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...
389. George Bloomfield to Joseph Weston, 9 June 1824*
Bury St. Edmunds, June 9, 1824
I beg leave to say I received your letter, dated Shefford, June 5th. The magazine man mentioned by my brother Robert, was Mr. W. Bent, successor to S. A. Cumberlege, at the Kings Arms, Paternoster-row, London; but who was the editor of the magazine, I am ignorant. Mr. Bent was the publisher. His was the Universal Magazine; I read it more than twenty years. Mr. Bent kept the MS. a week or two, and sent it back to my brother by a grave book-faced looking man, who said it did not suit Mr. Bent, &c. My brother offered it to Mr. Lane, the great wholesale novel manufacturer. He returned it almost immediately with a note of two lines, to say, it was not in his line. My brother afterwards left it with Mr. Dilly in the Poultry. Mr. Dilly, when my brother afterwards called for the MS. said it wanted revisal, &c. My brother then sent it to me here, at Bury, and it was on my own petition, without my brother's knowledge, that Mr. Lofft took it under his patronage. But I have lived near seventy years in the world, and have seen enough of mankind to know, that the wretch who has once vouched a falsehood, will invent fifty more to make it good. Still, however, Mr. Lofft* is yet living, and will certainly prove he had no letter of recommendation. But then the calumniator may still say he gave my brother such letter. Should he do this, though I would stake my salvation on its being false, how could it be disproved? The coward staid till the death of poor Robert ere he dared make his attack. O, sir, if you could conceive how it hurt my mind when I read the statement in the monthly Magazine for September 1823! ...
The tale is told as if my brother's misfortunes arose from his talents—as if his success had done no good—C. Bloomfield Esq. did not know there was such a man as me in existence till Robert's success brought me to his knowledge on Robert's account—for whose sake he, Mr. B., took me and mine into his protection. His great benevolence and charity have conferred favours on me it would fill a sheet to detail, and at this moment his bounty nearly feeds me; but for Robert's success I should have been unknown to this gentleman and, consequently, must have wanted bread, and have been in a workhouse. And poor brother Isaac, who was in his youth a gay lad, and on a footing with the young farmers of the village must, when weighed down with a family of nine children, have trembled at a vestry to those he once deemed his equals. But Robert took him up, and was his true friend—took him and his family to London, and placed them in a shop. The scheme failed—he sent them down again and gave them the rent in the cottage for twenty years, clothed the boys, &c. The rent alone must have been sixty pounds. My brother Nat, I doubt not, had often his assistance. Nat had thirteen or fourteen children. All the comforts myself and brothers enjoyed, evidently sprung from the success of Robert. This sneaking assassin without a name, who wrote the article for the Monthly Magazine for September, 1823, keeps all this positive good—these real blessings out of sight— and tells us how happy Robert might have been had he continued to be a journeyman shoemaker. Even here he acts with cruel duplicity. He does not tell his readers that Robert was for the last twenty years seldom capable of bodily labour. He leaves the reader to think he was a man capable of hard exertion, whereas, the reverse was the case; the suppression of truth is, in this case, as much a calumny as the fabrication of falsehood.
While his resources lasted, Robert was always ready to prove by his conduct that he acted to others as he would have wished them to have acted towards him had they been in his place and he in theirs. Here it may be objected, how came he to get into debt? He certainly, while his income was good, had not that cold, prudential caution which men of the world possess. I am willing to admit with that calumniator, his ambition was disappointed. It would have been his ambition to keep Isaac's family from the parish; to keep his brother Nat from trouble, &c. &c. This he could not do. But to read the article in the Monthly Magazine, the reader might be led to think that he was ambitious of aping the man of 'pecuniary independence, &c.'
The only luxury I ever knew him indulge in, was a Cockney garden; and here he was more to be pitied than blamed. He staid some time after he came into money in his old lodgings in Mulberry-court, till he was literally hunted out of it. Persons of consideration, who came in great numbers to see him, complained of the place being disagreeable. Mr Peter Gedge, the printer, called on him—gave him half-a-guinea, and advised him to get into a better situation. Robert then hired a respectable lodging in Short-street, Moorfields. His landlord put the key under the door in the night, and left Robert to pay £9 rent to the proprietor of the house, or lose his goods. He then hired a very small house near the Shepherd and Shepherdess, in the City Road. Here he had, what was certainly, a large Cockney garden! When his income became reduced, he retired to Shefford, where his rent, &c. was comparatively small. He never kept a servant, or a horse, as many a one would have done. His whole conduct in prosperity proved his fraternal love, his filial affection, and his readiness to assist to the utmost of his power those who applied to him. Those who knew him best will wonder how a man so inoffensive and unobtrusive can be charged with ambition. But the writer of the article above alluded to, says by inference, that the poor man of talents should not dare to enter the fields of literature, but leave them to the men of 'pecuniary independence.'
I hope, sir, you will not tire in the glorious work you have begun. You cannot please every body—you cannot produce a perfect book:
But to endeavour to rescue the character of him who is not here to defend himself, is, I repeat it, a glorious task, and all the wise and good will applaud the design, whatever impediments the interested and the wicked, may throw in your way.
Your humble servant
* The account of this gentleman's death had not then arrived. 
Address: To Mr. Weston, / Shefford