LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XII. 1806

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
‣ Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH





My father was now a settled dweller among the mountains of Cumberland; and although for some
years he again and again refers to Lisbon, as a place he earnestly desired to revisit, still this was a project which would probably have assumed a very different aspect, had it come more immediately before him: he would never have removed his family abroad, and he was far too much attached to, and indeed too dependent upon, home comforts and domestic relations, to have made up his mind to leave them even for the furtherance of his chief literary pursuits.

A more thoroughly domestic man, or one more simple in his mode of living, it would be difficult to picture; and the habits into which he settled himself about this time continued through life, unbroken regularity and unwearied industry being their chief characteristics. Habitually an early riser, he never encroached upon the hours of the night; and finding his highest pleasure and his recreation in the very pursuits necessary for earning his daily bread, he was, probably, more continually employed, than any other writer of his generation. “My actions,” he writes about this time to a friend, “are as regular as those of St. Dunstan’s quarter-boys. Three pages of history after breakfast (equivalent to five in small quarto printing); then to transcribe and copy for the press, or to make my selections and biographies, or what else suits my humour, till dinner time; from dinner till tea I read, write letters, see the newspaper, and very often indulge in a siesta,—for sleep agrees with me, and I have a good, substantial theory to prove that it must; for as a man who walks much requires to sit down and rest himself, so does the brain, if it be the part most worked, require its
repose. Well, after tea, I go to poetry, and correct and re-write and copy till I am tired, and then turn to anything else till supper; and this is my life,—which, if it be not a very merry one, is yet as happy as heart could wish. At least I should think so if I had not once been happier; and I do think so, except when that recollection comes upon me. And then, when I cease to be cheerful, it is only to become contemplative,—to feel at times a wish that I was in that state of existence which passes not away; and this always ends in a new impulse to proceed, that I may leave some durable monument and some efficient good behind me.”

The place of abode which he had chosen for himself, or rather, which a variety of circumstances had combined to fix him in, was, in most respects, well suited to his wishes and pursuits. Surrounded by scenery which combines in a rare degree both beauty and grandeur, the varied and singularly striking views which he could command from the windows of his study, were of themselves a recreation to the mind, as well as a feast to the eye, and there was a perpetual inducement to exercise which drew him oftener from his books than any other cause would have done, though not so often as was advisable for due relaxation both of mind and body. Uninterrupted leisure for a large portion of the year was absolutely essential; and that the long winter of our northern clime, which may be said generally to include half the autumnal and nearly all the spring months, was well calculated to afford him. With the swallows the tourists began to come, and among
them many friends and acquaintances, and so many strangers bearing letters of introduction, that his stores of the latter were being continually increased, and sometimes pleasing and valuable additions made to the former class. During several years his brother
Henry, while a student of medicine at Edinburgh, spent his vacations at Keswick, and occasionally some of his more intimate friends came down for a few weeks. These were his golden days; and on such occasions he indulged himself in a more complete holiday, and extended his rambles to those parts of the mountain country which were beyond the circle lying immediately within reach of his own home. These happy times left a permanent memory behind them, and the remembrance of them formed many anecdotes for his later years.

The society thus obtained, while occasionally it was a heavy tax upon his time (to whom time was all his wealth), was, on the whole, more suited to his habits than constant intercourse with the world would have been, and more wholesome than complete seclusion. “London,” he writes at this time to his friend Mr. Rickman, who was urging him to make a longer visit than usual, “disorders me by over stimulation. I dislike its society more from reflection than from feeling. Company, to a certain extent, intoxicates me. I do not often commit the fault of talking too much, but very often say what would be better unsaid, and that too in a manner not to be easily forgotten. People go away and repeat single sentences, dropping all that led to them, and all that explains them; and very often, in my hearty hatred of assenta-
tion, I commit faults of the opposite kind. Now, I am sure to find this out myself, and to get out of humour with myself; what prudence I have is not ready on demand; and so it is that the society of any except my friends, though it may be sweet in the mouth is bitter in the belly.”

As concerns his social and political opinions, it may be said that they were for many years in a transition state,—rather settling and sobering than changing; indeed, if fairly examined, they altered through life, not so much in the objects he had in view, as in the means whereby those objects were to be gained. He had begun in early youth with those generous feelings towards mankind, which made him believe almost in their perfectibility, but these soon passed away. “There was a time,” he wrote, six years earlier, “when I believed in the persuadibility of man, and had the mania of man-mending. Experience has taught me better.” But before experience had finished her lessons, he had another stage to pass through; and from having too good an opinion of human nature, he, for a time, entertained far too low a one. Many of his early letters are full of the strongest misanthropical expressions; and in his earliest published prose work, the letters from Spain and Portugal, he gives emphatic utterance to the same feelings. “Man is a beast,” he exclaims, “and an ugly beast, and Monboddo libels the ouranoutangs by suspecting them to be of the same family;” but this again was naturally a transition state, and his mature mind judged more justly and much more charitably, being removed alike from the
visionary enthusiasm of his young life, and the self-concentered apathy which succeeded it.

With respect to particular questions of politics, it will be seen in the course of this volume, that on certain prominent subjects, his feelings became strongly enlisted on the same side which the Tory politicians advocated, and in direct opposition to those who professed to be the leaders of Liberal opinions; agreement on some points elicited agreement on others, and, in like manner, disagreement naturally had for its fruits dislike and complete estrangement.

His religious views, also, during middle life, were settling down into a more definite shape, and were drawing year after year nearer to a conformity with the doctrines of the Church of England. However vague and unsettled his thoughts on such subjects were in early youth, he had never doubted the great truths of Revelation: and how rarely this was the case at that period, especially among men of cultivated minds, at least of that stirring democratic school into whose society he had been thrown, the memories of many of the passing generation will bear testimony. “I knew no one who believed” is the startling expression of one of my father’s contemporaries, himself a man of intellect and well-stored mind, when speaking of his own passage through that “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” and referring to the friends of his own age and standing; and he goes on to say, that he took up the study of the grounds and evidences of Christianity, with the full expectation that he should find no difficulty whatever in refuting to his own satisfaction, what so many others considered
as hardly worthy the serious consideration of reasonable men. Many of those persons whose mental and social qualifications my father most admired were at best but unsettled in their faith; and though almost without exception in later life, they sought and found the only sure resting-place for their hopes and fears, still the frequent intercourse with such men was an ordeal not to be passed through without difficulty or without danger. But he was blest with a pure and truthful heart, strong in the rejection of evil principles; and this, through God’s mercy, was confirmed by his solitary, laborious, and dutiful life, united as it was with the constant study of the Holy Scriptures, and at a rather later period, by an acquaintance with the works of most of the great English theologians.

The reader has seen from my father’s letters, the reception which Madoc had hitherto met with, and that many of the reviews had been somewhat unfavourable, and had not failed to take full advantage of those defects in the structure of the story of which the author himself seems to have been well aware.

These hostile criticisms, however, had not always their intended effect. Mr. Bedford asks him at the close of the past year, “I should like to know what you call the real faults of Madoc? Wyndham told Wynn that from what he had seen of the abusive reviews, he was inclined to like the poem exceedingly, and from those specimens speaks of it in high terms: this would make Godwin’s nose three times as horrid as ever we thought it.”

To this my father replies:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.

“You use Godwin’s name as if he had maliciously reviewed Madoc, which I do not by any means suspect or believe, though he has all the will in the world to make me feel his power. The Monthly was rather more dull than he would have made it. I should well like to know who the writer is; for, by the Living Jingo,—a deity whom D. Manuel* conceives to have been worshipped by the Celts,—I would contrive to give him a most righteous clapper-clawing in return.

