LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XVII. 1812

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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To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswick, Sept. 8. 1811.
“My dear Scott,

“You will have thought me very remiss in not thanking you sooner for the Vision, if you did not remember that I had been travelling from Dan to Beersheba, and take into consideration how little opportunity can be found for the use of pen and ink in the course of a series of runaway visits, during a journey of nine hundred miles. It was given me at the Admiralty the very day that it arrived there. I opened it on the spot, discovered that a letter to Polwhele had been inclosed to me, in time for Croker to rectify the mistake by making a fair exchange, and thus saving mine from a journey to the Land’s End. If, however, I have not written to you about D.
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 315
Roderick, I have been talking to every body about him. The want of plan and unity is a defect inherent in the very nature of your subject, and it would be just as absurd to censure the Vision for such a defect, as it is to condemn
Kehama because all the agents are not human personages. The execution is a triumphant answer to those persons who have supposed that you could not move with ease in a metre less loose than that of your great poems. To me it appears, on the whole, better written than those greater works, for this very reason—you have taken fewer licences of language, and have united with the majesty of that fine stanza (the most perfect that ever was constructed) an ease which is a perfect contrast to the stiffness of Gertrude of Wyoming.

“It is remarkable that three poets should at once have been employed upon Roderick. I have a tragedy of Landor’s in my desk, of which Count Julian is the hero: it contains some of the finest touches, both of passion and poetry, that I have ever seen. Roderick is also the pre-eminent personage of my own Pelayo, as far as it has yet proceeded. Differing so totally as we do in the complexion and management of the two poems, I was pleased to find one point of curious comparison, in which we have both represented Roderick in the act of confession, and both finished the picture highly. Our representations are so totally different, as to form a perfect contrast; yet each so fitted to the temper in which the confession is made, that it might be sworn, if you had chosen my point of time, you could have written as I have done, and that if I had written of the unrepentant king, I should have conceived of him
exactly like yourself. I copy my own lines, because I think you will be gratified at seeing a parallel passage, which never can be produced except to the honour of both:—

“‘Then Roderick knelt
Before the holy man, and strove to speak:
“Thou see’st,” he cried; “thou see’st”—but memory
And suffocating thoughts represt the word,
And shudderings, like an ague fit, from head
To foot convulsed him. Till at length subduing
His nature to the effort, he exclaimed,
Spreading his hands, and lifting up his face,
As if resolved in penitence to bear
A human eye upon his shame,—“Thou see’st
Roderick the Goth.” That name would have sufficed
To tell its whole abhorred history.
He not the less pursued—“the ravisher!
The cause of all this ruin!” Having said,
In the same posture motionless he knelt,
Arms straightened down, and hands dispread, and eyes
Rais’d to the monk, like one who from his voice
Expected life or death.’”

“I saw but little of Gifford in town, because he was on the point of taking wing for the Isle of Wight when I arrived. The Review seems to have shaken the credit of the Edinburgh, and might shake it still more. The way to attack the enemy with most effect is to take up those very subjects which he has handled the most unfairly, and so to treat them as to force a comparison which must end in our favour. I am about to do this upon the question of Bell and Lancaster—a question on which —— has grossly committed himself.

“You may well suppose that three months’ idleness has brought upon me a heavy accumulation of business. Meantime good materials for the third year’s Register have reached me from Cadiz, and I have collected others respecting Sicily and the Ionian Islands. I saw the last volume on my road, and
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 317
there I could trace your hand in a powerful, but too lenient essay, upon
Jeffrey’s journal.

Believe me,
Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”
To Mr. James White.
“Keswick, Oct. 25. 1811.
“My dear James,

“By this time you are settled at Pembroke, know your way to your rooms, the faces of your fellow collegians, and enough I dare say of a college life to find its duties less formidable, and its habits less agreeable than they are supposed to be. Those habits are said to have undergone a great reformation since I was acquainted with them;—in my time they stood grievously in need of it; but even then a man who had any good moral principles might live as he pleased if he dared make the trial; and however much he might be stared at at first for his singularity, was sure ere long to be respected for it.

“Some dangers beset every man when he enters upon so new a scene of life; that which I apprehend for you is low spirits . . . . . Walk a stated distance every day; and that you may never want a motive for walking, make yourself acquainted with the elements of botany during the winter, that as soon as the flowers come out in the spring you may begin to herbalize. A quarter of an hour every day will make you master of the elements in the course of a very few months. I prescribe for you mentally also, and this is one of the pre-
scriptions; for it is of main importance that you should provide yourself with amusement as well as employment. Pursue no study longer than you can without effort attend to it, and lay it aside whenever it interests you too much: whenever it impresses itself so much upon your mind that you dream of it or lie awake thinking about it, be sure it is then become injurious. Follow my practice of making your latest employment in the day something unconnected with its other pursuits, and you will be able to lay your head upon the pillow like a child.

“One word more and I have done with advice. Do not be solicitous about taking a high degree, or about college honours of any kind. Many a man has killed himself at Cambridge by overworking for mathematical honours; recollect how few the persons are who after they have spent their years in severe study at this branch of science, ever make any use of it afterwards. Your wiser plan should be to look on to that state of life in which you wish and expect to be placed, and to lay in such knowledge as will then turn to account. . . . .

Believe me, my dear James,
Your affectionate friend,
R. Southey.”
To John May, Esq.
“Nov. 2. 1811.
“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . Since our return a larger portion of my time than is either usual or convenient has been
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 319
taken up by the chance society of birds of passage; this place abounds with them during the travelling season; and as there are none of them who find their way to me without some lawful introduction, so there are few who have not something about them to make their company agreeable for the little time that it lasts.

