LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. IV. 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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The two following letters are the only ones written from Lisbon at this time that I shall lay before the reader. A series of descriptive letters, written during a subsequent and longer visit to that country, will appear in the next volume.

To Robert Lovel.
“Feb. 19. 1796.

“I have an invincible dislike to saying the same things in two different letters, and yet you must own it is no easy matter, to write half a dozen different ones, upon the same subject. I am at Lisbon, and therefore all my friends expect some account of Portugal; but it is not pleasant to reiterate terms of abuse, and continually to present to my own mind objects of filth and deformity. By way of improving your English cookery, take the Portuguese receipt for dressing rabbits. The spit is placed either above the fire, below the fire, by the side of the fire, or in the fire; (this is when they have a spit, and that is little better than an iron skewer, for they roast meat in a jug, and boil it in a frying-pan;) to know if it is
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 263
done they crack the joints with their fingers, and then lay it aside till it cools, then they seize the rabbit, tear it piecemeal with their fingers into rags, and fry it up with oil, garlic, and aniseed. I have attempted sausages made of nothing but garlic and aniseed; they cut off the rump of a bird always before they dress it, and neither prayers nor entreaties can save a woodcock from being drawn and quartered, R—— (who never got up till we were in sight of Corunna) lay in his bed studying what would be the best dinner when we landed; he at last fixed upon a leg of mutton, soles and oyster sauce, and toasted cheese—to the no small amusement of those who knew he could get neither, and to his no small disappointment when he sat down to a chicken fried in oil, and an omelet of oil and eggs. He leapt out of bed in the middle of his first night in Spain, in order to catch the fleas, who made it too hot for him.

“Miss* remains in Lord Bute’s stables, in Madrid:—she amused me on the road by devouring one pair of horsehair socks, one tooth-brush, one comb, a pound of raisins, do. of English beef, and one pair of shoes: Maber has as much reason to remember her. So you see Miss lived well upon the road. Tossed about as I have been by the convulsions of air, water, and earth, and enduring what I have from the want of the other element, I am in high health. My uncle and I never molest each other by our different principles. I used to work Maber sometimes, but

* A favourite dog.

here there is no one whom I am so intimate with, or with whom I wish intimacy. Here is as much visiting and as little society as you can wish; and a Bristol alderman may have his fill of good eating and drinking; yet is this metropolis supplied only from hand to mouth, and when the boats cannot come from Alentejo, the markets are destitute; at this time there is no fuel to be bought! Barbary supplies them with corn, and that at so low a rate, that the farmers do not think it worth while to bring their corn to market, so that the harvest of last year is not yet touched. They cannot grind the Barbary corn in England: it is extremely hard, and the force and velocity of English mills reduce the husk as well as the grain to powder. I learnt all this from the Vice Consul, who has written much to
Lord Grenville on the subject, and proposed damping the corn previous to grinding it, so as to prevent the bran from pulverising. Lord G. has even sent for grindstones to Lisbon, in hopes they might succeed better. It is melancholy to reflect on what a race possesses the fertile coasts of Barbary! Yet are these Portuguese not a degree above them. You may form some idea how things are managed in this country from the history of the present war: by treaty the Portuguese were to furnish the English with a certain number of ships, or a certain sum of money; and the Spaniards with troops or money; the money was expected, but the Secretary of State, Mello, argued that it was more politic to lay it out among their own countrymen, and make soldiers and sailors. The old boy’s measures were vigorous; he sent for the
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 265
general of one of the provinces, appointed him commander in Brazil, and ordered him to be ready at an hour’s notice; but old Mello fell ill, and the general, after remaining three months at Lisbon (for during Mello’s illness the other party managed affairs), he found no more probability of departing than on the first day, and he accordingly sent for his furniture, wife, and family to Lisbon. Soon after they arrived the secretary recovered,—every thing was hurried for the expedition,—and the wife, family and furniture, sent home again. Mello fell ill again, every thing was at a stand, and the general once more called his family to Lisbon. The old fellow recovered; sent them all home again; put everything in readiness, fell ill again, and died. The measures of the government have ever since been uniformly languid; and, though the stupid hounds sent ships to England, and troops to Spain, they never believed themselves at war with France till the French took their ships at the mouth of the river!