Thalaba is faulty in its language. Madoc is not. I am become what they call a Puritan in Portugal, with respect to language, and I dare assert, that there is not a single instance of illegitimate English in the whole poem. The faults are in the management of the story and the conclusion, where the interest is injudiciously transferred from Madoc to Yuhidthiton; it is also another fault, to have rendered accidents subservient to the catastrophe. You will see this very accurately stated in the Annual Review: the remark is new, and of exceeding great value. I acknowledge no fault in the execution of any magnitude, except the struggle of the women with Amalahta, which is all clumsily done, and must be rewritten. Those faults which are inherent in and inseparable from the story, as they could not be

* The fictitious name of the writer of “Espriella’s Letters.”

helped, so are they to be considered as defects or wants rather than faults. I mean the division of the poem into two separate stories and scenes, and the inferior interest of the voyage, though a thing of such consequence. But as for unwarrantable liberties of language—there is not a solitary sin of the kind in the whole 9,000 lines. Let me be understood: I call it an unwarrantable liberty to use a verb deponent, for instance, actively, or to form any compound contrary to the strict analogy of the language—such as tameless in Thalaba, applied to the tigress. I do not recollect any coinage in Madoc except the word deicide; and that such a word exists I have no doubt, though I cannot lay my finger upon an authority, for depend upon it the Jews have been called so a thousand times. That word is unobjectionable. It is in strict analogy—its meaning is immediately obvious, and no other word could have expressed the same meaning. Archaisms are faulty if they are too obsolete. Thewes is the only one I recollect; that also has a peculiar meaning, for which there is no equivalent word. But, in short, so very laboriously was Madoc rewritten and corrected, time after time, that I will pledge myself, if you ask me in any instance why one word stands in the place of another which you, perhaps, may think the better one, to give you a reason, (most probably, euphoniæ gratiâ,) which will convince you that I had previously weighed both in the balance. Sir, the language and versification of that poem are as full of profound mysteries as the Butler; and he, I take it, was as full of profundity as the great deep itself.


“I do not know any one who has understood the main merit of the poem so nearly as I wished it to be understood as yourself: the true and intrinsic greatness of Madoc, the real talents of his enemies, and (which I consider as the main work of skill) the feeling of respect for them;—of love even for the individuals, yet with an abhorrence of the national cruelties that perfectly reconcile you to their dreadful overthrow. You have very well expressed this.

“. . . . . I have written this at two days,—many sittings,—under the influence of influenza and antimony. I am mending, but very weak, and sufficiently uncomfortable.

R S.
“Jan. 1. Multos et felices.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Amelia.

“Don’t be cast down, Tom: were I to make laws, no man should be made master and commander till he was thirty years of age. Made you will be at last, and will get on at last as high as your heart can wish: never doubt that, as I never doubt it.

“Don’t send me another turtle till I am Lord Mayor, and then I shall be much obliged to you for one; but, for Heaven’s sake, not till then. I consigned over all my right and title in the green fat to Wynn, by a formal power sent to Coutts the
banker, who was to look out for him; but of his arrival not a word yet;—ten to one but he is digested. When you are coming home, if you could bring a cargo of dried tamarinds I should like them, because they are very seldom to be got in England: I never saw them but once. Dried, mark you, in the husk,—not preserved. The acid is exceedingly delightful. Now remember, the words are when you are coming home, and bring: do not attempt to send them, or there will be trouble, vexation, unnecessary expense, and, most likely, the loss of the thing itself.

“My daughter never sees a picture of ship or boat but she talks of her uncle in the ship, and as regularly receives the kiss which he sent in the letter. You will be very fond of her if she goes on as well when you come home as she does at present. Harry is hard at work for the last season at Edinburgh, preparing to pass muster and be be-doctored in July. Most likely he will go to Lisbon with me in the autumn; at least I know not how he can be better employed for a few months, than in travelling and spoiling his complexion.

“The extraordinary success of Bonaparte, or, rather, the wretched misconduct of Austria, has left the Continent completely under the control of France. Our plan should be to increase our cruisers and scour the seas effectually,—to take all we can, and keep all we take,—professing that such is our intention, and that we are ready to make peace whenever France pleases, upon the simple terms of leaving off with our winnings. Meantime we ought to take the Cape, the French islands in the East (those in the
West would cost too many lives, and may be left for the Blacks), Minorca, Sicily, and Egypt. If France chooses to have the mainland, the islands should be ours. I suppose we shall go upon some such plan. As for invasion, the old story will begin again in the spring: but it is a thing impossible, and you sailors best know this.
Lord St. Vincent used to say, when it was talked of, ‘I don’t say they can’t come,—I only say that they can’t come by sea.’ What will affect me is the fate of Portugal; for it is now more than ever to be expected that Bonaparte will turn us out, merely to show he can do it. This will be to me a grievous annoyance. It is not unlikely that he will propose peace after these splendid victories, and it is not impossible that Pitt may accept it, to keep his place. Heaven forbid! To give up Malta now would be giving up the national honour; it would be confessing that we had lost the game—whereas we can play the single-handed game for ever. Our bad partners ruin us. The ultimate consequences of the success of France may not be so disastrous to Europe as is generally supposed. Suppose that the Continent be modelled as Bonaparte pleases,—which it will be,—and that it remains so in peace for twenty or thirty years: he will have disabled Austria it is true, but all the other powers will be strengthened, and a new state created in Italy which did not exist before. Then she will be under French direction: true, but still not French; the difference of language effectually prevents that. Bonaparte will not be a long-lived man; he cannot be, in the ordinary course of nature; there has been, and will be too much wear
and tear of him. His successor, if the succession go regularly on, as I suppose it will, will certainly not inherit his talents, and the first-born Emperor will have all the benefit of imperial education, which is quite sure to make him upon a level with all other sovereign princes. By that time the French generals will have died off, and we must not forget that it is the Revolution which made these men generals, and that men no longer rise according to their merit.

“Jan. 5.

“I have just received the following news:—‘Sir,—Am extremely sorry to be obliged to inform you, that a turtle, that I flattered myself would have survived home, from the excessive long passage and performance of quarantine at Cork, Falmouth, and Sea Reach, died in the former port, with every one on board the ship.—Respectfully, yr much obliged and obedient servant, Stephen T. Selk.’—So much for the turtle! I think if Government will make such beasts perform quarantine, they ought to pay for the loss. Surfeits and indigestions they may bring into the city, but of the yellow fever there can be no danger. The Court of Aldermen should take it into consideration.

“And now, to finish this letter of gossip. I am in the midst of reviewing, which will be over by the time this reaches you, even if, contrary to custom, it should reach you in regular course. Espriella also will, by that time, be gone to press. This, and the History of the Cid, I shall have to send you in the summer. No further news of the sale;—in fact, if
the edition of 500 goes off in two years, it will be a good sale for so costly a book. I hope it will not be very long before
Thalaba goes to press a second time. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Messrs. Longman and Rees.
“Jan. 5. 1806.
“Dear Sirs,

“A gentleman in this neighbourhood, Mr. ——, is printing some poems at his own expense, which Faulder is to publish; and he has applied to me to request that your name also may appear in the titlepage. In such cases, the only proper mode of proceeding is to relate the plain state of the matter. His verses are good for nothing; and not a single copy can possibly sell, except what his acquaintance may purchase: but he has been labouring under mental derangement,—the heaviest of all human calamities,—and the passion which he has contracted for rhyming has changed the character of his malady, and made him from a most miserable being, a very happy one. Under these circumstances you will not, perhaps, object to gratifying him, and depositing copies of his book in your ware-room, for the accommodation of the spiders. He tells me his MS. is at ——, if you think fit to inspect it: this trouble you will hardly take: the poems are as inoffensive as they are worthless. I shall simply tell him that I have made the application, without giving him any reason to expect its success. You will, of course,
use your own judgment, only I will beg you to signify your assent or dissent to him himself. . . . .

Believe me,
Yours truly,
Robert Southey.”

