven & thirty years practise. I am the only person in this house who has escaped. It is still hanging upon Mrs Coleridge. But as we have had an honest, old fashioned, hard winter, such as winters used to be, so it seems as if we were about to have an old fashioned spring, – for of late years spring has been more like a prolongation of winter, than the genial season which poets have celebrated, & which I seem to remember in my boyhood. The fields are growing green, flowers are opening, buds swelling, birds singing, & the glass is at 63. So I am going to London just at the season when instinct would impel one to hasten out of it.

About a month ago we lost our excellent old inmate, Mrs Wilson, in her seventy eighth year. She lingered eight days after a paralytic stroke had deprived her of all her senses, & as we hope of all sense of suffering. It was very gratifying to observe how much interest her illness excited among the old inhabitants of Keswick, & how general a testimony was borne to her worth. There are indeed but few who could remember when she was, as they say, “more thought of” than any other young woman in the place, both for her beauty & her conduct; but xxx a later generation had learnt to respect her character, & to know her good qualities, & she went to her grave with the deserved reputation of having never said an unkind word, nor done an unkind action. She disposed of her little property in small legacies, in a very affecting manner. Among other she has left five pounds to each of my girls, [1]  & ten to the little boy, whose name she had x substituted in place of his poor brothers.

You will be sorry to hear that the Speddings are likely to lose their daughter, – a fine young woman, but who shot up prematurely, & is I believe at this time in a state of hopeless debility. [2]  They left Mirehouse & removed to Bury St Edmunds, for the sake of placing the younger boys at school there. [3] Calverts eldest son is doing remarkably well at Harrow, to his own great credit, & the infinite delight of his father, who x now thinks of little else than the education of his children.

Longman will send you my Life of Wesley, [4]  which I believe will be published on Monday next, tho by a blunder between the Publisher & one of his merry men, it has been reviewed in a newspaper a fortnight ago. [5] 

Favour me with a line to say if it be convenient to receive me on Saturday the 22d: & if when I get to Llangedwin I should find that it is not possible to get from thence to Ludlow in a day, I will write & let you know. It is a cross country, & at this distance there are no means of knowing how the stages may suit.

Mrs S. & her sisters [6]  desire their kindest remembrances to all your fireside. – Edith is now taller than her mother, – & what an alteration shall I see in your little Mary! [7] 


* Address: To/ Wade Browne Esqre/ Ludlow
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47891. AL; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[2] John and Sarah Spedding, née Gibson (c. 1766–1842). Their daughter who was ill is unidentified; family histories of the Speddings suggest they only had one daughter, Jane (1802–1810). BACK

[3] Spedding’s younger sons, John Spedding (1806–1839), James Spedding (1808–1881), later well-known for his editions of the work of Francis Bacon (1561–1626; DNB) and Edward Spedding (1811–1832), had been sent to the grammar school at Bury St Edmunds, where the eminent scholar, Benjamin Heath Malkin (1769–1842; DNB) was headmaster, 1809–1828. BACK

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

[5] London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c., 166 (25 March 1820), 203–206; 167 (1 April 1820), 213–215; 168 (8 April 1820), 231–233; 169 (15 April 1820), 246–248; 170 (22 April), 263–266. BACK

[7] Mary (dates unknown), Browne’s only child by his second marriage. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
Mirehouse (mentioned 1 time)