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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 20 October 1815

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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“Brussels, Friday, Oct. 20. 1815.
“My dear Friend,

“I wrote to you from Liege, up to which time all had gone on well with us. Thank God, it is well with us at present; but your god-daughter has been so unwell, that we were detained six days at Aix-la-Chapelle in a state of anxiety which you may well imagine, and at an hotel, where the Devil himself seemed to possess the mistress and the greater part of the domestics. Happily, I found a physician who had graduated at Edinburgh, who spoke English, and pursued a rational system; and happily, also, by this painful and expensive delay I was thrown into such society, that now the evil is over, I am fully sensible of the good to which it has conduced. The day after my letter was written, we reached Spa, and remained there Sunday and Monday—a pleasant and necessary pause, though the pleasure was somewhat interrupted by the state of my own health, which was somewhat disordered there—perhaps the effect of the thin Rhenish wines and the grapes. Tuesday we would have slept at Verones (the great clothing town) if we could have found beds. An English party had pre-occupied them, and we proceeded to Herve, a little town half way between Liege and Aix-la-Chapelle, in the old principality of Limbourg. . . . .

“When we arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle, your goddaughter was so ill that, after seeing her laid in bed
(about one o’clock in the afternoon), I thought It necessary to go to the bankers, and request them to recommend me to a physician. You may imagine how painful a time we passed. It was necessary for her to gargle every hour, even if we waked her for it; but she never slept an hour continuously for the three first nights. Thank God, however, she seems thoroughly recovered, and I can estimate the good with calmness. While I acted as nurse and cook (for we were obliged to do everything ourselves), our party dined at the table d’hote, and there, as the child grew better, I found myself in the company of some highly distinguished Prussian officers. One of these, a Major Dresky, is the very man who was with
Blucher at Ligny, when he was ridden over by the French; the other. Major Petry, is said by his brother officers to have won the battle of Donowitz for Blucher. Two more extraordinary men I never met with. You would have been delighted to hear how they spoke of the English, and to see how they treated us, as representatives of our country. Among the toasts which were given, I put this into French: ‘The Belle-alliance between Prussia and England—may it endure as long as the memory of the battle,’ I cannot describe to you the huzzaing, and hob-nobbing, and hand-shaking with which it was received. But the chief benefit which I have received, was from meeting with a certain Henry de Forster, a major in the German Legion, a Pole by birth, whose father held one of the highest offices in Poland. Forster, one of the most interesting men I ever met with, has been marked for mis-
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 139
fortune from his birth. Since the age of thirteen he has supported himself, and now supports a poor brother of eighteen, a youth of high principles and genius, who has for two years suffered with an abscess of the spleen. Forster entered the Prussian service when a boy, was taken prisoner and cruelly used in France, and escaped, almost miraculously, on foot into Poland. In 1809 he joined the
Duke of Brunswick, and was one of those men who proved true to him through all dangers, and embarked with him. The Duke was a true German in patriotism, but without conduct, without principle, without gratitude. Forster entered our German Legion, and was in all the hot work in the Peninsula, from the lines of Torres Vedras till the end of the war. The severe duty of an infantry officer proved too much for his constitution, and a fall of some eighty feet down a precipice in the Pyrenees, brought on a haemorrhage of the liver, for which he obtained unlimited leave of absence, and came to Aix-la-Chapelle. I grieve to say that he had a relapse on the very day that we left him. I never saw a man whose feelings and opinions seemed to coincide more with my own. When we had become a little acquainted, he shook hands with me in a manner so unlike an ordinary greeting, that I immediately understood it to be (as really it was) a trial whether I was a freemason. This gave occasion to the following sonnet, which I put into his hands at parting:—
“The ties of secret brotherhood, made known
By secret signs, and pressure of link’d hand
Significant, I neither understand
Nor censure. There are countries where the throne
And altar, singly, or with force combined,
Against the welfare of poor humankind
Direct their power perverse: in such a land
Such leagues may have their purpose; in my own,
Being needless, they are needs but mockery,
But to the wise and good there doth belong,
Ordained by God himself, a surer tie;
A sacred and unerring sympathy:
Which bindeth them in bonds of union strong
As time, and lasting as eternity.

“He has promised me to employ this winter in writing his memoirs—a task he had once performed, but the paper was lost in a shipwreck. He has promised, also, to come with the MSS. (if he lives) to England next summer, when I hope and expect that the publication will be as beneficial to his immediate interests as it will be honourable to his memory.

“We left Aix on Tuesday for Maestricht, slept the next night at St. Tron, Thursday at Louvaine, and arrived here to-day. To-morrow I go again with Nash to Waterloo, for the purpose of procuring drawings of Hougoumont. On Sunday we go for Antwerp, rejoin the Vardons on Monday night at Ghent, and then make the best of our way to Calais and London. God bless you, my dear friend.

Yours most affectionately,
R. S.”