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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Margaret Holford Hodson, 18 February 1839

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Feb. 18. 1839.
“My dear Mrs. Hodson,

“My movements last year did not extend beyond Normandy and Bretagne, and when I turned my face towards England, it was in a steam packet from Havre to Southampton, by good fortune just before that stormy weather set in, which, with few intervals
Ætat. 64. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 381
and those but short, has continued ever since. Normandy pleased me as much as I had expected, and my expectations were pitched high. We were six in company, and no journey could have been more prosperous in all respects. The weather never prevented us from seeing any thing that we wished, and we met with no mishap of any kind.

Cuthbert and I parted when we left the steam packet. He made the best of his way to Oxford; I remained some weeks in Hampshire, and on returning to Keswick found my youngest daughter suffering under a serious attack of the influenza*; an insidious disease, from which, though we were assured that she was well recovered, she has not yet regained strength. You may possibly have heard from the newspapers that I have resolved upon a second marriage. I need not say that such a marriage must be either the wisest or the weakest action of a man’s life. But I may say that in the important points of age, long and intimate acquaintance, and conformity of opinions, principles, and likings, no persons could be better suited to each other. The newspapers, indeed, have stated that Miss Bowles is thirty years younger than me, which, if it were true, would prove me to be something worse than an old fool.

“You will be glad to hear that I am likely to recover something from Baldwin and Cradock. The trustees of their affairs had the modesty to expect that I should receive a dividend of one shilling in the pound, to be followed by a second and final dividend

* Upon this a sharp attack of pleurisy had supervened, and we were for some little time in alarm as to the result.—Ed.

of the same amount. But upon finding that I was prepared to file a bill in Chancery against them, they have proposed to pay me eight hundred pounds,—a composition which I am advised to accept, and shall think myself fortunate when it is fairly paid.

“This place and the surrounding country suffered greatly in the late hurricane: it was quite as violent as that which I witnessed at Dawlish, and of much longer duration. I never felt the house so shaken. Indeed, there were persons who came as soon as it was daybreak to see what had become of us, and whether we were buried in the ruins of the house. Happily we suffered no serious injury, having chiefly to regret that the whole front of the house, which was covered with ivy, has been completely stript of it. The havoc among the trees* has been such as the oldest persons do not remember to have seen or heard of. Few days have passed without a storm since the great one. The winds are piping at this time, and so continued is the sound that my head is almost as much confused by it as if I were at sea. The weather concerns me much more than the affairs of State, and I know as little of current literature, as if there were neither magazines nor reviews. My state is the more gracious. And if there were no newspapers in the world, and no railroads, I should begin to think that we might hope to live once more in peace and quietness.

* “A poplar, mentioned in the proem to the Tale of Paraguay, was torn up by the roots. It had become for some years a mournful memorial, and though I should never have had heart to fell it, I am not sorry that it has been thus removed. But do not suppose that I ever give willing admission to thoughts of unprofitable sadness.”—To H. Taylor, Esq., Jan. 8. 1839.

Ætat. 64. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 383

“I heard of Landor during my last transit through London, and saw one of the very best portraits of him by a young artist that I ever remember to have seen. The picture, too, was as good as the likeness. The artist did not succeed so well with Kenyon, whose head upon the canvas might very well have passed for the Duke of York’s.

“You will think that I am bent upon continuing in the old ways when I tell you that it is my intention never again to travel by a railway, if there be any means of proceeding by any other mode of conveyance. It is very certain that the rapidity of railway travelling, if long continued, has a tendency to bring on a determination of blood to the head; this is one of the unforeseen and unforeseeable results of a mode of travelling so unlike any thing that was ever before in use. Mail coach travelling will be fast enough for me, if I should ever travel again after the journey to which I am now looking forward of four hundred miles, which I mean to take with no other rest than what is to be had in the mail. But I expect to doze away the time. When I was a schoolboy there was nothing I should have liked better than such a journey.

“Present my kind remembrances to Mr. and Mrs. Blencowe, &c.

Believe me, my dear Mrs. Hodson,
Yours with sincere regard,
Robert Southey.”