The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

109. Robert Southey to Miss Fricker [possibly Sarah Fricker], [19 October 1794] ⁠* 


“Amid the pelting of the pityless storm” [1] 

Did I Robert Southey — the Apostle of Pantisocracy — depart from the city of Bristol my natal place — at the hour of five in a wet windy evening on the seventeenth of October 1794 wrapt up in my fathers old great coat & my own cogitations. Like old Lear I did not call the elements unkind [2]  — & on I past musing on the lamentable effects of pride & prejudice — retracing all the events of my past life — & looking forward to the days to come with pleasure. three miles from Bristol — an old man of sixty — most royally drunk — laid hold of my arm & beggd we might join company as he was going to Bath. I consented for he wanted assistance & dragged the foul animal thro the dirt wind & rain! he calling {me} his good comrade his companion — fellow traveller & dear friend! blessing God that he had met with a young gentleman after his own heart — & exclaiming what would have become of me if I had not found such a good friend as you! in vain did I attempt to house him on the road — he would cry dont leave me my dear dear friend! I shall die if you leave me. — think of me — with a mind so fully occupied — leading this man nine miles — & had I not led him he would have lain down under a hedge & probably perished.

I reached not Bath till nine o clock. when the rain pelted me most unmercifully in the face I rejoiced that my friends at Bath knew not where I was — & was once vexed at thinking that you would hear it drive against the window & be sorry for the wayworn travellers. here I am — well — & satisfied with my own conduct.

I have heard from Lovell. his letter contained little more than what he wrote to Bristol. Favell goes certainly with us & (I trust) Le Grice. I write to them both by this days post.

my cloaths are arrived. “I will never see his face again — & if he writes will return his letters unopened”. to comment on this would be useless. I feel that strong conviction of rectitude which would make me smile on the rack. the two children [3]  are to come to Bath on Wednesday evening. I fetch them & meet them at the long coach. so if you be in the Old market about four o clock we may have an hours conversation. I purpose being in Bristol at that hour.

the crisis is over — things are as they should be. my Mother vexes herself much yet feels she is right. hostilities are commenced with America! so we must go to some neutral port. Hambro or Venice.

Your sister is well — & sends her love to all. on Wednesday I hope to see you. till then farewell.

Robert Southey.

Bath. Sunday morning.


Notes

* Address: Miss Fricker/ Redclift Hill/ Bristol.
Stamped: BATH
Endorsements: a letter on leaving his aunt, Miss Tyler, his mother’s half sister, with whom he had mostly lived. S.C.; 1794
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin
Previously published: E. H. Coleridge (ed.), Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 2 vols (London, 1895), I, pp. 107–108 n. 2 [in part]. BACK

[1] A paraphrase of King Lear, Act 3, scene 4, line 29. BACK

[2] King Lear, Act 3, scene 2, line 16. BACK

[3] The MS has an insertion in Sara Coleridge’s hand: ‘Henry Herbert, & Ed Southey.’ BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009