The following curious letter needs some explanation. My father had sent the MS. of his letters, under the assumed character of Espriella, to his friend Mr. Rickman for his remarks, who was anxious that some strong condemnation of pugilism should not appear, as he considered it acted as a sort of safety-valve to the bad passions of the lower orders, and in some cases prevented the use of the knife: and he goes on to say,—“The abstract love of bloodshed is a very odd taste, but I am afraid very natural; the increase of gladiatorial exhibitions at Rome is not half so strong a proof of this as the Mexican sacrifices, which I think commenced not till about A. D. 1300,—and by a kind of accident or whim,—and lasted above 200 years, with a horrible increase, and with the imitation of all the neighbouring states. This last circumstance is a wonderful proof of the love of blood in the human mind. Without that, the practice must have raised the strongest aversion around Mexico. I believe Leviathan Hobbes says, ‘that a state of nature is a state of war, i. e. bloodshed.’ I begin to think so too; else why has Nature made such a variety of offensive as well as defensive armour in all her animal and vegetable productions?
It seems a perverted industry, and is unexplainable, unless we believe Hobbes.”*

My father’s reply shows he was of a different opinion.

To John Rickman, Esq.

“Before I speak of myself, let me say something upon a more important subject. Nature has given offensive armour for two reasons; in the first place, it is defensive because it serves to intimidate; a better reason is, that claws and teeth are the tools with which animals must get their living; and that the general system of one creature eating another is a benevolent one, needs little proof; there must be death, and what can be wiser than to make death subservient to life. As for a state of nature, the phrase, as applied to man, is stark naked nonsense. Savage man is a degenerated animal. My own belief is, that the present human race is not much more than six thousand years old, according to the concurrent testimony of all rational history. The Indian records are good for nothing. But add as many millenniums as you will, the question, ‘How came they here at first?’ still occurs. The infinite series is an infinite absurdity; and to suppose them growing like mushrooms or maggots in mud, is as bad. Man must have been made here, or placed here with

* J. R. to R. S., Jan. 9. 1806.

sufficient powers, bodily and mental, for his own support. I think the most reasonable opinion is, that the first men had a knowledge of language and of religion; in short, that the accounts of a golden or patriarchal age are, in their foundation, true. How soon the civilised being degenerates under unfavourable circumstances, has been enough proved by history. Freewill, God, and final retribution solve all difficulties. That Deity cannot be understood, is a stupid objection; without one we can understand nothing. I cannot put down my thoughts methodically without much revision and re-arrangement; but you may see what I would be at; it is no difficult matter to harpoon the Leviathan, and wound him mortally. . . . . You may account by other means for the spread of the Mexican religion than by the love of blood. Man is by nature a religious animal; and if the elements of religion were not innate in him, as I am convinced they are, sickness would make him so. You will find that all savages connect superstition with disease,—some cause, which they can neither comprehend nor control, affects them painfully, and the remedy always is to appease an offended Spirit, or drive away a malignant one. Even in enlightened societies, you will find that men more readily believe what they fear than what they hope: . . . . religions, therefore, which impose privations and self-torture have always been more popular than any other. How many of our boys’ amusements consist in bearing pain?—grown children like to do the
same from a different motive. You will more easily persuade a man to wear hair-cloth drawers, to flog himself, or swing upon a hook, than to conform to the plain rules of morality and common sense. I shall have occasion to look into this subject when writing of the spirit of Catholicism, which furnishes as good an illustration as the practices of the Hindoos. Here, in England, Calvinism is the popular faith. . . . . Beyond all doubt, the religion of the Mexicans is the most diabolical that has ever existed. It is not, however, by any means, so mischievous as the Brahminical system of caste, which, wherever it exists, has put a total stop to the amelioration of society. The Mexicans were rapidly advancing. Were you more at leisure, I should urge you to bestow a week’s study upon the Spanish language, for the sake of the mass of information contained in their travellers and historians. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Greta Hall, Keswick, Feb. 4. 1806.
“My dear Sir,

“We are under considerable uneasiness respecting Coleridge, who left Malta early in September to return overland from Naples, was heard of from Trieste, and has not been heard of since. Our hope is, that, finding it impracticable to proceed, he may have returned, and be wintering at Naples or in Sicily.


Wordsworth was with me last week; he has of late been more employed in correcting his poems than in writing others; but one piece he has written, upon the ideal character of a soldier, than which I have never seen any thing more full of meaning and sound thought. The subject was suggested by Nelson’s most glorious death, though having no reference to it. He had some thoughts of sending it to the Courier, in which case you will easily recognise his hand.

“Having this occasion to write, I will venture to make one request. My friend Duppa is about to publish a Life of Michael Angelo;—the book will be a good book, for no man understands his art better. I wish, when it comes in course of trial, you would save it from Judge Jeffrey, or intercede with him for as favourable a report as it may be found to deserve. Duppa deserves well of the public, because he has, at a very considerable loss, published those magnificent heads from Raffaelle and Michael Angelo, and is publishing this present work without any view whatever to profit; indeed, he does not print copies enough to pay his expenses.

Mrs. Southey and her sister join me in remembrance to Mrs. Scott. I know not whether I shall ever again see the Tweed and the Yarrow, yet should be sorry to think I should not. Your scenery has left upon me a strong impression,—more so for the delightful associations which you and your country poets have inseparably connected with it. I am going in the autumn, if Bonaparte will let me, to streams as classical and as lovely—the Mondego of
Camoens, the Douro, and the Tagus; but I shall not find such society on their banks.

“Remember me to my two fellow-travellers. Heaven keep them and me also from being the subject of any farther experiments upon the infinite compressibility of matter.

Believe me,
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.

“If Hogg should publish his poems, I shall be very glad to do what little I can in getting subscribers for him.”

To the Rev. Nicholas Lightfoot.
“Keswick, Feb. 8. 1806.
“My dear Friend,

“You tell me to write as an egotist, and I am well disposed so to do; for what else is it that gives private letters their greatest value, but the information they bring us of those for whom we are interested? I saw your marriage in the papers, and perhaps one reason why my letter has remained so long unfinished in my desk is, a sort of fear lest I should mention it after death might have dissolved it,—a sort of superstitious feeling to which I am subject. I wish you—being a father myself—as large a family as you can comfortably bring up, and if you are not provided with a godfather upon the next occasion, I beg you to accept of me, as an old and
very affectionate friend; ’tis a voluntary kind of relationship, in which it would gratify me to stand to a child of yours, and which I should consider as a religious pledge on my part for any useful, kind, and fatherly offices which it might ever happen to be in my power to perform.

“I have for some time looked on with pleasure to the hope of seeing you next autumn, when, in all probability, if the situation of affairs abroad does not prevent me, I shall once more visit Portugal, not for health’s sake, but to collect the last materials for my history, and to visit those parts of the kingdom which I have not yet seen. In this case my way will lie through Devonshire, and I will stop a day or two at Crediton, and talk over old times.

“You inquire of the wreck of the Seward family,—a name as dear to my inmost heart as it can be to yours. No change has taken place among them for some years, as I understand from Duppa, who was my guest here the autumn before last, and with whom I have an occasional correspondence.

“I passed through Oxford two years ago, and walked through the town at four o’clock in the morning; the place never before appeared to me half so beautiful. I looked up at my own windows, and, as you may well suppose, felt as most people do when they think of what changes time brings about.

“If you have seen or should see the Annual Review, you may like to know that I have borne a great part in it thus far, and I may refer you for the state of my opinions to the Reviewals of the Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Mission, vol. i., of
Malthus’s Essay on Population, Miles’s History of the Methodists, and the Transactions of the Missionary Society, vol. ii. and iii., and of the Report of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, vol. iii. In other articles you may trace me from recollections of your own, by family likeness, by a knowledge of Spanish literature, and by a love of liberty and literature freely and warmly expressed. I was ministerial under Addington, regarded his successor with the utmost indignation, and am exceedingly well pleased at the present changes. Time, you say, moderates opinions as it mellows wine. My views and hopes are certainly altered, though the heart and soul of my wishes continues the same. It is the world that has changed, not I. I took the same way in the afternoon that I did in the morning, but sunset and sunrise make a different scene. If I regret any thing in my own life, it is that I could not take orders, for of all ways of life that would have best accorded with my nature; but I could not get in at the door.

