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...
297. Robert Bloomfield to Hannah Bloomfield, 9–10 November 1815*
Shefford. Nov. 9 1815
My Dear Girl
Yours, very much expected, came this morning, and you see I answer it directly. You seem greatly concerned about my eyes and my happiness, (two precious things) and I thank you for your kindness, and I will speak of them both in their turns. First, as to my sight. About three weeks ago I had one of my desperate head-aches, and the following day, I felt somthing the matter with my boasted right eye. A slight kind of inflammation ensued, but nothing to give pain; only a sort of obscurity. I shortly after found a dark speck, or cloud over the pupil, which moved with the eye, and was capable of totally obscuring the brightest star. I then began to be alarm'd as much, and I hope no more, than such a threat of blindness would warrant. I could not see one word of print, nor the tame Robin at the further end of the room. In this state I sent to London for spectacles to suit the Age of 60, for my old ones were quite useless. Aunt Charlotte went to Dollands for them, with her broken arm, so you may judge that their storm is blown over, and particularly as Nat says nothing about Tom, but in his letter says in his usual short and strong way, 'it is fortunate that your best trade may be followd, without the aid of eyesight.' I tried my new spectacles with trepidation, and found them tolerably well, but my sight was still so bad that I found it prudent to abstain from all attempts to read and write, and to wear a shade. |Novb 10.| I am glad I can now add that my sight is mending. The cloud is less black and threatening, and I can write, after a fashion.
As to my happiness, I have found but little real and lasting expression of spirits. I think I shall escape it this season if I can but keep up my health, which is much better than this time twelvemonth. Now then for other news. Miss Weston is going on Monday next to Oxfordshire for a month, and then she will be a very short time here before she goes to Hastings, for she goes long before her brother, and is afraid she shall not see you before her departure.—Shefford News—Lawyer King removed yesterday to potton. Mr Walker and the Cork Rump go at Christmas to live at Gravely near Hitchin, Stevenson at the George is going to quit. Nightingall, palmer, and our friend peppercorn, have given in their warnings to quit their farms! Whenever you come home you will have no acquaintance but Miss Martin.—Such is the changing state of things here, that I expect in my next to have to say somthing like the following. 'The Ivel has taken into its head to turn about and run towards Clophill, it would do your heart good to see how it contrives to get up the waterfall at Chicksands. Little Gawky is going to be shown for a dwarf. Mother Rogers and Old Squelch are not a bit bigger than two halfpenny candles Briggs is gone to Bedford Jail for setting fire to a Methodist meeting, and Old Mother Robinson run off to Gretney Green with a young fortune hunter!!! Your green frock, with some little pecuniary aid shall be sent next week, as we are going to send some straw for Mrs West-tee. The mean old toad!
If you and Mrs Lockwood agree to it, I can have no prudent cause to oppose your staying the Christmas twelmonth, for you will have but a rum sort of a home here, and though I never cease talking of you, and wanting your company, I have your real welfare so strongly at heart that I would bear any privation to secure it. It was from this consideration that I urge'd your making yourself personally known to Mrs Philips and Lady Bunbury. If you do not, after what I wrote to the former, they may feel themselves justly offended, and our own original intention or chance will be thrown away without trial. Give my love to sister Kate, but for God's sake don't let her come here. Tell her I was arrested last week, and my goods sold by auction; or any thing you can think of.—I walk when I can, I have been to Henlow, and Southill, and am going to day to dine with Mr Olivere of Clifton, and if my horrors come on too strong I shall immediately set off either to Clare Hall, or to Gransdon, to break the seen. So be not surprised if I write to you from another quarter I know that exertion of mind and body is real wisdom; but I also know that to command exertion is not so easy as some healthy fools think it. Give my respects to your kind entertainers, and love to Unkle George. I have his long letter, and will if possible try to write to him, but not about politicks. Did I tell you that Cawdel has lost his postmastership, and that we past at the Green Man over the way?
God bless you. Yours ever