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

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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.


* Address: Miss E Fricker/ Redcliff Hill/ Bristol./ Single
Postmark: JA/ 12/ 95
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. AL; 1p.
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 Ridgway (1755–1838), a well-known publisher of pamphlets, with a shop in York Street, St James’s Square. In 1793, Ridgway had been fined £200 and imprisoned for publishing the works of Thomas Paine (1737–1809; DNB). Ridgway was linked to William Winterbotham, 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

Published @ RC

March 2009

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