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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. III. 1794-95

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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My father was now a homeless adventurer; conscious of great resources in himself, but not knowing how to bring them into use; full of hope and the most ardent aspirations, but surrounded with present wants and difficulties. America was still the haven of his hopes, and for a little while he indulged in the pleasing anticipation, “Would that March were over!” he writes at this time to Mr. Bedford. “Affection has one or two strong cords round my heart, and will try me painfully—you and Wynn! A little network must be broken here; that I mind not, but my mother does; my mind is full of futurity, and lovely is the prospect; I am now like a traveller crossing precipices to get home, but my foot shall not slip.”*

* Oct. 19. 1794.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 227

The difficulty of raising sufficient funds for their purpose was now, however, becoming daily more and more evident; and it appears to have been next proposed by my father that the experiment of Pantisocracy should be first tried in some retired part of Wales, until some lucky turn of fortune should enable them to carry out their scheme of transatlantic social colonisation. To this Mr. Coleridge at first strongly objects, and sees now more clearly the difficulties of the plan, which the roll of the Atlantic seemed to obscure from their sight. “For God’s sake, my dear fellow,” he writes in remonstrance to my father, “tell me what we are to gain by taking a Welsh farm? Remember the principles and proposed consequences of Pantisocracy, and reflect in what degree they are attainable by Coleridge, Southey, Lovell, Burnett, and Co., some five men going partners together! In the next place, supposing that we have found the preponderating utility of our aspheterising in Wales, let us by our speedy and united inquiries discover the sum of money necessary. Whether such a farm with so very large a house is to be procured without launching our frail and unpiloted bark on a rough sea of anxieties. How much money will be necessary for furnishing so large a house. How much necessary for the maintenance of so large a family—eighteen people—for a year at least.”

But the plan of going into Wales did not prosper any more than that of genuine Pantisocracy: the close of the year and the beginning of the next found matters still in the same unsatisfactory state. Mr.
Coleridge had kept the Michaelmas Term at Cambridge—the last he kept; and having gone from thence to London, remained there until early in the following January, when he returned to Bristol with my father, who had chanced to go up to town at that time.

The following letters will illustrate this period. In the latter one we have a vivid picture of the distresses and difficulties of his present position.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bath, Jan. 5. 1795.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“If I were not very well acquainted with your disposition, I should apprehend, by your long silence, that you are offended with me. In one letter I spoke too warmly, but you know my affections are warm. I was sorry at having done so, and wrote to say so. The jolting of a rough cart over rugged roads is very apt to excite tumults in the intestinal canal; even so are the rubs of fortune prone to create gizzard grumblings of temper.

“Now, if you are not angry (and, on my soul, I believe you and anger to be perfectly heterogeneous), you will write to me very shortly; if you are, why you must remain so for a fortnight: then, it is probable, I shall pass two days in London, on my way to Cambridge; and, as one of them will be purely to be with you, if I do not remove all cause of complaint you have against Robert Southey, you shall punish him with your everlasting displeasure.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 229

“From Horace, too, I hear nothing. Were I on the Alleghany Mountains, or buried in the wilds of Caernarvonshire, I could not have less intercourse with you. Perhaps you are weaning me, like a child. And now, Bedford, I shall shortly see G. S.*, if he be in London or at Trinity. Two days in London: one with you, when I shall call on him; the other with some friends of Coleridge, and correspondents of mine, admirable poets and Pantisocrats. How will G. S. receive me? is he altered? will he be reserved, and remember only our difference? Or is there still the same goodness of heart in him as when we first met? I feel some little agitation at the thought. G. S. was the first person I ever met with, who at all assimilated with my disposition. I was a physiognomist without knowing it. He was my substance. I loved him as a brother once: perhaps he is infected with politesse; is polite to all, and affectionate to none.

Coleridge is a man who has every thing of —— but his vices; he is what —— would have been, had he given up that time to study, which he consumed you know how lamentably.

“I will give you a little piece which I wrote, and which he corrected. ’Twas occasioned by the funeral of a pauper, without one person attending it.†

“I like this little poem, and there are few of mine of which I can say that.

* A schoolfellow with whom he had once been very intimate.

† Here follows “The Pauper’s Funeral,” printed among my father’s minor poems.


Bedford, I can sing eight songs;—1. The antique and exhilarating Bacchanalian, Back and Sides go Bare. 2. The Tragedy of the Mince Pie, or the Cruel Master Cook. 3. The Comical Jest of the Farthing Rushlight. 4. The Bloody Gardener’s Cruelty. 5. The Godly Hymn of the Seven Good Joys of the Virgin Mary; being a Christmas Carol. 6. The Tragedy of the Beaver Hat; or, as newly amended, The Brunswick Bonnet; containing three apt Morals. 7. The Quaint Jest of the Three Crows. 8. The Life and Death of Johnny Bulan.

“Now I shall outdo Horace! . . . . Farewell, and believe me always

Your sincere and affectionate
Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bristol, Feb. 8. 1795.

