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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 11 June 1817

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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“Turin, Wednesday, June 11. 1817.
“My dear Edith,

“I wrote to you on this day fortnight from Neufchatel, since which time all has gone well with us, and we have travelled over very interesting ground. Half a day brought us to Yverdun, where the other half was passed for the sake of seeing Pestalozzi.* The

* “The castle is a huge, plain, square building, with few windows, and a round tower at each corner with an extinguisher top. This has been assigned to Pestalozzi; and having taken up our quarters at the Maison Rouge, forth we sallied to pay our respects to this celebrated personage.

“We ascended the steps and got into the court; the first person whom we accosted was a boy, who proved to be a young Philistine, and replied with a petition for petite charité; just then we got sight of one of the scholars, and at his summons Pestalozzi himself came out to us. I have seen many strange figures in my time, but never a stranger than was now presented to our view: a man whose face and stray tusk-like teeth would mark him for fourscore, if his hair, more black than gray, did not belie the wrinkles of his countenance; this hair a perfect glib in full undress, no hat or covering for the head, no neckcloth, the shirt collar open, a pair of coarse dark trousers, and a coat, if coat it may be called, of the same material, which Hyde would as little allow to be cloth as he would the habilement to be ‘a coat at all.’ He speaks French nearly as ill as I do, and much less intelligibly, because his speech is rapid and impassioned, and moreover much affected by the loss of his teeth. I introduced myself as a friend of Dr. Bell, who had read M. Julien’s book,

next day to Lausanne, where for the mere beauty of the place we staid a day. Tuesday to Geneva, seeing

and the American work upon his system, but was desirous of obtaining a clearer insight into it. In his gesticulations to welcome us he slipt into a deep hole, and might very easily have met with a serious hurt. He led me into a small school-room, hung round with vile portraits of some favourite pupils, apparently works of the school; his own bust was there, strikingly like him, but large enough for Goliath, he himself being rather below the middle size. There happened to be a display of fencing; where the beau monde of Yverdun were at this time assembled, and the military band giving them tunes between the acts. Here his tutors were gone, and many of his boys, but in the evening, he said, he hoped to show us practically the system which he now explained: the sum of his explanation was, that true education consists in properly developing the talents and faculties of the individual. It was not likely that so metaphysical a head should think more of Dr. Bell than Dr. Bell, in his practical wisdom, thinks of such metaphysics. I mentioned Owen of Lanark, and the Essay upon the Formation of Character, and presently perceived that I had touched the right string. We parted till the evening. A large party were dining at the hotel, as if it were a club or public meeting, which, however, the waiter said was not the case: but there was unusual business in the house; perhaps many persons had come from the country round to see the fencing. We walked about the town, and saw the view which it commands.

“We met Pestalozzi in a walk without the town; he had dressed himself, and was in a black coat, but still without a hat, and he was arm-in-arm with a figure more extraordinary than his own; a man some twenty-five or thirty years of age, dressed in a short and neat slate-coloured jacket and trousers trimmed with black, his bonnet of the same materials and colour; and his countenance so full, so fixed, so strongly and dismally charactered, that a painter might select him for one of the first disciples of St. Francis or of Loyola. In the course of our walk we went behind the castle into a large open garden, and there we saw some of the pupils employed in developing their bodily powers: a pole, about eighteen feet high, was securely fixed in an inclined position against a ladder; the boys ascended the ladder and slid down the pole; others were swinging in such attitudes as they liked from a gallows. About six, P. called upon us to show us the practice of his system; it was exhibited by two very intelligent teachers as applied to drawing and arithmetic. In drawing, they were made to draw the simplest forms, and were not instructed in the laws of perspective till the eye and hand had acquired correctness; just as we learn to speak by habit before we know the rules of grammar. In arithmetic, it appeared to me that the questions served only to quicken the intellect, but were of no utility in themselves, and acted upon boys just as the disputes of the schoolmen formerly acted

Ætat. 43. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 269
Fernay on the way. Wednesday we halted to see this famous, most ugly, most odd, and most striking city, compared to which Lisbon is a city of sweet savours. Friday to Aix,—that Aix where the adventure of
King Charlemagne and the Archbishop happened: Pasquier (in whom I found the story) mistakes it for Aix-la-Chapelle. There is a lake here, and a magnificent one it is. N. and S. both made sketches of it before breakfast on Friday. We reached Les Echelles that night, and Saturday visited the Chartreuse: this was a horse expedition, and a whole day’s work; but we were most amply rewarded for the heat and fatigue which we endured. I am fully disposed to believe, with Wordsworth, that there is nothing finer in Switzerland than this. The place took us two stages out of our way, which we had to retrace on Sunday; they happened to be remarkably interesting ones, having the mountain pass of the Echelles in one, with a tunnel through the mountain, and by the road in the other the most glorious waterfall I ever beheld. That evening we entered the Savoy Alps at Aiguebelle and slept at La Grande Maison, a sort of large Estalagem in the midst of

upon men. A son of Akerman’s, in the Strand, was one of the boys, and said he was much happier than at an English school. His cousin of the same name, a German by birth, is one of the teachers; he had been in England, where he knew Wordsworth, and he studied under Mr. Johnson at the Central School, and he had travelled in Switzerland with Dr. Bell. He also was very curious concerning Owen; with him I had much conversation, and was much pleased with him. M. Julien also was introduced to us; author of those books which I bought at Aix-la-Chapelle. We wrote our names at parting, and although Mr. P. knew no more of mine than he did of Tom Long the carrier’s, he was evidently gratified by our visit, and we parted good friends, with all good wishes.”—From his Journal.

Borrowdale scenery upon a large scale. Nash made a view from the window. I do not stop to describe things because my journal will do all this. Monday we continued our way up the valley, following the course, or rather ascending the river Arco; such a river! the colour of my coat precisely, which though Mr. Hyde admits it to be a very genteel mixture as well calculated to hide the dust, is a very bad colour for a river; but for force and fury, it exceeds anything that I had ever before seen or imagined: we followed it as far as Lans le Bourg, a little town at the foot of Mount Cenis, and itself as high above the sea as the top of Skiddaw. Yesterday (Tuesday) we crossed Mount Cenis, descended into the plain of Piedmont, and, after the longest of all our days’ journeys in point of time, reached Turin just as it grew dark.

“From Besançon to this place it has been one succession of fine scenery, yet with such variety that every day has surprised us. Fine weather began on the 1st of June, and here in Italy we have found a great difference of climate. On the other side the Alps, the cherries are not larger than green peas; here they are ripe. Currants, oranges, and Alpine strawberries are in the markets, and apricots, which are perfectly worthless.

“Our journey has been in all respects pleasant, and I shall find the full advantage of it in the knowledge which it has given me, and the new images with which it has stored my memory. Of the Alps, I will only say here that they make me love Skiddaw better than ever, and that Skiddaw will outlast them;
Ætat. 43. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 271
at least, will outlast all that we have yet seen, for they are falling to pieces. The wreck and ruin which they display in many places are hardly to be described.

“We are burnt like gipsies, especially Senhouse. ‘All friends round Skiddaw’ has been our daily toast; and we drank it in all kinds and qualities of wine. As for news, we know not how the world goes on, and have ceased to think about it. The only thing for which we are anxious is to get letters from home, and this we shall do when we get to Mr. Awdry’s. If I could but know that all was well!

“God bless you! Good night, my own dear Edith.

R. S.”