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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1637. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 27 May [1809] ⁠* 

My dear Harry

God bless you & your wife ! – That prayer will take away the ill omen of beginning a congratulatory letter with tidings of sorrow, – for I have such to add, – We buried Emma on Tuesday last, – Mrs Peachy’s god child, – Our next news I dare say will be that Mrs P. herself is laid to rest in Madeira. – This has been a heavy stroke, – how heavy you will never know till you have children of your own, & then God grant that you may never know it otherwise than by the delight you take in them.

As soon as I can leave Edith I shall set off for Durham, sending my trunk before me. Let me by return of post have your direction by which to send it, – & tell me if George Taylor [1]  lives on the way (I go the Bowes & Bernard Castle road) – for if so I would knock at his door, – & lay my knapsack upon his table while I took a travellers meal. I shall mount the coach from Penrith to Bowes, walk on as far as I can that night, & reach you the next day, – letting you know what day that will be.

Your will hint to it will own feelings I doubt not will lead you to give Mary a hint (as delicately as may be) of my partiality for gooseberry pie, & of the distinction between male & female pies, & of the heresy of eating them hot. The last time I was in her fathers house was at a funçaō, [2]  – where I believe there was but one person as much out of his element as myself, & that was Frere. I did not then foresee that I had a future sister in the room, – but had I been to chuse one I can sincerely say my choice would have left things as they are. I am a face-reader & Mrs Gonne used to tell me Mary Sealy ‘had a heart’. – now as Tristram Shandy [3]  says many persons have either a pumpkin or a pippin in the place of one.

Edith & Herbert are very desirous to know when they may go & see their new Aunt. Our distance is not so great but that one of these days a Commercial Treaty of Visits may be established. Ediths love –

God bless you

RS.

May 27.


Notes

* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Recd/ Richard Sealy
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.70
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Taylor (1772–1851), gentleman farmer in Co. Durham, classicist and occasional contributor to the Quarterly Review. Father of Southey’s friend, Sir Henry Taylor (1800–1886; DNB). BACK

[2] Meaning ‘a function’. BACK

[3] Laurence Sterne (1713–1768; DNB), The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–1767). The remark comes from chapter 9 of the third volume of the work, where it is said by Corporal Trim to Susannah. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013