396. Robert Southey to Charles Biddlecombe, 6 April 1799 *
Your letter my dear friend has deeply affected me. I knew nothing of your loss  – if I had, I would immediately have written – not to have intruded on you with idle consolations – but at least to say that we think of you in your affliction. I know not how to address you, to say much were impertinence – & yet the silence of a friend is unkind. these things make one tremble.
God bless you. God comfort you. there is at least this mercy in affliction that it compels us to the only source of consolation.
We have often thought of you with thankfulness & regard & pleasure. we shall think of you more frequently now in sorrow. your little girl – I hope she will be spared – but the life of an infant is even more uncertain than our own. it is dangerous to fix our affections on earth – & yet unless we do what is existence!
God bless you. I will write again soon – & often – any thing that but for a moment engages your attention now must be relief. – I write on the immediate receipt of your letter – Edith knows not yet your loss but she will feel with you.
Once more God bless you.
yrs most affectionately
April 6. 99.