“The meeting of the two Courts at Badajos is supposed to have been political, and it was surmised that Spain meant to draw Portugal into an alliance with France; they, however, parted on bad terms. War with Spain is not improbable, and, if our minister knew how to conduct it, would amply repay the expenses of the execrable contest. The Spanish settlements could not resist a well-ordered expedition, and humanity would be benefited by the delivery of that country from so heavy a yoke. There is a very seditious Spaniard there now, preaching Atheism and
Isocracy; one of
Godwin’s school; for Godwin has his pupils in Spain.

“I can see no paper here but the London Chronicle, and those every other day papers are good for nothing. Coleridge is at Birmingham, I hear; and I hear of his projected ‘Watchman.’ I send five letters by this post to Bristol, and two to London,—a tolerable job for one who keeps no secretary. I shall send four by the Magician frigate, and four more by the next packet. This is pretty well, considering I read very hard, and spend every evening in company. . . . . I know not why I have lost all relish for theatrical amusements, of which no one was once more fond. The round of company here is irksome to me, and a select circle of intimate friends is the summum bonum I propose to myself. I leave this country in April; and, when once I reach England, shall cross the seas no more. O the super-celestial delights of the road from Falmouth to Launceston! Yet I do believe that Christian, in the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ felt little more pleasure at his journey’s end than I shall in traversing the lovely hills and plains of Cornwall. . . . . John Kett was of great service to me in Spain, and will return to England, where, as soon as I shall have pitched my tent, I purpose burning him a sacrifice to the household gods, and inurning his ashes with a suitable epitaph. Then shall sans culotte be hung upon the wall, and I will make a trophy of my travelling shoes and fur cap. I am now going out to dinner; then to see a procession; then to talk French; then to a huge assembly, from whence there is no returning
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 267
before one o’clock. O midnight! midnight! when a man does murder thee, he ought at least to get something by it.

“Here are most excellent wines, which I do in no small degree enjoy: the best Port; Bucellas of exquisite quality; old Hock, an old gentleman for whom I have a very great esteem; Cape, and I have ‘good hope’ of getting some to-day; and Malmsey such as makes a man envy Clarence. . . . .

“Farewell! Love to Mrs. L.

Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Feb. 24. 1796., Lisbon, from which God grant
me a speedy deliverance.

“I am bitterly disappointed at not finding ‘The Flagellant’ here, of which I sent my only copy to my uncle. It was my intention to have brought it home again with me. You see, Grosvenor, this relic is already become rare. Have you received the original Joan of Arc, written at Brixton, bound decently, &c.? I left it with Cottle, to send with your copy: he has the transcript of it himself, which he begged with most friendly devotion, and, I believe, values as much as a monk does the parings of his tutelary saint’s great toe nail. Is not the preface a hodgepodge of inanity? I had written the beginning only
before I quitted Bristol. The latter days of my residence there, were occupied by concerns too nearly interesting, to allow time for a collected mass of composition; and you will believe that, after quitting
Edith on Sunday evening, I was little fit to write a preface on Monday morning. I never saw the whole of it together; and, I believe, after making a few hasty remarks on epic poems, I forgot to draw the conclusion for which only they were introduced. n’importe; the ill-natured critic may exercise malignity in dissecting it, and the friendly one his ingenuity in finding out some excuse.

“What has all this to do with Lisbon? say you. Take a sonnet for the ladies, imitated from the Spanish of Bartolomi Leonardo, in which I have given the author at least as many ideas as he has given me.
“Nay, cleanse this filthy mixture from thy hair,
And give the untricked tresses to the gale;
The sun, as lightly on the breeze they sail,
Shall gild the bright brown locks: thy cheek is fair,
Away then with this artificial hue,
This blush eternal! lady, to thy face
Nature has given no imitable grace.
Why these black spots obtruding on the view
The lily cheek, and these ear jewels too,
That ape the barbarous Indian’s vanity!
Thou need’st not with that necklace there invite
The prying gaze; we know thy neck is white.
Go to thy dressing room again, and be
Artful enough to learn simplicity.”

“Could you not swear to the author if you had seen this in the newspaper? You must know, Bedford, I have a deadly aversion to anything merely ornamental in female dress. Let the dress be as
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 269
elegant (i.e. as simple) as possible, but hang on none of your gewgaw eye-traps.

“Do write to me, and promise me a visit at Bristol in the summer; for, after I have returned to Edith, I will never quit her again, so that we shall remain there till I settle doggedly to law, which I hope will be during the next winter. . . . .

“Friday, 24th.

