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

2159. Robert Southey to [Anna] Montagu, 19 October 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Oct. 19. 1812

Dear Madam

Your letter of the 13th was six days on its journey, – a travelling beggar would have performed the same distance in less time. We are all obliged by your kind invitation, but unluckily we have all cogent reasons for declining to accept it. Miss Barker will probably communicate her own. For myself I am a bondsman till the middle of April, [1]  & must confine myself closely to my desk during the whole interval. And Mrs Southey instead of travelling, is preparing to take to her bed by the end of this month. [2] 

At a more convenient season I hope to see Wharfedale & Bolton, & whenever that may be I will gladly avail myself of your name as an introduction to Mr Carr. [3]  I was provided with a letter to him last summer by Wordsworth, but an alternation in our route which led me from Richmond up Wensley dale instead of striking southward to Fountains Abbey as I had purposed, – & bad weather which overtook us at Settle, prevented us from reaching Bolton. I saw however the Caves, & that most striking place Gordale Scar. And my friend Don Manuel [4]  was so much delighted with all that we saw in Yorkshire, that he certainly intends to repeat his visits to that part of England.

The beautiful manuscript [5]  for which I must not omit to thank you, stands yonder in good company. I have not the means at hand of ascertaining its author, but believe it would not be difficult so to do.

Mr Dawe [6]  is painting a huge picture here, which bids fair to be a very fine one. His child is a good likeness of our little Kate, in every thing except the colour of the eyes. I wish the long poem [7]  which is also in hand under the same roof, were as sure of making its fortune as this picture, for which its taking subject seems to render success certain. It is however advancing to my own content, & twelvemonths hence, if no unforeseen & unfortunate interruption should delay its progress or cut it short, I shall be thinking of proof sheets & publication.

I hope you have read the New Hampshire address to the President. [8]  It has gone far towards redeeming the Americans with me, & restoring them to that estimation in which I should ever wish to hold the countrymen of Washington. [9] 

Remember me to Mr Montagu & believe me

[signature cut out]


Notes

* Address: To/ Mrs Montagu/ Bolton/ near/ Skipton
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: by Mr Southey to me/ Anna D B Montagu
MS: Cornell University
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey needed this time to work on the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[2] Isabel Southey was born in November 1812. BACK

[3] William Carr (1763–1843), Curate of Bolton, Yorkshire 1789–1843. He was a well-known cattle-breeder and local antiquarian and author of Dialect of Craven in the West Riding of Yorkshire (1828). BACK

[4] The fictitious narrator of Letters from England (1807). Southey’s proposed sequel did not materialise. BACK

[5] ‘A Spirituall Conflict, or a Treatise of Christian Perfection’, no. 3161 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, given to Southey by Anna Montagu in October 1811. It was described in the sale catalogue as ‘a very neatly written MS. of the time of James or Charles I, in velvet, gilt leaves’. BACK

[6] The history and portrait painter George Dawe (1781–1829; DNB). Dawe’s residence at Greta Hall whilst he worked on the 9 foot by 8 foot canvas ‘Mother Rescuing her Child from an Eagle’s Nest’ was not without controversy, with some members of the household complaining about his habit of keeping windows open. The picture was based on William Hayley’s (1745–1820; DNB), ‘The Eagle’, first published in Designs to a Series of Ballads (1802). BACK

[7] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[8] The American declaration of war on Britain in June 1812 was not popular in New England. It is not clear which of the many protests from that region that Southey is referring to here, but the State assemblies of Massachusetts (26 June) and Connecticut (25 August) had both passed resolutions opposing the war. BACK

[9] George Washington (1732–1799), first President of the United States of America, 1789–1797. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013