“I have been reading the four first numbers of ‘The Flagellant:’ they are all I possess. My dearest Grosvenor, they have recalled past times forcibly to my mind, and I could almost weep at the retrospect. Why have I not written to you before? Because I could only have told you of uncertainty and suspense. There is nothing more to say now. The next six months will afford more variety of incidents. But, my dear Bedford, though you will not love me the less, you will shake your head, and lament the effects of what you call enthusiasm. Would to God that we agreed in sentiment! for then you could enter
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 231
into the feelings of my heart, and hold me still dearer in your own.

“There is the strangest mixture of cloud and of sunshine! an outcast in the world! an adventurer I living by his wits! yet happy in the full conviction of rectitude, in integrity, and in the affection of a mild and lovely woman: at once the object of hatred and admiration: wondered at by all; hated by the aristocrats; the very oracle of my own party. Bedford! Bedford! mine are the principles of peace, of non-resistance; you cannot burst our bonds of affection. Do not grieve that circumstances have made me thus; you ought to rejoice that your friend acts up to his principles, though you think them wrong.

Coleridge is writing at the same table; our names are written in the book of destiny, on the same page.

Grosvenor, I must put your brains in requisition. We are about to publish a magazine on a new plan. One of the prospectuses, when printed, shall be forwarded to you. ’Tis our intention to say in the titlepage, S. T. C. and R. S., Editors; and to admit nothing but what is good. A work of the kind must not be undertaken without a certainty of indemnification, and then it bids very fair to be lucrative, so the booksellers here tell us. To be called The Provincial Magazine, and published at Bristol if we settle here. We mean to make it the vehicle of all our poetry: will you not give us some essays, &c. &c.? We can undoubtedly make it the best thing of the kind ever published; so, Bedford, be very wise and very witty. Send us whole essays, hints, good things,
&c. &c., and they shall cut a most respectable figure. The poetry will be printed so as to make a separate volume at the end of the year.

“What think you of this? I should say that the work will certainly express our sentiments, so expressed as never to offend; but, if truth spoken in the words of meekness be offence, we may not avoid it.

“I am in treaty with The Telegraph, and hope to be their correspondent. Hireling writer to a newspaper! ’Sdeath! ’tis an ugly title: but, n’importe, I shall write truth, and only truth. Have you seen, in Friday’s Telegraph, a letter to Canning, signed Harrington? ’Twas the specimen of my prose.

“You will be melancholy at all this, Bedford; I am so at times, but what can I do? I could not enter the Church; nor had I finances to study physic; for public offices I am too notorious. I have not the gift of making shoes, nor the happy art of mending them. Education has unfitted me for trade, and I must, perforce, enter the muster roll of authors.”

“Monday morning.

“My days are disquieted, and the dreams of the night only retrace the past to bewilder me in vague visions of the future. America is still the place to which our ultimate views tend; but it will be years before we can go. As for Wales, it is not practicable. The point is, where can I best subsist? . . . . London is certainly the place for all who, like me, are on the world. . . . . London must be the place: if I and Coleridge can only get a fixed salary of 100l. a-year
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 233
between us, our own industry shall supply the rest. I will write up to ‘
The Telegraph:’ they offered me a reporter’s place, but nightly employments are out of the question. My troublesome guest, called honesty, prevents my writing in The True Briton. God knows I want not to thrust myself forward as a partisan: peace and domestic life are the highest blessings I could implore. Enough! this state of suspense must soon be over: I am worn and wasted with anxiety; and, if not at rest in a short time, shall be disabled from exertion, and sink to a long repose. Poor Edith! Almighty God protect her!

“You can give me no advice, nor point out any line to pursue; but you can write to me, and tell me how you are, and of your friends. Let me hear from you as soon as possible: moralise, metaphysicise, pun, say good things, promise me some aid in the magazine, and shake hands with me as cordially by letter, as when we parted in the Strand. I look over your letters, and find but little alteration of sentiment from the beginning of ’92 to the end of ’94. What a strange mass of matter is in mine during those periods! I mean to write my own life, and a most useful book it will be. You shall write the Paraleipomena; but do not condole too much over my mistaken principles, for such pity will create a mutiny in my sepulchred bones, and I shall break prison to argue with you, even from the grave. God love you! I think soon to be in London, if I can get a situation there: sometimes the prospect smiles upon me. I want but fifty pounds a-year certain, and can trust myself for enough beyond that. . . . .
Fare you well, my dear
Grosvenor! Have you been to Court? quid Romæ facias? O thou republican aristocrat! thou man most worthy of republicanism! what hast thou to do with a laced coat, and a chapeau, and a bag wig, and a sword?
Ah spirit pure
That error’s mist had left thy purged eye!
. . . . . . .

“Peace be with you, and with all mankind, is the earnest hope of your

R. S.”

My father having ceased to reside at Oxford, and having no longer his aunt’s house as a home, was compelled now to find some means of supporting himself; and Mr. Coleridge being in the same predicament, they determined upon giving each a course of public lectures. Mr. Coleridge selected political and moral subjects; my father, history, according to the following prospectus:—

Robert Southey, of Balliol College, Oxford, proposes to read a course of Historical Lectures, in the following order:—

1st. Introductory: on the Origin and Progress of Society.

2nd. Legislation of Solon and Lycurgus.

3rd. State of Greece from the Persian War to the Dissolution of the Achaian League.

4th. Rise, Progress, and Decline of the Roman Empire.

