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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

123. Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795] ⁠* 

Were I to estimate length of time since my arrival here by the succession of ideas instead of hours, these last thirty would be strangely lengthened.

my journey was cold — never had I so fit an opportunity cooly to consider the theory of freezing. we arrived not till 11 next morning. I went to the Salutation & Cat [1]  — a most foul stye — no Coleridge. I went to Christs Hospital, Favell was at church & could not be spoken with till a quarter past 12. I returned drest & breakfasted very heavy at heart. went against to Xts & standing as the boys came out of church physiognomized one for Favell. I was right. where is Coleridge? at the Angel Inn — Angel Street — Butcher hall Lane Newgate Street. we went there. Coleridge had given me up from the lateness of the hour & was gone with Lamb to the Unitarian chapel. I sat down at one to the Ordinary dinner & in the middle in came Coleridge. Lamb came to us in the evening. my heart was {to day} very heavy. Coleridge objected to Wales & thought it best to find some situation in London till we could prosecute our original plan. he talked of a tutorage — a public office — a newspaper one for me. I went to bed in dirty sheets — & tost & turned cold weary & heart sick till seven in the morning — then fell asleep & woke before ten more refreshed by mental exertion than bodily repose.

to day I went to Bedford. Coleridge was to wait half an hour in the Park in case I staid not with him. I left Bedford (with whom I spend tomorrow) but found not Coleridge. calld on Wynn — not in town. on Scott. [2]  went to Gerald. [3]  to Ridgeway concerning Wat Tyler. [4]  I am to send them more sedition to make a 2 Shilling pamphlet. they will print it immediately give me 12 copies & allow me a sum proportionate to the sale if it sells well. all the risk is their own.

I am at a coffee house with Scott. [5]  my pen execrable & my hand too cold either to guide it well or mend it.

Love me my dear Edith or there will be no comfort for me. I lean strongly to Wales in spite of his very strong arguments — but if it be not practicable will get a place in some public office of 80 or 100 per year on which with some 50 more by writing for reviews &c we can live with frugality & happi[MS obscured] do not forget me — do not believe that any circumstances can ever make me unhappy while secure of your affection. I think of you always — always with emotion — tis a thought that would comfort me in every calamity & I will cherish it even as my Life for indeed I could not have bear the one without the other.

God bless you & make you most happy.

yours affectionately

Robert Southey.

Tuesday. 4 o clock.


Notes

* Address: Miss E Fricker/ Redcliff Hill/ Bristol./ Single
Postmark: JA/ 12/ 95
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 90–92.
Dating note: The letter is dated from the postmark. Southey writes ‘Tuesday’ at the end of the letter; 12 January 1795 was a Monday. BACK

[1] An inn in Newgate, London. BACK

[2] Possibly John Scott (dates unknown), editor of the Morning Advertiser. BACK

[3] Joseph Gerrald (1763–1796; DNB) was in prison in the New Compter, Giltspur Street, London, awaiting transportation to Australia. BACK

[4] In autumn 1794, Robert Lovell may have taken a manuscript of Southey’s drama Wat Tyler to London, in order to find a publisher. He may have given it to James Ridgeway (1755–1838), a well-known publisher of pamphlets, with a shop in York Street, St James’s Square. In 1793, Ridgeway had been fined £200 and imprisoned for publishing the works of Thomas Paine (1737–1809; DNB). Ridgeway was linked to William Winterbotham (1763–1829; DNB), the Baptist minister who at some point acquired the manuscript of Wat Tyler and who was involved in its eventual unauthorised publication in 1817. BACK

[5] Possibly John Scott, editor of the Morning Advertiser. BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009