“In other respects time has not much altered me. I am as thin as ever, and to the full as noisy: making a noise in any way whatever is an animal pleasure with me, and the louder it is the better. Do you remember the round hole at the top of the staircase, opposite your door?*

Coleridge is daily expected to return from Malta, where he has been now two years for his health. I inhabit the same house with his wife and children,—perhaps the very finest single spot in England. We overlook Keswick Lake, have the Lake of Bassen-

* See p. 87.

thwaite in the distance on the other side, and Skiddaw behind us. But we only sojourn here for a time. I may, perhaps, be destined to pass some years in Portugal,—which, indeed, is my wish,—or, if otherwise, must ultimately remove to the neighbourhood of London, for the sake of the public libraries.

“My dislike was not to schoolmasters, but to the rod, which I dare warrant you do not make much use of. Here is a long letter, and you have in it as many great I’s as your heart can wish. It will give me much pleasure to hear again from you, and to know that your family is increased. If I cannot be godfather now, let me put in a claim in time for the next occasion; but I hope you will write to tell me that three things have been promised and vowed in my name by proxy. No man can more safely talk of defying the world, the flesh, and the devil. With the world my pursuits are little akin; the flesh and I quarrelled long ago, and I have been nothing but skin and bone ever since; and as for the devil, I have made more ballads in his abuse than anybody before me.

“God bless you, Lightfoot!

Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To John Rickman, Esq.

“. . . . . It seems to me that the Grenvilles
get into power just as they could wish, but that it is otherwise with
Fox and Grey. They are pledged to parliamentary reform, and in this their other colleagues will not support them. It will be put off at first with sufficient plausibility, under the plea of existing circumstances; but my good old friend Major Cartwright (who is as noble an old Englishman as ever was made of extra best superfine flesh and blood) will find that existing circumstances have no end; there must come a time when it will appear, that if the question be not honestly brought forward, it has been given up as the price of their admission to power; and in that case, Fox had better for himself have died, instead of the other minister who had nothing to lose in the opinion of wise men. So that. I am not sure that Fox’s friends ought to rejoice at his success.

“But quoad Robert Southey, things are different. I have a chance of getting an appointment at Lisbon (this, of course, is said to yourself only); either the Secretaryship of Legation, or the Consulship,—whichever falls vacant first,—has been asked for me, and Lord Holland has promised to back the application. . . . . I shall follow my own plans,—relying upon nobody but myself, and shall go to Lisbon in the autumn: if Fortune finds me there, so much the better, but she shall never catch me on the wild goose chase after her.

“I want Tom to be an admiral, that when he is fourscore he may be killed in a great victory and get a monument in St. Paul’s; for this reason, I have some sort of notion that one day or other I may have one
there myself, and it would be rather awkward to get among so many sea captains, unless one had a friend among them to introduce one to the mess-room. It is ridiculous giving the captains these honours,—a colonel in the army has the same claim; better build a pyramid at once, and insert their names as they fall in this marble gazette. . . . .

“God bless you!
R. S.”
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Amelia.
“Keswick, February 15. 1806.

“A world of events have taken place since last I wrote,—indeed so as almost to change the world here. Pitt is dead. Fox and the Grenvilles in place, Wynn Under Secretary of State in the Home Office. I have reason to expect something; of the two appointments at Lisbon which would suit me, whichever falls vacant first is asked for me; both are in Fox’s gift, and Lord as well as Lady Holland speak for me. It is likely that one or other will be vacated ere long, and if I should not succeed, then Wynn will look elsewhere. Something or other will certainly turn up ere it be very long. I hope also something may some way or other be done for you; you shall lose nothing for want of application on my part.

St. Vincent supersedes Cornwallis in the Channel fleet: Sir Samuel was made admiral in the last list of promotions. As for peace or war, one knows not how to speculate. If I were to guess anything, it
would be, that by way of getting all parties out of the way with credit,
Bonaparte may offer us Malta, which he cannot take, as an indemnification for Hanover, which we must lose. I should be glad this compromise were made. You have news enough here to set you in a brown study for the rest of the day. I will only add an anecdote, which I believe is not in the papers, and which sailors will like to know. The flag of the Victory was to be buried with Nelson, but the sailors, when it was lowering into the grave, tore it in pieces to keep as relics. His reward has been worthy of the country,—a public funeral of course and a monument, besides monuments of some kind or other in most of the great cities by private subscriptions. His widow made Countess with 2000l. a year, his brother an Earl with an adequate pension, and 200,000l. to be laid out in the purchase of an estate, never to be alienated from the family. Well done England!

“As several of my last letters have been directed to St. Kitts, I conclude that by this time one or other may have reached you. Yours is good news so far as relates to your health, and to the probability of going to Halifax,—better summer quarters than the Islands. If you should go there, such American books as you may fall in with will be curiosities in England. The New York publications I conclude travel so far north; reviews and magazines, novels or poetry,—anything of real American growth, I shall be glad to have. Keep a minute journal there, and let nothing escape you. . . . .

“Did I tell you that I have promised to supply
the lives of the Spanish and Portuguese authors in the remaining volumes of
Dr. Aikin’s great General Biography? This will not interfere with my own plans; where it does, it is little more than printing the skeleton of what is hereafter to be enlarged. I can tell you nothing of the sale of Madoc, except that Longman has told me nothing, which is proof enough of slow sale; but if the edition goes off in two years, or indeed in three, it will be well for so costly a book. There is a reaction in these things; my poems make me known first, and then I make the poems known: as I rise in the world the books will sell. I have occasional thoughts of going on with Kehama now when my leisure time approaches, to keep my hand in, and to leave it for publication next winter. Not a line has been added to it since you left me.

“No news yet of Coleridge: we are seriously uneasy about him: it is above two months since he ought to have been home: our hope is, that finding the continent overrun by the French, he may have returned to Malta. Edith’s love.

“God bless you, Tom!

R. S.”
To Richard Duppa, Esq.

“Nicholson, I see, sets up a new review. Carlisle ought to get you well taken care of there. Need you be told the history of all reviews? If a book
falls into the hands of one who is neither friend nor enemy,—which for a man known in the world is not very likely—the reviewer will find fault to show his own superiority, though he be as ignorant of the subject upon which he writes as an ass is of metaphysics, or
John Pinkerton of Welsh antiquities and Spanish literature. As your book, therefore, has little chance of fair play, get it into the hands of your friends. Have you any access to the Monthly?

“For politics. As far as the public is concerned, God be praised! How far I may be concerned, remains to be seen. My habits are now so rooted, that everything not connected with my own immediate pursuit seems of secondary consequence, and as far as relates to myself, hardly worth a hope or fear. So far as anything can be given me which will facilitate that pursuit, I greatly desire it, and have good reason to expect the best. But nothing that can happen will in any way affect my plan of operations for the present year. I go to London in a month’s time, I go to Lisbon in the autumn, and in the interim must work like a negro. By the by, cannot you give me a letter to Bartolozzi? he will like to see an Englishman who can talk to him of the persons with whom he was acquainted in England.

“I am reading an Italian History of Heresies in four folios, by a certain Domenico Bernino. If there be one thing in the world which delights me more than another, it is ecclesiastical history. This book of Bernino’s is a very useful one for a man who knows something of the subject, and is aware how much is to be believed, and how much is not.


“My reviewing is this day finished for ever and ever, amen. Our fathers who are in the Row will, I daresay, wish me to continue at the employment, but I am weary of it. Seven years have I been, like Sir Bevis, preying upon ‘rats and mice, and such small deer,’ and for the future will fly at better game. It is best to choose my own subjects.

“You mentioned once to me certain prophetical drawings by a boy. Did you see them, or can you give me any particulars concerning them? for I find them connected with Joanna Southcote, of whose prophecies I have about a dozen pamphlets, and about whom Don Manuel is going to write a letter. I like our friend Huntingdon’s Bank of Faith so well on a cooler perusal, that I shall look for two other of his works at the shop of his great friend, Baker, in Oxford Street. That man is a feature in the age, and a great man in his way. People who are curious to see extraordinary men, and go looking after philosophers and authors only, are something like the good people in genteel life, who pay nobody knows what for a cod’s head, and don’t know the luxury of eating sprats. Oh! Wordsworth sent me a man the other day, who was worth seeing; he looked like a first assassin in Macbeth as to his costume, but he was a rare man. He had been a lieutenant in the navy, was scholar enough to quote Virgil aptly, had turned Quaker or semi-Quaker, and was now a dealer in wool somewhere about twenty miles off. He had seen much and thought much, his head was well stored, and his heart in the right place.