5th. Progress of Christianity.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 235

6th. Manners and Irruptions of the Northern Nations. Growth of the European States. Feudal System.

7th. State of the Eastern Empire, to the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks; including the Rise and Progress of the Mohammedan Religion, and the Crusades.

8th. History of Europe, to the Abdication of the Empire by Charles the Fifth.

9th. History of Europe, to the Establishment of the Independence of Holland.

10th. State of Europe, and more particularly of England, from the Accession of Charles the First to the Revolution in 1688.

11th. Progress of the Northern States. History of Europe to the American War.

12th. The American War.

Tickets for the whole course, 10s. 6d., to be had of Mr. Cottle, Bookseller, High Street.”

Of these lectures I can find no trace among my father’s papers. Mr. Cottle states that they were numerously attended, and “their composition greatly admired.” My father thus alludes to them at the time in a letter to his brother Thomas:—“I am giving a course of Historical Lectures, at Bristol, teaching what is right by showing what is wrong; my company, of course, is sought by all who love good republicans and odd characters. Coleridge and I are daily engaged. . . . . John Scott has got me a place of a guinea and a half per week, for writing in some new work called The Citizen, of what kind
I know not, save that it accords with my principles: of this I daily expect to hear more.

“If Coleridge and I can get 150l. a-year between us we purpose marrying, and retiring into the country, as our literary business can be carried on there, and practising agriculture till we can raise money for America—still the grand object in view.

“So I have cut my cable, and am drifting on the ocean of life—the wind is fair and the port of happiness I hope in view. It is possible that I may be called upon to publish my Historical Lectures; this I shall be unwilling to do, as they are only splendid declamation.”*

The delivery of these lectures occupied several months; but the employment they furnished did not prevent occasional fits of despondency, although his naturally elastic mind soon shook them off. He seems to have purposed paying a visit to his friends at Brixton at this time, but it was not accomplished. To this he refers in the following curious letter:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“May 27. 1795.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“You and Wynn could not more enjoy the idea of seeing me than I anticipated being with you; as for coming now, or fixing any particular time, it may not be. My mind, Bedford, is very languid; I dare not say I will go at any fixed period; if you knew the fearful anxiety with which I sometimes hide

* March 21. 1795.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 237
myself to avoid an invitation, you would perhaps pity, perhaps despise me. There is a very pleasant family here, literary and accomplished, that I have almost offended by never calling on.
Coleridge is there three or four times in the course of the week; the effort to join in conversation is too painful to me, and the torpedo coldness of my phizmahogany has no right to chill the circle; by the by, my dear Grosvenor, if you know any artist about to paint a group of banditti, I shall be very fit to sit for a young cub of ferocity; I have put on the look at the glass so as sometimes to frighten myself. . . . .

“Well, but there is no difficulty in discovering the assiduities of affection; the eye is very eloquent, and women are well skilled in its language. I asked the question. Grosvenor, you will love your sister Edith. I look forward with feelings of delight that dim my eyes to the day when she will expect you, as her brother, to visit us—brown bread, wild Welsh raspberries, heigh ho! this schoolboy anticipation follows us through life, and enjoyments uniformly disappoint expectation. . . . .

“Poetry softens the heart, Grosvenor. No man ever tagged rhyme without being the better for it. I write but little. The task of correcting Joan is a very great one; but as the plan is fundamentally bad, it is necessary the poetry should be good. The Convict, for which you asked, is not worth reading, I think of sometime rewriting it. If I could be with you another eight weeks, I believe I should write another epic poem, so essential is it to be happily situated.


“I shall copy out what I have done of Madoc and send you ere long; you will find more simplicity in it than in any of my pieces, and of course it is the best. I shall study three works to write it—the Bible, Homer, and Ossian

“Some few weeks ago I was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Perkins: they were on a visit, and I saw them frequently; he pleased me very much, for his mind was active and judicious, and benevolence was written in every feature of his face. I never saw a woman superior to her in mind, nor two people with a more rational affection for each other. On their quitting this place, they urged me to visit them at Bradford. A few days ago, I was with my mother at Bath, and resolved to walk over to tea,—it is but six miles distant, and the walk extremely beautiful. I got to Bradford, and inquiring for Mr. Perkins, was directed two miles in the country, to Freshford; my way lay by the side of the river; the hills around were well wooded, the evening calm and pleasant; it was quite May weather; and as I was alone, and beholding only what was beautiful, and looking on to a pleasant interview, I had relapsed into my old mood of feeling benevolently and keenly for all things. A man was sitting on the grass tying up his bundle, and of him I asked if I was right for Freshford, he told me he was going there. ‘Does Mr. Perkins live there? ‘Yes; he buried his wife last Tuesday.’ I was thunderstruck. ‘Good God! I saw her but a few weeks ago.’ ‘Ay, Sir, ten days ago she was as well as you are; but she is in Freshford churchyard now!’

Grosvenor, I cannot describe to you what I felt;
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 239
the man thought I had lost a relation; it was with great difficulty I could resolve on proceeding to see him; however, I thought it a kind of duty and went.—Guess my delight on finding another Mr. Perkins, to whom I had been directed by mistake!

