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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 26 August 1821

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, Aug. 26. 1821.
“My dear Friend,

“How little are our lots in life to be foreseen! It might reasonably have been thought that, if any man could have been secured against ill fortune in his mercantile concerns by prudence, punctuality, method, and the virtues and habits which the mercantile profession requires, you, above all men, would have been uniformly and steadily prosperous; and yet to what a series of anxieties and losses have you been exposed, without any fault, or even anything which can justly be called incaution on your part! This, however, is both consolatory and certain, that no good man is ever the worse for the trials with which Providence may visit him, and the way in which you regard these afflictions exemplifies this.

“Since I received your letter I made my proposed visit to the sea-coast with the two Ediths and Cuthbert. We were at Netherhall, the solar of my friend and fellow-traveller, Senhouse, where his ancestors have uninterruptedly resided since the days of Edward II. (when part of the present building is known to have been standing), and how long before that no one knows. Some of his deeds are of Edward I.’s reign, some of Henry III.’s; and one is as far back as King John. We slept in the tower, the walls of which are nine feet thick. In the time of the great Rebellion the second of the two sons of this house went to serve the King, the elder brother (whom ill-
ness had probably detained at home) died, and the parents then wished their only surviving child to return, lest their ancient line should be extinct. A man who held an estate under the family was sent to persuade him to this, his unwillingness to leave the service in such disastrous times being anticipated; but the result of this endeavour was that Senhouse, instead of returning, persuaded the messenger to remain and follow the King’s fortunes. They were at Marston Moor together, and at Naseby. In the last of those unhappy fields Senhouse was dreadfully wounded, his skull was fractured, and he was left for dead. After the battle his faithful friend searched for the body, and found him still breathing. By this providential aid he was saved; his skull was pieced with a plate of metal, and he lived to continue the race. His preserver was rewarded by having his estate enfranchised; and both properties continue at this day in their respective descendants. This is an interesting story, and the more so when related as it was to me, on the spot. The sword which did good service in those wars is still preserved. It was made for a two-fold use, the back being cut so as to form a double-toothed saw.

“Netherhall stands upon the little river Ellen, about half a mile from the sea, but completely sheltered from the sea-wind by a long high hill, under cover of which some fine old trees have grown up. The Ellen rises on Skiddaw, forms the little and unpicturesque lake or rather pool which is called Overwater, near the foot of that mountain, and, though a very small stream, makes a port, where a
town containing 4000 inhabitants has grown up within the memory of man, on the Senhouse estate. It was called Maryport, after
Senhouse’s grandmother, a very beautiful woman, whose portrait is in his dining-room. His father remembered when a single summer-house standing in a garden was the only building upon the whole of that ground, which is now covered with streets. The first sash windows in Cumberland were placed in the tower in which we slept, by the founder of this town; and when his son (who died about six years ago at the age of eighty-four or five) first went to Cambridge, there was no stage coach north of York.

“Old as Netherhall is, the stones of which it is built were hewn from the quarry more than a thousand years before it was begun. They were taken from a Roman station on the hill between it and the sea, where a great number of Roman altars, &c. have been found. Some of them are described by Camden, who praises the Mr. Senhouse of his time for the hospitality with which he received him, and the care with which he preserved these remains of antiquity. . . . . It was a bishop of this family who preached Charles I.’s coronation sermon, and the text which he took was afterwards noted as ominous;—‘I will give him a crown of glory.’ The gold signet which he wore as a ring is now at Netherhall. God bless you!

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”