Timothy Dwight (Bedford, I defy you or Mr. Shandy to physiognomise that man’s name rightly. What historian is it who, in speaking of Alexander’s feast, says they listened to one Timothy a musician?) Timothy Dwight, an American, published, in 1785, an heroic poem on the conquest of Canaan. I had heard of it, and long wished to read it, in vain; but now the American minister (a good-natured man, whose poetry is worse than anything except his criticism) has lent me the book. There certainly is some merit in the poem; but, when Colonel Humphreys speaks of it, he will not allow me to put in a word in defence of John Milton. If I had written upon this subject I should have been terribly tempted to take part with the Canaanites, for whom I cannot help feeling a kind of brotherly compassion. There is a fine ocean of ideas floating about in my brain-pan for Madoc, and a high delight do I feel in sometimes indulging them till self-forgetfulness follows.

“’Tis a vile kind of philosophy, that for to-morrow’s prospect glooms to-day; àpropos, sit down when you have no better employment, and find all the faults
you can in ‘
The Retrospect’* against I return. It wants the pruning knife before it be re-published. . . . . When I correct Joan, I shall call you in—not as plenipotent amputator—you shall mark what you think the warts, wens, and cancers, and I will take care you do not cut deep enough to destroy the life. The fourth book is the best. Do you know I have never seen the whole poem together, and that one book was printing before another was begun? The characters of Conrade and Theodore are totally distinct; and yet, perhaps, equally interesting. There is too much fighting; I found the battles detestable to write, as you will do to read; yet there are not ten better lines in the whole piece than those beginning,—‘Of unrecorded name died the mean man, yet did he leave behind,’ &c.†

“Do you remember the days when you wrote No. 3. at Brixton? We dined on mutton chops and

* “The Retrospect” was published, among some poems by my father and Mr. Lovel, in the autumn of 1794.

† “Of unrecorded name
The soldier died; and yet he left behind
One who then never said her daily prayers
Of him forgetful; who to every tale
Of the distant war lending an eager ear,
Grew pale and trembled. At her cottage door
The wretched one shall sit, and with fix’d eye
Gaze on the path, where on his parting steps
Her last look hung. Nor ever shall she know
Her husband dead, but cherishing a hope,
Whose falsehood inwardly she knows too well,
Feel life itself with that false hope decay;
And wake at night with miserable dreams
Of his return, and weeping o’er her babe.
Too surely think that soon that fatherless child
Must of its mother also be bereft.”
Joan of Arc, 7th Book.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 271
eggs. I have the note you wrote for
Dodd* among your letters. I anticipate a very pleasant evening when you shall show the cedar box† to Edith. ‘Oh, pleasant days of fancy!’ By the by, if ever you read aloud that part of the fifth book, mind that erratum in the description of the Famine,—
‘“With jealous eye,
Hating a rival’s look, the husband hides
His miserable meal.”
After I had corrected the page and left town, poor
Cottle, whose heart overflows with the milk of human kindness, read it over, and he was as little able to bear the picture of the husband, as he would have been to hide a morsel from the hungry; and, suo periculo, he altered it to ‘Each man conceals,’ and spoilt the climax. I was very much vexed, and yet I loved Cottle the better for it.

“No, Grosvenor, you and I shall not talk politics. I am weary of them, and little love politicians; for me, I shall think of domestic life, and confine my wishes within the little circle of friendship. The rays become more intense, in proportion as they are drawn to a point. Heighho! I should be very happy were I now in England: with Edith by the fireside, I would listen to the pelting rain with pleasure,—now it is melancholy music, yet fitly harmonising with my hanging mood.

“Farewell! write long letters.

R. S.

* One of the Westminster masters.

† The depository of the contributions to “The Flagellant.”


“P.S. In many parts of Spain they have female shavers: the proper name of one should be Barbara.”

My father’s visit to Lisbon did not exceed the anticipated time,—six months; and his next letter to his friend is written in the first moments of joy on his return.

“Portsmouth, May 15. 1796.

“Thanks be to God, I am in England!

Bedford, you may conceive the luxury of that ejaculation, if you know the miseries of a sea voyage; even the stoic who loves nothing, and the merchant whose trade-tainted heart loves nothing but wealth, would echo it. Judge you with what delight Robert Southey leapt on terra firma.

“To-night I go to Southampton; to-morrow will past pains become pleasant.

