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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 1 November 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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“Nov. 21. 1796.

“When do I come to London? A plain question. I cannot tell, is as plain an answer. My book will be out before Christmas, and I shall then have no further business in Bristol; yet, Bedford, this is not saying when I shall leave it. The best answer is, as soon as I can, and the sooner the better. I want to be there. I want to feel myself settled, and God knows when that will be, for the settlement of a lodging is but a comfortless one. To complete comfort, a house to oneself is necessary However, I expect to be as comfortable as it is possible to be in that cursed city, ‘that huge and hateful sepulchre of men.’ I detest cities, and had rather live in the fens of Lincolnshire or on Salisbury Plain than in the best situation London could furnish. The neighbourhood of you and Wynn can alone render it tolerable. I fear the air will wither me up, like one of the miserable myrtles at a town parlour window. . . . . Oh, for ‘the house in the woods and the great dog!’

“I already feel intimate with Carlisle, but I am a very snail in company, Grosvenor, and pop into my shell whenever I am approached, or roll myself up like a hedgehog, in my rough outside. It is strange, but I never approach London without feeling my heart sink within me; an unconquerable heaviness oppresses me in its atmosphere, and all its associated ideas are painful. With a little house in the country,
and a bare independence, how much more useful should I be, and how much more happy! It is not talking nonsense when I say that the London air is as bad for the mind as for the body, for the mind is a cameleon that receives its colours from surrounding objects. In the country, everything is good, everything in nature is beautiful. The benevolence of Deity is everywhere presented to the eye, and the heart participates in the tranquillity of the scene. In the town my soul is continually disgusted by the vices, follies, and consequent miseries of mankind.

“My future studies, too. Now, I never read a book without learning something, and never write a line of poetry, without cultivating some feeling of benevolence and honesty; but the law is a horrid jargon—a quibbling collection of voluminous nonsense; but this I must wade through,—aye, and I will wade through,—and when I shall have got enough to live in the country, you and I will make my first Christmas fire of all my new books. Oh, Grosvenor, what a blessed bonfire! The devil uses the statutes at large for fuel, when he gives an attorney his house warming.

“I shall have some good poems to send you shortly. Your two birthday odes are printed; your name looks well in capitals, and I have pleased myself by the motto prefixed to them: it is from Akenside. Shall I leave you to guess it? I hate guessing myself.
“‘Oh, my faithful friend!
Oh early chosen! ever found the same,
And trusted, and beloved; once more the verse,
Long-destined, always obvious to thine ear,
Attend indulgent.’

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 297

“My Triumph of Woman is manufactured into a tolerable poem. My Hymn to the Penates will be the best of my minor pieces. The B. B. Eclogues may possibly become popular.

“Read St. Pierre, Grosvenor; and if you ever turn Pagan, you will certainly worship him for a demigod. . . . . I want to get a tragedy out, to furnish a house with its profits. Is this a practicable scheme, allowing the merit of the drama? or would a good novel succeed better? Heighho! ways and means! . . . .

Yours sincerely,
R. S.”