A Blupete Biography Page

Edith Fricker, Part 3 to the Life & Works of
Robert Southey

These developments were not to much impress Robert Southey's family. His uncle, Rev. Hill, who was very much interested in shaping things up for young Southey's future thought Robert should go to the ministry; or, if not that, then he should read for the bar. Hill didn't push too hard and suggested that Robert should take a little time to think about things and suggested he should go to Portugal and spend some time with him, Uncle Hill, at Lisbon. Southey agreed and gave up his ideas of pantisocracy; though he was not to give up his idea of marrying Edith Fricker (1774-1837). Aunt Tyler, incidently, was particularly disturbed over Robert's plans to marry Edith Fricker, whom she thought was but a common girl.

So it was, in 1795, that Southey was off to spend time at Lisbon. But first there was a commitment that he felt bound to honour before he left. On the 14th of November, 1795, in the parish of the Fricker family, St Mary Redcliff, Bristol, Robert Southey secretly married his love, Edith Fricker. (Better than a month earlier, I should note, in the same church, Coleridge married Sarah Fricker. At Coleridge's marriage, Robert Southey was not present as the pair were no longer on speaking terms. Coleridge, it seems, was upset with Southey because Southey had cast aside the ideas of pantisocracy.4 I might add, too, I suppose, having put the pressure on Coleridge to marry, Southey thought it would not do to run off to Portugal without marrying Edith Fricker.) Right after the marriage ceremony, seemingly at the church door, the newly married couple said their goodbyes to one another. Edith was to go and be with the family of a friend while Southey went off to Portugal.5

In September in 1796, after a six month absence, Southey returned to England and to his new wife. He and Edith were to soon set up housekeeping in the Bristol area. In that year there was to be a partial reconciliation with Coleridge particularly with the birth, on September 19th to Sarah Coleridge, the first child, a son, Hartley. Sorrow too was to come that year when his brother-in-law, a young budding poet like Coleridge and Southey, and their close friend, was to suddenly die from a fever leaving behind a young widow (one of the Fricker sisters) and a young child. During the next few years Southey did turn to the study of law, but the law, he was to realize, was not for him. In 1797, a well heeled gentleman (C.W.W.Wynn) was to give Southey a yearly pension of £160, such a gift enabled Southey to devote time to writing and to traveling. In 1800, both Southey and Sara traveled to Portugal to spend time with Rev. Hill. The Southeys were to return to England in June of 1801.

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Peter Landry

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2011