“Now, Grosvenor, is happiness a sojourner on earth, or must man be cat-a-ninetailed by care, until he shields himself in a shroud? My future destiny will not decide the problem, for I find a thousand pleasures, and a thousand pains, of which nine-tenths of the world know nothing. . . . . Come to Bristol, be with me there as long as you can. I almost add, advise me there, but your advice will come too late.

“I am sorry you could ask if you did wrong in showing Wynn my letter. I have not a thought secret from him. . . . . My passage was very good, and I must be the best-tempered fellow in Great Britain, for the devil a drop of gall is there left in my bile bag. I intend a hymn to the Dii Penates. Write to me directly, and direct to Cottle. I have, as yet, no
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 273
where to choose my place of rest. I shall soon have enough to place me above want, and till that arrives, shall support myself in ease and comfort like a silk worm, by spinning my own brains. If poor necessity were without hands as well as legs, badly would she be off.

Lord Somerville is dead,—no matter to me I believe, for the estates were chiefly copyhold, and Cannon Southey minded wine and women too much to think of renewing for the sake of his heirs. . . . . Farewell.

“We landed last night at eleven o’clock; left Lisbon on Thursday 5th, and were becalmed south of the rock till breakfast time on Saturday; so that our passage was remarkably good.”

My father’s visit to Lisbon seems chiefly to have been useful to him by giving him an acquaintance with the Spanish and Portuguese languages, and by laying the foundation of that love for the literature of those countries, which continued through life, and which he afterwards turned to good account. These advantages, however, could not be perceived at the time; and, as he returned to England with the same determination not to take orders, the same political bias, and the same romantic feelings, as he left it, Mr. Hill felt naturally some disappointment at the result.

His comments on his nephew’s character at this time are interesting:—“He is a very good scholar,” he writes to a friend, “of great reading, of an astonishing memory: when he speaks he does it with
fluency, with a great choice of words. He is perfectly correct in his behaviour, of the most exemplary morals, and the best of hearts. Were his character different, or his abilities not so extraordinary, I should be the less concerned about him; but to see a young man of such talents as he possesses, by the misapplication of them, lost to himself and to his family, is what hurts me very sensibly. In short, he has every thing you would wish a young man to have, excepting common sense or prudence.”

Of this latter quality my father possessed more than his uncle here gives him credit for. In all his early difficulties, (as well as through life) he never contracted a single debt he was unable promptly to discharge, or allowed himself a single personal comfort beyond his means, which, never abundant, had been, and were for many years, greatly straitened; and from them, narrow as they were, he had already begun to give that assistance to other members of his family which he continued to do until his latest years. It is probable, however, that Mr. Hill here chiefly alludes to his readiness to avow his peculiar views in politics and religion.

Immediately on his return, my father and mother fixed themselves in lodgings in Bristol, where they remained during the ensuing summer and autumn. My father’s chief employment at this time was in preparing a volume of “Letters from Spain and Portugal” for the press; and also in writing occasionally for the Monthly Magazine. His own letters will describe the course of his occupations, opinions, and prospects during this period. The first of them al-
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 275
ludes to the death of his brother-in-law, as well as brother-poet,
Mr. Lovel, who had been cut off, in the early prime of youth, during my father’s absence abroad. He had been taken ill with a fever while at Salisbury, and travelling home in hot weather before he was sufficiently recovered, relapsed immediately, and died; leaving his widow and one child without any provision. She (who, during my father’s life, found a home with him, and who now, at an advanced age, is a member of my household) is the sole survivor of those whose eager hopes once centered in Pantisocracy: one of the last of that generation so fast passing away from us!

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“May 27. 1796.

“Poor Lovel! I am in hopes of raising something for his widow by publishing his best pieces, if only enough to buy her a harpsichord. . . . . The poems will make a five-shilling volume, which I preface, and to which I shall prefix an epistle to Mary Lovel. Will you procure me some subscribers? . . . . Many a melancholy reflection obtrudes. What I am doing for him you, Bedford, may one day perform for me. How short my part in life may be He only knows who assigned it; I must be only anxious to discharge it well.

“How does time mellow down our opinions! Little of that ardent enthusiasm which so lately fevered my whole character remains. I have contracted my
sphere of action within the little circle of my own friends, and even my wishes seldom stray beyond it. A little candle will give light enough to a moderate-sized room; place it in a church, it will only ‘teach light to counterfeit a gloom;’ and, in the street, the first wind extinguishes it. Do you understand this, or shall I send you to

“I am hardly yet in order; and, whilst that last word was writing, arrived the parcel containing what, through all my English wanderings, have accompanied me—your letters. Aye, Grosvenor, our correspondence is valuable, for it is the history of the human heart during its most interesting stages. I have now bespoke a letter-case, where they shall repose in company with another series, now, blessed be God, complete—my letters to Edith. Bedford, who will be worthy to possess them when we are gone? ‘Odi profanum vulgus;’ must I make a funeral pile by my death-bed?

