1577. Robert Southey to John James Morgan, 6 February 1809

1577. Robert Southey to John James Morgan, 6 February 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby. 6. 1809.

Dear Morgan

I thank you for your letter, & for your offer of a bed at Hammersmith, when circumstances lead me to London. That luckily is but seldom, & then as my business is in town, my head-quarters must be there also, – but I shall <have> more opportunities of seeing you than if you had continued at Bristol. I thank you also for offering to transact any little affairs between me & the booksellers, tho I have none but what can be readily transacted by letter.

Coleridge has now some fresh Prospectuses printing, or by this time printed, & talks of beginning the first week in March. [1]  I should press upon him the expediency of fixing a later day if there were any probability that he would employ the intermediate time in getting before-hand with the Press, – but as let the birthday of his Paper be when it will, he will always xxxx to prepare his matter upon the spur of the occasion, – or rather always have it to prepare, it as well to begin one time as another.

You & all the world no doubt ask are talking about Col. Wardel & the Duke of York. [2]  I can tell you what is very odd, & yet very true, – that there are strong reasons for supposing that the accusation has been set on foot by the Prince of Wales & the Duke of Kent, [3]  – both of whom hate their more ––––– brother. Be this as it may, & be the issue of the Enquiry what it may, – & probably must <will> be in such a House of Commons, & under such a Government as the present, enough has been proved for the people of England. The thing has long been known, & even notorious, – but the D of Dukes character is now blasted with all the virtuous part of the community, – & there wants but one honest & able man in the H of Commons to attack him upon the Constitutional ground, that he holds a high & important office, & yet is not responsible for his discharge of it. Such a man would deliver us of <from> one abomination. – If I were in the habit of drinking wine which plague on the taxes! is not the case, I should drink Wardels health, – not forgetting Mrs Clarke. [4]  – Is it not deplorable to see the House of Commons, one & all, endeavouring to invalidate evidence which not a man among them is fool enough to doubt, by all the hackneyed xx tricks of the Bar!

I do not wonder at your leaving Bristol. Like me you have no family connections of your own, but, in that respect luckier than me, you have some of your wifes, who make one place preferable to another. I look upon it as an evil to have no other motive for local preference than what consists in the difference between mountain & plain, & have always longed for a piece of ground of my own just big enough to strike root in myself, & make me feel that I was rooted, where if I planted trees it would be for my children, & if I laid out any little sum which could be spared from little means in improvements, it would be with the certainty that I should have the usufruct as long as I lived.

The first vol. of my History of Brazil is in the press & will appear about June. [5]  I am busily employed in transcribing & correcting it, & find the day scarcely long enough for the employments which it brings with it. Our two eldest  [6]  are in good health, – the youngest is ailing, & makes us somewhat anxious. We expect another early in the spring. [7]  The more the merrier. They cannot begin the world in worse plight than their parents did, & I shall be well contented if they fare in it as well.

Edith & her sisters  [8]  desire to be kindly remembered to Mrs Morgan & Miss Brent: [9]  remember me also to them. Some summer I trust we shall see you all here, & show you this part of the country. Our acquaintance is now of an old standing – I have had many a fav good dinner at your mothers table when I should otherwise perhaps have gone without one, & shall always for her sake be glad to shake you by the hand, – even if I did not do it heartily for your own.

God bless you

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John James Morgan Esqr./ 7. Portland Place/ Hammersmith/ Middlesex
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ FEB 9/1809; 10o’clock/ FE.9/ 1809F.N.n.
Endorsement: Mr Southey
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] For Coleridge’s new periodical The Friend, the first number of which was published on 1 June 1809. BACK

[2] Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798–1809, but was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he had profited by allowing his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB), to accept money from army officers, in return for which promotion was arranged. Gwyllym Lloyd Wardle (c. 1761–1833; DNB) played a central role in exposing the scandal. However, his own reputation was quickly sullied when, in July, it emerged that Wardle had bought Clarke’s testimony against the Duke of York with a promise to pay for the furnishing of her house. It was alleged by Clarke that Wardle had been acting for the Duke of Kent. BACK

[3] Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820; DNB), the fourth son of King George III (1738–1820; DNB). BACK

[4] See note 2. BACK

[5] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil was published in 1810. BACK

[7] Bertha Southey was born 27 March 1809. BACK

[9] Charlotte Brent (dates unknown), the unmarried sister of Mary Morgan, shared a household with her sister and brother-in-law. BACK

People mentioned

Morgan, Mary (b. 1782) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Bertha (1809–1877) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Herbert (1806–1816) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Mary (1771–1862) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Emma (1808–1809) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)