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...
227. Robert Bloomfield to Isaac Bloomfield, 17 February 1808*
City Road. Feb 17. 1808
Yesterday on returning from Hammersmith where I had been through the slush of melted snow after salve for my Boys knee, I found your letter, and as I was tired, I felt a severe fit of depression. I sit down this morning to give you as fair a statement of my mind and situation as I can put upon paper, and leave the conclusions to yourself. But first; I had for the last three weeks felt myself calld upon to write somthing as to the Anthems. You may remember that Mr Plumptre had five more than he paid for in hope of selling them. He lately wrote to say 'how does your Brother's anthems go on? I fully expected a letter from him. I have heard a very good account of them from several quarters, but have not been fortunate enough to sell the extra copies. How shall I dispose of them? Shall I return them to you.' This was the sence of the letter for I cannot find it to give you a copy. I have not yet reply'd to it. Since that, I found a Master Carpenter whose name is Burden at Southgate, Middx, who I learnd was a famous singer, and was in his youth employd at Lincoln Cathedral &c. I sent by the coach a copy of the Anthems with a letter of explanation, hoping that, at least, it might produce me somthing to write to you about, but I have heard nothing on the subject. Mr Gilchrist did not pay his £5. 10s untill the day before Christmass. Mr Wyatt has not paid the one pound, this, with two copies which I am sure will never be paid, leaves me 30 Shillings wrong as to the subscribed copies. I owe you 3 Shills for a copy which Longman sent for, and 5 shills when I get it for one sent to Canterbury.
They have been constantly seen, and often talkd of, but like Mr Plumptre I have not the satisfaction of selling them. So much for the musical part of the epistle.
Your machine, for ought I can tell who never thought of mechanics in my life, may be a useful and valuable discovery. I wish you lived near to some Lord Stanhope or other, who would enter into the subject with you, and help you through it.  Your letter seems but half expressd, it is easy for me to conceive that this winter and all future winters will destress you, and render it impossible for you to support 8 children without assistance. And I want you as clearly to perceive that it is not allways in my power to do it, setting my will out of the question, In support of this I will tell you the following tale in my own defence. Last good Friday Mr Hawkins solicited the loan of £15 for a month at farthest, to enable him to meet a Bill then coming against him. Before the month was out he told me he was a bankrupt, and this being a debt of honour I could not [words obscured in repair of MS], and the debt stands over without the possibility of getting it by law, and I am afraid he dont mean to pay it.—About 5 months past our next door neighbour's wife borrow'd £5 for a week, and has never mention'd it since.—You know that what little I had put by out of any gains I some time ago (3 years) lent upon interest to my wife's relation Fisher, I have never seen principal or interest since, and am sadly afraid never shall without troubling him. Our boy wanting a deal of nursing, and the work of the house running behind, we have been oblidged to have Honour back for a time, and to make room for her agreed for the old man to live at his Daughter Wyat's where I pay for the board ten Shills per week, for, of his 20 £ annuity, he has 4 shill per week to spend, and the other 4 to clothe him.—About 3 weeks past I was drawn for the Tower Hamlets Militia, and oblidged to find a Man, so that I last monday morning paid £20. 3 shill to get rid of it. I drew £40 last week from the Booksellers, and have not now a guinea in the house, not at my command except by letting myself down by asking against; whatever I may have to recieve for my years account, I cannot know this six weeks, or two months! I owe Mr Naylor 5 pounds—I have seven pound ten due for Harps, and about 14 to make.
You mention living rent free, to that you are entirely wellcome I never expected any other. You would be equally wellcome to the use of my shop, but much more than that is implied in the proposal, for who would keep your family the while. I have shown you that to send money is to me utterly impossible without making myself an everlasting domestic rod. I have been whipt enough allready. This I know will be sad news to you, but no consideration shall induce me to hide the truth, or to make you think that I am saving money and growing rich. The world is sadly decieved, and I shall one day cut an awkward figure as to pecuniary matters, and have a poor story to tell. I am afraid your journeys to London generally eat up your profits in loss of time. It must have been so with the Anthems; But this seems still more an uncertain speculation in which I can have less influence from knowing nothing about it. If under these true but disheartening circumstances you either must or can come to London, the workshop you perceive is the smallest consideration in the case, I am extreemly unhappy dayly and hourly for my own intention, and must leave yours unaided though with a set of feelings which I doubt will do me no good. My Best love to your wife and children.
Yours truly in Affection
 Lord Mahon, Philip Henry, the Fifth Earl Stanhope (1753–1816) was an inventor and politician renowned for his radical views and support for schemes designed to improve the lot of agricultural labourers. Bloomfield hopes that Isaac will gain such support for his invention of an improved pea/potato dibbler. BACK