“Would that I were so settled as not to look on to another removal. I want a little room to arrange my books in, and some Lares of my own. Shall we not be near one another? Aye, Bedford, as intimate as John Doe and Richard Roe, with whose memoirs I shall be so intimately acquainted; and there are two other cronies—John a Nokes, and Jack a Styles, always like Gyas and Cloanthus, and the two kings of Brentford hand in hand. Oh I will be a huge lawyer. . . . . Come soon. My ‘dearest friend’ expects you with almost as much pleasure and impatience as

Robert Southey.”
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 277
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“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.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“June 26. 1796.

“. . . . . Take the whole of the Spanish poem, it is by George of Montemayor, addressed by Sireno to a lock of Diana’s hair, whom, returning after twelve months’ absence, he finds married to another.

“‘Ah me, thou relic of that faithless fair!
Sad changes have I suffered since that day,
When in this valley from her long loose hair
I bore thee—relic of my love—away.
Well did I then believe Diana’s truth,
For soon true love each jealous care represses,
And fondly thought that never other youth
Should wanton with the maiden’s unbound tresses.
“‘There, on the cold clear Ezla’s breezy side,
My hand amid her ringlets wont to rove.
She proffered now the lock, and now denied,
With all the baby playfulness of love.
There the false maid, with many an artful tear,
Made me each rising thought of doubt discover,
And vowed, and wept, till hope had ceased to fear,
Ah me! beguiling like a child her lover.
“‘Witness thou, how that fondest, falsest fair,
Has sighed and wept on Ezla’s sheltered shore,
And vowed eternal truth, and made me swear
My heart no jealousy should harbour more.
Ah! tell me, could I but believe those eyes,
Those lovely eyes with tears my cheek bedewing,
When the mute eloquence of tears and sighs
I felt and trusted, and embraced my ruin?
“‘So false, and yet so fair! so fair a mien
Veiling so false a mind, who ever knew?
So true, and yet so wretched! who has seen
A man like me, so wretched and so true?
Fly from me on the wind! for you have seen
How kind she was, how loved by her you knew me.
Fly, fly! vain witness what I once have been,
Nor dare, all wretched as I am, to view me!
“‘One evening, on the river’s pleasant strand,
The maid, too well beloved! sat with me,
And with her finger traced upon the sand,
Death for Diana, not inconstancy.
And love beheld us from his secret stand,
And marked his triumph, laughing to behold me;
To see me trust a writing traced in sand,
To see me credit what a woman told me.’*

* Since copying this beautiful translation, I have found that my father had inserted it in his “Letters from Spain and Portugal.” I think, notwithstanding, the reader will not be displeased to see it here.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 281

“If you can add anything to the terseness of the conclusion, or the simplicity of the whole, do it. The piece itself is very beautiful.

“My letters occupy more of my time and less of my mind than I could wish. Conceive Garagantua eating wood strawberries one at a time, or green peas, or the old dish—pap with a fork, and you will have some idea how my mind feels in dwelling on desultory topics. Joan of Arc was a whole,—it was something to think of every moment of solitude, and to dream of at night; my heart was in the poem; I threw my own feelings into it in my own language, aye, and out of one part of it and another, you may find my own character. Seriously, Grosvenor, to go on with Madoc is almost necessary to my happiness: I had rather leave off eating than poetizing; but these things must be;—I will feed upon law and digest it, or it shall choke me. Did you ever pop upon a seditious ode in the ludicrous style, addressed to the cannibals? It was in the Courier and Telegraph; a stray sheep marked Caius Gracchus, to which you may place another signature.

Grosvenor, I do not touch on aught interesting tonight. I am conversing with you now in that easy, calm, good-humoured state of mind, which is, perhaps, the summum bonum,—the less we think of the world the better. . . . . My feelings were once like an ungovernable horse; now I have tamed Bucephalus; he retains his spirit and his strength, but they are made useful, and he shall not break my neck. . . . . This is, indeed a change; but the liquor that ceases to ferment, does
not immediately become flat,—the beer then becomes fine, and continues so till it is dead.