“You have seen my article upon Bell and the Dragon in the Quarterly. It is decisive as to the point of originality, and would have been the heaviest blow the Edinburgh has ever received if all the shot of my heavy artillery had not been drawn before the guns were fired. I am going to reprint it separately with some enlargement, for the purpose of setting the question at rest, and making the public understand what the new system is, which is very little understood, and doing justice to Dr. Bell, whom I regard as one of the greatest benefactors to his species. . . . . The case is not a matter of opinion, but rests upon recorded and stated facts. I tread, therefore, upon sure ground, and taking advantage of this, I shall not lose the opportunity of repaying some of my numerous obligations to the Edinburgh Review. . . . .

“Probably you have seen the manner in which the Edinburgh Annual Register is twice noticed* in their last number. . . . . When the first year’s volume appeared it was not even suspected who was the historian; and Jeffrey, a day or two after its publication, went for the first time into the publisher’s shop expressly to tell him how much he admired the history, saying that though he differed from the

* It was recommended for government prosecution.

writer on many, indeed on most points, he nevertheless must declare that it was liberal, independent and spirited throughout, the best piece of contemporary history which had appeared for twenty years. When the second volume appeared he knew who was the author!

Believe me,
Very affectionately yours,
R. Southey.”
To the Rev. Herbert Hill.
“Dec. 31. 1811.
“My dear Uncle,

“The hint which I threw out concerning our English martyrs in writing upon the evangelical sects is likely to mature into something of importance. I conceived a plan which Dr. Bell and the Bishop of Meath took up warmly, and the former has in some degree bound me to execute it by sending down Fox’s Book of Martyrs as soon as he reached London. The projected outline is briefly this—Under the title of the Book of the Church, to give what should be at once the philosophy and the anthology of our church history, so written as to be addressed to the hearts of the young and the understandings of the old; for it will be placed on the establishment of the national schools. It begins with an account of the various false religions of our different ancestors, British, Roman, and Saxon, with the mischievous temporal consequences of those superstitions, being the evils from which the country was delivered by its conversion to Christianity. 2dly, A picture of popery and the evils from which the Reformation delivered us.
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 321
3dly, Puritanism rampant, from which the restoration of the church rescued us. Lastly, Methodism, from which the Establishment preserves us. These parts to be connected by an historical thread, containing whatever is most impressive in the acts and monuments of the English church. How beautiful a work may be composed upon such a plan (which from its very nature excludes whatever is uninviting or tedious) you will at once perceive. The civil history would form a companion work upon a similar plan, called the Book of the Constitution, showing the gradual but uniform amelioration of society; and the direct object of both would be to make the rising generation feel and understand the blessings of their inheritance. . . . .

“I am well stored with materials, having all the republished chronicles and Hooker—the only controversial work which it will be at all necessary to consult. The other books which I want I have ordered: they are Burnett and the Church Histories of Fuller, and of the stiff old non-juror, Jeremy Collier. I will send the manuscript to you before it goes to the press, for it will require an inspecting eye. Meantime, if any thing occur to you which would correct or improve the plan, such as you here see it, do not omit to communicate your advice and opinion. I have a strong persuasion that both these works may be made of great, extensive, and permanent usefulness. . . . .

R. S.”
To Dr. Gooch.
“Keswick, Dec. 15. 1811.
“My dear Gooch,

“I have a letter from William Taylor, of a dismal character. After stating the sum of their losses, he says, ‘we cannot subsist upon the interest of what remains. The capital will last our joint lives, but I shall be abandoned to a voluntary interment in the same grave with my parents. O! that nature would realise this most convenient doom!’

“Now, my reason for transcribing this passage to you is, because it made a deep impression on me, and haunts me when I lie down at night. You know more of Norwich than I do, and more of William Taylor’s connections. Who is most in his confidence? is it ——? I thought of writing directly to him. . . . . But what I would say to the person who may be most likely to enter into my wishes is, that William Taylor’s friends should raise such an annuity as would secure him from penury, and at once relieve his mind from the apprehensions of it; either raising a sum sufficient to purchase it (the best way, because the least liable to accidents), or by yearly contributions; Dr. Sayers (or any other the fittest person) receiving, and regularly paying it; and he never knowing particularly from whence it comes, but merely that it is his. The former plan is the best, because, in that case, there would be only to purchase the annuity, and put the security into his hands; and this might be done without any person appearing in it, the office transmitting him the necessary documents. This, of course, is a thing upon which the very wind must not blow. Ten
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 323
years hence—or, perhaps, five—if the least desirable of these plans should be found most practicable, you and
Harry may be able to co-operate in it. I am ready now, either with a yearly ten pounds, or with fifty at once. If more were in my power, more should be done: but, if his friends do not love him well enough to secure him at least 100l. a year, one way or other, the world is worse than I thought it.

“You do not say whether you have seen Sharon Turner. That introduction was the best I could give you, because I think it would give you a friend. You could not fail to esteem and love Turner when you knew him. He is the happiest man I have ever known; and that could not be the case if he were not a very wise as well as a very good one.

“God bless you!

