Part Four, covering the period 1810-1815, was a crucial one for Southey’s career and reputation. It has, however, never before been fully documented or fully understood. By 1810 he was established in Keswick...
112. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 31 July–[2 August] 1803*
City Road, July 31 1803
On Friday night I had more than half resolved to set off next morning to Bury; and late at Night, after I had determined not to go, Charlotte and Bet came up to see for me, and to say that they had prevail'd on Nat to accompany me. But abiding by my determination you see that neither of us came. Our intention was only to tarry two days and learn how you stood affected yourselves as to the general armament, and if possible hold a council on our own situation as inhabitants of this great Babalon. The measures persued by Government are such as to cause here the greatest consternation and alarm. Great numbers are entering as Vollunteers without knowing I doubt, what they have to trust to, or what will be their privilidges. We hesitate whither to enter now, or to wait and be forced. I am sorry to say that Nat's domesticated manners, and quick and irritable feelings render him a real sufferer under this awful and unbounded appeal to arms. Judging from events at Dublin, it is not unreasonable to infer that whatever may be in the woomb of time that London will be the chief scene of action. As to real invasion we deem it less threatening than an appeal to the exercise of rights by those of our own land. Our parish of Shoreditch contains thirty six thousand inhabitants, how great a proportion of men that number will give I know not, but assuredly sufficient to place us in what I shall deem an armd Mob. I cannot help wishing that my family were in the interior of the kingdom instead of being in the nest of confusion. I could then join my third class and do no more of the work of death than I am forced to do. but as it is, we shall most probably stand our ground with our neighbours—
Tuesday Afternoon 4 Oclock
I now resume my letter which I had laid by with a 2d determination of treating ourselves with a ride to Suffolk but after a council we thought that a meeting of 5 of us under such circumstances and at such a time would affect my Mother in the wrong way, and would not produce the satisfaction to any of us that ought to attend long separated friends. If the time comes that I must absolutely be a Soldier, I feel an inclination to be on Horseback, but perhaps without knowing whither it be best. I long to know how you stand as to politicks at Bury — Here, the old jeers about the impossibility of invasion, have taken flight from all companies. The gazers at Drilling soldiers discard risibility from the corners of their mouths, and every one led by hand-Bills or by hearing, are acting according to their pride, or their fear, or their interest. Perhaps the storm may blow over soon, or assume another aspect. I detest, I had allmost said scorn the profession Soldier; and hope that Government will never have much occasion for us 3rd and 4th class men: If they should, I will send my live stock into the country out of the way.—
We expect from you a letter on this red-coat mania as the most interesting subject you could write upon. We have here within a hundred yards of us, the thunder of drums, and the discharge of field pieces and Musquetry every night in a field adjoining, and nothing is talkd of, or thought of but War.—
We are all pretty well. The Newspapers say that the Duke of Grafton is at Brighton.
Your affectionate comrade
Contrive to send the Note to my Mother, as you know how.—