LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 12 February [1793]

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Saturday, Feb. 12., 5 in the morning.

“Now, Bedford, this is more than you would do for me,—quit your bed after only five hours’ rest, light a fire, and then write a letter; really I think it would not have tempted me to rise unless assisted by other inducements. To-day I am going to walk to Abingdon with three men of this college; and having made the pious resolution (your good health in a glass of
Ætat. 19. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 173
red negus) of rising every morning at five to study, that the rest of the day may be at my own disposal, I procured an alarum clock and a tinder-box. This morning was the first. I rose, called up a neighbour, and read about three hundred lines of
Homer, when I found myself hungry; the bread and cheese were called in as auxiliaries, and I made some negus: as I spiced it my eye glanced over the board, and the assemblage seemed so curious that I laid all aside for your letter,—a lexicon, Homer, inkstand, candles, snuffers, wine, bread and cheese, nutmeg grater, and hour-glass. But I have given up time enough to my letter, the glass runs fast, and for once the expression is not merely figurative.


“How rapidly does Time hasten on when his wings are not clogged by melancholy! Perhaps no human being ever more forcibly experienced this than myself; often have I counted the hours with impatience when, tired of reflection and all her unpleasant train, I wished to forget myself in sleep. Now I allow but six hours to my bed, and every morning before the watchman rises, my fire is kindled and my bed cold: this is practical philosophy—but every thing is valued by comparison, and when compared with my neighbour, I am no philosopher. Two years ago Seward drank wine, and eat butter and sugar; now, merely from the resolution of abridging the luxuries of life, water is his only drink, tea and dry bread his only breakfast. In one who professed philosophy this would be only practising its tenets, but it is quite different with Seward. To the most odd and uncommon ap-
pearance he adds manners, which, as one gets accustomed to them are the most pleasing. At the age of fourteen he began learning, and the really useful knowledge he possesses must be imputed to a mind really desirous of improvement. ‘Do you not find your attention flag?’ I said to him as he was studying
Hutchinson’s Moral Philosophy in Latin. ‘If our tutors would but make our studies interesting we should pursue them with pleasure.’ ‘Certainly we should,’ he replied; ‘but I feel a pleasure in studying them because I know it is my duty.’ This I take to be true philosophy, of that species which tends to make mankind happy, because it first makes them good. We had verses here upon the 30th of January to the memory of Charles the Martyr. It is a little extraordinary that you should quote those very lines to poor Louis which I prefixed to my ode: ‘His virtues plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking off.’ . . . . Morose austerity and stern enthusiasm are the characteristics of superstition; but what is in reality more cheerful or happy than Religion? I have in my own knowledge more than one instance of this, and doubt not you have likewise. Ought not, therefore, that wretch who styles himself a philosopher to be shunned like pestilence, who, because Christianity has to him no allurement, seeks to deprive the miserable of their only remaining consolation? . . . . I keep a daily journal for myself, as an account of time which I ought to be strict in; but this being only destined for my own eye, is uninteresting and unimportant. Boswell might compile a few quartos from the loose memorandums,
Ætat. 19. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 175
but they would tire the world more than he has already done. Twenty years hence this journal will be either a source of pleasure or of regret; that is, if I live twenty years, and for life I have really a very strong predilection; not from
Shakspeare’s fearfully beautiful passage:—‘Aye, but to die and go we know not whither,’ but from the hope that my life may be serviceable to my family, and happy to myself; if it be the longer life the better, existence will be delightful, and anticipation glorious. The idea of meeting a different fate in another world is enough to overthrow every Atheistical doctrine. The very dreadful trials under which virtue so often labours must surely be only trials; patience will withstand the pressure, and faith will lead to hope. Religion soothes every wound and makes the bed of death a couch of felicity. Make the contrast yourself: look at the warrior, the hypocrite, and the libertine, in their last moments, and reflection must strengthen every virtuous resolution. May I, however, practise what I preach. Let me have 200l. a year and the comforts of domestic life, and my ambition aspires not further.

Most sincerely yours,
Robert Southey.”