“You do not know what I suffered under the impression of her death, at the relief I felt at discovering the mistake. Strange selfishness!—this man, too, had lost a wife, a young wife but lately married, whom perhaps he loved; and I—I rejoiced at his loss, because it was not my friend!—yet, without this selfishness, man would be an animal below the orang outang. It is mortifying to analise our noblest affections, and find them all bottomed on selfishness. I hear of thousands killed in battle—I read of the young, the virtuous, dying, and think of them no more—when if my very dog died I should weep for him; if I lost you, I should feel a lasting affliction; if Edith were to die, I should follow her.

“I am dragged into a party of pleasure to-morrow* for two days. An hour’s hanging would be luxury to me compared with these detestable schemes.—Party of pleasure! Johnson never wrote a better tale than that of the Ethiopian king. Here is the fire at home, and a great chair, and yet I must be moving off for pleasure. Grosvenor, I will steal Cadman’s† long pipe, chew opium, and learn to be happy with the least possible trouble.

* An account of this party of pleasure is given in Cottle’s Reminiscences of Coleridge. Apparently the reality was not more agreeable than the anticipation.

† The name of a mutual acquaintance.


Coleridge’s remembrances to you. He is applying the medicine of argument to my misanthropical system of indifference.—It will not do, a strange dreariness of mind has seized me. I am indifferent to society, yet I feel my private attachments growing more and more powerful, and weep like a child when I think of an absent friend.

God bless you.”

A few weeks later he writes again in much affliction at the death of his friend Seward.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bristol, June 15. 1795

Bedford—he is dead; my dear Edmund Seward! after six weeks’ suffering.

“These, Grosvenor, are the losses that gradually wean us from life. May that man want consolation in his last hour, who would rob the survivor of the belief, that he shall again behold his friend! You know not, Grosvenor, how I loved poor Edmund: he taught me all that I have of good. When I went with him into Worcestershire, I was astonished at the general joy his return occasioned—the very dogs ran out to him. In that room where I have so often seen him, he now lies in his coffin!

“It is like a dream, the idea that he is dead—that his heart is cold—that he, whom but yesterday morning I thought and talked of as alive—as the friend I knew and loved—is dead! When these things come home to the heart, they palsy it. I am
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 241
sick at heart; and, if I feel thus acutely, what must his sisters feel? what his poor old mother, whose life was wrapped up in
Edmund? I have seen her look at him till the tears ran down her cheek.

“There is a strange vacancy in my heart. The sun shines as usual, but there is a blank in existence to me. I have lost a friend, and such a one! God bless you, my dear, dear Grosvenor! Write to me immediately. I will try, by assiduous employment, to get rid of very melancholy thoughts. I am continually dwelling on the days when we were together: there was a time when the sun never rose that I did not see Seward. It is very wrong to feel thus; it is unmanly.

God bless you!
Robert Southey.

“P.S. I wrote to Edmund on receiving your last: my letter arrived the hour of his death, four o’clock on Wednesday last. Perhaps he remembered me at that hour.

Grosvenor, I am a child; and all are children who fix their happiness on such a reptile as man;—this great, this self-ennobled being called man, the next change of weather may blast him.

“There is another world where all these things will be amended,

“God help the man who survives all his friends.”

The passionate grief to which this letter gave utterance did not pass lightly away. In the “Hymn to the Penates,” first printed in 1796, he alludes touchingly to his dear friend departed; and the fol-
lowing very beautiful poem—which will be read with increased interest in connection with the subject which gave rise to it—was written four years later.

Not to the grave, not to the grave, my Soul,
Descend to contemplate
The form that once was dear!
The Spirit is not there
Which kindled that dead eye,
Which throb’d in that cold heart,
Which in that motionless hand
Hath met thy friendly grasp.
The Spirit is not there!
It is but lifeless, perishable flesh
That moulders in the grave;
Earth, air, and water’s ministering particles
Now to the elements
Resolved, their uses done.
Not to the grave, not to the grave, my Soul,
Follow thy friend beloved.
The spirit is not there!
Often together have we talk’d of death;
How sweet it were to see
All doubtful things made clear;
How sweet it were with powers
Such as the Cherubim,
To view the depth of Heaven!
O Edmund! thou hast first
Begun the travel of Eternity!
I look upon the stars,
And think that thou art there,
Unfetter’d as the thought that follows thee.
And we have often said how sweet it were,
With unseen ministry of angel power,
To watch the friends we loved.
Edmund! we did not err!
Sure I have felt thy presence! Thou hast given
A birth to holy thought,
Hast kept me from the world unstain’d and pure.
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 243
Edmund! we did not err!
Our best affections here
They are not like the toys of infancy;
The Soul outgrows them not;
We do not cast them off;
Oh if it could be so,
It were indeed a dreadful thing to die!
Not to the grave, not to the grave, my Soul,
Follow thy friend beloved!
But in the lonely hour,
But in the evening walk,
Think that he companies thy solitude;
Think that he holds with thee
Mysterious intercourse;
And though remembrance wake a tear,
There will be joy in grief.
Westbury, 1799.

In the midst of these griefs and perplexities, one bright spot showed itself, in the laying of what I may call, the foundation stone of my father’s literary reputation.

