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...
134. Robert Bloomfield to Catherine Sharp, 22 June 1804*
City Road June 22d 1804
Let us begin where we left off. I had a pleasant walk to Barnet from whence I could plainly discern the Church at Ridge, but not a glimpse of your mansion: I left it embosom'd in the woods, and felt the warmest wishes for its inhabitants. Rode by a Return'd Chaise comfortably to London; and found all well except my Charlotte, who, from a fever and inflammation, had intirely lost her sight, and in which state she has remained until this morning; she can now peep, and is getting better. I had the indescribable joy of meeting my Mother the same evening I return'd. She is as well as years and their accompanying fears and debility will permit, and I hope to keep her and her partner here 'till the end of next week or longer.—
Amongst the letters which met my eye on my return, was one from your own Mrs Baker in her best style and highly flattering with respect to the 'Good Tidings' which I have brought into the world. I had your note yesterday, requesting six aditional copies, which I am happy to send together with the pocket microscope which you commissioned me to purchase. And here, as I promised to be faithful, I may add that for the glass micrometer and the little black magnifying glass, they charged me an additional 4/6.—You will observe that to use the black magnifier, take away the three others and screw him into their place alone, this matter hamper'd me a little so I hold up a light to assist you.—The micrometer you will see is scratch'd into squares so minute that each square form'd by the intersections is but the ten thousandth part of an inch. I hope you will not feel any disappointment as to its convenience or powers for I know that my manner of speaking of what pleases me, is apt to make others feel a blank. Yet I think your own good sense and your admirable perseverance will enable you to appreciate its merits, and thus I have no doubt as to the pleasure you may derive from so pleasing an insight into nature with so little trouble.—You have three ranges of objects as part of your purchase, but if I might direct your attention I could point out others, as for example—take your pride (which, by reason that you had no microscope when I was with you I could never see at all) and place it consciously in a good light:—but as such objects to the naked eye are so disgusting I doubt this would give you but little pleasure if you should place the glass so as to find it—secondly you may endeavour with the small spring tweezers to place your affectation in the focus of the magnifier by which means you will at once determine the power of the instrument, as you will then have an object absolutely never seen before. It may be put to another use still, whenever any man shall approach you with a view of sharing your affection and your heart you may immediately put all the best of his virtues into the insect-box and when you have magnified them to your liking give him your hand.—
The kindness of yourself and your most affectionate Mother to me, has left on my mind those impressions and feelings which virtue and goodness will and must for ever inspire, I love you both. May your hearts never know sorrow and, and &c &c I was going to flourish, but had better only beg that you will both believe me to be your most sincere and humble servant