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...
265. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 14–15 August 1811*
London. Aug 14. 1811
My Dear Madam
Your long and interesting epistle gave me real pleasure, first for its remarks, and still more from the consideration that you are able so to write and so to enjoy over again the scenery I have described. This is as it should be.—I hope the enclosed copies will suffice for the present, as I have no more by me, but will get a supply, and attend to the request of Miss Sharp as well as other unaccomodated friends. And so my Gleaner has no right to sing about matrimony  because we had no matrimony in the Boat, or at least were not just then upon such an expedition? Upon my poetical veracity I do not see the strength of your objection, but as matrimony is a very tender subject, as well as a longwinded one, I had better give you Mr Pitt's answer when he did not choose to give any, 'I have not made up my mind.' The apostles  shall be duly honour'd if the public will bear a reprint. I understand the Castle-looking rocks on the crown of the little Doward  to be the real Arthurs Hall, which in the map is mark'd nearly so, but for fear of being wrong I hisitated in saying 'This crown of rude rock, Arthur's Hall.' Your other critiques are worthy of alteration and I thank you, but as you demand and have a right to demand information on another subject I must proceed to it before I gossip the sheet full.
My acquaintance is so extensive, much too extensive in many channels) that I have communications with several different worlds!!!!! Yes, there is the bookselling world, the engraving world, the poetical world, the Quaking world, the busy world, the idle world, the interested, and the curious world, which is more plague than all the rest. I have often tried to look back to the commencement of some of my present how d-do friendships to discover how they came about, and I generally find that I did not begin them. Amongst other strangers came a watchmaker, a native of Bedfordshire, and after a lapse of time I found him really a man of mind, and that he corresponded with one at Shefford certainly superior to himself in information, wit and indeed in most particulars where extraordinary mind can evince itself. I soon knew them both, the latter is a respectable shopkeeper at Shefford, through whose means I made a Harp for Sir G Osborne, and nothing would satisfy him in the main but that I should have a holliday, and share his board and his wine. I did so, and returning gave my Eldest daughter a treat to the same Mr Weston's, to keep company with his young sister from Oxfordshire, and I think they mutually improved each other, and we were most honourably and hospitably treated. It was there I conceived the plan of perpetuating as far as the circumstances of my case would permit, the joys of the country. I hir'd of him a house at fifteen pounds per an. much better than this I live in at 40 besides taxes and I know, and still know that I could retrench in expenses and shake off full two thirds of the people who come here to look down my throat. I should have a beautifull corn country around me, and the immediate enjoyment of Chicksands and its library; Mr Whitbread's noble estates and the free ramble by a stream full of fish, and pray remember that al these would come to me cheaper by nearly £50 per ann. than living here to the evident injury of my health, the greatest of all considerations yet metion'd. some would exclaim 'With all this connexion what a trade he might get in a shop?' yes, if I could change Robin Bloomfield into Dick Shud of pudding lane. But before these arguments have much weight with me, I must see Dick Shud turn poet, for why should not he change his nature, and his habit as soon as I. I am determined he shall begin first. My glass is fast running for Forty Five, and I will not be a Tradesman. But if I cannot subsist without, I mean to petition to be an under turnkey at Newgate, and then you will all know where to direct to me.—After all, my dear madam, I am not certain of going into the country. I wish to go at Michilmas but my town connexions are so tight woven, so multifarious that I am, at least at present, tied by the leg.
Aug 15 I wrote last night by candlelight, as you may perceive amidst the repeated interruptions to which I am exposed, and amongst the rest was one for his M.S. which had been left for my examination! How kind, to help me out as to employment when I have none of my own! Now honestly will this plain statement stand for a liquidation of my debt? If not make out your bill again and I will attend to it.—
Have you Hook's Instructions for the Piano Forte?  I have been amusing myself as I walkd, in adapting words to two or three of his lessons.—I send you the original M.S. and tell you at the same time that it was the first of six, so bent was I to accomplish my task. This copy is written in the best greek I am acquainted with, and where it is blackest my little son has help'd me. It contains much downright nonsense, but in your hand I am not submitting it to the world, but for your [illegible word] amusement, and you, I am sure, would be sorry to expose me by its too great publicity. The accompanying packet to Ferney Hill will of course be deliverd, and as my time grows short, I must leave the blank to be fill'd at your leisure with my best remembrances, Loves, and Respects. And am Madam
Yours most truly
Particular Loves to the Children.
P.S. you need not fear my inlisting either under Mr W. the patriot or Sir G.O. the Courtier. The rise of a Nation to corruption and its declention, are much like the growth and decline of an Oak. I never knew a writing politician who did not of necessity forfeit that independence which I wish to keep. I will have nothing to do with rearing or pulling down their fabricks. I will enjoy the sunshine of favour, and hold my tongue. My old patron the Duke of Grafton is no more, I loose £15 per ann. I never flatterd him, and shall probably never have another.—