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...
188. Capel Lofft to Robert Bloomfield, June 1806*
I write too many letters, and generally write them in too much anxiety and hurry to write them elegantly: but still; I write whenever I think my doing so may be more useful or satisfactory to others than my silence.
You ask my advice: and therefore I frankly give it.
I venerate the Earl of Buchan, and think him & the Chancellor  worthy to be brothers to each other. A friend of poetry and of the fine arts, a friend of liberty & of public virtue, he merits high esteem. I have seen letters of his in Wyvill's Political Correspondence  which confirm and heighten that esteem in my mind, as in Mr. Wyvill's.
That he should be without pride is out of the nature of human mind & circumstances; but of that pride he has made a truly benevolent generous & virtuous life.
Were there no other reasons than his character & affectionate zeal for persons of genius who have worthily employed it I would not disappoint his wish of publishing his letter of yours to him in the next edition of the 'Wild Flowers.' To do thus will be honourable to both. Your not forbidding it would be subject to no imputation of vanity; your forbidding it I think would not be free from something liable to be considered as pride or unkindness or injustice.
His enthusiastic admiration of Barry speaks with me powerfully. What he has said of that astonishingly great man is indeed characteristic.
I do not see that his saying we forwarded the sale is an assertion that he occasioned the sale. A person may increase and accelerate the success of that which he does not deny would have succeeded without him.
Above all let no omissions or retrenchments which you have made of what I had said, whether made on your own views of the subject or the suggestions of others, influence you on this occasion. Be that right or wrong this relative to Earl Buchan, stands on its own ground.
I trust I have as high & as free a spirit as any man; yet, were Earl Buchan to wish to prefix to anything of mine a testimony such as he is desirous of prefixing to your poems, he must write very differently from anything I have seen of his before I should refuse it.
The decision of course rests with you. But I do not think him a man whose talents and virtues & tender of goodwill are of that rate which can be slighted without injury to oneself & one's own feelings
The hand in which your letter is copied is generally admired here. It strikes me as being beautiful and elegant almost beyond example. I think there can be no doubt of its being a female hand & as little of its being a lovely hand and under the guidance of a highly cultivated & amiable mind.
The letter was worthy to be so transcribed. It places its author high among the few men who have excelled in letter writing.
With such proofs of the uncertain continuance here of the great ornaments & blessings of society, let not little circumstances induce us to neglect the tender of their friendship.
I write immediately, though rather fatigued (a thing almost new to me) that I may return your packet to-morrow. I shall wish to learn that you have received it safe.
I like much Mr. Park's (for so I suppose) sweet quatrain on the Eolian harp constructed by yourself.  This instrument has been always a great favourite with me & Mrs. Lofft. Can you give me a hint in what respect your construction differs? I mean a mere general idea. In every point of view I do not wonder that you have many who wish to be purchasers. Beside Thomson's charming lines in the 'Castle of Indolence,' you have probably read his exquisite 'Ode to the Aeolian Harp' 
Pope's 'Homer' will be worth your reading at your leisure. It has many splendid and beautiful, some few sublime passages & some pathetic. But I rejoice in your affection for Cowper's noble & characteristic translation.
I am much dissatisfied with the proof sent me for the illustrations of your poems.  It is shockingly mangled. If they will not receive the corrections which I have sent them, I had much rather they would not publish any account of Troston at all.
I am, yours sincerely,
I observe you wish for our joint judgment but I cannot give you what I cannot obtain any further than this—that, as far as I can perceive, I think Mrs. Lofft's opinion is with me on this occasion, in favour of adopting the proposal of Earl Buchan.
 Buchan's measured yet sympathetic letters to the reformer Christopher Wyvill, who organised County Associations of electors to petition parliament, can be found in Christopher Wyvill, Political Papers, Chiefly Respecting the Attempt of the County of York, and Other Considerable Districts, ... to Effect a Reformation of the Parliament of Great Britain, 6 vols. (York, 1794–1802), I, 322–27. BACK
 'Addressed to an Eolian Harp, constructed by the Author of "The Farmer's Boy", "Wild Flowers", &c.', by Mrs. Park, was published in The Monthly Mirror, 21 (1806), 196:
Maria Hester ParkBACK
 James Thomson's Castle of Indolence: An Allegorical Poem. Written in Imitation of Spenser (London, 1748) discusses the Aeolian Harp, then a new-fangled instrument, in Canto I, lines 352–69:
Thomson's 'An Ode On Æolus's Harp' (1748):
 Lofft refers to the proofs of J. Storer and J. Greig, Views in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire, Illustrative of the Works of Robert Bloomfield; Accompanied with Descriptions: to which is Annexed a Memoir of the Poet's Life by E. W. Brayley (London, 1806). There is an account of Troston Hall on pages 44-45, with an illustration of the same interleaved. BACK