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...
266. Robert Bloomfield to Hannah Bloomfield, 21–23 August 1811*
Wednesday. Aug. 21. 1811.
My Dear Girls,
This day four years I was on the summit of the Sugarloaf!!! But what has that to do with the present moment. On Monday I recieved long critical letters from Shefford and from Uley, but no news of you. I was vex'd for a while, but I calld reason to my aid, and soon found some probable circumstances which might have prevented the posting a letter on Sunday night. On Tuesday I had inteligence from your Uncle George, and of a most pleasing kind, and I have one yesterday from Mr Lofft as ardent, and as warm as possible. They have a new fine ton'd piano, and want your company. You had, it seems, a very quick passage, 72 miles in 11 hours was good work. I am indeed particularly gratified to hear that you arrived safe and well, and that the attentions you recieved were such as I hope are calculated to make you easy. I hope you find comfortable quarters, but when you conveniently can, write some further news of your journey, or else keep a journal. —
I am pretty certain that you noticed that I was not in good spirits when you set off. I was, like a child, sorry to be left behind, and was too proud, or too prudent to own it. Affection high-strain'd, took the garb of ease. And besides I had other considerations which weighd with me soundly. I had the preceeding day missed 4 five pound Notes, and had searchd every place sufficiently except the one where it was more likely to find them than to find a pudding, my Breeches pocket. But soon after I return'd I found them all safe. I was truly concern'd to find you got into your head the idea of the Coach being overloaded at top, for however true it might be, it could be no pleasant feeling to travel with, and I was still more afraid that Mary should catch the notion from you, and bring on her head-ache. I was therefore heartily glad when news came.———
Show Mary all that you can, and make yourselves happy, And when I write again I shall have more to say. Perhaps this will reach you on Thursday night. In the mean time I send loves and remembrances, And my own affectionate how-d-do's and congratulations, and am Allways Your
I am glad this letter has been kept back untill yours came for which thank you heartily. Don't let Mary take too violent exercise, and I have no doubt of her doing well. You will get used to your friends and entertainers more and more every day. and the life will become familiar, and consequently easy. There will be a full Moon on Sunday week the 2d of September at Midnight, and an eclipse will come on about half after 9 at night and last till 12, when you may see the full broad-faced luminary perhaps half cover'd by the shadow of the earth. I wish you very particularly to be then at Troston, where, (if the clouds permit) you will have the advantage of a—Telliscope.—Mr Hood died on Tuesday afternoon!! He has left a young family. His death was occasiond by an unconquerable mixt fever, malignant to a high degree, He is oblidged to be buried sooner than usual, Poor Peter call'd with the news, but could not talk. He has lost his best friend, and the family have lost a fond, and realy affectionate Father. I hope that providence will spare me yet, unhealthy as I am, that I may see you all somthing better able to take care of yourselves. My Rhumatism seems fix'd, but it is very bearable at present. My mind you know is much easier that it used to be. We have had some hard rains with a good deal of thunder, and the present state of the London air is a good deal like that in a Baker's Oven.
Mary Binley brought you a piece of Bride Cake, not from Chelmsford, nor from Hackney. But the Man whom the gadfly Flory page used as a jilt allways do, turn'd him off without sense or feeling, has determind it seems to have one of the family, and has strap'd himself for life to her Sister Nancy! If I had but a birth or two to record here my list would be perfect. You say nothing of the Harvest, perhaps it is over. If I hear of you on monday and Mary is better, I shall not write before this day week.
God Bless you Both