R. Southey.”

It has been already noticed that the Edinburgh Review had recommended the Annual Register for government prosecution, on account of the boldness of its language on the Spanish question, and also, especially, with respect to some remarks on Mr. Whitbread. It appears that there was some likelihood of this “friendly” hint being taken, and to this the following letter refers.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Jan. 4. 1812.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Concerning Whitbread, I believe, in every instance, the text of his speech will justify the comment.
You have heard of taking the wrong sow by the ear: he had better take a wild boar by the ear than haul me up to London upon this quarrel. I should tell him it was true that I had said his speeches were translated into French, and circulated through all the departments of France, but I had not said—what has since come to my knowledge—that, when they were thus circulated, nobody believed them genuine; nobody believed it possible that such speeches could have been uttered by an Englishman. I should ask the House (that is, his side of the House; and, of course, in that humble language becoming a person at the bar) at what time they would be pleased to let their transactions become matter for history; and I should give the party a gentle hint not to delay that time too long, for reputations, like every thing else, find their level; and if he, and such as he, do not get into history soon, they may run a risk of not getting into it at all. I should speak of the situation in which Spain and England stand to each other, and contrast my own feelings with those which he has continually expressed. I should appeal to the whole tenour of the book whether the design of the writer was to vilify Parliament, or to bring the Government into contempt. And, as an Englishman, a man of letters, and an historian, I should claim my privileges.

“Phillidor has made his appearance, and shall be returned in the first parcel, with the reviewal of Azara. Out of pure conscience, I have promised Gifford to take all these South American travellers myself, because I cannot bear that the Edinburgh should gain credit upon this subject, when I am so much better versed in it than any other man in
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 325
England possibly can be. I am heartily glad the state of
South America is in Blanco’s hands; it will be highly useful to the Review, and, I hope, to himself also; for he works hard, with little benefit, and, when he has once tried his strength in the Review, it will not be difficult to find other appropriate subjects for him. I have a high respect for this man’s moral and intellectual character, and earnestly wish it were possible to obtain a pension, which never could be more properly bestowed. Canning has smitten the Quarterly with a dead palsy upon the Catholic Question, or else Blanco could supply such an exposition upon that subject as would entitle him to anything that Mr. Perceval could give.

“Here is a man at Keswick, who acts upon me as my own ghost would do. He is just what I was in 1794. His name is Shelley, son to the member for Shoreham; with 6000l. a year entailed upon him, and as much more in his father’s power to cut off. Beginning with romances of ghosts and murder, and with poetry at Eton, he passed, at Oxford, into metaphysics; printed half-a-dozen pages, which he entitled ‘The Necessity of Atheism;’ sent one anonymously to Coplestone, in expectation, I suppose, of converting him; was expelled in consequence; married a girl of seventeen, after being turned out of doors by his father; and here they both are, in lodgings, living upon 200l. a year, which her father allows them. He is come to the fittest physician in the world. At present he has got to the Pantheistic stage of philosophy, and, in the course of a week, I expect he will be a Berkleyan, for I have put him
upon a course of
Berkeley. It has surprised him a good deal to meet, for the first time in his life, with a man who perfectly understands him, and does him full justice. I tell him that all the difference between us is that he is nineteen, and I am thirty-seven; and I dare say it will not be very long before I shall succeed in convincing him that he may be a true philosopher, and do a great deal of good, with 6000l. a year; the thought of which troubles him a great deal more at present than ever the want of sixpence (for I have known such a want) did me. . . . . God help us! the world wants mending, though he did not set about it exactly in the right way. God bless you, Grosvenor!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Jan. 17. 1812.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“My household is affected with a complaint which I take at this time to be epidemic,—the fear of ugly fellows. In Mrs. Coleridge, perhaps, this may have originated in her dislike to you, but the newspapers have increased it. Every day brings bloody news from Carlisle, Cockermouth, &c.; last night half the people in Keswick sat up, alarmed by two strangers, who, according to all accounts, were certainly ‘no beauties,’ and I was obliged to take down a rusty gun and manfully load it for the satisfaction of the family. The gun has been properly cleaned to-day, and woe betide him who may be destined to receive its contents. But, in sober
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 327
truth, the ugly fellows abound here as well as in London; we are indebted for them partly to the manufactories at Carlisle, and partly to that distinguished patriot ——, who encourages the importation of Irishmen. I am looking for a dog, and I want you to provide me with more convenient arms than this old Spanish fowling piece. Buy for me, therefore, a brace of pistols, the plainer and cheaper the better, so they are good; that is, so they will stand fire without danger of bursting. Sights and hair-triggers may be dispensed with, as they are neither for show nor for duelling. And I have leave from my governess—nay, more than that, she has desired me—to send for
A Watchman’s Rattle!
Think of that,
G. C. B.!!!—think of that!—designed by her to give the alarm when the ugly fellows come. But oh, Grosvenor, the glorious tunes, the solos and bravuras, that I shall play upon that noble musical instrument before any such fellow makes his appearance.* God bless you!

R. S.”
To Mr. James White.
“Keswick, Feb. 16, 1812.
“My dear James,

“I was glad to hear from Neville that you were comfortably settled, and growing attached to college; and glad to hear afterwards from yourself that you

* These musical anticipations were fully realised, and the performance of them was one of the amusements of my childhood.

begin to feel your ground. There is no part of my own life which I remember with so little pleasure as that which was passed at the university; not that it has left behind it any cause of self-reproach, but I had many causes of disquietude and unhappiness,—some imaginary, and some, God knows, real enough. And I cannot think of the place without pain, because of the men with whom I there lived in the closest intimacy of daily and almost hourly intercourse; those whom I loved best are dead, and there are some whom I never have seen since we parted there, and possibly never shall see more. It is with this feeling I believe, more or less, that every man who has any feeling always remembers college. Seven years ago I walked through Oxford on a fine summer morning, just after sunrise, while the stage was changing horses: I went under the windows of what had formerly been my own rooms; the majesty of the place was heightened by the perfect silence of the streets, and it had never before appeared to me half so majestic or half so beautiful. But I would rather go a day’s journey round than pass through that city again, especially in the day-time, when the streets are full. Other places in which I have been an inhabitant would not make the same impression; there is an enduring sameness in a university like that of the sea and mountains. It is the same in our age that it was in our youth; the same figures fill the streets, and the knowledge that they are not the same persons brings home the sense of change which is of all things the most mournful.

