404. Robert Southey to Edith Southey [fragment], [early May 1799] *
At last, my dear Edith, I sit down to write to you in quiet and with something like comfort . . . . My morning has been spent pleasantly, for it has been spent alone in the library; the hours so employed pass rapidly enough, but I grow more and more homesick like a spoilt child. On the 29th you may expect me. Term opens on the 26th; after eating my third dinner I can drive to the mail, and thirteen shillings will be well bestowed in bringing me home four-and-twenty hours earlier – it is not above sixpence an hour, Edith, and I would gladly purchase an hour at home now at a much higher price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
My stall-hunting, the great and only source of my enjoyment in London, has been tolerably successful. I have picked up an epic poem in French, on the Discovery of America,  which will help out the notes of Madoc; another on the American Revolution,  the Alaric,  and an Italian one,  of which I do not know the subject, for the title does not explain it; also I have got Astraea,  the whole romance, a new folio, almost a load for a porter, and the print delightfully small – fine winter evenings’ work: and I have had self-denial enough – admire me, Edith! – to abstain from these books till my return, that I may lose no time in ransacking the library.
I met Stuart one day, luckily, as it saved me a visit. To-morrow must be given up to writing for him, as he has had nothing since I came to town. The more regularly these periodical works are done, the easier they are to do. I have had no time since I left home: in fact I can do nothing as it should be done anywhere else.
. . . . Do not suppose I have forgotten to look out for a book for you; to-day I saw a set of Florian,  which pleases me, unless a better can be found.
. . . . Do you know that I am truly and actually learning Dutch, to read Jacob Cats.  You will, perhaps, be amused at a characteristic trait in that language: other people say, I pity; but the Dutch verb is, I pity myself.
* MS: MS
untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and
Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London,
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 13–15 [in part].
Dating note: Internal evidence suggests this letter was written after that to Edith Southey of 1-3 May 1799 (Letter 403), and before that of 9 May 1799 (Letter 405). BACK