His poem of Joan of Arc, as we have seen, had been written in the summer of 1793, and he had for some time ardently desired to publish it; but, for want of means, was unable to do so. Towards the close of the following year it had been announced for publication by subscription; but subscribers came slowly forward, and it seemed very doubtful whether a sufficient number could be obtained. Shortly afterwards, his acquaintance with Mr. Cottle commenced. For the result I will quote his own words, as commemorating, in a very interesting manner, when he had almost arrived at the close of his literary career, that which may be called its commencement, and which was so important an epoch in his troubled early life.


“One evening I read to him part of the poem, without any thought of making a proposal concerning it, or expectation of receiving one. He, however, offered me fifty guineas for the copyright, and fifty copies for my subscribers, which was more than the list amounted to; and the offer was accepted as promptly as it was made. It can rarely happen, that a young author should meet with a bookseller as inexperienced and as ardent as himself; and it would be still more extraordinary, if such mutual indiscretion did not bring with it cause for regret to both. But this transaction was the commencement of an intimacy which has continued without the slightest shade of displeasure at any time on either side, to the present day. At that time few books were printed in the country, and it was seldom, indeed, that a quarto volume issued from a provincial press. A font of new type was ordered, for what was intended to be the handsomest book that Bristol had ever yet sent forth; and, when the paper arrived, and the printer was ready to commence his operations, nothing had been done towards preparing the poem for the press, except that a few verbal alterations had been made.

“I was not, however, without misgivings; and, when the first proof sheet was brought me, the more glaring faults of the composition stared me in the face. But the sight of a well-printed page, which was to be set off with all the advantages that fine wove paper and hot pressing could impart, put me in spirits, and I went to work with good will. About half the
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 245
first book was left in its original state; the rest of the poem was recast, and recomposed while the printing went on. This occupied six months.”*

In this work of correction my father was now occupied, having laid aside “Madoc,” which had been commenced in the autumn of the previous year, for that purpose. Meantime, the scheme of Pantisocracy was entirely abandoned, and the arrival from Lisbon of Mr. Hill changed the current of his thoughts. “My uncle is in England,” he writes to Mr. Bedford: “I am in daily expectation of seeing him again. . . . . Grosvenor, when next I see you it will not be for a visit: I shall fix my residence near you to study the law!!! My uncle urges me to enter the church; but the gate is perjury, and I am little disposed to pay so heavy a fine at the turnpike of orthodoxy. . . . . On seeing my uncle I shall communicate to him my intentions concerning the law. If he disapproves of them, I have to live where I can, and how I can, for fifteen months. I shall then be enabled to enter and marry. If he approves, why then, Grosvenor, my first business will be to write to you, and request you to procure me lodgings somewhere at Stockwell, or Newington, or any where as far from London, and as near your road, as possible. I cannot take a house till my finances will suffer me to furnish it; and for this I depend upon my Madoc, to which, after Christmas, I shall apply with assiduity, always remembering John Doe and Richard Roe. And now will you permit me, in

* Preface to Joan of Arc, Collected Edition of the Poems, 1837.

a volume of poems which go to the press to-morrow, to insert your ‘Witch of Endor,’ either with your name or initials, and to be corrector plenipotent? This is an office
Coleridge and I mutually assume, and we both of us have sense enough, and taste enough, to be glad of mutual correction. His poems and mine will appear together; two volumes elegant as to type and hot-pressed paper, and for his, meo periculo, they will be of more various excellence* than any one volume this country has ever yet seen. I will rest all my pretensions to poetical taste on the truth of this assertion.”!

It does not appear that this idea of publishing conjointly with Mr. Coleridge was carried into effect, probably owing to a temporary estrangement, which now took place between himself and my father, in consequence of the latter being the first to abandon the Pantisocratic scheme. This had greatly disturbed and excited Mr. Coleridge, who was by no means sparing in his reproaches, and manifested, by the vehemence of his language, that he must have felt for the time no common disappointment.

My father’s next letter to Mr. Bedford gives an interesting sketch of the progress of his own mind.

* In one of Mr. Coleridge’s letters to my father (Sept. 18. 1794), after some verbal criticism on several of his sonnets combined with much praise, he thus prefaces the quotation of one of his own:—“I am almost ashamed to write the following, it is so inferior. Ashamed! no Southey; God knows my heart. I am delighted to feel you superior to me in genius as in virtue.” Here was an honourable rivalry of praise!

† August 22. 1795.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 247
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bath, October 1. 1795.

“I have been living over three years and a half in your letters, Grosvenor, with what variety of reflections you may imagine, from the date of the ‘Flagellant,’ through many a various plan! You asked Collins, when you first saw him after his residence at Oxford, if I was altered, and his ‘No’ gave you pleasure. I have been asking myself the same question, and, alas! in truth, must return the same answer. No, I am not altered. I am as warm-hearted and as open as ever. Experience never wasted her lessons on a less fit pupil; yet, Bedford, my mind is considerably expanded, my opinions are better grounded, and frequent self-conviction of error has taught me a sufficient degree of scepticism on all subjects to prevent confidence. The frequent and careful study of Godwin was of essential service. I read, and all but worshipped. I have since seen his fundamental error,—that he theorises for another state, not for the rule of conduct in the present. . . . . I can confute his principles, but all the good he has done me remains: ’tis a book I should one day like to read with you for our mutual improvement; when we have been neighbours six months our opinions will accord—a bold prophecy, but it will be fulfilled.

