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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, October 1796

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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“Bristol, Oct. 1796.

“I know not even the day of the month, but October is somewhat advanced, and this is Friday evening. Why did I not write sooner? Excuses are bad things. I have much to employ me, though I can always make a little leisure. If you were married, Grosvenor, you would know the luxury of sitting indolently by the fireside; at present you only half
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 293
know it. There is a state of complete mental torpor, very delightful, when the mind admits no sensation but that of mere existence; such a sensation I suppose plants to possess, made more vivid by the dews and gentle rains. To indulge in fanciful systems is a harmless solitary amusement, and I expect many a pleasant hour will be thus wore away, Grosvenor, when we meet. The devil never meddles with me in my unemployed moments; my day dreams are of a pleasanter nature. I should be the happiest man in the world, if I possessed enough to live with comfort in the country; but in this world, we must sacrifice the best part of our lives, to acquire that wealth, which generally arrives when the time of enjoying it is past. . . . .

“I ardently wish for children; yet, if God shall bless me with any, I shall be unhappy to see them poisoned by the air of London.
“‘Sir,—I do thank God for it,—I do hate
Most heartily that city.’
So said
John Donne; ’tis a favourite quotation of mine. My spirits always sink when I approach it. Green fields are my delight. I am not only better in health, but even in heart, in the country. A fine day exhilarates my heart; if it rains, I behold the grass assume a richer verdure as it drinks the moisture: everything that I behold is very good, except man; and in London I see nothing but man and his works. A country clergyman, with a tolerable income, is surely in a very enviable situation.
Surely we have a thousand things to transfuse into each other, which the lazy language of the pen cannot express with sufficient rapidity. Your illness was very unfortunate. I could wish once to show you the pleasant spots where I have so often wandered, and the cavern where I have written so many verses. You should have known
Cottle, too, for a worthier heart you never knew.

“You love the sea. Whenever I pitch my tent, it shall be by it. When will that be? Is it not a villainous thing that poetry will not support a man, when the jargon of the law enriches so many? . . . . I had rather write an epic poem than read a brief.

“Have you read St. Pierre? If not, read that most delightful work, and you will love the author as much as I do.

“I am as sleepy an animal as ever. The rain beats hard, the fire burns bright, ’tis but eight o’clock, and I have already begun yawning. Good night, Grosvenor, lest I set you to sleep. My father always went to bed at nine o’clock. I have inherited his punctuality and his drowsiness.

God bless you,
Robert Southey.

“I am the lark that sings early, and early retires. What is that bird that sleeps in the morning, and is awake at night, Grosvenor? Do you remember poor Aaron?”*