William Taylor of Norwich

Robert Southey to Dr. Gooch, 15 December 1811; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 3:322-23.

Keswick, Dec. 15. 1811.

My dear Gooch,

I have a letter from William Taylor, of a dismal character. After stating the sum of their losses, he says, "we cannot subsist upon the interest of what remains. The capital will last our joint lives, but I shall be abandoned to a voluntary interment in the same grave with my parents. O! that nature would realise this most convenient doom!"

Now, my reason for transcribing this passage to you is, because it made a deep impression on me, and haunts me when I lie down at night. You know more of Norwich than I do, and more of William Taylor's connections. Who is most in his confidence? is it —? I thought of writing directly to him.... But what I would say to the person who may be most likely to enter into my wishes is, that William Taylor's friends should raise such an annuity as would secure him from penury, and at once relieve his mind from the apprehensions of it; either raising a sum sufficient to purchase it (the best way, because the least liable to accidents), or by yearly contributions; Dr. Sayers (or any other the fittest person) receiving, and regularly paying it; and he never knowing, particularly from whence it comes, but merely that it is his. The former plan is the best, because, in that case, there would be only to purchase the annuity, and put the security into his hands; and this might be done without any person appearing in it, the office transmitting him the necessary documents. This, of course, is a thing upon which the very wind must not blow. Ten years hence — or, perhaps, five — if the least desirable of these plans should be found most practicable, you and Harry may be able to cooperate in it. I am ready now, either with a yearly ten pounds, or with fifty at once. If more were in my power, more should be done: but, if his friends do not love him well enough to secure him at least 100 a year, one way or other, the world is worse than I thought it.

You do not. say whether you have seen Sharon Turner. That introduction was the best I could give you, because I think it would give you a friend. You could not fail to esteem and love Turner when you knew him. He is the happiest man I have ever known; and that could not be the case if he were not a very wise as well as a very good one.

God bless you!