“It is five or six and twenty years since he was at Lisbon, and he gave me as vivid a description of the Belem Convent, as if the impression in his memory was not half a day old. Edridge’s acquaintance, Thomas Wilkinson, came with him. They had both been visiting an old man of a hundred in the Vale of Lorton, and it was a fine thing to hear this Robert Foster describe him. God bless you!

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.

“The intelligence* in your letter has given me more pleasure than I have often felt. In spite of modern philosophy, I do not believe that the first commandment is an obsolete statute yet, and I am very sure that man is a better being, as well as a happier one, for being a husband and a father. May God bless you in both relations of life!

“I shall be in London about the time when you are leaving it. . . . . It is long since we have met, and I shall be sorry to lose one of those opportunities of which life does not allow very many. It will be nearly two years since you were here, and if our after meetings are to be at such long intervals,

Of the birth of a child.

there are not many to look on to. Many things make me feel old;—ten years of marriage; the sort of fatherly situation in which I have stood to my brother
Henry, now a man himself; the premature age at which I commenced author; the death of all who were about me in childhood; a body not made of lasting materials, and some wear and tear of mind. You once remarked to me how time strengthened family affections, and, indeed, all early ones: one’s feelings seem to be weary of travelling, and like to rest at home. I had a proof the other night in my sleep how the mere lapse of time changes our disposition; I thought, of all men in the world, ——* called upon me, and that we were heartily glad to see each other. They who tell me that men grow hardhearted as they grow older, have had a very limited view of this world of ours. It is true with those whose views and hopes are merely and vulgarly worldly; but when human nature is not perverted, time strengthens our kindly feelings, and abates our angry ones. . . . .

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. S.”

* A Westminster schoolfellow, from whom he had received much brutal treatment.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, March 6. 1806.

“I am writing, Grosvenor, as you know, the History of Portugal,—a country of which I probably know more than any foreigner, and as much as any native. Now has it come athwart me, this after-noon, how much more accurate, and perhaps, a thousand years hence, more valuable, a book it would be, were I to write the History of Wine Street below the Pump, the street wherein I was born, recording the revolutions of every house during twenty years. It almost startles me to see how the events of private life, within my own knowledge, et quorum pars maxima, etc., equal or outdo novel and comedy; and the conclusion to each tale—the mors omnibus est communis,—makes me more serious than the sight of my own grey hairs in the glass; for the hoar frosts, Grosvenor, are begun with me. Oh, there would be matter for moralising in such a history, beyond all that history offers. The very title is a romance. You, in London, need to be told that Wine Street is a street in Bristol, and that there is a pump in it, and that by the title I would mean to express, that the historian does not extend his subject to that larger division of the street which lies above the pump. You, I say, need all these explanations, and yet, when I first went to school, I never thought of Wine Street and of that pump without tears, and such a sorrow at heart, as by Heaven! no child of mine shall ever suffer while I am living to prevent
it; and so deeply are the feelings connected with that place rooted in me, that, perhaps, in the hour of death, they will be the last that survive. Now, this history, it is most certain that I, the Portuguese historiographer, &c. &c. &c. shall never have leisure, worldly motive, nor perhaps heart to write; and yet, now being in tune, I will give you some of the recollections whereof it would be composed, catching them as they float by me; and as I am writing, forms enough thicken upon me to people a solitary cell* in Bedlam, were I to live out the remainder of a seventy years’ lease.

“Let me begin with the church at the corner. I remember the old church: a row of little shops were built before it, above which its windows received light; and on the leads which roofed them, crowds used to stand at the chairing of members, as they did to my remembrance when peace was proclaimed after the American war. I was christened in that old church, and at this moment vividly remember our pew under the organ, of which I certainly have not thought these fifteen years before. —— was then the rector, a humdrum somnificator, who, God rest his soul for it! made my poor mother stay at home Sunday evenings, because she could not keep awake after dinner to hear him. A

* Baron Trenck, in his account of his long and wretched imprisonment, says, “I had lived long and much in the world; vacuity of thought, therefore, I was little troubled with.” May not this give some clue to the cause why solitary confinement makes some insane and does not affect others? I have read somewhere of a man who said, if his cell had been round he must have gone mad, but there was a comer for the eye to rest upon.—Ed.

worldly-minded man succeeded, and effected, by dint of begging and impudence, a union between the two parishes of Christ Church and St. Ewins*, for no other conceivable reason than that he might be rector of both. However, he was a great man; and it was the custom once a year to catechise the children, and give them, if they answered well, a good plum-cake a-piece in the last day of the examination, called a cracknell, and honestly worth a groat; and I can remember eating my cracknell, and being very proud of the praise of the curate (who was a really good man), when he found that I knew the etymology of Decalogue,—for be it known to your worship, that I did not leave off loving plum-cake when I begun my Greek, nor have I left it off now when I have almost forgotten it. But I must turn back to the pew, and tell you how in my very young days a certain uncle Thomas, who would make a conspicuous figure in the history of Wine Street below the pump, once sentenced me to be deprived of my share of pie on Sunday, for some misdemeanour there committed,—I forget what,—whether talking to my brother Tom, or reading the Revelations there during the sermon, for that was my favourite part of the Christian religion, and I always amused myself with the scraps from it after the collects, whenever the prayer-book was in my hand.

“There were quarter-boys to this old church clock, as at St. Dunstan, and I have many a time

* These are still held by one person; but as the population of the latter is stated at fifty-five only in the Clergy List, and the income of the two under 400l., it would seem to be an unobjectionable union.—Ed.

stopt with my satchel on my back to see them strike. My father had a great love for these poor quarter-boys, who had regulated all his movements for about twenty years; and when the church was rebuilt, offered to subscribe largely to their re-establishment; but the Wine Streeters had no taste for the arts, and no feeling for old friends, and God knows what became of the poor fellows; but I know that when I saw them represented in a pantomime, which was called Bristol, and got up to please the citizens, I cannot say, whether I felt more joy at seeing them, or sorrow in thinking they were only represented—only stage quarter-boys, and not the real ones.

“The church was demolished, and sad things were said of the indecencies that occurred in removing the coffins for the new foundation to be laid. We had no interest in this, for our vault was at Ashton. I sent you once, years ago, a drawing of this church. It is my only freehold—all the land I possess in the world—and is now full—no matter! I never had any feeling about a family grave till my mother was buried in London, and that gave me more pain than was either reasonable or right. My little girl lies with my dear good friend Mrs. Danvers. I, myself, shall lie where I fall; and it will be all one in the next world. Once more to Christ Church. I was present in the heart of a crowd when the foundation stone was laid, and read the plates wherein posterity will find engraved the name of Robert Southey—for my father was churchwarden—by the same token that that year he gave me a penny to go to the fair instead of a shilling as
usual, being out of humour or out of money; and I, referring to a common phrase, called him a generous churchwarden. There was money under the plate. I put some half-pence which I had picked out for their good impressions; and Winter, the bookseller, a good medal of the present king. . . . . Shame on me for not writing on foolscap! Vale!

Robert Southey.”
To John Rickman Esq.
“March 15. 1806.
“My dear Rickman,

“My last week has been somewnat desultorily employed in going through Beausobre’s History of Manicheism, and in sketching the life of D. Luisa de Carvajal, an extraordinary woman of high rank, who came over to London in James the First’s time, to make proselytes to the Catholic religion, under the protection of the Spanish ambassador. It is a very curious story, and ought to be related in the history of that wretched king, who beheaded Raleigh to please the Spaniards.

