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769. Robert Southey to Thomas Smith, 29 March 1803 ⁠* 

Kingsdown. March 29. 1803.

My dear Sir

The Life of Cowper [1]  with your very friendly letter reached me last night, so long after the date of the parcel (March 12) that I fear you must have suspected me of uncivil neglect in acknowledging it.

I wish I had nothing more to communicate than the sense which I feel of your kindness. Danvers has at length lost his Mother. this epidemic disease [2]  seized her, & she died yesterday morning. the loss of so excellent a woman will be severely felt by all who were intimate with her. – but to Charles it is a heavy & almost a heart-breaking blow. there was more than the parental tie between them. for years she has been his constant companion, the object of all his thoughts & solicitudes; xxx his perpetual watchfulness of attention prolonged her life, & made it happy to the very last.

I have not forgotten Mrs Smiths Autographs, [3]  but will not swell a letter with inclosing any, which will probably take a long circuit before it reaches you. I hope however it will not find you in London. you should not venture there until the influenza has ceased.

believe me dear Sir

very thankfully & truly yours

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: [deletions and readdress in another hand] To/ Thomas Smith/ Bownham House/ Mrs/ Wibbsons/ Charleywood/ Stroud/ Rickmansworth/ Gloucestershire/ Harts/ Mrs Wibbsons/ Charleywood House/ Rickmansworth/ Harts
Stamped: MINCHINHAMPTON
Postmarks: BRISTOL/ MAR 23 1803; E/ APR 3/ 1803
MS: Collection of Ian Packer and Lynda Pratt
Unpublished. BACK

[1] William Hayley (1745-1820; DNB), The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper (1803). BACK

[2] Mrs Danvers was a victim of the influenza epidemic of 1803, which claimed lives throughout Europe, particularly in England and France. BACK

[3] Elizabeth Smith was a collector of autographs, and Southey had promised to add to her collection. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2011