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...
296. Robert Bloomfield to Hannah Bloomfield, 15 August 1815*
Shefford. Aug 15. 1815
My dear Girl
I think we agreed before your departure that a week's silence was not to alarm either party. I have been forced by various circumstances to take advantage of it, and now write in reply to yours received last Sunday morning. You see that I spoke truth when I assured you that you would find agreeable associates, and a good reception. I shall be glad to recieve Georges long letter, but tell him if he does not look sharp and finish it, there are likely to be two or three more revolutions before he comes to a close. If he could only contrive to get the Allied Armies from Paris I think Lewis would stop there about two hours; but then it is no great sport to see a man with the gout run a race! But hold! I am not going to bombard you with politicks, I have somthing more solid to state, which is, that soon after I wrote you last, I received a letter from Mr L. Baker, dated Abergavany, and this letter contained a £20 check, the gift of himself and Mr Cooper! This is a glorious lift.—I have again heard from Miss Ansted, advising me to write to the present Lord Mayor, Birch, with respect to the school for Robert. This is no bad thought, but I have not made up my mind to the performance. I am perfectly well, but your poor brother Charles is gone towards Bedford loaded with Irons! That is to say, gone with Adams measuring the Reaper's work.
It happens rather singularly that after you have so many times abused the strolling players for never coming to Shefford, they should come directly you was gone. Last night they perform'd 'She stoops to conquer,' but their Toney Lumpkin was the only tolerable hand. I did not see them, but sent Charles & Charlotte. From all reports they are most wretched hands indeed. The Theatre was a Malthouse at the Kings Arms, and they perform 'Lovers Vows' tomorrow. 
I have a letter at length from Mrs Philips, who did not receive mine until a few days ago, she being not at Barton, nor, when I wrote, in London. She is the same good wishing creature that I ever found her. Sir Charles of course has not heard or seen my letter, but Mrs Phillips is coming to Suffolk very soon, when she promises to see you and what else may turn up I know not.
Miss Radwell is visiting at Shefford, and she and Miss Weston are gone out on Horsback.
Tom Naylor set out last Sunday week for Ostend and Brussels.—Your Sister Jennet  sends her love to you, and desires me to say that she has nearly conquered her father, and Governess, and is in the fair way to get every thing her own way. This is just what girls like, and I am sure it will please you.
You will always remember me to your present entertainers, with my sincere respects—and having now but little to add, and not liking this hard work of writing, and being sleepy, and two or three other excuses, I must be for the present
My dear girl your friend and Father
[signature cut off]
P.S. Saturdays list of Bankrupts contains the name of 'James Bennet, Ross, Cordwainer.' This man worked beside me for two years in London, and I call'd on him when at Ross in 1807.
 Lovers' Vows; one of the most popular plays of the era, by August von Kotzebue, in an English version by Elizabeth Inchbald, features in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Oliver Goldsmith's popular romantic comedy She Stoops to Conquer, its hero Tony Lumpkin, was first performed in 1773. BACK