“To-morrow Wynn comes; shall I find him altered? Would that I were among you. If unremitting assiduity can procure me independence, that prize shall be mine. Christian went a long way to fling off his burthen in the Pilgrim’s Progress. . . . . I doubt only my lungs; I find my breath affected when I read aloud, but exercise may strengthen them.

“When do you come? It was wisely done of the old conjuror, who kept six princesses transformed into cats, to tie each of them fast, and put a mouse close to her nose without her being able to catch it. For the nearer we are to a good, the more do we necessarily desire it,—the attraction becomes more powerful as we approach the magnet. . . . .

“Do not despise Godwin too much. . . . . He will do good by defending Atheism in print, because when the arguments are known, they may be easily and satisfactorily answered. Tell Carlisle to ask him this question,—if man were made by the casual meeting of atoms, how could he have supported himself without superior assistance? The use of the muscles is only attained by practice,—how could he have fed himself? how know from what cause hunger proceeded? how know by what means to remedy the pain? The question appears to me decisive. . . . . Merry (of whose genius, erroneous as it was, I always thought highly) has published the ‘Pains of Memory’; a subject once given me, and from which some lines in Joan of Arc are extracted. Farewell!

R. S.”
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 283
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“July 17. 1796.

“. . . . . Besides my letters I write for the Monthly Magazine. This is a new job: you may easily trace me there if it be worth your while. They give five guineas a sheet, but their sheets are sixteen closely printed pages. I manufacture up my old rubbish for them, with a little about Spanish literature. I shall be glad to get rid of all this.

“So you abuse Anna St. Ives, and commend the Pucelle of the detestable Voltaire. Now, Grosvenor, it was not I who said, ‘I have not read that book;’—I said—God be thanked that I did say it, and plague take the boobies who mutilated it in my absence,—I said, ‘I have never been guilty of reading the Pucelle of Voltaire.’ Report speaks it worthy of its author—a man whose wit and genius could only be equalled by his depravity. I will tell you what a man, not particularly nice in his moral opinions, said to me upon the subject of that book,—‘I should think the worse of any man who, having read one canto of it, could proceed to a second.’ . . . . Now, my opinion of Anna St. Ives is diametrically opposed to yours. I think it a book of consummate wisdom, and I shall join my forces to Mrs. Knowles, to whom I desire you would make my fraternal respects.


“How has this letter been neglected! no more delays, however. I am continually writing or read-
ing:—the double cacoethes grow upon me every day; and the physic of John Nokes, by which I must get cured, is sadly nauseous. N’importe. I wish I were in London, for if industry can do anything for anybody, it shall for me. My plan is to study from five in the morning till eight, from nine to twelve, and from one to four. The evening is my own. Now,
Grosvenor, do you think I would do this, if I had a pigsty of my own in the country?

“So goes the world! There is not a man in it who is not discontented. However, if no man had more reason for discontent than you and I have, it would be already a very good world; for, after all, I believe the worst we complain of is, that we do not find mankind as good as we could wish. . . . . Many of our mental evils—and God knows they are the worst—we make ourselves.

“If a young man had his senses about him when he sets out in life, he should seriously deliberate, whether he had rather never be miserable, or sometimes be happy. I like the up and down road best; but I have learned never to despise any man’s opinion because it is different from my own. Surely, Grosvenor, our restlessness in this world seems to indicate that we are intended for a better. We have all of us a longing after happiness; and surely the Creator will gratify all the natural desires that he has implanted in us. If you die before me, will you visit me? I am half a believer in apparitions, and would purchase conviction at the expense of a tolerable fright.

George Burnett’s uncle was for three months ter-
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 285
ribly afflicted by the nightmare,—so much so that, by being constantly disturbed, his health was considerably impaired. One night he determined to lie awake and watch for HER.
“‘Oh Bedford, Bedford,
If ever thou didst a good story love!’
One night, he says, he determined to lie awake and watch for HER. At the usual hour he heard HER coming up the stairs; he got up in the bed in a cold sweat; he heard HER come into the room; he heard HER open the curtain, and then—he leaped out of bed and caught HER by the hair before SHE—for SHE it was—could fall upon his breast. Then did this most incomparable hero bellow to John for a candle. They fought; she pulled and he pulled, and bellowed till John came with a light; and then—she vanished immediately, and he remained with a handful of HER hair.

