973. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 5 August 1804 *
August 5. 1804.
Where are you? what are you about? When are you coming? – are you in Wales? are you in England? are you at Cardiff? are you at Tredegar? are you at Merthyr Tydvil? I have a few questions to ask you Senhora. how is Mr. Maber?  how is Mrs Maber? are there any Master Mabers? are there any Miss Mabers? are they like their father? how is your uncle Jerry?  how is your Aunt Jerry? how are all your Uncles? how are all your Aunts? how are all your Cousins? are the walls in Wales as good as they are at Cintra? why have you not set out for Keswick? why have you not told us when you mean to set out? do you mean to set out at all? do you ever mean to come? this is the last time of asking? are you in Staffordshire? is this letter directed right? is it directed wrong? how ought it to be directed? who can I tell how to direct it? do you like to be asked questions? do you admire the Catechistical form of epistolizing? are you sensible of the beauty of the [MS illegible] do you notice the line of beauty in the note of interrogation? – Where is the bacon? is it set off? is it not set off? is it gone by waggon? is it gone by canal? is it gone to the D_____? do you not know that bacon is the lawful spouse of beans? how then shall man or woman presume to put them asunder? have you forgotten that beans wax old? yea & peas also? or is the bacon coming with you? or are we never to see either you or the bacon? shall I ask any more questions? or shall I have done querying? yea or nay?
Come! here is an artists chair just arrived. where is the artist who is to sit in it?
Come! here is a whole bed – make haste least there should be only half one.
Come! & see Skiddaw, & walk over the bridge of my own making, & be introduced to my dog Dapper – my most particular & intimate friend.
* 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text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 122–123.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 283–284. BACK