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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1656. Robert Southey to Sir George Beaumont, 17 July 1809 ⁠* 

Keswick, July 17, 1809

Dear Sir,

You will, I trust, excuse me for troubling you with a letter upon my own concerns, because it may possibly be in your power to render me an essential service. Some little time since I was informed by Walter Scott that Mr. Canning had expressed a wish to serve me, and the result of some conversation which they held upon the subject was that Scott should inquire of me in what manner it might most conveniently be done. A few years ago I would gladly have gone to Portugal; my uncle has now left that country. One main inducement is thus removed, and if it were necessary to enter into detail, it might be shown that I should act imprudently, in the worldly sense of the word, by accepting anything that would be given me there. The immediate emoluments would not support me, and for the prospects which might be held out hereafter, I am neither young enough to enter upon, nor ambitious enough to desire them. To speak more truly, my ambition is fixed upon better things. There is, however, a situation which it would perfectly suit me to hold: it is the stewardship for the Derwentwater estates, now held by a Mr. Walton, [1]  and expected soon to be vacated by his death, as I am informed by Mr. Sharp, who indeed advised me to apply for it. Accordingly I mentioned it to Scott; his answer is that the thing seems feasible, but that it would be of great consequence to obtain Lord Lonsdale’s countenance, as his recommendation will probably command that and everything else which falls in this country. These being the circumstances, may I ask you to apply to Lord Lonsdale in my behalf? The situation is desirable, because it would suit my place of abode, and give me the power of preserving the woods. My circumstances also are such that I must not refuse any fair opportunity of improving them; and this opportunity have been offered, I trust you will excuse me for taking the only means in my power. [2] 

I beg my respects to Lady Beaumont. Mrs. Coleridge and her sisters  [3]  would desire to be remembered if they knew that I was writing, but it is my rule of life to have as little to do as possible with hopes and fears myself, and never communicate them unnecessarily to any one. For the literary news of these mountains – heaven knows when you will see another number of The Friend. [4]  To me and Wordsworth it is a sore grief, and earnestly did we wish that you might never see the first. A volume of my History of Brazil is far advanced in the press, [5]  and I shall send a rhymed romance to the printer as soon as it is determined in what manner to publish it. [6] 

Poor Mr. Jackson has long been dying by inches, and cannot hold out much longer. I am taking a lease of these premises for one-and-twenty years, and it is doubtful whether he may live to execute it, averse as he is to anything like business, and as I am to pressing it upon him. Mrs. Wilson is his faithful and indefatigable nurse. She, I hope, will pass the remainder of her days with us, and it is fortunate for her that the affection which she has formed for our children will in some measure supply the loss she must so soon sustain.

Believe me, Sir,

yours very respectfully,

ROBERT SOUTHEY.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from William Knight (ed.), Memorials of Coleorton 2 vols (London, 1887)
Previously published: William Knight (ed.), Memorials of Coleorton: Being letters from Coleridge, Wordsworth and his Sister, Southey, and Sir Walter Scott to Sir George and Lady Beaumont of Coleorton, Leicestershire, 1803 to 1834, 2 vols (London, 1887), II, pp. 75–77. BACK

[1] Nicholas Walton (d. 1809). BACK

[2] Southey asked several friends to intercede on his behalf for this position, but in the end it was considered to be unsuitable for him; see Southey to Walter Scott, 8 August 1809 (Letter 1666) and Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 August 1809 (Letter 1669). BACK

[4] Coleridge’s periodical, The Friend, was published in twenty-eight parts between 1 June and 15 March 1810. Southey’s fears were prompted by a lapse between June and August when no issues appeared. BACK

[5] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil was published in 1810. BACK

[6] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

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August 2013