“I see your name to the Bible Society, concerning which I have read Herbert Marsh’spamphlet
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 329
Dr. Clarke’s reply. Marsh may possibly be fond of controversy, because he knows his strength. He is a clear logical writer, and in these days a little logic goes a great way, for of all things it is that in which the writers of this generation are most deficient. His reasoning is to me completely satisfactory as to these two points,—that where Christians of all denominations combine for the purpose either of spreading Christianity or distributing Bibles in other countries, the cause of the general church is promoted thereby; but that when they combine together at home, as that condition can only be effected by a concession on the part of the churchmen, by that concession the Church of England is proportionally weakened. Nothing can be clearer. But though the Margaret Professor is perfectly right in his views, and his antagonists are mere children when compared to him, I think he has been injudicious in exciting the controversy, because upon that statement of the case which his opponents will make, and which appears at first sight to be a perfectly fair one, everybody must conclude him to be in the wrong, and very few persons will take the trouble of looking farther. And I think his object might have been effected by a little management without much difficulty,—by an arrangement among the Church members of the Society that the Liturgy should be appended to the Bibles which they distributed at home, or by a Prayer-book Society. A man should be very careful how he engages in a controversy, in which, however right he may be, he is certain to appear wrong to the multitude; and he ought to be especially careful, when he thus exposes
not his own character alone but that of the body to which he belongs. Besides, the mischief which Marsh perceives is not very great, because I apprehend that at least nine tenths of the business of B. Society relates to foreign countries. But I agree with him entirely as to the mischief that lurks under the name of liberality; by which is meant not an indulgence to the opinions of other communities, but an indifference to your own.

“Do you attend the Divinity Lectures? Herbert Marsh is likely to be a good lecturer, being a thorough master of his subject, and a reasoner of the old school.

“Give me a letter when you feel inclined; and believe me,

My dear James,
Your affectionate friend,
Robert Southey.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.
“Keswick, April 15. 1812.
“My dear Wynn,

“What a number of recollections crowd upon me when I think of ——! Of all our school companions, how very few of them are there whose lots in life have proved to be what might have been expected for them. You and Bedford have gone on each in your natural courses, and are to be found just where and what I should have looked to find, if I had waked after a Nourjahad sleep of twenty years. The same thing might be said of me, if my local habitation were not here at the end of the map. I am
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 331
leading the life which is convenient for me, and following the pursuits to which, from my earliest boyhood, I was so strongly predisposed. A less troubled youth would probably have led to a less happy manhood. I should have thought less and studied less, felt less and suffered less. Now, for all that I have felt and suffered, I know that I am the better; and God knows that I have yet much to think, and to study, and to do. It is now eighteen years since you and I used to sit till midnight over your claret in Skeleton Corner,—half your life and almost half mine. During that time we have both of us rather grown than changed, and accident has had as little to do with our circumstances as with our character. “Your godson,
Herbert, who is just old enough to be delighted with the Old Woman of Berkeley, tells me he means, when he is a man, to be a poet like his father. It will be time enough ten years hence, if we live so long, to take thought as to what he shall be; the only care I need take at present, is, what should be done, in case of my death, for the provision of my family. I have insured my life for 1000l. I had calculated upon my copyrights as likely to prove valuable when it would become the humour of the day to regret me; but to my great surprise, I find the booksellers interpret the terms of their taking the risk and sharing the profit, as an actual surrender to them of half the property in perpetuity. Townsend, the traveller, who was as much deceived in this case as I have been, was about to try the point with them. I know not what prevented him. . . . . This is a flagrant and cruel injustice . . . . . If I live, and preserve my health and faculties, I
have no doubt of realising a decent competency in twenty years; but twenty years is almost as much as my chances of life would be reckoned at in tables of calculation. . . . .

“One thing which I will do whenever I can afford leisure for the task, will be, to write and leave behind me my own Memoirs: they will contain so much of the literary history of the times, as to have a permanent value on that account. This would prove a good post obit, for there can be no doubt I shall be sufficiently talked of when I am gone.

“Such are my ways and means for the future; but if I should not live to provide more than the very little which is already done, then, indeed, the exertion of some friends would be required. An arrangement might be made with Longman to allow of a subscription edition of my works: this would be productive in proportion to the efforts that were used. I should hope, also, in such a case, that the continuance of my pension might be looked for from either of the present parties in the state, through Perceval, or Canning, or yourself.

“This is a sort of testamentary letter. It is fit there should be one; and to whom, my dear Wynn, could it so properly be addressed? By God’s blessing, I may yet live to make all necessary provision myself. My means are now improving every year. I am up the hill of difficulty, and shall very soon get rid of the burthen which has impeded me In the ascent. I have some arrangements with Murray, which are likely to prove more profitable than any former speculations; and should I succeed In obtaining the office which the old Frenchman fills at present
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 333
so properly,—and which is the only thing for which I have the slightest ambition,—it would soon put me in possession of the utmost I could want or wish for, inasmuch as I could lay by the whole income, and the title would be, in a great degree, productive.