“My poetical taste was much meliorated by Bowles, and the constant company of Coleridge. . . . . For religion, I can confute the Atheist, and
baffle him with his own weapons; and can, at least, teach the Deist that the arguments in favour of Christianity are not to be despised; metaphysics I know enough to use them as defensive armour, and to deem them otherwise difficult trifles.

“You have made me neglect necessary business. I was busy with this huge work of mine, when your letters tempted me, and gave me an appetite for the pen; somehow they have made me low-spirited, and I find a repletion of the lachrymal glands. Apropos: do kill some dozen men for me anatomically, any where except in the head or heart. Hang all wars! I am as much puzzled to carry on mine at Orleans as our admirable minister is to devise a plan for the next campaign Pardonnez moi! my republican royalist! my philanthropic aristocrat.

“I am obliged to Nares for a very handsome review. It is my intention to write a tragedy; the subject from the Observer,—the Portuguese accused before the Inquisition of incest and murder. Read the story.

Madoc is to be the pillar of my reputation; how many a melancholy hour have I beguiled by writing poetry! . . . .

“Friday, October 9.

“I found your letter an my arrival to-day. My uncle writes not to me, and I begin to think he is so displeased at my rejecting a good settlement, for the foolish prejudice I have against perjuring myself, that he gives me up. Aussi bien! so be it, any thing but
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 249
this terrible suspense. Zounds,
Grosvenor, suspense shall be the subject of my tragedy. Indeed, indeed, I have often the heartache. Cannot you come to Bath for a week? I have so much to say to you, and I will never quit Edith: every day endears her to me. I am as melancholy here at Bath as you can imagine, and yet I am very little here; not two days in the week: the rest I pass with Cottle that I may be near her. Cottle offered me his house in a letter which you shall see when we meet, and for which he will ever hold a high place in your heart. I bear a good face, and keep all uneasiness to myself: indeed, the port is in view, and I must not mind a little sickness on the voyage. . . . . Bedford, I have beheld that very identical tiger. There’s a grand hexameter for you!

Bedford, I have beheld that very identical tiger who stopt the mail coach on the king’s highway, not having the fear of God and the king before his eyes,—no, nor of the guard and his blunderbuss. What a pity, Grosvenor, that that blunderbuss should be levelled at you! how it would have struck a Democrat! Never mind, ’tis only a flash, and you, like a fellow whose uttermost upper grinder is being torn out by the roots by a mutton-fisted barber, will grin and endure it.

“Gaiety suits ill with me; the above extempore witticisms are as old as six o’clock Monday morning last, and noted down in my pocket-book for you.

“God bless you! Good night.

“Oct. 10.

“I visited Hannah More, at Cowslip Green, on Monday last, and seldom have I lived a pleasanter day. She knew my opinions, and treated them with a flattering deference; her manners are mild, her information considerable, and her taste correct. There are five sisters, and each of them would be remarked in a mixed company. Of Lord Orford they spoke very handsomely, and gave me a better opinion of Wilberforce than I was accustomed to entertain. They pay for and direct the education of 1000 poor children; and for aristocracy, Hannah More is much such an aristocrat as a certain friend of mine. . . . .

God love you, my dear friend!
Robert Southey.”

The long expected, and perhaps somewhat dreaded meeting with Mr. Hill soon took place; but there was no diminution of kindness on his part, notwithstanding the great disappointment he felt at his nephew’s determination not to enter the church, in which it would have been in his power immediately and effectually to have assisted him. He now seems to have given up all hope of prevailing upon him to change his resolution; and it was soon arranged that my father should accompany him to Lisbon for a few months, and then return to England, in order to qualify himself for entering the legal profession. Mr. Hill’s object in this was partly to take him out of the arena of political discussion into which he had thrown
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 251
himself by his lectures, and bring him round to more moderate views, and also to wean him if possible from what he considered an “imprudent attachment.” In the former object he partly succeeded; in attempting to gain the latter, he had not understood my father’s character. He was too deeply and sincerely attached to the object of his choice to be lightly turned from it; and the similarity of her worldly circumstances to his own would have made him consider it doubly dishonourable even to postpone the fulfilment of his engagement.

This matter, however, he does not appear to have entered into with his uncle. He consented to accompany him to Lisbon, and thus communicates his resolution to his constant correspondent:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Oct. 23. 1795.

“And where, Grosvenor, do you suppose the fates have condemned me for the next six months?—to Spain and Portugal! Indeed, my heart is very heavy. I would have refused, but I was weary of incessantly refusing all my mother’s wishes, and it is only one mode of wearing out a period that must be unpleasant to me anywhere.

“I now know neither when I go, nor where, except that we cross to Coruña, and thence by land to Lisbon. Cottle is delighted with the idea of a volume of travels. My Edith persuades me to go, and then weeps that I am going, though she would
not permit me to stay. It is well that my mind is never unemployed. I have about 900 lines, and half a preface yet to compose, and this I am resolved to finish by Wednesday night next. It is more than probable that I shall go in a fortnight.

