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...
397. Hannah Bloomfield to 'A Lady', undated, after 28 June 1824*
I have been so much employed by Mr. Weston during the last week in making extracts from letters and writing out copy for the press, that I fear I have transgressed the rules of strict propriety in having omitted to reply to your kind letter. Mr. Weston, the friend who has taken the trouble to manage our concerns, has consulted some of my father's best and oldest friends as to the merits of the work to be published. It has met with their approbation, and will make its appearance now in a few days, and I trust will rather contribute to establish my dear father's fame than to diminish it.
It was the opinion of our friends near Shefford, that we ought to avail ourselves of the sympathy which our misfortunes had excited as soon as we decently could, particularly as the first fruits arising from this resource cannot reach us under fourteen or fifteen months, unless we had consented to sacrifice a great part of the advantage (which may arise from the work being sold for our exclusive benefit) for the sake of raising a present supply. I am at a loss to know what are the liberal and handsome gifts to which you have alluded, as having been made at our sale. A gentleman, whom it would perhaps be improper to name, was so kind as to purchase the oak table which sold for £13., and presented it as an heirloom of the family. Another gentleman purchased a pewter dish for £1. 1s., which he also presented. Dr. Drake sent spontaneously a subscription raised among his friends at Hadleigh, amounting to £13. 2s. 6d., besides which I do not remember any other favour except the drawings which you, madam, was so kind as to purchase so much above their value. Perhaps you will more readily believe me on this point, when I inform you, that the clear proceeds of our sale amounted only to £82.; and that when we had paid our creditors and our expense to London, we had about £40. left to divide amongst five of us, to supply our expenditure for about two years, as we must wait full that time before our bookseller's account becomes reproductive.
The subscription has been managed by Mr. Rogers, Mr. Park, and Mr. Weston, who have caused circulars to be distributed amongst our friends in all parts of the country, and I am sure it would be much regretted by those gentlemen if this has been done in any way unpleasant to our friends.
When I mentioned to Mr. Weston what you have observed about the variety of the modes employed to interest the public in our behalf, he replied,—some will assist from one motive and some from another; but reflecting minds will in general feel more disposed to help you in proportion as they observe in you a willingness to help yourselves, and to make the most of the little property which is still in your possession.
My father's manuscripts were bought in at the sale by ourselves, lest a dispute should arise as to the right of publishing them.
P.S. I have taken the liberty of reading your letter, and this answer of mine to Mr. Weston. He says it will be of infinite importance to us to have extracts from them, published in the forthcoming work. The reason he assigns is, that others may be influenced by the same opinions which you have expressed, and it is of consequence to us that our friends should not remain under erroneous impressions.
Mr. Weston has transcribed that part of yours which he thinks available, and marked the corresponding part of mine. If you are so kind as to comply, I shall feel obliged by an immediate answer, it being the only thing for which we shall have to wait.
Providence Row, July 5, 1824.