“Hitherto I have been highly favoured. A healthy body, an active mind, and a cheerful heart are the three best boons nature can bestow; and, God be praised, no man ever enjoyed them more perfectly. My skin and bones scarcely know what an ailment is, my mind is ever on the alert, and yet, when its work is done, becomes as tranquil as a baby; and my spirits invincibly good. Would they have been so, or could I have been what I am, if you had not been ‘for so many years my stay and support? I believe not; yet you had been so long my familiar friend, that I felt no more sense of dependence in receiving my main, and at one time sole, subsistence from you, than if you had been my brother: it was being done to as I would have done.

R. S.”

The appointment of Historiographer, to which my father refers in the letter, appears to have fallen vacant almost immediately. Application was at once made for it in his behalf in several influential quarters; but it seems to have been filled up with extraordinary haste, having been bestowed upon Dr. Stanier Clarke, Librarian to the Prince Regent. It turned out ultimately that there was no salary attached to the office, the appointment being merely honorary.

The next letter was written immediately on hearing of the murder of Mr. Perceval.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, May 14. 1812.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“In spite of myself I have been weeping; this has relieved the throbbings of my head; but my mind is overcharged and must pour itself out. I am going to write something upon the state of popular feeling, which will probably appear in the Courier, where it will obtain the readiest and widest circulation. Enough to alarm the people I shall be able to say; but I would fain alarm the Government, and if this were done in public they would think it imprudent, and, indeed, it would be so.

“I shall probably begin with what you say of the sensation occasioned by this most fatal event, and then give the reverse of your account as I have received it from Coleridge; what he heard in a pothouse into which he went on the night of the murder, not more to quench his thirst than for the purpose of hearing what the populace would say. Did I not speak to you with ominous truth upon this subject in one of my last hasty letters? This country is upon the brink of the most dreadful of all conceivable states—an insurrection of the poor against the rich; and if by some providential infatuation, the Burdettites had not continued to insult the soldiers, the existing government would not be worth a week’s purchase, nor any throat which could be supposed to be worth cutting, safe for a month longer.

“You know, Grosvenor, I am no aguish politician, nor is this a sudden apprehension which has seized me. Look to what I have said of the effect of Mrs. Clarke’s
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 335
business upon the public in the last year’s
Register, and look to the remarks upon the tendency of manufactures to this state in Espriella, written five years ago. Things are in that state at this time that nothing but the army preserves us: it is the single plank between us and the red sea of an English Jacquerie,—a Bellum Servile; not provoked, as both those convulsions were, by grievous oppression, but prepared by the inevitable tendency of the manufacturing system, and hastened on by the folly of a besotted faction, and the wickedness of a few individuals. The end of these things is full of evil, even upon the happiest termination; for the loss of liberty is the penalty which has always been paid for the abuse of it. But we must not now employ our thoughts upon the danger of our own victory, there Is but too much yet to be done to render the victory certain.

“The first step should be the immediate renewal of associations for the protection of our lives and properties, and of the British constitution; with the re-establishment to the utmost possible extent of the volunteers,—as effective a force against a mob of united Englishmen as they would be inefficient in the first shock of an invasion. This may be safely said and pressed upon the Government and the people; what I dare not say publicly, is that there is yet danger from the army,—that horrid flogging, for the abolition of which Burdett has been suffered to appear as the advocate! Oh that Perceval had prevented this popularity, by coming forward himself as the soldier’s friend! He has good works enough for his good name, as well as for his soul’s rest; but this would have remained for his colleagues and for the country.


“This of course cannot be touched upon immediately, for it would be too obviously an act of fear; but if I knew the ministers, I would urgently press upon them the wisdom of granting some boon to the soldiers,—something which, at little cost to the nation, would yet come home to the feelings of every individual in the army. The mere institution of honorary rewards would do this,—fifty pounds in copper medals would go farther than as many thousands in bounties towards recruiting it hereafter. But I would couple it with something more; for instance, ten or twenty of the oldest men, or oldest soldiers, in every regiment which distinguished itself in the two late assaults, should have their discharge, with full pay for life, or an increase of pay if they chose to serve on. Do not think that these things are inefficacious or beneath the notice of statesmen. Why is it that poets move the heart of men, but because they understand the feelings of men, and it is by their feelings that they may be best governed. Look at the agitators; they address themselves to the passions of the mob, and who does not perceive with what tremendous effect!

“I wish you would read this to Gifford or to Herries, because I am sure that these cheap and easy measures would go far toward winning the affections of the soldiers at these perilous times. Other topics I shall speak of elsewhere—the establishment of a system of parochial education, and the necessity of colonial schemes as opening an issue in the distempered body politic. This will be for the Quarterly. Vigorous measures, I trust in God, will be taken while the feelings of the sound class are in a state
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 337
to favour them. This murder, though committed publicly by a madman, has been made the act and deed of the populace. Shocking as this appears, so it is and so it must be considered. With timely vigour, the innocent blood which has been shed may prove an acceptable sacrifice and save us; otherwise it is but the opening of the flood-gates.

“I thought of poor Herries as soon as I could think of any thing. The loss which the country has sustained I can scarcely dare to contemplate. There seems nothing to look to but the Wellesleys, with Canning, Huskisson for Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in all likelihood Sir James Mackintosh, who is sure to take the strongest side, and his talents will make him a powerful support to any party. Yet in this train there seems to follow a long catalogue of dangers: Catholic concessions, and next, by aid of all the admitted enemies of the Church, the sale of tithes to supply the necessities of the Government; a measure which will be as certainly popular as it will be ultimately ruinous to the Church and most fatal to the country. There will be a glorious war to console us; but under such circumstances I shall look to that war with the painful thought that we may be repaid for our services to the Spaniards by finding an asylum in Spain when England will have lost all that our fathers purchased for us so dearly!