“Then the advantageous possibility of being captured by the French, or the still more agreeable chance of going to Algiers. . . . . Then to give my inside to the fishes on the road, and carry my outside to the bugs on my arrival; the luxury of sleeping with the mules, and if they should kick in the night. And to travel, Grosvenor, with a lonely heart! . . . . When I am returned I shall be glad that I have been. The knowledge of two languages is worth acquiring, and perhaps the climate may agree with me, and counteract a certain habit of skeletonisation, that though I do not apprehend it will hasten me to the worms, will, if it continues, certainly cheat them of their supper. . . . . We will write a good opera; my expedition will teach me the costume of Spain.

“By the bye I have made a discovery respecting the story of the ‘Mysterious Mother.’ Lord O. tells it of Tillotson: the story is printed in a work of Bishop Hall’s, 1652; he heard it from Perkins (the clergyman whom Fuller calls an excellent chirurgeon at jointing a broken soul: he would pronounce the word ‘damn’ with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors’ ears a good while after. Warton-like I must go on with Perkins, and give you an epigram. He was lame of the right hand: the Latin is as blunt as a good-humoured joke need be:—
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 253
Dextera quantumvis fuerat tibi manca, docendi
Pollebas mira dexteritate tamen;
Though Nature thee of thy right hand bereft,
Right well thou writest with thy hand that’s left:
and all this in a parenthesis). Hall adds that he afterwards discovered the story in two German authors, and that it really happened in Germany. If you have not had your transcription of the tragedy bound, there is a curious piece of information to annex to it. . . . . I hope to become master of the two languages, and to procure some of the choicest authors; from their miscellanies and collections that I cannot purchase, I shall transcribe the best or favourite pieces, and translate, for we have little literature of those parts, and these I shall request some person fond of poetry to point out, if I am fortunate enough to find one. Mais helas! J’en doute, as well as you, and fear me I shall be friendless for six months!

Grosvenor, I am not happy. When I get to bed, reflection comes with solitude, and I think of all the objections to the journey; it is right, however, to look at the white side of the shield. The Algerines, if they should take me, it might make a very pretty subject for a chapter in my Memoirs; but of this I am very sure, that my biographer would like it better than I should.

“Have you seen the ‘Mœviad?’ The poem is not equal to the former production of the same author, but the spirit of panegyric is more agreeable than that of satire, and I love the man for his lines to his
own friends; there is an imitation of Otium Divos, very eminently beautiful.
Merry has been satirised too much, and praised too much. . . . .

“I am in hopes that the absurd fashion of wearing powder has received its death-blow; the scarcity we are threatened with (and of which we have as yet experienced only a very slight earnest) renders it now highly criminal. I am glad you are without it. . . . .

God bless you!
Robert Southey.”

When the day was fixed for the travellers to depart, my father fixed that also for his wedding-day; and on the 14th of November, 1795, was united at Radcliff church, Bristol, to Edith Fricker. Immediately after the ceremony they parted. My mother wore her wedding-ring hung round her neck, and preserved her maiden name until the report of the marriage had spread abroad. The following letters will explain these circumstances, and fill up the interval until his return:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Nov. 21. 1795. Nan Swithin, near St. Columbs.

Grosvenor, what should that necromancer deserve who could transpose our souls for half an hour, and make each the inhabitant of the other’s tenement? There are so many curious avenues in mine, and so
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 255
many closets in yours, of which you have never sent me the key.

“Here I am, in a huge and handsome mansion, not a finer room in the county of Cornwall than the one in which I write; and yet have I been silent, and retired into the secret cell of my own heart. This day week, Bedford! There is a something in the bare name that is now mine, that wakens sentiments I know not how to describe: never did man stand at the altar with such strange feelings as I did. Can you, Grosvenor, by any effort of imagination, shadow out my emotion? . . . . She returned the pressure of my hand, and we parted in silence.——Zounds! what have I to do with supper!

“Nov. 22.

“I love writing, because to write to a dear friend is like escaping from prison. Grosvenor, my mind is confined here; there is no point of similarity between my present companions and myself. But, ‘If I have freedom in,’ &c.: you know the quotation.*

“This is a foul country: the tinmen inhabit the most agreeable part of it, for they live underground. Above it is most dreary; desolate. My sans culotte†, like Johnson’s in Scotland, becomes a valuable piece

“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
“If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above.
Enjoy such liberty.”
Lovelace’s Poems.

† His walking stick.

of timber, and I a most dull and sullenly silent fellow; such effects has place! I wonder what
Mr. Hoblyn thinks of me. He mentioned that he had seen my poems in the B. Critic. My uncle answered, ‘It is more than I have.’ Never had man so many relations so little calculated to inspire confidence. My character is open, even to a fault. Guess, Grosvenor, what a Kamschatka climate it must be to freeze up the flow of my thoughts, which you have known more frisky than your spruce beer!

“My bones are very thinly cushioned with flesh, and the jolting over these rough roads has made them very troublesome. Bedford, they are at this moment uttering aristocracy, and I am silent. Two whole days was I imprisoned in stage coaches, cold as a dog’s nose, hungry, and such a sinking at the heart as you can little conceive. Should I be drowned on the way, or by any other means take possession of that house where anxiety never intrudes, there will be a strange page or two in your life of me.

