LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Neville White, 8 January 1816

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Keswick, Jan. 8. 1816,
“My dear Neville,

“Did you ever watch the sands of an hour-glass? When I was first at Oxford, one of these old-fashioned measurers of time was part of my furniture. I rose at four o’clock, and portioned out my studies by the hour. When the sands ran low, my attention was often attracted by observing how much faster they appeared to run. Applying this image to human life, which it has so often been brought to illustrate, (whether my sands run low or not, is known only to Him by whom this frail vessel was made, but assuredly they run fast), it seems as if the weeks of my youth were longer than the months of middle age, and that I could get through more in a day then, than in a week now. Since I wrote to you, I have scarcely done anything but versify; and certain it is that twenty years ago, I could have produced the same quantity of verses in a fourth part of the time. It is true they would have been more faulty; but the very solicitude to avoid faults, and the slow and dreaming state which it induces, may be considered as indications that the season for poetry is gone by,—that I am falling into the yellow leaf, or, to use a more consoling metaphor, and perhaps a more applicable one, that poetry is but the blossom of an intellect so constituted as mine, and that with me the fruit is set,—in sober phrase, that it would be wisely done, if henceforth I confined myself to sober prose.
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 147
And this I could be well content to do, from a conviction in my own mind that I shall ultimately hold a higher place among historians (if I live to complete what is begun) than among poets. . . . .

“The affair of Lavalette, in France, pleases me well, except as far as regards the treatment of his wife for having done her duty. The king ought not to have pardoned him, and the law ought to have condemned him: both did as they ought, and, as far as depended upon them, his civil life was at an end. I should have had no pity for him if the axe had fallen; but a condemned criminal making his escape becomes a mere human creature striving for life, and the Devil take him, say I, who would not lend a hand to assist him, except in cases of such atrocious guilt as make us abhor and execrate the perpetrator, and render it unfit that he should exist upon earth.

“Of home politics, I grieve to say that the more I think of them, the worse they appear. All imaginable causes which produce revolution are at work among us; the solitary principle of education is the only counteracting power; and God knows this is very partial, very limited, and must be slow in its effects, even if it were upon a wider scale and a more permanent foundation. If another country were in this state, I should say, without hesitation, that revolution was at hand there, and that it was inevitable. If I hesitate at predicting to myself the same result here, it is from love or from weakness, from hope that we may mercifully be spared so dreadful a chastisement for our follies and our sins, and from fear of
contemplating the evils under which we should be overwhelmed. God bless you!

Yours most affectionately,
R. Southey.”