“God bless you!

R. Southey.

“Tell Gifford I shall be ready for him with the French Biography, which will be a sketch of the Revolution, introducing an examination of our own state
as tending towards the same gulf. Would to God it were not so well timed! What has passed seems like a dream to me—a sort of nightmare that overlays and oppresses my thoughts and feelings.”

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, May 16. 1812.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“I have myself so strong a sense of Mr. Perceval’s public merits, that I cannot help writing to you to say how much I wish that a statue might be erected to him. This could only be done by subscription; but surely such a subscription might soon be filled, if his friends think it advisable. Suggest this to Herries; and if the thing should be begun, when the list has the proper names to begin with, put mine down for five guineas, which could not at this time be better employed.

“The fit place for this statue would be the spot where he fell. Permission to place it there would no doubt be obtained, and the opposition made to it would only recoil upon his political enemies.

“I have often been grieved by public events, but never so depressed by any as by this. It is not the shock which has produced this; nor the extent of private misery which this wretched madman has occasioned, though I can scarcely refrain from tears while I write. It is my deep and ominous sense of danger to the country, from the Burdettites on one hand, and from Catholic concessions on the other. You know I am no high-church bigot; it would be impossible for me to subscribe to the Church Ar-
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 339
ticles. Upon the mysterious points I rather withhold assent than refuse it; not presuming to define in my own imperfect conceptions what has been left indefinite. But I am convinced that the overthrow of the Church establishment would bring with it the greatest calamities for us and for our children. If any man could have saved it, it was
Mr. Perceval. The repeal of the Test Act will let in Catholics, and invite more Dissenters. When the present Duke of Norfolk dies, you will have Catholic members for all his boroughs. All these parties will join in plundering the Church. No man is more thankful for the English Reformation than I am; but nearly a century and a half elapsed before the evils which it necessarily originated had subsided.

“As for conciliating the wild Irish by such concessions, the notion is so preposterous, that when I know a man of understanding can maintain such an opinion, it makes me sick at heart to think upon what sandy foundations every political fabric seems to rest!

“I have strayed on unintentionally. Go to Herries, and if he will enter into my feelings about the statue, let no time be lost. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“May 17. 1812.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“I received a note from Lord Lonsdale on Saturday, enclosing a reply from Lord Hertford to his
application; which reply states that a previous arrangement had been made for the office of historiographer. Thinking you would be likely to know this as soon as myself, I did not write to you. My interest was better than I expected. Upon Lord Lonsdale I had reckoned; but
Scott wrote for me to Lord Melville, and seemed to depend upon success. I have now done with the state lottery. Of all things possible I most desired an appointment at Lisbon; if it had been given me when it was desired, and when it would have been honourable in Fox so to have given it, knowing as he did my motive for wishing it, it would have involved me (owing to the subsequent troubles) in pecuniary difficulties which perhaps I should never have surmounted. That hope having failed, I looked to that good ship the Historiographer, believing myself better qualified for the post than most men, and, more than any other man, ambitious of fulfilling its duties; but that good ship, it seems, is still destined to be so ill manned as to be perfectly useless.

“This evening I have a letter from Canning, couched in the most handsome and friendly terms. He does not know that the office is disposed of, but hints at difficulties in the way of his obtaining it (even supposing he were in power), which Gifford has explained. He concludes with expressions and professions of good will, which I doubt not are sincere. But there is nothing to which I can look forward.

“Say to Gifford that I must beg him to end with my article instead of beginning with it. I am close pressed with the Register, which this week will bring,
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 341
I hope and trust, to a conclusion.
Mr. Ballantyne’s historiographer is well paid, but the office is no sinecure.

“I wish you were here to see the country in full beauty. Your godson has just learnt to read Greek, and I expect in my next parcel a grammar and vocabulary for him. He promises well, if it please God that he should live. God bless you!

R. S.”
To J. Rickman, Esq.
“May 18. 1812.
“My dear Rickman,

“The fate of poor Perceval has made me quite unhappy ever since I heard of it, not merely from the shock and the private misery which it is quite impossible to put out of mind, but from the whole train of evils to which this is but the beginning. I would fain have believed the report that Mr. Abbott was to take his place in the House of Commons, because, if he could have found tongue, I knew where whatever else might have been wanting was to be found. But it was not likely that he should quit a better situation for one of so much anxiety and labour. W—— and C——, I doubt not, ratted upon the Catholic question because they expected the Prince upon that ground would eject Perceval, and then they should have a better chance than the Early Friends. If they come in, as I fear they will, we may have the war carried on, but we shall have Catholic concessions, after which the Church property is not worth seven years’ purchase; they will sell
the tithes; and the next step will be to put up the Establishment to sale in the way of contracts; the minds of the people (which, God knows, need no further poison) will then be totally unsettled, and the ship will part from her last cable on a lee shore in the height of the storm. At this moment the army is the single plank between us and destruction; and I believe the only thing doubtful is whether we shall have a military despotism before we go through the horrors of a bellum servile, or after it. This I am certain of, that nothing but an immediate suspension of the liberty of debate and the liberty of the press can preserve us. Were I minister, I would instantly suspend the Habeas Corpus, and have every Jacobin journalist confined, so that it should not be possible for them to continue their treasonable vocation. There they should stay till it would be safe to let them out, which it might be in some seven years. I would clear the gallery whenever one of the agitators rose to speak, and if the speech were printed, I would teach him that his privilege of attempting to excite rebellion did not extend beyond the walls of Parliament; that he might talk treason to those walls as long as he pleased, but that if he printed treason he was then answerable to the vengeance of his country. I did not forget* the main question about reading. One

