950. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 8 June 1804
950. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 8 June 1804 *
I arrived safely. how many years purgatory you are to undergo for the disappointment you occassioned must be left to some merciful Catholic Casuist to determine.  the Evangelicals would not let you off for any thing short of half eternity – & were the punishment at my discretion or Ediths – or Mrs Lovells – you would certainly be sentenced to vigorous carts-tailing  perhaps to travel in that fashion to Keswick instead of by the stage coach.
You left me to make your excuses – which I assure you turned out a very botched & boggling piece of business.
How I got home is a narrative which may be useful to you as example – if you can stand the fatigue. before 12 the mail reached Manchester, & I set off at half after two in another mail – from the same inn, which in twelve hours carried me to Kendal. from thence in chases I reached home before nine on this Tuesday evening.
I have no leisure to write more now. all are well – the Edithling healthy & promising to be like me – the extract from Mrs Cockburne  you will bring with you as there is no hurry, & therefore postage may be spared – if you chuse to make such an abstract of her life & merits as will fill a common novel page & half, in terms pert & pertinent, so much the better
Remember me to your sisters & to Frederick.  I wish him success in fishing for the wife of the great Jack – who must I presume be called the Great Gill.  You may then make a song how Jack & Gil Went to the Mill.
Friday June 8. 1804.
* Address: To/ Miss
Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire
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text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 119–120.
 Southey had visited Barker at her home in Staffordshire, but she had failed to carry out her plan of travelling on with him to Keswick. BACK
 An archaic punishment: women convicted of immorality could be sentenced to be whipped while walking at the rear of a cart. BACK
 Extracts from the poetry of Catherine Cockburne (1679–1749) appear in Southey’s Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), II, pp. 119–123. BACK
 The ‘great Jack’ was a pike. Frederick had clearly caught a pike, and now intended to catch its mate. BACK