“My Joan of Arc must by this time be printed: the first of next month it comes out. To me it looks like something that has concerned me, but from which my mind is now completely disengaged. The sight of pen and ink reminds me of it. You will little like some parts of it. For me, I am now satisfied with the poem, and care little for its success.

“You supped upon Godwin and oysters, with Carlisle. Have you, then, read Godwin, and that with attention? Give me your thoughts upon his book; for faulty as it is in many parts, there is a mass of truth in it that must make every man think. God-
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 257
win, as a man, is very contemptible. I am afraid that most public characters will ill endure examination in their private lives;—to venture upon so large a theatre much vanity is necessary, and vanity is the bane of virtue—’tis a foul upas tree, and no healing herb but withers beneath its shade—what, then, had I to do with publishing? This,
Grosvenor, is a question to which I can give myself no self-satisfying solution. For my Joan of Arc there is an obvious reason; here I stand acquitted of anything like vanity or presumption. Grosvenor, what motive created the F.? certainly it was not a bad one. . . . .

“The children in the next room are talking—a harpsichord not far distant annoys me grievously—but then there are a large company of rooks, and their croak is always in unison with what is going on in my thorax. I have a most foul pain suddenly seized me there. Grosvenor, if a man could but make pills of philosophy for the mind! but there is only one kind of pill that will cure mental disorders, and a man must be labouring under the worst before he can use that. . . . . I am waiting for the packet, and shall be here ten days. Direct to me at Miss Russell’s, Falmouth: there I shall find your letters: and remember, that by writing you will give some pleasure to one who meets with very little.

R. S.”
To Joseph Cottle, Esq.
“Falmouth, 1795.
“My dear Friend,

“I have learnt from Lovel the news from Bristol, public as well as private, and both of an interesting nature. My marriage is become public. You know my only motive for wishing it otherwise, and must know that its publicity can give me no concern. I have done my duty. Perhaps you may hardly think my motives for marrying at that time sufficiently strong. One, and that to me of great weight, I believe was never mentioned to you. There might have arisen feelings of an unpleasant nature, at the idea of receiving support from one not legally a husband; and (do not show this to Edith) should I perish by shipwreck, or any other casualty, I have relations whose prejudices would then yield to the anguish of affection, and who would love, cherish, and yield all possible consolation to my widow. Of such an evil there is but a possibility: but against possibility it was my duty to guard. . . . .

Yours sincerely,
Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“29 Nov. 1795.

Bedford, our summons arrived this morning, the vessel goes Tuesday, and when you receive this I shall be casting up my accounts with the fishes.

Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 259

Grosvenor, you have my will, if the ship founders, or any other chance sends me to supper. All my papers are yours: part are with my mother, and part with Edith. Relic worship is founded upon human feelings, and you will value them. There is little danger of accidents, but there can be no harm in these few lines. All my letters are at your disposal; and if I be drowned, do not you be surprised if I pay you a visit; for if permitted, and if it can be done without terrifying or any ways injuring you, I certainly will do it.

“But I shall visit you in propriâ personâ in the summer.

“Would you had been with me on the 14th! ’twas a melancholy day, yet mingled with such feelings.

“You will get a letter from Madrid—write you to Lisbon. I expect to find letters there, and this expectation will form the pleasantest thought I shall experience in my journey.

“I should like to find your Musæus at Bristol on my return; if you will direct it to Miss Fricker (heighho! Grosvenor), at Mr. Cottle’s, High Street, Bristol, he will convey it to her; and, I believe, next to receiving anything from me, something for me and from my friend, will be the most agreeable occurrence during my absence. I give you this direction as it will be sure to reach her. Edith will be as a parlour boarder with the Miss Cottles (his sisters), two women of elegant and accomplished manners. The eldest lived as governess in Lord Derby’s family a little while; and you will have some opinion of them
when I say that they make even bigotry amiable. They are very religious, and the eldest (who is but twenty-three) wished me to read good books—the advice comes from the heart: she thinks very highly of me, but fancies me irreligious, because I attend no place of worship, and indulge speculations beyond reason.

“God bless and prosper you, and grant I may find you as happy on my arrival as I hope and expect to be.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Southey.”
“Falmouth, Monday evening,

“Well, Grosvenor, here I am, waiting for a wind. Your letter arrived a few hours before me. . . . . Edith you will see and know and love; but her virtues are of the domestic order, and you will love her in proportion as you know her. I hate your daffydowndilly women, aye, and men too;— the violet is ungaudy in the appearance, though a sweeter flower perfumes not the evening gale. ’Tis equally her wish to see you. Oh! Grosvenor, when I think of our winter evenings that will arrive, and then look at myself arrayed for a voyage in an inn parlour! I scarcely know whether the tear that starts into my eye proceeds from anticipated pleasure or present melancholy. I am never comfortable at an inn; boughten hospitalities are two ill connected ideas.
Ætat. 21. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 261
Grosvenor, I half shudder to think that a plank only will divide the husband of Edith from the unfathomed ocean! and did I believe its efficacy, could burn a hecatomb to Neptune with as much devotion as ever burned or smoked in Phæacia.

Robert Southey.”