317. Robert Southey to Edith Southey,
21 May 1798
Monday 21. May. 98.
My dear Edith
Or my dearest Edith – or to speak more
earnestly my dear dear Edith – tis an Italian superlative
& I like it. I am writing Edith because Burns  business by preventing him from meeting
me this morning allows me leisure, which I cannot employ
better or more agreably. I went to Brixton to breakfast
yesterday & spent a comfortable day, it was very
comfortable – I got at Sir John Maundeviles Travels, &
as I am as fond of a good lie as our modern metaphysicians
pretend to be of truth, passed the morning in making
abundant extracts, to what purpose you will see in the next
poem I write.  The whole family received me with their usual
welcome, even Snivel yelped out her how d ye do, &
licked my fingers by way of shaking hands. This morning I
departed after breakfast with Grosvenor, & after we seperated went to Lamb. He seemed
glad to see me – you must direct his book & picture to
45 Chapel Street, Pentonville, near Islington, near London.
send it soon & pray let it be packed with all possible
care. I then called upon Arch  –
& there met Benjamin Flower of Cambridge; grown quite young
again & blooming. he recognized me with much cordiality.
from thence I journeyed to Bedford Square, where I now am
sitting in an armed chair considerably wearied “thinking in
sorrow of my evening ride.” 
I have told poor Blighs  story with
some effect. it drew tears at Brixton, & what
was better half a guinea from Grosvenor presently after another half from Mrs B. & when no one was by the old
gentleman put a 2 pound bill into my hand. John May has given a
one pound bill, & will go a begging for me. Wynn will give
five guineas himself – & says he doubts not that
Richards  will do the same. let
this be communicated to the Admiral. It is
pleasant to beg with success on these occasions.
The diabolical Benchers of Grays Inn have
made a law that three dinners must be eat to keep a term,
& those in different weeks – curse them. It is not to
take place the next term however. I met Montague in the
hall, he told me that Wordsworth
was going to Germany. Daly  sat next me at
Lamb has some
hopes of escaping the requisition  – he says, he x hopes the country can sa be saved without his
exertions but that if nothing but his right arm can protect
it, he must be content. Dapple is a light horse-man. 
This is a very wicked place – I always as you
know gape about me in London streets & read the
Advertisements like a Loon just come from the country –
among these I see a child advertised as lost, a boy as
absconded from school – a gentleman as having left his
family, & a young woman as x stolen – & by her own account in a letter
“confined & not permitted to say where or by whom.” Now
these things seem improbable in novels.
I am about to write a note to Burn, & the
money he has in his hands will be sent down in consequence.
I know not the exact sum, but understand it is about 100
My hand is now grown somewhat cold, for you
know how soon the Londoners leave off fire. moreover I have
said everything & may as well conclude. is it necessary
Edith to say that I am weary & restless, & wish
myself with you? pray write – & tell me how you are. You
shall hear from me again this week – that is if time permit
the posts. I must versify at Yarmouth.
Phillips  I did not
see but left the brogues
God bless you.
yr Robert Southey.
I have not had time to see my
mothers friend George Dyer.
Carlisle was at Brixton when I
went – I saw him for about half an hour Harry
Bedford also was there, he is a wonderful
Did you see my advice about your hat.
pray wait for the new fashion – nothing can be more
simple & more elegant. If I had had a woman with me
I should have sent one done – but I could not bargain
with a milliner.
* Address: To/
Edith Southey/ 8 Westgate Buildings/ Bath/
Stamped: Tottenham/ Court Road
AMA/ 21/ 98
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File
‘S’, Folder 14169
 Possibly William Burn (dates
unknown), a member of the British Factory,
 Probably ‘The Origin of the Rose’, published
anonymously in the Morning Post, 23 June
1798 and renamed ‘The Rose’ in Poems, 2
vols (Bristol, 1799), II, pp. –80. The origin of the
story is noted in Common-Place Book, ed.
John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p.
 John and Arthur Arch (fl. 1792–1838),
publishers, booksellers and stationers, whose premises
were at this time at 23 Gracechurch St, London. BACK
 Unidentified; Southey is possibly quoting
from one of his letters to Edith which has not
 James Blythe (1766/7–1798),
the Midshipman killed in the fight between the Mars and L’Hercule on 21 April 1798. BACK
Sir Richard Richards (1752–1823; DNB), an
eminent lawyer in Chancery. BACK
 Each county was required to provide a
certain number of men for the cavalry militia, to
protect Britain from invasion. BACK
 ‘Dapple’ (a nickname for
Bedford derived from that of Sancho Panza’s ass in
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), Don
Quixote (1605–1615)) had joined a company of
volunteer cavalry, probably the Light Horse Volunteers
of London and Westminster. BACK
Phillips (1767–1840; DNB), proprietor of
the Monthly Magazine. BACK