925. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 18 April 1804
925. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 18 April 1804 *
First & foremost no news of Edith. – you shall hear the first. 
Next to your drawing.  it is exceedingly beautiful, & almost induces me to say that you who manage a pencil in so masterly, or mistressly – a way, ought never to use a brush – it is exceedingly beautiful – dont wonder that I write a phrase twice which I have ejaculated about twenty times. But, – there is a fault in the drawing – with reference to its purport – which I did not discover for full half an hour, & that is that if large trees are introduced, the scale of proportions will reduce the poor Beaver to a very diminutive personage indeed, – in fact he will look as a portrait of a man would look taken in, & taking in the inside of St Pauls. I will make something to fit this beautiful bank – & you must make another bank to fit the Beaver – where you may have as many reeds, flags, colts-foots, & stumps of trees as you please – but no tree. And for the Beaver himself I will bring you down a portrait from London. The animal is a beautiful animal, & his tail so ridiculously convenient that it looks exactly as if he had bespoken it.
I thought to have been in London by this time, & am vexed to be thus delayed in daily expectation. it keeps one on the fret or the fidgets, & half unfits me for doing anything.
You will grieve & groan for a burro here, we have fine things enough from the windows, but to get at them a long way & not a pleasant one. In our direction I can shorten the disagreable in a way which would not be quite so convenient for you – by doffing shoe & stocking & fording the Greta at the bottom of the orchard. To boat it is dearer than coaching in London & less convenient. however by good fortune the finest river scenery lies within two miles of the house – & not a tourist has ever heard of it. You will delight in the Greta, & curse the Bishop of Llandaff for cutting down its woods.
What you say of the difficulty or impossibility of getting decent design, if you bespeak them of a trade artist I know well. – & that makes me the more desirous to have as little to do with them as possible. If you can manage the scenery, we may trust a Londoner to insert a figure, introduced solely to exhibit dress, or armour, or arms, not for any passion – or interesting part of the poem – for that would inevitably be ruined. And the scenery it is very certain you can manage.
I am now transcribing the first part of Madoc to take to London & leave with the Printer.  this & the Specimens  will keep me hard at work till my departure which I trust will soon take place, or we shall all be out of patience. Edith is well, bating the ventoseness which is her old grievance. I overwalked myself yesterday, & have a headache, so you must excuse a cheating letter – for half a letter is cheating – nor would I send it but for the supposition that if I were silent you would be uneasy. You shall hear as soon as there is any thing to say.
God bless you.
April 18. 1804
* Address: To/
Miss Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire
Postmark: KESWICK/ 298
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 107–109.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 272–273. BACK
 Southey had asked Barker to make designs of a beaver and other animals and scenes from Madoc; see Southey to Mary Barker, 17 February 1804 (Letter 896), 3 March 1804 (Letter 906) and 29 December 18 (Letter 1009). BACK
 The poem was in fact printed by James Ballantyne in Edinburgh and was published in 1805. BACK
 Specimens of the Later English Poets, jointly edited with Grosvenor Charles Bedford and published with Longman, in 1807. BACK