LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 30 June 1825

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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“Leyden, Thursday, June 30. 1825.
“My dear Edith,

“My foot is going on as well as possible, and will, according to all appearances, be completely healed in the course of three or four days. Having begun with this statement, pour votre tranquillité as the aubergists at Besançon said at every word, I have next to tell you that I am quartered at Mr. Bilderdijk’s, where every imaginable care is taken of me, and every possible kindness shown, and where I have all the comforts which Leyden can afford.

“How I came here you are now to learn. Upon applying to Mr. B. to procure a lodging for Henry Taylor and myself, he told me there was a difficulty in doing it, gave a bad account of Leyden lodgings, and proposed that we should both go to his house. Such an offer was not lightly to be accepted. Henry Taylor made inquiries himself, and looked at lodgings which would have contented us; but when he was
Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 217
asked for how long they might be wanted, and said a week or perhaps ten days, the people said that for so short a time he might be lodged at an hotel. The matter ended in my yielding to solicitations which were so earnest that I could not doubt their sincerity, and in his remaining at the hotel. So on Tuesday morning
Neville and Arthur Malet departed for the Hague; they may fall in with us at Ghent or they may not, as it may happen. And in the evening I and my lame leg, and my trunk and bag were deposited at Mr. Bilderdijk’s.

“You may imagine how curious I was to see the lady of the house*, and yet I did not see her when we first met, owing to the shade of the trees and the imperfectness of my sight. She was kind and cordial, speaking English remarkably well, with very little hesitation and without any foreign accent. The first night was not well managed; a supper had been prepared, which came so late, and lasted so long by the slowness which seems to characterise all operations in this country, that I did not get to bed till one o’clock. My bedroom is on the ground floor, adjoining the sitting-room in which we eat, and which is given up to me. Every thing was perfectly comfortable and nice. I asked for my milk at breakfast†, and when Mr. Droesa, the surgeon, came in the morning, I had the satisfaction of hearing that he should

* She was not less curious to see him, and, on Mr. Bilderdijk’s return from the hotel, eagerly inquired “how he looked;” to which the reply was given that “he looked as Mr. Southey ought to look:” a description which delighted my father exceedingly.

† A bason of hot milk was for many years my father’s substitute for tea or coffee at breakfast.

not dress the wound again in the evening, but leave it four-and-twenty hours, because there was now a disposition to heal.
Mr. Bilderdijk brought me some curious manuscripts of the eldest Dutch poets, the morning passed pleasantly. Henry Taylor dined with us at half-past two; dinner lasted, I hardly know how, till six or seven o’clock. I petitioned for such a supper as I am accustomed to at home, got some cold meat accordingly, and was in bed before eleven. I slept well, and the foot is proceeding regularly towards recovery. Mr. Droesa just left me before I begun to write. By Sunday I hope to be able to walk about the house, and then my imprisonment will soon be over. I am in no pain, and suffer no other inconvenience than that of keeping the leg always on a chair or settee.

“You will now expect to hear something of the establishment into which I have been thus, unluckily shall I say, or luckily, introduced. The house is a good one, in a cheerful street, with a row of trees and a canal in front; large, and with every thing good and comfortable about it. The only child, Lodowijk Willem, is at home, Mr. Bilderdijk being as little fond of schools as I am. The boy has a peculiar and to me an interesting countenance. He is evidently of a weak constitution; his dress neat but formal, and his behaviour towards me amusing from his extreme politeness, and the evident pleasure with which he receives any attempt on my part to address him, or any notice that I take of him at table. A young vrouw waits at table. I wish you could see her, for she is a much odder figure than
Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 219
Maria Rosa* appeared on her first introduction, only not so cheerful a one. Her dress is black and white, perfectly neat, and not more graceful than a Beguine’s. The cap, which is very little, and has a small front not projecting farther than the green shade which I wear sometimes for my eyes, comes down to the roots of the hair, which is all combed back on the forehead; and she is as white and wan in complexion as her cap; slender and not ill-made; and were it not for this utter paleness she would be rather handsome. Another vrouw, who appears more rarely, is not in such plain dress, but quite as odd in her way. Nothing can be more amusing than Mr. Bilderdijk’s conversation.
Dr. Bell is not more full of life, spirits, and enthusiasm; I am reminded of him every minute, though the English is much more uncouth than Dr. Bell’s.† He seems delighted to have a guest who can understand, and will listen to him; and is not a little pleased at discerning how many points of resemblance there are between us. For he is as laborious as I have been; has written upon as many subjects; is just as much abused by the Liberals in his country as I am in mine, and does ‘contempt’ them as heartily and as merrily as I do. I am growing intimate with Mrs. Bilderdijk, about whom her husband, in the overflowing of his spirits, tells me every thing. He is very fond of her and very proud of her, as well he may; and on her part she is as proud of him. Her life seems almost a miracle after what she has gone through. . . . .

* A Portuguese servant.

Dr. Bell spoke with a strong Scotch accent.


Friday morning.—My foot continues to mend, and proceeds as well as possible towards recovery. I can now, with the help of a stick, walk from room to room. My time passes very pleasantly. A more remarkable or interesting a person, indeed, than my host it was never my fortune to meet with; and Mrs. Bilderdijk is not less so. I shall have a great deal to talk about on my return. Early next week I hope to be at liberty; and I may travel the better because we move here by trekschuits, so that the leg may be kept up. Now do not you vex yourself for an evil which is passed, and which has led to very pleasant consequences. Once more God bless you!

R. S.”