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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Robert Gooch, 30 November 1814

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, Nov. 30. 1814.
“My dear Gooch,

“Your letter reminds me that I have something to ask of you. You may remember telling me of a sailor in Yarmouth Hospital, after Nelson’s battle at Copenhagen (if I recollect rightly), whom you at-
tended, and who died in consequence of neglect after you had ceased to attend him, but expressed his delight at seeing you before he died. Though I have not forgotten, and could not forget the circumstances, I have acquired a sort of passion for authenticity upon all points where it is attainable, and you will oblige me by relating the particulars. I am about to compose a
paper for the Quarterly, the text for which will be taken from the Reports of the Poor Society, and the object of which is to show what has been done in this country towards lessening the quantum of human suffering, and what remains to do. In treating of prevention, correction, and alleviation, I shall have to treat of schools, prisons, and hospitals; and respecting hospitals, must quote the saying of a Frenchman whom Louis XVI. sent over to England to inquire into the manner in which they were conducted. He praised them as they deserved, but added, Mais il y manque deux choses, nos curés, et nos hospitalières. And here, with due caution respecting place, &c., I wish to tell your story.

“I am fully convinced that a gradual improvement is going on in the world, has been going on from its commencement, and will continue till the human race shall attain all the perfection of which it is capable in this mortal state. This belief grows out of knowledge; that is, it is a corollary deduced from the whole history of mankind. It is no little pleasure to believe that in no age has this improvement proceeded so rapidly as in the present, and that there never was so great a disposition to promote it in those
who have the power. The disposition, indeed, is alloyed with much weakness and much superstition; and God knows there are many disturbing powers at work. But much has been done, more is doing, and nothing can be of more importance than giving this disposition a good direction.
Perceval’s death was one of the severest losses that England has ever sustained. He was a man who not only desired to act well, but desired it ardently; his heart always strengthened his understanding, and gave him that power which rose always to the measure of the occasion. Lord Liverpool is a cold man; you may convince his understanding, but you can only obtain an inert assent, where zealous co-operation is wanted. It is, however, enough for us to know what ought to be done: the how and the when are in the hands of One who knows when and how it may be done best. Oh! if this world of ours were but well cultivated, and weeded well, how like the garden of Eden might it be made! Its evils might almost be reduced to physical suffering and death; the former continually diminishing, and the latter, always indeed an awful thing, but yet to be converted into hope and joy.

“I am much better pleased with ——’s choice than if he had made a more ambitious alliance. Give me neither riches nor poverty, said the Wise Man. Lead us not into temptation is one of the few petitions of that prayer which comprises all that we need to ask: riches always lead that way.

“Why have you not been to visit Joanna Southcote? If I had been less occupied, I should have
requested you to go, not for the sake of a professional opinion (
Dr. Simms having satisfied me upon that score), but that you might have got at some of the mythology, and ascertained how much was imposture; and how much delusion. Gregoire has published a Histoire des Sectes, in two volumes, beginning with the last century. I shall review it as a second part to the article upon the Dissenters.

“You have in Roderick the best which I have done, and, probably, the best that I shall do, which is rather a melancholy feeling for the author. My powers, I hope, are not yet verging upon decay, but I have no right to expect any increase or improvement, short as they are of what they might have been, and of what I might have hoped to make them. Perhaps I shall never venture upon another poem of equal extent, and in so deep a strain. It will affect you more than Madoc, because it is pitched in a higher key. I am growing old, the grey hairs thicken upon me, my joints are less supple, and, in mind as well as body, I am less enterprising than in former years. When the thought of any new undertaking occurs, the question, shall I live to complete what I have already undertaken? occurs also. My next poem will be, ‘A Tale of Paraguay,’ about a thousand lines only in length. Its object will be to plant the grave with flowers, and wreathe a chaplet for the angel of death. If you suspect, from all this, that I suffer any diminution of my usual happy spirits, you will be mistaken. God bless you!

R. S.