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...
300. Robert Bloomfield to Hannah Bloomfield, 4 March 1816*
Shefford. March 4. 1816
My Dear Girl.
Your news of Mr Lofft I hope you will be able to contradict, or qualify by further information, but there is nothing hardly that is too odd, or too ugly for the present crisis, when trade is laid prostrate, and the markets at ebb. I am certain he will write to me if he goes to the dominions of Beelzebub, and I am determined to be quiet, and 'let the world slide' as Hone says. I am glad you like my French and I can assure you I am quite as well acquainted with Italian and German!!! but enough of my erudition; I am going perhaps to surprize you, not by telling you the truth that your last letter appears to me the best you have ever wrote in your life, but by copying one I recieved from Weston yesterday morning, by which you will see that you are not to direct to them here.
London. Mar. 2. 1816
'My dear friend.
I am at length within prospect of an agreeable home, and I think it will please you to learn that the charming village of Twickenham will be my future residence. I have there taken a small, genteel business—the profits of which will be no incumbrance. The situation itself fills up every hole in my heart. Nothing can be more delightful! When I look forward to this, and backward to Shefford, and then think on my present state amid stench and darkness, I seem a favourd spirit passing out of Tartarus into the Elysian Fields. The voyage is long and dreary—let us hope the boat will not again prove leaky—if so—Lithe not Styx— be the River for me.
I feel gratified in giving you early information of this arrangement because I hope it will enable us to do something for Miss Bloomfield—if nothing more eligible should offer—In fact there is connected with the business a pretty little trade in Millenary & Dress making.—Should Miss Bloomfield wish to acquire these arts, my Sister would give her the opportunity of doing so—without expence, and meanwhile would be glad of her company.
It will be necessary for Miss B. to come to an early determination because if she disapproves of the offer my sister will be oblidged to get an assistant to fill the place intended for Miss Bloomfield. Pray let me hear from you very soon, and be sure send a good account of your health and spirits.—For my own part, I am quite my own man again, and as ever, yours &c
'217 Upper Thames Street'
Twickenham is a mile up the Thames above Richmond the Residence and burial place of Pope. Charming indeed, Mrs Palmer took me and your mother there, years ago!!!
Would you like to make yourself perfect in that trade, and thereby be able to defy want, and to be independant in the true sence of the word?
Have you any thing offering at Bury which you would like better than residing with two extremely well-inform'd minds, and learn a trade gratis at the same time? 'Observe', as Swan says, that there is no mention of when, or how soon you will be needed.