1693. Robert Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 14 October [1809]

1693. Robert Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 14 October [1809] ⁠* 

I wrote you a Letter which has to travel into Wales on its way, & will not reach you much before this. [1]  And I now write in haste, merely to reply about the frames. [2]  My secret calculation was about five & twenty shillings for each frame, - & I would not have them less handsome & less suitable to their contents for the sake of saving eight or ten shillings upon each. In things which occur so seldom oeconomy is no object. So let them be by all means square, - & if they cost six seven or eight & twenty I shall not think it too much. – Do not hurry yourself – but keep them till every body has seen them to whom you wish them to be shown.

Why do you make any sort of apologies for what can stand in need of none? - You know me by this time well enough to know that I am a plain speaker, & you ought to believe me when I say that we were very sorry to part with you, - & shall be right heartily glad to see you again. If any apologies were needful they would be on our part, that we did not amuse you better & show you more of the country. When next you come you we will hope for better weather, - & when my fortune improves I may [MS torn] one day afford to keep a cart. As for my hesitation or slowness at professions, - do you <not> know how I hate professors of fine feeling, & how I suspect all sentimentalists? xxx Mary I dare say will write to you when she comes home from Netherhall. I dare not promise as much for Edith, - it is her incurable fault that she scarcely on any possible occasion can be induced to write to any person except her sisters, - & me. The Cart’s tail might perhaps have remedied this some years ago, - & you know I could find employment for a Cart in this way, as well as in jaunting about the Lakes. - I perfectly understand why she dislikes letter writing, and how exceedingly foolish her dislike is, but it is something of what use is it, like a Physician, to understand the nature of what you know you cannot cure?

I am too busy to fill the paper, so farewell.

God bless you.


Keswick Oct. 14.


* MS: Pennsylvania State University Library. ALS; 2p. (c). Text is taken from M. Betham-Edwards, ‘Letters of Coleridge, Southey and Lamb to Matilda Betham’, Fraser’s Magazine, 18 (July 1878)
Previously published: M. Betham-Edwards, ‘Letters of Coleridge, Southey and Lamb to Matilda Betham’, Fraser’s Magazine, 18 (July 1878), 82-83 [in part; dated 14 October]. BACK

[1] See Southey to Matilda Mary Betham, 10 October [1809], Letter 1690. BACK

[2] Southey had commissioned frames for miniatures painted by Betham during her visit in August-September 1809 of Southey himself and of Edith, Edith May and Herbert; see Southey to Mary Barker, 8 September 1809, Letter 1679. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 2 times)
Southey, Herbert (1806–1816) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Mary (1771–1862) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)