404. Robert Southey to Edith Southey [fragment], [early May 1799]

404. Robert Southey to Edith Southey [fragment], [early May 1799] ⁠* 

At last, my dear Edith, I sit down to write to you in quiet and with something like comfort           .            .            .            .            My morning has been spent pleasantly, for it has been spent alone in the library; the hours so employed pass rapidly enough, but I grow more and more homesick like a spoilt child. On the 29th you may expect me. Term opens on the 26th; after eating my third dinner I can drive to the mail, and thirteen shillings will be well bestowed in bringing me home four-and-twenty hours earlier – it is not above sixpence an hour, Edith, and I would gladly purchase an hour at home now at a much higher price           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .           .          

My stall-hunting, the great and only source of my enjoyment in London, has been tolerably successful. I have picked up an epic poem in French, on the Discovery of America, [1]  which will help out the notes of Madoc; another on the American Revolution, [2]  the Alaric, [3]  and an Italian one, [4]  of which I do not know the subject, for the title does not explain it; also I have got Astraea, [5]  the whole romance, a new folio, almost a load for a porter, and the print delightfully small – fine winter evenings’ work: and I have had self-denial enough – admire me, Edith! – to abstain from these books till my return, that I may lose no time in ransacking the library.

I met Stuart one day, luckily, as it saved me a visit. To-morrow must be given up to writing for him, as he has had nothing since I came to town. The more regularly these periodical works are done, the easier they are to do. I have had no time since I left home: in fact I can do nothing as it should be done anywhere else.

          .           .           .           .           Do not suppose I have forgotten to look out for a book for you; to-day I saw a set of Florian, [6]  which pleases me, unless a better can be found.

          .           .           .           .           Do you know that I am truly and actually learning Dutch, to read Jacob Cats. [7]  You will, perhaps, be amused at a characteristic trait in that language: other people say, I pity; but the Dutch verb is, I pity myself.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 13–15 [in part].
Dating note: Internal evidence suggests this letter was written after that to Edith Southey of 1-3 May 1799 (Letter 403), and before that of 9 May 1799 (Letter 405). BACK

[1] Marie-Anne Du Boccage (1710–1802), La Colombiade, ou La Foi Portée au Nouveau Monde (1756). BACK

[2] Unidentified. BACK

[3] Georges de Scudery (1601–1667), Alaric (1655). BACK

[4] Unidentified. BACK

[5] Probably the French pastoral romance Astree (1607–1628), by Honoré d’Urfé (1568–1625). BACK

[6] The French poet Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794). BACK

[7] The Dutch statesman and poet Jacob Cats (1577–1660). BACK

People mentioned

Stuart, Daniel (1766–1846) (mentioned 1 time)