* “What shall I say of the unhappy event which has happened here? I expected Mr. Perceval to be murdered; but I had expected it from the Burdettites and others rendered infuriate by the poison they imbibe from sixteen newspapers, emulous in violence and mischief. In reading your little book about Lancaster, I do not find that you discuss the main question, whether the mob can be conveniently taught reading while the liberty of the press exists as at present. Every one who reads at all reads a Sunday newspaper, not the

Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 343
mouth suffices for a dozen or a score pair of ears in the tap-rooms and pot-houses, where
Cobbett and Hunt are read as the evangelists of the populace. There is no way of securing the people against this sort of poison but by the old receipt of Mithridates,—dieting them from their childhood with antidotes, and making them as ready to die for their church and state as the Spaniards. We are beginning to attempt this when it is too late. A judicial fatuity seems to have been sent among us. Romanists, sectarians of every kind, your liberality men, and your philosophers of every kind and of every degree of folly and emptiness, are united for the blessed purpose of plucking up old principles by the roots, each for their own separate ends, but all sure of meeting with the same end if they are successful. We who see this danger have no power to prevent it, and they who have the power cannot be made to see it. . . . .

“This is a melancholy strain. We must, however, work the ship till it sinks; and a vigorous minister might take advantage of the feelings of the sound part of the country at the moment, and the avowal which the Burdettites have made for strong measures of prevention. . . . . I would give the poor gratuitous education in parochial schools,—a boon which all among them who care for their children would rightly estimate; and if the work of coercion kept pace with that of conciliation, we

Bible; and if any man before doubted the efficacy of that prescription, the behaviour of the mob upon Mr. P.’s death may teach them better knowledge.”—J. R. to R. S., May 16. 1812.

might hold on till our battle in Spain ended in the overthrow of the enemy. But where is the dictator who is to save the commonwealth?
Perceval had a character which was worth as much as his talents. The only statesman who has these advantages in any approaching degree is Lord Sidmouth, but he wants those abilities which in Perceval seemed always to grow according to the measure of the occasion. Yet he would be the best head of a ministry, for the weight which his good intentions would give him. Vansittart would do for Chancellor of Exchequer, if there were any other efficient minister in the Commons.

“I am going to write upon the French Revolution for the Quarterly Review,—a well-timed subject: the evil is, that it is writing to those readers who are in the main of the same way of thinking. Our contemporaries read, not in the hope of being instructed, but to have their own opinions flattered.

Yours truly,
R. S.”

The only recreation my father permitted himself during this summer consisted of an excursion into the neighbouring county of Durham, where he had now two brothers residing; and a pedestrian tour from thence home through part of Yorkshire. His account of a visit to Rokeby will be read with interest.

To Mrs. Southey.
“Settle, July 23. 1812.
“My dear Edith,

“We left St. Helen’s after an early breakfast on
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 345
Tuesday, with
Tom in company; looked at Raby and Bernard Castle, and made our way to the porter’s lodge at Rokeby. . . . . A sturdy old woman, faithful to her orders, refused us admittance, saying that if we were going to the Hall we might go in, but if not we must not enter the grounds; nor would she let us in till we had promised to call at the Hall. Accordingly, against the grain, in observance of this promise, to the house I went, and having first inquired if Walter Scott was there, requested permission to see the grounds. Mr. Morritt was not within, but the permission was granted; and in ten minutes after, the footman came running to say we might see the house also, and we might fish if we pleased. I excused myself from seeing the house, saying we were going on, and returning a due number of thanks, &c. But presently we met Mr. and Mrs. M. in the walk by the river side, and were, as you may suppose, obliged to dine and sleep there; their hospitality being so pressed upon us that I could not continue to refuse it without rudeness. Behold the lion, then, in a den perfectly worthy of him, eating grapes and pears and drinking claret. The grounds are the finest things of the kind I have ever seen. A little in the manner of Downton, more resembling Lowther, but the Greta at Rokeby affords finer scenery than either. There is a summerhouse overlooking it, the inside of which was ornamented by Mason the poet: one day he set the whole family to work in cutting out ornaments in coloured paper from antique designs, directing the whole himself. It is still in good preservation, and will, doubtless, be preserved as long as a rag re-
mains. This river, in 1771, rose in the most extraordinary manner during what is still called the great flood. There is a bridge close by the summer-house at least sixty feet above the water; against this bridge and its side the river piled up an immense dam of trees and rubbish, which it had swept before it; at length down comes a stone of such a size that it knocked down Greta Bridge by the way, knocked away the whole mass of trees, carried off the second bridge, and lodged some little way beyond it upon the bank, breaking into three or four pieces.
Playfair the other day estimated the weight of this stone at about seventy-eight tons; the most wonderful instance, he said, he had ever heard of of the power of water. Before this stone came down, one of the trees had blocked up an old man and his wife who inhabited a room under the summer-house; the branches broke their windows, and a great bough barred the door, meantime the water, usually some twenty feet below, was on a level with it. The people of the house came to their relief, and sawed the bough off to let them out, and the windows remain as they were left, a memorial of this most extraordinary flood.

