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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 12 June 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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“June 12. 1796.

“. . . . . I have declared war against metaphysics, and would push my arguments as William Pitt would his successes, even to the extermination of the enemy. ‘Blessed be the hour I ’scaped the wrangling crew.’

“I think it may be proved, that all the material and necessarian controversies are ‘much ado about nothing;’ that they end exactly where they began; and that all the moral advantages said to result from them by the illuminated, are fairly and more easily deducible from religion, or even from common sense.

“What of Carlisle’s wings? I believe my flying scheme—that of breaking in condors and riding them—is the best; or if a few rocs could be naturalised—though it might be a hard matter to break them. Seriously, I am very far from convinced that flying is impossible, and have an admirable tale of a Spanish bird for one of my letters, which will just suit Carlisle. . . . . Yes, your friends shall be mine, but it is we (in the dual number) who must be intimate. If Momus had made a window in my breast, I should by this time have had sense enough to add a window-shutter. London is not the only place for me: I have an unspeakable loathing for that huge city. ‘God made the country, and man made the town.’ Now, as God made me likewise, I love the country. Here I am in the skirts of Bristol; and in ten minutes
in a beautiful country; and in half an hour among rocks and woods, with no other company than the owls and jackdaws, with whom I fraternise in solitude; but London!—it is true that you and
Wynn will supply the place of the owls and jackdaws, but Brixton is not the country: the poplars of Pownall Terrace cannot supply the want of a wild wood; and, with all my imagination, I cannot mistake a milestone for a rock: but these are among the τα ουκ εϕ΄ ήμιν. It is within doors, and not without, that happiness dwells, like a vestal watching the fire of the Penates. . . . .

“I have told you what I am about; writing letters to the world is not, however, quite so agreeable as writing to you, and I do not love shaping a good thing into a good sentence. . . . . Then for a volume of poems, and then for the Abridgment of the Laws, or the Lawyer’s Pocket Companion, in fifty-two volumes folio! Is it not a pity, Grosvenor, that I should not execute my intention of writing more verses than Lope de Vega, more tragedies than Dryden, and more epic poems than Blackmore? The more I write, the more I have to write. I have a Helicon kind of dropsy upon me, and crescit indulgens sibi. The quantity of verses I wrote at Brixton is astonishing; my mind was never more employed: I killed wasps, and was very happy. And so I will again, Grosvenor, though employed on other themes; and, if ever man was happy because he resolved to be so, I will. . . . . Of Lightfoot it is long since I have heard anything. . . . .
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 279
“‘When blew the loud blast in the air,
So shrill, so full of woe,
Unable such a voice to bear,
Down fell Jericho.’

Lightfoot, on the authority of some rum old book, used to assert the existence of a tune that would shake a wall down, by insinuating its sounds into the wall, and vibrating so strongly as to shake it down. Now, Grosvenor, to those lines in the fourth book of Joan that allude to Orlando’s magic horn, was I going to make a note, which, by the help of you and Lightfoot, would have been a very quaint one, and by the help of Dr. Geddes, not altogether unlearned, not to mention great erudition in quotations from Boyardo, Ariosto, Archbishop Turpin, and Spencer.

“Farewell, Grosvenor! Have you read Count Rumford’s Essays? I am ashamed to say that I have not yet. Have you read Fawcett’s Art of War? With all the faults of Young, it possesses more beauties, and is, in many parts, in my opinion, excellent.

R. S.”