1187. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 26 May 1806 *
I ought to have written to you long since. But in London I was very unwell at first as well as very busy; & so idle, idle from sheer enjoyment of fresh air & fine weather, – that I am behind hand with every thing.
Thank you for the Musical Letter, it will answer its purpose perfectly well. the book is in the press & I have corrected four proofs of 24 pages each.  the Printer is likely to run me hard: for it is yet half to write.  I have sold the first edition for 100£, & to mend the matter spent the money; but it sets me even with the world, & I am going on merrily in the race with the typographical Devils.
Guess my profits upon Madoc after a years sale. £3. 17s. 1d. – if I wanted money no more than I want what the world calls encouragement this would be very well. & thank God it is not very ill as it is, for I have had my pleasure in writing it, & surely I ought not to grumble at receiving three pounds seventeen shillings & one penny, for having written the poem, when there are persons who would pay the same sum gladly to be able to write it. I have got £22 by the Metrical Tales.  Thalaba continues to sell about one copy a month. But we shall see what prose will do in the way of selling. As for Espriella that I think is sure of a circulating library sale. the Cid I think is likely to be too good a book to succeed  – for goodness Senhora minha  stand in the way of books as well as of men.
Well what have I to say about London? why that George Dyer is in great tribulation lest you & Sir Edward Lyttleton should think he had been disrespectful. that Rickman has got a very goodnatured wife who I am very sorry to say has miscarried since I left the house. – that the River Tuffin enquired for a certain Miss Barker of whom he seemed to have formed a very just idea. that Wordsworth went in powder & with a cocked hat under his arm to the Marchioness of Staffords rout.  that I enjoyed myself among my friends & kept out of the way of my acquaintance. that I did not go either to rout concert theatre or opera, but that I did go to see the Fat Man  & to see nothing else; & that if my books do not sell better I have thoughts of trying what is to be done by seeing company at a shilling a piece as the Thin Man, in humble imitation of him.
If the truth is to be told I suppose that the person whom I saw with most pleasure was Mrs Gonne – tho I never see or think of her without a heart ache. Two children in the same hopeless way as the others! – I past two days there, which is one day more than I allowed to any body else. but it does one good to see one who seems to be perfect goodness, & I believe she is as perfect good as it is possible for human being to be.
I have just been obliged to tell my daughter that you renounced the pomps & vanities of this wicked world for her,  & that Red Shoes were included among them; for having had a new pair on yesterday, she was in tribulation because they were not to be put on today. I wish you could see her – she is hugely advanced in wisdom & in months since you were here. – But are you likely to come? You know it is a vile trick you played us in staying so short a time, & here are a thousand drawings still to be made.
Of my own movements I am still in the dark, which is more Bonaparte’s fault than any body’s else.  If there be no English Diplomacy at Lisbon as I suspect – away go my hopes in that quarter, & in that case I shall take root here & fairly take a lease of this house, if it can be so managed. but if Lisbon be still left open to us, it is not certain whether I shall go in autumn or spring – in autumn an event is likely to take place of much importance here – which is – that my daughter it is to be hoped will then have brother or sister.  Now whether I shall set off after the young strangers arrived by myself, or wait till spring when Edith may be able to make the voyage – why that may be decided when the time comes. Heaven knows what may turn up in the meantime, & certainly without thinking about that during the summer I shall have enough to think about; for Senhora there are the Senor’s letters  to finish & an edition of Palmerin of England  to prepare for the press, & a preface for the Specimens to write,  & half a hundred things beside which I would willingly do if I had more eyes, more hands, & another head to ride & tie with my present one.
Fare you well. I came home at one spell in the mail & have not been into Herefordshire after all. I am sorry my own plans for the journey were disconcerted but that cannot be helped. You will be pleased to write me a letter, to tell me you are very well, & in good spirits, – & that Sir E. is coming to see the Lakes without delay. Harry has past his examination & graduates in about a month. 
God bless you
Keswick. Monday. May 26. 1806.
* Address: To/ Miss Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire
Postmark: KESWICK/ 298
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 191–195. Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 385–388.
Dating note: “No. 19 S Madoc to Mary Barker. Keswick 26 May 1806” written on MS. According to Kirkpatrick “S Madoc” is in Mary Barker’s hand in pencil. A pencil line has been lightly drawn through it. BACK
 Printed by Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB), printer and naturalist, who would go on to establish the publishing firm of Taylor and Francis with his son William Francis (1817–1904; DNB) in 1852. BACK
 Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower, later Duchess of Sutherland (1765–1839), the wife of George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758–1833; DNB) inherited the title of Marquess of Stafford in 1803. BACK
 Southey was seeking an official appointment in Lisbon through the influence of his friend and patron Charles Williams Watkin Wynn, who held a position in the current government under his uncle, William Wyndham Grenville. The French army invaded Spain and Portugal in 1807 and Southey did not return to Portugal. BACK
 Southey’s joint project with Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets, published with Longman in 1807 as a companion to George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790; 2nd edn. 1801; 3rd edn. 1803). BACK