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...
92. Robert Bloomfield to Elizabeth Hingston, 24 August 1802*
London, near the Shepherd and Shepherdess, City Road.
August 24th, 1802.
Should this sheet be fortunate enough to reach your hand, surely you will not fail to write for our mutual satisfaction, and for the pleasure it will give our poor old mother, who is still living, and as well as she has been for many years past.
I sent you a letter directed to Philadelphia long ago. We have heard nothing from you since, nor indeed any ray of information since your letter which gave some account of your voyage to that place. Nat has long entertained a notion that as you have something of the rambler in your disposition you meant to forbear writing that you might one day surprise us with your sudden appearance in London, but I find he now gives you over for dead, thinking that nothing but death could induce you to keep your friends thus in total darkness, both as to your health or sickness, prosperity or poverty; for what if you are as poor as Job, did any of your relations expect you to grow rich? You set out a friendless adventurer, and what if you remain such, is that a reason for your breach of communication with your mother? Dear wench, think of these things, and believe that a letter, directed to 'Mrs. Bloomfield, to be left at No. 14, Great Bell Alley, Coleman's-street, London' will be highly acceptable to us all. You may probably receive this in October, and then, when may we expect a reply?
With respect to myself my 'Farmer's Boy' has run through six editions, and the last publication 'Rural Tales' has been reprinted largely. I know, that of the first, you have, on your side of the water, several editions of your own, (American editions) and this circumstance alone makes me wonder that you have not written to me on so great and so interesting a subject to us all. There is a French translation of the Farmer's Boy at Paris, which is now reprinting in London.
Your brothers and sisters are well, and their families. Katharine is still unmarried. If I have no reply in a reasonable time I will get some of the great and good friends whom fortune has thrown in my way, to employ some person residing in your city to ascertain the truth of your situation, if living; or to transmit the particulars of your demise.
Remaining in anxious uncertainty,
Your affectionate brother,
P.S. You may, if you like it better, direct to 'Robert Bloomfield, Seal-Office. Inner Temple, London.'
Address: Elizabeth Bloomfield / Philadelphia.