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...
258. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 13 March 1811*
London. March 13. 1811.
I can add but little more information with regard to my progress, or that of the music-composer, or of Mr Cooper. Mr Shield has recieved the words of the Songs some weeks; And hitherto has given no determinate answer, but wrote to require an interview without stating the time, and I have met 'Not at home' at his door once allready and wait for some oppertunity of seeing him. With respect to Mr Cooper he has promise'd, and actually began to copy some drawings to our proposed size, and I doubt not but I shall soon have them. The first Six thousand Copies (There's large talk!) will not be much at my disposal as to size and price, &c. but I can assure you that they will be little, if any, larger than the common 4 Shilling copies of the preceding books, and consequently one of your objections to printing music will be in full force, and the other will fall to the ground. I shall never, I hope, see you lugging along under your arm a book of mine which ought, from its bulk to take posession of the vehicle used by your Gardner. And in the present case I have other objections of some weight. I have the vanity to hope (Criticks willing), that my little Diary may be the companion of many a happy party, who will sing, and weep, and exult in health on the same stream when I am in the dust, And what would they do with such a monster of of a Book as you seem to fear,? Why even Pollet* himself perhaps would charge half a crown for its carriage! and that would never do. O how I wish it was clean through my hands! and I at liberty! This beautiful March has a very strong effect upon me, And you dare not refuse me an equal acknowledgement on your part.
I hear from your Childhoods Catharine that the Axe and the bill hook have been employd round Clare Hall, and that they are, so Loyd says 'quite laid open to the road'. It is hardly possible that any one would cut down the Planes on the Lawn, or bowling green. If this has been done I tell you honestly that I wish never to see Clare Hall again, for if they cannot rival their young Mistress in astronomy and Music, they come very close to you Ladies all on the score of grace. The old Firs I imagine are no more, and they might be spare'd, but I wish there was a Shop at Barnett where Trees ready grown might be bought by the score, and instantly put in the places of such as are destroy'd.
I was to tell you, as I thought, a deal of my Daughter's visit, and many other particulars, but If you knew how writing letters to any one, harass and try my mind, you would either pity me, or scold me like a fury, by the bye I never knew you do the latter in my life. This will come by favour of Miss Ansted, And When you have given my grateful remembrances to Mr B. and the Children, and All you love, you have only to consider me at all times and moods, Yours,
* The boatman—T J Ll B [note by T. J. Lloyd Baker]