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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, July 1808

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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“July, 1808.
“My dear Rickman,

“I very much wish you were here. You may have heard that there is an island which sometimes comes up in this lake, and, after awhile, goes down again. Five years have I been expecting this appearance, and now, sure enough, it is above water. It may stay there for some weeks,—sometimes six or eight,—it may already have sunk. But Davy ought to put himself in the first mail-coach; and perhaps curiosity may induce you to expedite your journey for the sake of seeing the oddest thing you are ever likely to see.

“How it is effected is for Davy to discover; but as much of the bottom of the lake as is equal to the area of your house has been forced up to the surface in several pieces, and in other parts you plainly see that there are rents in the bottom where parts have sunk in, for it is not a deep part of the lake. The gas which follows the immersion of a pole stinks, and over one part of the water a thin steam was plainly
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 155
discernible when I was there. As no person was there when it rose, we cannot tell whether it was accompanied by any great agitation of the water, or any noise; but the noise, if any, cannot have been very great, or it would have been heard here. It is possible that the cause may have some connection with the sulphureous springs in the neighbourhood, almost certain that it is the same which occasions our bottom winds.*

“A Portuguese sermon has just helped me to a discovery which will amuse you. Who was the first man that doubled the Cape of Good Hope? The prophet Jonah. Examine his track in the whale, and this proves to be the case; and you will observe that this magnifies the miracle prodigiously, for what a passage he had from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf!

“My friends the Spaniards and Portuguese are justifying the opinion which I have long given of them to the astonishment of those who heard me. Bonaparte will, I suppose, pour in upon them with his whole force; so let him. You know how little respect I have for what is called the spirit of history, or the philosophy of history, by those people who want to have everything given them in extracts and essences; but the truth of the present history is, that a great military despotism, in its youth and full vigour—like that of France—will and must beat down corrupt establishments and worn-out govern-

* The floating island still appears at intervals. There is said to be a bottom wind, when the lake is violently agitated without any disturbance in the atmosphere—a phenomenon which does not seem ye to have been satisfactorily accounted for.

ments, but that it cannot beat down a true love of liberty, and a true spirit of patriotism, unless there be an overwhelming superiority of physical force,—which is not the case here. . . . . In Spain the fire has burst out which will consume. Well done! my friend
William Bryan the Prophet: you certainly did prophesy to me in St. Stephen’s court concerning Spain as truly as Francis Moore did, in his almanack last year, concerning the Grand Turk. . . . .

“God bless you!

R S.”