“Now, Bedford, would you not have had that made into a locket? The tale, methinks, is no bad companion for your father’s dream. The exploit of Mr. Burnett is far beyond that of St. Withold—though, by the by, he met the nine foals into the bargain—and they made a bargain.

“I have written you an odd letter, and an ugly one, upon very execrable paper. By the by, if you have a Prudentius, you may serve me by sending me all he says about a certain Saint Eulalia, who suffered martyrdom at Merida. I passed through that city, and should like to see his hymn upon the occasion; and if there be any good in it, put it in a note.
How mortifying is this confinement of yours! I had planned so many pleasant walks, to be made so much more pleasant by conversation;
“For I have much to tell thee, much to say
Of the odd things we saw upon our journey,
Much of the dirt and vermin that annoyed us.
And you should have seen my
letters, before they went to press, and annotated them, and heard the plot of my tragedy; but now! I have a mortal aversion to all these disjunctive particles: but, and if, and yet, always herald some bad news. . . . . I shall be settled in London, I hope, before Christmas. I do not remember a happier ten weeks than I passed at Brixton, nor, indeed, a better employed period. God grant me ten such weeks of leisure once more in my life, and I will finish Madoc.

God bless you,
R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“July 31. 1796.

“Oh that you could bring Bristol to the sea! For as for bringing the sea to Bristol, that could not be done, as Trim says, ‘unless it pleased God;’ and, as Toby says, how the devil should it? I must not ask you to come to me, and I cannot come to you. . . . . For your club, I grant you a few hours once a fortnight will not make me worse; but will they make me better? and if they will not, why
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 287
should I quit the fireside? You will be in a state of requisition perpetually with me; and it seems you have bespoke a place in my heart for
Carlisle, but I will not let in too many there, because I do not much like being obliged to turn them out.

Lenora is partly borrowed from an old English ballad—
“Is there any room at your head, William?
Is there any room at your feet?
Is there any room at your side, William,
Wherein I may creep?
“There’s no room at my head, Margerett,
There’s no room at my feet;
There’s no room at my side, Margerett,
My coffin is made so meet!”
But the other ballad of
Bürger, in the Monthly Magazine, is most excellent. I know no commendation equal to its merit; read it again, Grosvenor, and read it aloud. The man who wrote that should have been ashamed of Lenora. Who is this Taylor? I suspected they were by Sayers.

“Have you read Cabal and Love? In spite of a translation for which the translator deserves hanging, the fifth act is dreadfully affecting. I want to write my tragedies of the Banditti—

“Of Sebastian,

“Of Inez de Castro,

“Of the Revenge of Pedro.

“My epic poem, in twenty books, of Madoc.

“My novel, in three volumes, of Edmund Oliver.

“My romance of ancient history of Alcas.

“My Norwegian tale of —— Harfagne.


“My Oriental poem of The Destruction of the Dom Daniel.

‘And in case I adopt Rousseau’s system—

“My Pains of Imagination.

“There, Grosvenor, all these I want to write!


“A comical Cornish curate, who saw me once or twice, has written me a quaint letter, and sent me a specimen of his Paradise Found!!!!

Wynn wishes me to live near Lincoln’s Inn, because, in a year’s time, it will be necessary for me to be with a special pleader; but I wish to live on the other side of Westminster Bridge, because it will be much more necessary to be within an evening’s walk of Brixton. To all serious studies I bid adieu when I enter upon my London lodgings. The law will neither amuse me, nor ameliorate me, nor instruct me; but the moment it gives me a comfortable independence—and I have but few wants,—then farewell to London. I will get me some little house near the sea, and near a country town, for the sake of the post and the bookseller; and you shall pass as much of the summer with me as you can, and I will see you in the winter,—that is, if you do not come and live by me; and then we will keep mastiffs like Carlisle, and make the prettiest theories, and invent the best systems for mankind; aye, and become great philanthropists, when we associate only among ourselves and the fraternity of dogs, cats, and cabbages; for as for poultry, I do not like eating what I have fed, and as for pigs, they are too like the multitude. There, in the cultivation of poetry and potatoes I will be inno-
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 289
cently employed, not but I mean to aspire to higher things; aye,
Grosvenor, I will make cyder and mead, and try more experiments upon wine than a London vintner; and perhaps, Grosvenor, the first Christmas-day you pass with me after I am so settled, we may make a Christmas fire of all my law books. Amen, so be it. . . . .

