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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynn, 15 April 1812

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, April 15. 1812.
“My dear Wynn,

“What a number of recollections crowd upon me when I think of ——! Of all our school companions, how very few of them are there whose lots in life have proved to be what might have been expected for them. You and Bedford have gone on each in your natural courses, and are to be found just where and what I should have looked to find, if I had waked after a Nourjahad sleep of twenty years. The same thing might be said of me, if my local habitation were not here at the end of the map. I am
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 331
leading the life which is convenient for me, and following the pursuits to which, from my earliest boyhood, I was so strongly predisposed. A less troubled youth would probably have led to a less happy manhood. I should have thought less and studied less, felt less and suffered less. Now, for all that I have felt and suffered, I know that I am the better; and God knows that I have yet much to think, and to study, and to do. It is now eighteen years since you and I used to sit till midnight over your claret in Skeleton Corner,—half your life and almost half mine. During that time we have both of us rather grown than changed, and accident has had as little to do with our circumstances as with our character. “Your godson,
Herbert, who is just old enough to be delighted with the Old Woman of Berkeley, tells me he means, when he is a man, to be a poet like his father. It will be time enough ten years hence, if we live so long, to take thought as to what he shall be; the only care I need take at present, is, what should be done, in case of my death, for the provision of my family. I have insured my life for 1000l. I had calculated upon my copyrights as likely to prove valuable when it would become the humour of the day to regret me; but to my great surprise, I find the booksellers interpret the terms of their taking the risk and sharing the profit, as an actual surrender to them of half the property in perpetuity. Townsend, the traveller, who was as much deceived in this case as I have been, was about to try the point with them. I know not what prevented him. . . . . This is a flagrant and cruel injustice . . . . . If I live, and preserve my health and faculties, I
have no doubt of realising a decent competency in twenty years; but twenty years is almost as much as my chances of life would be reckoned at in tables of calculation. . . . .

“One thing which I will do whenever I can afford leisure for the task, will be, to write and leave behind me my own Memoirs: they will contain so much of the literary history of the times, as to have a permanent value on that account. This would prove a good post obit, for there can be no doubt I shall be sufficiently talked of when I am gone.

“Such are my ways and means for the future; but if I should not live to provide more than the very little which is already done, then, indeed, the exertion of some friends would be required. An arrangement might be made with Longman to allow of a subscription edition of my works: this would be productive in proportion to the efforts that were used. I should hope, also, in such a case, that the continuance of my pension might be looked for from either of the present parties in the state, through Perceval, or Canning, or yourself.

“This is a sort of testamentary letter. It is fit there should be one; and to whom, my dear Wynn, could it so properly be addressed? By God’s blessing, I may yet live to make all necessary provision myself. My means are now improving every year. I am up the hill of difficulty, and shall very soon get rid of the burthen which has impeded me In the ascent. I have some arrangements with Murray, which are likely to prove more profitable than any former speculations; and should I succeed In obtaining the office which the old Frenchman fills at present
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 333
so properly,—and which is the only thing for which I have the slightest ambition,—it would soon put me in possession of the utmost I could want or wish for, inasmuch as I could lay by the whole income, and the title would be, in a great degree, productive.

“Hitherto I have been highly favoured. A healthy body, an active mind, and a cheerful heart are the three best boons nature can bestow; and, God be praised, no man ever enjoyed them more perfectly. My skin and bones scarcely know what an ailment is, my mind is ever on the alert, and yet, when its work is done, becomes as tranquil as a baby; and my spirits invincibly good. Would they have been so, or could I have been what I am, if you had not been ‘for so many years my stay and support? I believe not; yet you had been so long my familiar friend, that I felt no more sense of dependence in receiving my main, and at one time sole, subsistence from you, than if you had been my brother: it was being done to as I would have done.

R. S.”