Beausobre’s book is one of the most valuable that I have ever seen; it is a complete Thesaurus of early opinions, philosophical and theological. It is not the least remarkable circumstance of the Catholic religion, that it has silently imbibed the most absurd parts of most of the heresies which it opposed and persecuted. I do not conceive Manes to have been a fanatic: there is too much philosophy in the whole of his system,
even in the mythology, for that. His object seems to have been to unite the superstitions of the East and West; unluckily, both priests and magi united against the grand scheme,—the Persians flayed him alive, and the Catholics roasted his disciples whenever they could catch them. Beausobre, as I expected, has perceived the similarity between Buddas and the Indian impostor; but he supposes that he came from the East. I am inclined to think otherwise, because I have found elsewhere that the Adam whose footstep is shown in Ceylon, was a Manichaean travelling disciple, though both Moors and Portuguese very naturally attributed this story to their old acquaintance. A proof this that the immediate disciples of Manes were successful; besides, the Asiatic fables are full of resemblances to Christianity. . . . .

“If there be any one thing in which the world has decidedly degenerated, it is in the breed of Heresiarchs: they were really great men in former times, devoting great knowledge and powerful talents to great purposes. In our days they are either arrant madmen or half rogues. . . . . I am about to be the St. Epiphanius of Richard Brothers and Joanna Southcote; what say you to paying these worthies a visit some morning? the former is sure to be at home, and we might get his opinion of Joanna. I know some of his witnesses, and could enter into the depths of his system with him. As for Joanna, though tolerably well versed in the history of human credulity, I have never seen anything so disgraceful to common sense as her precious publications. . . . .

“Metaphysicians have become less mischievous, but
a good deal more troublesome. There was some excuse for them when they believed their opinions necessary to salvation; and it was certainly better for plain people like you and I that they should write by the folio than talk by the hour. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Mrs. Southey.

“My adventures here are such as you might guess,—a mere repetition of visits and dinners. . . . . Yesterday a sumptuous dinner with Joseph Gurney. The two impossibilities for a stranger at Norwich are, to find his way about the city, and to know the names of the Gurneys. They talked about Clarkson, and seemed to fear his book would not sell as he expected it to do; not more than twenty subscribers having been procured among the Quakers there. . . . . To-morrow I sup at Newmarket on my way to London, and sleep in the coach; and there you have my whole history thus far.

King Arthur has, I see, been playing his usual editorial tricks with me, and has lopt off a defence of Bruce against Pinkerton, because he did not like to have Mr. Pinkerton contradicted; and some remarks upon the infamous blunders of the printer, because he did not choose to insert anything that was not agree-
able to the bookseller. And yet
Miss Lucy Aikin says her brother is by nature of an intrepid character, and alleges as a proof of his intrepidity, that he puts his name to the Annual Review!

“I have got a clue to the state of the Catholics here, of which some use may be made by D. Manuel. —— is the head of the sect here, and loves to talk about them, and from him I have borrowed a sort of Catholic almanac, which explains their present state. I shall purchase one in London, and turn it to good account. He tells me the Jesuits exist in England as a separate body, and have even a chapel in Norwich; but how they exist, and whence their funds are derived, is a secret to himself. This is a highly curious fact, and to me, particularly, a very interesting one: I shall make further inquiry. St. Winifred has lately worked a miracle at her Well, and healed a paralytic woman. These Catholics want only a little more success to be just as impudent as they were three centuries ago. . . . .

“God bless you, my dear Edith!

R. S.”

From Norwich my father went on to London, where, however, he remained only a very short time, and then returned home through Herefordshire, where he had some affairs to look after concerning his uncle Mr. Hills living in that county.

A letter to Mr. Bedford on his return, commences with one of those quaint fancies with which he delighted to amuse himself.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Greta Hall, May 27. 1806.

“A discovery of the original language propounded to the consideration of the worshipful Master Bedford.

“There was in old times a King of Egypt, who did make a full politic experiment touching this question, as is discoursed of by sundry antique authors. Howbeit to me it seemeth that it falleth short of that clear and manifest truth, which should be the butt of our inquiry. Now, methinks, if it could be shown what is the very language which dame Nature, the common mother of all, hath implanted in animals whom we, foolishly misjudging, do term dumb, that were, indeed, a hit palpable and of notable import. To this effect I have noted what that silly bird, called of the Latins Anser, doth utter in time of affright; for it then thinketh of the water, inasmuch as in the water it findeth its safety; and while its thoughts be upon the water so greatly desired of it, it crieth qua—a-qua—a-qua; wherefore it is to be inferred that aqua is the very natural word for water, and the Latin, therefore, the primitive, natural, and original tongue.

“Etymology is of more value when applied to the elements of language, and it must be acknowledged that I have here hit upon an elementary word. One of those critics, I forget which, who thought proper to review Thalaba without taking the trouble to understand the story, noticed, as one of the absurdities of the book, that Thalaba was enabled to read some unintelligible letters on a ring, by others equally un-
intelligible upon the head of a locust,—an absurdity existing only in their own stupid and careless misconception, for the thing is clear enough. I remember giving myself credit for putting a very girlish sort of thing into Oneiza’s mouth, when I made her call those locust’s lines ‘Nature’s own language;’ for I have heard unthinking people talk of a natural language; and you know the story of the woman with child by a Dutchman, who was afraid to swear the child to an Englishman, because the truth would be found out when the child came to speak Dutch.

“I beseech you to come to me this season: we shall see more of each other in one week when once housed together, than during a seven years’ intercourse in London. And if you do not come this year, the opportunity may be gone for ever, and you will never see this country so well nor so cheerfully after I have left it. If he were here, would be the thought to damp enjoyment, you would come as a mere laker, and pay a guide for telling you what to admire. When I go abroad it will be to remain there for a considerable time, and you and I are now old enough to feel the proportion which a few years bear to the not very many that constitute the utmost length of life.

“This feeling is the stronger upon me just now, as in arranging my letters I have seen those of three men now all in their graves, each of whom produced no little effect upon my character and after life,—Allen, Lovell, and poor Edmund Seward,—whom I never remember without the deepest love and veneration. Come you to Keswick, Bedford, and make
sure of a few weeks’ enjoyment while we are both alive.

“I wish you would get the Annual Reviews, because without them my operas are very incomplete: my share there is very considerable, and you would see in many of the articles more of the tone and temper of my mind than you can otherwise get at. . . . . You must be my biographer if I go first. . . . . Documents you shall have in plenty, if, indeed, you need more than our correspondence already supplies. This is a subject on which we will talk some evening when the sun is going down, and has tuned us to it. If the harp of Memnon had played in the evening instead of at the sunrise, it would have been a sweet emblem of that state of mind to which I now refer, and which, indeed, I am at this minute enjoying. But it is supper time.

“God bless you, Grosvenor!”

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.

“There are two poets who must come into our series, and I do not remember their names in your list: Sir John Moore, of whom the only poem which I have ever seen should be given. It is addressed to a lady, he himself being in a consumption. If you do not remember it, Wynn will, and I think can help you to it, for it is very beautiful.
The other poor rhymer is poor old
Botch Hayes, whom we are in duty bound not to forget, and of whom you may say what you will, only let it be in the best good humour; because poor Botch’s heart was always in the right place, which certainly his wig was not. And you may say, that though his talent at producing commonplace English verses was not very convenient for his competitors at Cambridge for the Seatonian prize, that his talent of producing commonplace Latin ones was exceedingly so for his pupils at Westminster. I don’t say that I would wish to plant a laurel upon old Hayes’s grave; but I could find in my heart to plant a vine there (if it would grow), as a more appropriate tree, and to pour a brimming libation of its juice, if we had any reason to think that the spirit of the grape could reach the spirit of the man. Poor fellow! that phrase of ‘being no one’s enemy but his own,’ is not admitted as a set-off on earth, but in the other world, Grosvenor!

“Our last month has been so unusually fine, that the farmers want rain. July will probably give them enough. September and October are the safest months to come down in; though, if you consider gooseberry-pie as partaking of the nature of the summum bonum (to speak modestly of it), about a fortnight hence will be the happiest time you can choose. If Tom and Harry should be with me in time for the feat, I have thoughts of challenging all England at a match at gooseberry-pie: barring Jack the Giganticide’s leathern bag, we are sure of the victory. Thank God, Tom has escaped the yellow fever! and if ever he lives to be an admiral, Grosvenor,—as by God’s blessing he may,—
he shall give you and me a good dinner on board the flag-ship. We shall be so much the older by that time, that I fear good fortune would make neither of us much the happier.