“I hope to get out my Letters by Michaelmas-day, and the Poems will be ready in six weeks after that time. That done, farewell to Bristol, my native place, my home for two and twenty years, where from many causes I have endured much misery, but where I have been very happy. . . . .

“No man ever retained a more perfect knowledge of the history of his own mind than I have done. I can trace the development of my character from infancy,—for developed it has been, not changed. I look forward to the writing of this history as the most pleasing and most useful employment I shall ever undertake. This removal is not, however, like quitting home, I am never domesticated in lodgings; the hearth is unhallowed, and the Penates do not abide there. Now, Grosvenor, to let you into a secret; though I cannot afford to buy a house, or hire one, I have lately built a very pretty castle, which is, being interpreted, if I can get my play of the ‘Banditti’ brought on the stage, and if it succeed—hang all those little conjunctions—well, these ‘ifs’ granted,—I shall get money enough to furnish me a house

God bless you!
R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bristol, August 29. 1796, by the fireside.

“. . . . . Do not hurt the polypi for the sake of trying experiments; mangle the dead as much as you please, but let not Carlisle dissect dogs or frogs alive. Of all experimental surgeons, Spallanzani is the only fair one I ever heard of. He kept a kite, and gave him all his food in little bags tied to a long string, which he used to pull up again to see the process of digestion; now this was using the kite very ill, but he served himself in the same manner.

“You will, perhaps, hear of me in Sussex, certainly if you go to Rye, which is only ten miles distant from Hastings. I wish you may see the Lambs. . . . . I was a great favourite there once, more so than I shall ever be anywhere again, for the same reason that people like a kitten better than a cat, and a kid better than the venerable old goat. . . . . I have been very happy at Rye, Grosvenor, and love to remember it; you know the history of the seventeen anonymous letters that Tom and I sent down the day before we went ourselves.* There is a windmill on the bank above the house: with the glass I used to tell the hour by Rye clock from the door; which clock, by-the-by, was taken among the spoils of the Spanish Armada.

“I hope you may go there. I wrote a good many bad verses in Sussex, but they taught me to write better, and you know not how agreeable it is

* I can find no account of this excursion. It was probably during one of his Westminster holidays.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 291
to me to meet with one of my old lines, or old ideas, in
Joan of Arc. . . . . If we were together now, we would write excellent letters from Portugal. I have begun a hymn to the Penates, which will, perhaps, be the best of all my lesser pieces; it is to conclude the volume of poems. . . . . It is a great advantage to have a London bookseller: they can put off an edition of a book however stupid; and without great exertions in its favour, no book, however excellent, will sell. The sale of Joan of Arc in London has been very slow indeed. Six weeks ago Cadell had only sold three copies. . . . .

“Would I were with you! for though I hate to be on the sea, I yet wish to pitch my tent on the shore. I do not know anything more delightful than to lie on the beach in the sun, and watch the rising waves, while a thousand vague ideas pass over the mind, like the summer clouds over the water; then, it is a noble situation to Shandeize. Why is it salt? why does it ebb and flow? what sort of fellows are the mermen? &c. &c.: these are a thousand of the prettiest questions in the world to ask, on which you may guess away ad secula seculorum—and here am I tormented by Mr. Rosser’s dilatory devils, and looking on with no small impatience to the time when I shall renounce the devil and all his works.

“I am about to leave off writing just when I have learnt what to write and how to write. . . . . I mean to attempt to get a tragedy on the stage, for the mere purpose of furnishing a house, which a successful play would do for me. I know I can write one,—beyond
this all is mere conjecture,—it is, however, worth trying, for I find lodgings very disagreeable. Lodge, however, I must in London, and you will be good enough to look out for me, I hope ere long, two rooms on the Brixton side the water.

“I have a thousand things to say to you. Long absence seems to have produced no effect on us, and I still feel that perfect openness in writing to you, that I shall never feel to any other human being. Grosvenor, when we sit down In Shandy Hall, what pretty speculations shall we make! You shall be Toby, and amuse yourself by marching to Paris, I will make systems, and Horace shall be Doctor Slop.

“I have projected a useful volume, which would not occupy a month,—specimens of the early English poets, with a critical account of all their works,—only to include the less known authors and specimens never before selected; my essays would be historical and biographical, as well as critical. I can get this printed without risking anything myself. . . . .

Yours sincerely,
R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“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?”*

* Aaron was a tame owl, kept by either my father or Mr. Bedford, I forget which, at Westminster.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 295
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“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.”