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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

1928. Robert Southey to William Peachy, 31 May 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 31. 1811.

My dear Sir

Your letter was duly delivered to Mr Nicolson, [1]  & your message to Mr Clarke. [2]  The former continues much in the same state as when you last heard from me; there is no immediate danger of his being worse, & I fear no probability of his ever being better. I was upon the island a few weeks ago, & so seldom have I been there that the growth of the trees seemed to alter the place almost as much to my eyes, as it would do to yours. I told Rhodes [3]  you might perhaps come down & that you hoped to find it in order, – & this produced an expression of regret from him that the grass was growing for hay, because it would require two or three mowings, he said, to make it look well.

You will have seen by the newspapers that we have lost poor Mr Bunbury, who seems to have died of premature old age at 61. He is buried in the church here. This melancholy occasion, brought down his son, whom I had not seen for nineteen years, since we slept in the same room at Westminster. I cannot now conceive the boy whom I knew then, & the man whom I met to now to be the same individual, so total is the change – he was then about four years my junior, a beautiful boy, precisely the ideal of a Queens page, as he was. He now looked as if he was several years my elder, with at least as many grey hairs, & a countenance on which the cares of business had left stronger furrows, – than I ever discovered in the operation of shaving. But I have seldom met with a man whose conversation was more delightful. His official situation gives him, of course, great means of information, of which his strong understanding enables him to display to the best advantage. He means to finish x the house which his father was building, & let it for the present, – telling me when he went away, that it would not surprize him if he found himself in the course of a [MS illegible] my neighbour. A very desirable one indeed he would prove.

The reason why I have not replied sooner to your last favour has been that I waited till I could speak with as much certainty as this uncertain world allows of my movements southwards. This I can now do. – If no untoward circumstances should prevent Mrs Southey & myself purpose to set off on Monday the 10th. We halt at Nottingham on the way, & shall probably not reach Streatham before the last day of the week. My head quarters for the first part of my stay will be with my Uncle at the Parsonage there. Let me find a note from you saying if you shall be at that time in town, that if so I may make your hotel in my rounds during the first expedition over the Bridges.

No doubt you have heard of the death of Mr T Southey of Taunton, & the distribution of his property among strangers. [4]  The acquisition cannot sit easier upon them than the loss does upon us. My poor Aunt is the only one of his family who feels wounded, & indeed with reason, for what to us has been simply an act of caprice, – [MS illegible] has been unnatural & cruel towards her. I shall go to Taunton for the purpose, if possible, of [MS illegible] her to return with us to the North, where she may {see} [MS torn] family transplanted, increasing, &, blessed be to God, flourishing also. I purpose passing four & twenty hours with Mr T. Poole at Stowey, & shall certainly endeavour to see Mr & Mrs Guerin, [5]  & make a point of finding out Miss Charter [6]  & the Dark Damsel, [7]  if they are in the country. From there we return xxxx [MS illegible] from Bristol thro part of Wales, for the sake of halting a few days with my friend Wynn at Llangedwin: then make for Liverpool & rest again with Mr Koster. – This reminds me that Koster has published a pamphlett upon the bullion-question, which if I am not greatly deceived is perfectly decisive upon the subject. [8]  He affirms that gold like every thing else is incapable of being kept at a fixed price, but that its value must depend upon the proportion between the consumption & supply; – thus, to my judgement, satisfactorily showing discovering an a radical error in the hitherto received system of political oeconomy. He then produces some highly curious proofs to show that the consumption of gold has increased in a surprizing [MS illegible]; – while the supply has almost wholly failed. The pamphlett is not written {He writes} like a merchant more than a practised author, – but it is as a merchant that he has acquired the knowledge which leads him to this very important conclusion.

I expect to meet my brother Tom at Streatham, – he goes up to solicit employment, in hopes of preferment following it. – I have left my self no room for any remarks upon the events, literary or political of the day, – farther than that I was glad to see your name among the liberal contributors to my brave friends the Portugueze. Mrs S & her sisters [9]  beg to be remembered, – believe me my dear Sir yours very truly

Robert Southey


Notes

* Address: [readdressed in another hand] To/ Colonel Peachy/ Ibbotson’s Hotel/ Vere Street/ Oxford Street/ London./ at J Marsh’s Esqr/ Droxford/ Alton/ Hants
Postmark: [partial] E/ JU/ 1811
MS: British Library, Add MS 28603
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Mr Nicholson (dates unknown), a Keswick resident who handled Peachy’s affairs in the locality. BACK

[2] Mr Clarke. Unidentified. BACK

[3] Rhodes. Unidentified. BACK

[4] Thomas Southey’s death was reported in his local newspaper the Taunton Courier on 18 April 1811. His main heir was William Oliver (1775–1830) of Hope Corner, Taunton, while much of the remainder went to his servant Tom (dates and surname unknown). BACK

[5] An acquaintance of Herbert Hill’s, Maria Lucy Elizabeth Shuldham (d. 1817), and her husband Joseph Guerin (d. 1863), Rector of Bagborough and Norton Fitzwarren. BACK

[6] Elizabeth Charter (1782–1860), the sister of Peachy’s first wife. She was later a close friend of George Crabbe (1754–1832; DNB). BACK

[7] Unidentified. BACK

[8] John Theodore Koster, A Short Statement of the Trade in Gold Bullion: Shewing the True Causes of the General Scarcity and Consequent High Price on that Precious Metal: Also Demonstrating that the Notes of the Bank of England are Not Depreciated (1810). It went into a second edition in 1811, and Koster followed this with Further Observations on Bullion and Bank Notes (1811). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013