April 17 1816: End of Hope and Fear


On April 17 1816, Herbert Castle Southey the eldest son of Robert Southey dies. A devastated father writes to  Grosvenor C. Bedford. 

Wednesday, April 17. 1816.

My dear Bedford,

Here is an end of hope and of fear, but not of suffering. His sufferings, however, are over, and, thank God, his passage was perfectly easy. He fell asleep, and is now in a better state of existence, for which his nature was more fitted than for this. You, more than most men, can tell what I have lost, and yet you are far from knowing how large a portion of my hopes and happiness will be laid in the grave with Herbert. For years it has been my daily prayer that I might be spared this affliction. “I am much reduced in body by this long and sore suffering, but I am perfectly resigned, and do not give way to grief.

In his desk there are the few letters which I had written to him, in the joy of my heart. I will fold up these and send them to you, that they may be preserved when I am gone, in memory of him and of me.

Should you survive me, you will publish such parts of my correspondence as are proper, for the benefit of my family. My dear Grosvenor, I wish you would make the selection while you can do it without sorrow, while it is uncertain which of us shall be left to regret the other. You are the fit person to do this; and it will be well to burn in time what is to be suppressed. “I will not venture to relate the boy’s conduct during his whole illness. I dare not trust myself to attempt this. But nothing could be more calm, more patient, more collected, more dutiful, more admirable. “Oh! that I may be able to leave this country ! The wound will never close while I remain in it. You would wonder to see me, how composed I am. Thank God, I can control myself for the sake of others; but it is a life-long grief, and do what I can to lighten it, the burden will be as heavy as I can bear.

I wish you would tell Knox what has happened. He was very kind to Herbert, and deserves that I should write to him.”

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