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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 13 November 1805

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. 13. 1805.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“Here has been as great a gap in our correspondence as I have seen in the seat of my brother Sir Dominie’s pantaloons, after he has been sliding down Latrigg. Sir, I shall be very happy to give you a slide down Latrigg also, if you will have the goodness to
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 351
put it in my power to do so,—and then you will understand the whole merits of the simile.

“Will you Butlerise, Mr. Bedford? By the core of William’s heart, which I take to be the hardest of all oaths, and therefore the most impossible to break, I will never cease persecuting you with that question and that advice, till you actually set that good ship afloat, in which you are to make as fair a voyage to the port of Fame as ever Englishman accomplished. Mr. Bedford, it appears to me that Englishmen accomplish that said expedition better by sea than by land,—and that, therefore, the metaphor is a good one, and a sea-horse better than Pegasus. Do, do begin: and begin by writing letters to me, which may be your first crude thoughts; and I will unpack my memory of all its out-of-the-way oddities, and give them to you for cargo and ballast.

Elmsley will have told you of our adventures in Scotland, if the non-adventures of a journey in Great Britain at this age of the world can deserve that name. I am returned with much pleasant matter of remembrance; well pleased with Walter Scott, with Johnny Armstrong’s Castle on the Esk, with pleasant Tiviotdale, with the Tweed and the Yarrow: astonished at Edinburgh, delighted with Melrose, sick of Presbyterianism, and, above all things, thankful that I am an Englishman and not a Scotchman. The Edinburgh Reviewers I like well as companions, and think little of as anything else. Elmsley has more knowledge and a sounder mind than any or all of them. I could learn more from him in a day than they could all teach me in a year. Therefore I saw
them to disadvantage, inasmuch as I had better company at home. And, in plain English, living as I have done, and, by God’s blessing, still continue to do, in habits of intimate intercourse with such men as
Rickman, Wm. Taylor, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, the Scotchmen did certainly appear to me very pigmies,—literatuli.

“I go to Portugal next year, if politics permit me, and expect to take Edith and the Edithling with me, for at least a two years’ residence. Bating the voyage and the trouble of removal, this is a pleasant prospect. I love the country, and go well prepared to look for everything that I can want. My winter will be fully employed, and hardly. I am at my reviewing, of which this year I take my leave for ever. It is an irksome employment, over which I lose time, because it does not interest me. A good exercise certainly it is, and such I have found it; but it is to be hoped that the positive immorality of serving a literary apprenticeship, in censuring the works of others, will not be imputed wholly to me. In the winter of 1797, when I was only twenty-three and a half, I was first applied to to undertake the office of a public critic! Precious criticism! And thus it is that these things are done. I have acquired some knowledge, and much practice in prose, at this work, which I can safely say I have ever executed with as much honesty as possible; but on the whole I do and must regard it as an immoral occupation, unless the reviewer has actually as much knowledge at least of the given subject, as the author upon whom he undertakes to sit in judgment.

“When will your worship call upon me for my
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 353
preface? May I inform you that Patres nostri frequently remind me that we are losing time, thereby hinting that loss of time is loss of money.

“What a death is Nelson’s! It seems to me one of the characteristics of the sublime that its whole force is never perceived at once. The more it is contemplated, the deeper is its effect. When this war began, I began an Ode, which almost I feel now disposed to complete;—take the only stanza:—
“O dear, dear England! O my mother isle!
There was a time when, woe the while!
In thy proud triumphs I could take no part;
And even the tale of thy defeat
In those unhappy days was doom’d to meet
Unnatural welcome in an English heart:
For thou wert leagued in an accursed cause,
O dear, dear England! and thy holiest laws
Were trampled underfoot by insolent power.
Dear as my own heart’s blood wert thou to me,
But even Thou less dear than Liberty!
I never ventured on more, for fear lest what followed should fall flat in comparison. Almost I could now venture, and try at a funeral hymn for Nelson.

“God bless you!

R. S.”