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

2274. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 28 June 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. June 28. 1813

My dear Charles

George Fricker died on Thursday noon, & was buried yesterday. Had Rex been here I should have wished the body to be opened, as the case was a remarkable one. He has not died of consumption; for he never expectorated pus, & indeed for the last fortnight the cough was troublesome, – neither were there any night sweats, or any diarrhœa: I believe I mentioned in my last that this symptom had appeared, – but I was misinformed it was a mistake. Edmondson thinks those ducts must have been obliterated which convey nutriment to the system so that his food did not nourish him – very likely I am making his opinion appear like ignorance by putting it in my own words; if so the ignorance is mine not his. The decay was more rapid than any which Edmondson ever before witnessed, & he was more like a skeleton before his death than any thing I ever saw alive, but he suffered no pain & was utterly unconscious of danger. Latterly he was seldom sensible & went off at last without a struggle. His sisters [1]  had sat up with him for the last week. – How fortunate it that he lost his situation with Mr Lunell in that silly manner, [2]  for otherwise he would have died in lodgings, with all xx discomforts & anxieties about his expences, & the whole burden of attending him would have fallen upon Eliza. The expence too which would then have fallen upon me, would have been heavy. His sisters have now done their duty to the utmost & to the last, – & he had every thing which he could possibly want or wish for, that it was possible to procure.

I shall be in London in about three weeks, & before I leave town will send you the 10£ you advanced him for me, & likewise what little also I may be in your debt. This indeed would have been done some time ago if John Ballantyne had not stopt payment with me, declaring that he is already in advance, – when I have in reality 225£ due. How this will end I know not, but shrewdly apprehend that he will play the rogue with me, till bankruptcy puts an end to his tricks & his embarassments together.

I & my summer cold go on as usual; except however thex as far as the nose is concerned I am in good health & now that the house is beginning to resume its usual order, in good spirits & activity. Hitherto as you may suppose I have been sadly disjointed. Latterly indeed my study was given up to the women for poor George lay in the wing room, & here they watched him day & night with both doors open. To day I have reentered.

Lately I had a letter from Wilberforce about the Missions & to say he had a ready made friendship for me (these were his words) on the score of Kirk White. [3]  – And now Mr Hughes your old neighbour in the Croft, [4]  has sent a homo to me as a fit person to be active in promoting an auxiliary Bible Society. I told him that speaking at public meetings was quite altogether repugnant to my habits & inclination: but he was welcome to my subscription, my good wishes, & the little influence which I might be able to exercise in my own neighbourhood. The homo is a clergyman who keeps the school at St Bees, Wilson [5]  is his name. I rather like the cut of his jib, & having thus been made acquainted with him, I shall endeavour to make him reform his school upon the Madras system, & try if we cannot do something in aid of one of the missions, – to which I have a better stomach than to the Bible Society. For tho this is a good thing upon the whole, & especially with reference to its foreign there is a Bibliolatry in its partizans, in who wherein I am no partaker.

Your picture is in its frame at last to the great adornment of the parlour. I hope we shall see the original there next summer. Lovely weather! nothing can be finer for the hay, or for the country in general.

God bless you

Yours affectionately

R Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 1813/ June 28
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[2] William Peter Lunell (1758–1840), prominent Bristol merchant, antiquarian and anti-slavery activist, with premises in Brunswick Square. George Fricker had been accused of assaulting a young woman, but the charges seem to have been dropped; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 7 October 1812 (Letter 2154) and 29 October 1812 (Letter 2165). BACK

[3] Wilberforce had written on 28 May 1813, when he requested Southey provide him with ‘facts or suggestions which tend to prove either the duty … practicability, or policy of endeavouring (of course by persuasion only) to christianize the natives of Hindostan’, Robert Isaac Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce (eds), The Correspondence of William Wilberforce, 2 vols (London, 1840), II, pp. 264–265. For Southey’s reply, see Southey to William Wilberforce, 14 July 1813, Letter 2280. BACK

[4] Joseph Hughes (1769–1833; DNB), who from 1791–1796 was classical tutor at the Bristol Academy and pastor at Broadmead Baptist church. Hughes later moved to Battersea, London. He was co-founder in 1804 of the British and Foreign Bible Society and active in the London Missionary Society. BACK

[5] William Wilson (1782/3–1873; DNB), clergyman and Headmaster of St Bees School 1811–1816. He lost his post after he revealed that the School had leased the mineral rights of nearby Whitehaven to the Lowther family for a ridiculously small sum. The incident played an important role in early nineteenth century reforms of educational charities. BACK

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August 2013