“I have been inserting occasional rhymes in Kehama, and have in this way altered and amended about six hundred lines. When what is already written shall be got through in this manner, I shall think the poem in a way of completion: indeed, it will most likely supply my ways and means for the next winter, instead of reviewing. Elmsley advised me to go on with it; and the truth is, that my own likings and dislikings to it have been so equally divided, that I stood in need of somebody’s encouragement to settle the balance. It gains by rhyme, which is to passages of no inherent merit what rouge and candle-light are to ordinary faces. Merely ornamental parts, also, are aided by it, as foil sets off paste. But where there is either passion or power, the plainer and more straightforward the language can be made the better. Now, you will suppose that upon this system I am writing Kehama. My proceedings are not quite so systematical; but what, with revising and re-revising over and over again, they will amount to something like it at last.

“God bless you.

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.

“I thought it so likely you would hear from Wynn the particulars concerning John Southey’s will*, that I felt no inclination to repeat the story to you, which would not have been the case had the old man done as he ought to have done. Good part of his property, consisting of a newly purchased estate, is given to a very distant relative of his mother’s family, and, of course, gone for ever. About 2000l. in legacies: the rest falls to his brother, as sole executor and residuary legatee. Neither my own name nor either of my brothers’ is mentioned. Thomas Southey apprised me of this the day of the old man’s death. With him I am on good terms,—that is, if we were in the same town, we should dine together, for the sake of relationship, about once a-month; and if any thing were to happen to me, of any kind of family importance,—such as the birth of a child,—I should write a letter to him, beginning ‘Dear Uncle.’ He invites me to the ‘Cottage,’ and I shall go there on my way to Lisbon. I think it likely that he will leave his property rather to Tom than to me, for the name’s sake, but not likely that he will leave it out of the family. He is about three or four-and-fifty, a man of no education, nor indeed of any thing else. And so

* An uncle of my father’s, a wealthy solicitor of Taunton. See vol. i. p. 6.

you have all that I can tell you about the matter, excepting that there’s an end of it. Some people, they say, are born with silver spoons in their mouths, and others with wooden ladles. I will hope something for my daughter, upon the strength of this proverb, inasmuch as she has three silver cups; but, for myself, I am of the fraternity of the wooden ladle.

“. . . . . Last night I began the Preface*—huzza! And now, Grosvenor, let me tell you what I have to do. I am writing, 1. The History of Portugal; 2. The Chronicle of the Cid; 3. The Curse of Kehama; 4. Espriella’s Letters. Look you, all these I am writing. The second and third of these must get into the press, and out of it before this time twelvemonths, or else I shall be like the Civil List. By way of interlude comes in this Preface. Don’t swear, and bid me do one thing at a time. I tell you I can’t afford to do one thing at a time—no, nor two neither; and it is only by doing many things that I contrive to do so much: for I cannot work long together at any thing without hurting myself; and so I do every thing by heats; then, by the time I am tired of one, my inclination for another is come round.

Dr. Southey is arrived here. He puts his degree in his pocket, summers here, and will winter in London, to attend at an hospital. About this, of course, I shall apply to Carlisle; and, if it should so

* To the “Specimens of English Poets.”

happen that you do not see him here, shall give him a direction to you when he goes to London.

R. S.”

The following lines, written immediately after hearing of the event mentioned in the commencement of this letter, and preserved accidentally by a friend to whom he had sent them, may be appropriately inserted here.

“So thou art gone at last, old John,
And hast left all from me:
God give thee rest among the blest,—
I lay no blame to thee.
“Nor marvel I, for though one blood
Through both our veins was flowing,
Full well I know, old man, no love
From thee to me was owing.
“Thou hadst no anxious hopes for me,
In the winning years of infancy,
No joy in my upgrowing;
And when from the world’s beaten way
I turned ’mid rugged paths astray,
No fears where I was going.
“It touched thee not if envy’s voice
Was busy with my name;
Nor did it make thy heart rejoice
To hear of my fair fame.
“Old man, thou liest upon thy bier,
And none for thee will shed a tear!
They’ll give thee a stately funeral,
With coach and hearse, and plume and pall;
But they who follow will grieve no more
Than the mutes who pace with their staves before.
With a light heart and a cheerful face
Will they put mourning on,
And bespeak thee a marble monument.
And think nothing more of Old John.
“An enviable death is his,
Who, leaving none to deplore him,
Hath yet a joy in his passing hour,
Because all he loved have died before him.
The monk, too, hath a joyful end,
And well may welcome death like a friend,
When the crucifix close to his heart is press’d,
And he piously crosses his arms on his breast,
And the brethren stand round him and sing him to rest,
And tell him, as sure he believes, that anon,
Receiving his crown, he shall sit on his throne,
And sing in the choir of the blest.
“But a hopeless sorrow it strikes to the heart,
To think how men like thee depart.—
Unloving and joyless was thy life,
Unlamented was thine end;
And neither in this world nor the next
Hadst thou a single friend:
None to weep for thee on earth—
None to greet thee in heaven’s hall;
Father and mother, sister and brother—
Thy heart had been shut to them all.
“Alas, old man, that this should be!
One brother had raised up seed to thee;
And hadst thou, in their hour of need,
Cherished that dead brother’s seed,
Thrown wide thy doors, and called them in,
How happy thine old age had been!
Thou wert a barren tree, around whose trunk,
Needing support, our tendrils should have clung;
Then had thy sapless boughs
With buds of hope and genial fruit been hang;
Yea, with undying flowers,
And wreaths for ever young.”
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Amelia.

“For many days I have looked for a letter from you,—the three lines announcing your arrival in England being all which have yet reached me. Yes-
terday the
Dr. and I returned home after a five days’ absence, and I was disappointed at finding no tidings of you. We were two days at Lloyd’s; and have had three days’ mountaineering,—one on the way there, two on our return,—through the wildest parts of this wild country, many times wishing you had been with us. One day we lost our way upon the mountains, got upon a summit where there were precipices before us, and found a way down through a fissure, like three sides of a chimney, where we could reach from side to side, and help ourselves with our hands. This chimney-way was considerably higher than any house, and then we had an hour’s descent afterwards over loose stones. Yesterday we mounted Great Gabel,—one of the highest mountains in the country,—and had a magnificent view of the Isle of Man, rising out of a sea of light, for the water lay like a sheet of silver. This was a digression from our straight road, and exceedingly fatiguing it was; however, after we got down we drank five quarts of milk between us, and got home as fresh as larks after a walk of eleven hours. You will find it harder service than walking the deck when you come here.

“Our landlord, who lives in the house adjoining us, has a boat, which is as much at our service as if it were our own;—of this we have voted you commander-in-chief whenever you shall arrive. The lake is about four miles in length, and something between one and two in breadth. However tired you may be of the salt water, I do not think you will have the same objection to fresh when you see this beautiful basin, clear as crystal, and shut in by mountains on
every side except one opening to the N. W. We are very frequently upon it;
Harry and I being both tolerably good boatmen; and sometimes we sit in state and the women row us—a way of manning a boat which will amuse you. The only family with which we are on familiar terms, live, during the summer and autumn, on a little island here—one of the loveliest spots in this wide world. They have one long room, looking on the lake from three windows, affording the most beautiful views; and in that room you may have as much music, dancing, shuttle-cocking, &c. as your heart can desire. They generally embargo us on our water expeditions. I know not whether you like dining under a tree, as well as with the conveniences of chairs and table and a roof over your head—which I confess please me better than a seat upon any moss however cushiony, and in any shade however romantic; if, however, you do, here are some delightful bays at the head of the lake, in any of which we may land; and if you love fishing, you may catch perch enough on the way for the boat’s company, and perhaps a jack or two into the bargain.

“One main advantage which this country possesses over Wales is, that there are no long tracks of desolation to cross between one beautiful spot and another. We are sixteen miles only from Winandermere, and three other lakes are on the way to it. Sixteen only from Wastwater, as many from Ulswater, nine from Buttermere and Crummock. Lloyd expects you will give him a few days—a few they must be; for though I shall be with you, we will not spare you long from
home;—but his house stands delightfully, and puts a large part of the finest scenery within our reach. You will find him very friendly, and will like his
wife much:—she is a great favourite with me. The Bishop of Llandaff lives near them, to whom I have lately been introduced. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Joseph Cottle Esq.

Madoc has not made my fortune. By the state of my account in May last,—that is, twelve months after its publication,—there was a balance due to me (on the plan of dividing the profits) of 3l. 19s 1d. About 180 then remained to be sold, each of which will give me 5s.; but the sale will be rather slower than distillation through a filtering stone. We mean to print a small edition in two vols, without delay, and without alterations, that the quarto may not lose its value.

“Of the many reviewings of this poem I have only seen the Edinburgh, Monthly, and Annual. I sent a copy to Mr. Fox, and Lady Holland told me it was the rule at St. Ann’s Hill to read aloud till eleven, and then retire; but that when they were reading Madoc they often read till the clock struck twelve. In short, I have had as much praise as heart could desire, but not quite so much of the more solid kind of remuneration. . . . . I am preparing for the press the Chronicle of the
Cid,—a very curious monument of old Spanish manners and history, which will make two little volumes, to the great delight of about as many readers as will suffice to take off an edition of 750.

“You suggest to me three Epic subjects, all of them striking, but each liable to the same objection,—that no entire and worthy interest can be attached to the conquering party in either. 1st. William of Normandy is less a hero than Harold. The true light in which that part of our history should be regarded was shown me by William Taylor. The country was not thoroughly converted. Harold favoured the Pagans, and the Normans were helped by the priests. 2dly. Alaric is the chief personage of a French poem by Scudery, which is notoriously worthless. The capture of Rome is in itself an event so striking that it almost palsies one’s feelings; yet nothing resulted which could give a worthy purport to the poem. In this point Theodoric is a better hero: the indispensable requisite, however, in a subject for me is, that the end—the ultimate end—must be worthy of the means. 3dly. The expulsion of the Moriscoes. This is a dreadful history, which I will never torture myself by reading a second time. Besides I am convinced, in opposition to the common opinion, that the Spaniards did wisely in the act of expelling them; tho’ most wickedly in the way of expelling them. One word more about literature, and then to other matters. How goes on the Fall of Cambria, and what are you about?

“My little girl is now two years and a quarter old—a delightful playfellow, of whom I am somewhat
more fond than is fitting. . . . .
Edith is in excellent health: I myself the same barebones as ever, first cousin to an anatomy, but with my usual good health and steady good spirits; neither in habits nor in anything else different from what I was, except that if my upper story is not better furnished, a great deal of good furniture is thrown away.

“. . . . . In spite of the slow sale of Madoc, I cannot but think that it may answer as well for the year’s ways and means to finish the ‘Curse of Kehama,’ and sell the first edition, as to spend the time in criticising other people’s books. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. Southey.”
To John Rickman, Esq.

“You will be glad to hear that my child proves to be of the more worthy gender.

“I would do a great deal to please poor Tobin (indeed, it is doing a good deal to let him inflict an argument upon me), but to write an epilogue is doing too much for anybody. Indeed, were I ever so well disposed to misemploy time, paper, and rhymes, it would be as much out of my reach as the moon is; and I bless my stars for the incapacity, believing that a man who can do such things well cannot do anything better.


“I am also thoroughly busy. Summer is my holyday season, in which I lay in a store of exercise to serve me for the winter, and leave myself as it were lying fallow to the influences of heaven. I am now very hard at Palmerin,—so troublesome a business, that a look before the leap would have prevented the leap altogether. I expected it would only be needful to alter the Propria quæ maribus to their original orthography, and restore the costume where the old translators had omitted it, as being to them foreign or obsolete; but they have so mangled, mutilated, and massacred the manners,—vulgarised, impoverished, and embeggared the language,—so lopped, cropped, and docked the ornaments, that I was fain to set my shoulder stiffly to the wheel, and retranslate about the one-half. As this will not produce me one penny more than if I had reprinted it with all its imperfections on its head, the good conscience with which it is done reconciles me to the loss of time; and I have, moreover, such a true love of romance that the labour is not irksome, tho’ it is hard. To correct a sheet—sixteen pages of the square-sized black letter—is a day’s work; that is, from breakfast till dinner, allowing an hour’s walk, and from tea till supper; and the whole is about sixty sheets.

“Secondly, Espriella is regulated by the printer, who seems as little disposed to hurry me as I am to hurry him.

“Thirdly, the reviewing is come round, of which, in the shape of Missionaries, Catholic Miracles, Bible and Religious Societies, Clarkson, and little Moore (not forgetting Captain Burney), I have more to do
than I at first desired, yet not more than will make a reasonable item on the right side of the
King of Persia’s* books.

“Fourthly, I have done half the Cid, and, whenever I seem sufficiently ahead of other employment, to lie-to for awhile, this is what I go to.

“Lastly, for the Athenæum,—alias Foolæum, for I abominate such titles,—I am making some preparations, meaning, among other things, to print there certain collections of unemployed notes and memoranda, under the title of Omniana. By God’s blessing I shall have done all this by the end of the winter, and come to town early in the spring, to inspect certain books for the Cid at the Museum and at Holland House. God bless you!

R. S.”
To John Rickman, Esq.
“Dec. 23. 1806.
My dear Rickman,

I am left alone to my winter occupations, and truly they are quite sufficient to employ me. Two months, however, if no unlucky interruption prevent, will be sufficient to clear all off, and send Espriella and Palmerin into the world. I have an additional and weighty motive for despatch. The times being South American mad, my account of Brazil, instead

* Artaxerxes, surnamed Longimanus—Longman.

of being the last work in the series, must be the first. There are in the book-case down stairs at your house sixteen bundles of sealed papers. Those papers contain more information respecting South America than his Majesty’s agents have been able to obtain at Lisbon; more, in all probability, than any other person in Europe possesses except one Frenchman, now returned to Paris: he has seen them, and is very likely to get the start of me unless, which is not improbable,
Bonaparte choose to withhold from the world information which would be of specific use to England.

“Concerning these papers, of whose contents I was till last week ignorant, my uncle has written to me, urging me to make all possible speed with this part of the book, and desiring me to offer the information to Government. I enclosed the letter to Wynn, and it may be he will advise me to come up to London upon this business. I hope not. I should rather wash my hands of all other business first, and then can certainly, in half a year, accomplish a large volume, for on this subject there is no collateral information to hunt for. A very few books contain all the printed history, and there will be more difficulty in planning the work than in executing it. There will be business of some consequence in the way of map-making, which will delight Arrowsmith. My uncle has very valuable materials for a map of Brazil.

“This is of so much consequence that it will perhaps be advisable to let the Palmerin sleep, and so have a month’s time. . . . . Wynn’s letter will instruct
me whether to set to work for myself or for the Government; giving them information is, God knows, throwing pearls you know to whom, but, so the pearls be paid for, well. The best thing they could do for me and for them, if they really want information about South America, is to send me to Lisbon for that specific purpose, without any ostensible charge.

“There is nothing in the world like resolute, straightforward honesty; it is sure to conquer in the long run. I have been reading Quaker history, which is worth reading because it proves this, and proves also that institutions can completely new model our nature; for, if the instinct of self-defence be subdued, nothing else is so powerful.

Fox’s death is a loss to me, who had a promise from him, but I will not affect to think it a loss to the country: he lived a year too long. England cannot fall yet, blessed be God! because its inhabitants are Englishmen; but, if any thing could destroy a country, it would be the incurable folly of such governors.

“Have you seen the Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson? If not, by all means read it: it is the history of a right Englishman; and the sketch of English history which it contains from the time of the Reformation is so admirable, that it ought to make even Scotchmen ashamed to mention the name of Hume. I have seldom been so deeply interested by any book as this. . . . .

R. S.”