Mr. Morritt’s father bought the house of Sir Thomas Robinson, well known in his day by the names of Long Robinson and Long Sir Thomas. You may recollect a good epigram upon this man:—
“‘Unlike to Robinson shall be my song,
It shall be witty,—and it sha’nt be long.’
Long Sir Thomas found a portrait of
Richardson in the house: thinking Mr. Richardson a very unfit personage to be suspended in effigy among lords,
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 347
ladies, and baronets, he ordered the painter to put him on the star and blue riband, and then christened the picture
Sir Robert Walpole. You will easily imagine Mr. Morritt will not suffer the portrait to be restored. This, however, is not the most extraordinary picture in the room. That is one of Sir T.’s intended improvements, representing the river, which now flows over the finest rocky bed I ever beheld, metamorphosed by four dams into a piece of water as smooth and as still as a canal, and elevated by the same operation so as to appear at the end of a smooth shaven green. Mr. M. shows this with great glee. He has brought there from our country the stone fern and the Osmunda regalis.* Among his pictures is a Madonna by Guido; he mentioned this to a master of a college, whose name I am sorry to say that I have forgotten, for the gentleman in reply pointed to a picture above representing an aunt of Mr. Morritt’s (I believe), dressed in the very pink of the mode, and asked if that lady was the Madonna!

“I am sorry, too, that I forgot to ask if this was the lady whose needle-work is in the house. Mr. M. had an aunt who taught Miss Linwood. Wordsworth thought her pictures quite as good. In one respect they may be better, for she made her stitches athwart and across, exactly as the strokes of the original pictures. Miss L. (Mr. M. says) makes her stitches all in one way. This lady had great difficulty about her worsted, and could only suit herself by buying damaged quantities, thus obtaining shades

* The largest of the fern tribe, growing to the height of five and six feet—a rare plant even in its own districts. The finest specimens are on the river Rotha.

which would else have been unobtainable. The colours fly, and, in order to preserve them as long as possible, prints are fitted in the frames to serve as skreens. The art cost her her life though at an advanced age; it brought on a dead palsy, occasioned by holding her hands so continually in an elevated position working at the canvas. Her last picture is hardly finished; the needle, Mr. M. says, literally dropt from her hands,—death had been creeping on her for twelve years. God bless you!

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 14. 1812.
“My dear Friend,

“Let me trouble you with a commission which, if it be successful, will essentially enrich my store of historical documents. I have just learnt, by accident, that there is in High Holborn a set of Muratori’s great collection of the Italian historians, which, wanting one volume, is on that account offered for sale at a very low price—some five or six pounds, for a collection which I should joyfully purchase at the price of five-and-twenty, were it entire. . . . The three great works which I want are the Acta Sanctorum, the Byzantine Historians, and Muratori; and it would be folly not to purchase this set, notwithstanding it is imperfect, when the loss of one volume so materially diminishes the price, without lessening the utility of the other volumes. I should think it, at half a guinea a volume, a cheap purchase.

“My article upon the French Revolutionists in the—last Quarterly is a good deal the worse for the muti-
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 349
lation which, as usual, it has undergone, but which I regard less than I do the alteration of one single word. Speaking of ‘the pilot that weathered the storm,’ I wrote ‘whatever may have been his merits,’ and this word is altered into ‘transcendant as,’—an alteration of which I shall certainly complain. Had the article been printed entire, it would have done me credit: the hint with which it concludes relates to an essay upon the state of the lower classes, which I have undertaken for the last number.

“I had yesterday the pleasure of cutting open the last volume of the Register,—a greater delight to me than it will be to any other person, I dare be sworn. This is the last and greatest of an author’s pleasures. The London proprietors urge an alteration in the plan, and want it to be brought out in a single volume, like the London Annual Register; the Edinburgh proprietors very wisely negative this proposal, and determine to carry it on upon the present plan, even if they are left to themselves. The change, I think, would have been fatal to the work; whether perseverance may preserve it, is very doubtful. I go to work, however, upon the year 1811, with great good will. You will find, in the second part of this new volume, a life of Lope de Aguirre, written as a chapter for the history of Brazil, but cut out as an excrescence, for which room could not be afforded. The narrative is an extraordinary piece of history, whole and entire of itself, and so little connected with that of any other country, that it would appear equally as an excrescence in the history of Peru, or of Venezuela as in that of Brazil; so it is as well where it is as it could be anywhere else.
. . . . . The
ballad of the Inchcape Rock, in the same volume, is mine also, written many years ago, when I was poet to the Morning Post. I know not to whom it is obliged for its present situation, neither do I know who has been tinkering it. It lay uncorrected among my papers, because I had no use for it, unless I should ever publish a miscellaneous volume of verse. The Life of Nelson is sent to the press. I expect the first proof every day, and hope to finish the manuscript by the beginning of next month. Since my return from my late excursion, I have made good progress with Pelayo, or rather with Roderick, as the poem ought to be called. It pleases me so well, that I begin to wish other persons should be pleased with it as well as myself.

Believe me, ever,
Your affectionate friend,
Robert Southey.”

The “sketch” referred to in the following letter was a very curious production. It consisted of a series of parallelisms between the events and characters in Thalaba and certain portions of the Scriptures, drawn out with great ingenuity, and at considerable length. The view taken was as if the poem had been intended as an allegorical representation of the power and virtues of Faith.

To the Rev. John Martyn Longmire.
“Keswick, Nov. 4. 1812.

“I am truly sensible. Sir, of the honour you have conferred upon me by your letter of October 29th,
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 351
and shall be still farther gratified by a communication of the sketch which is there mentioned. My aim has been to diffuse through my poems a sense of the beautiful and good (το καλόν καί άγαθόν) rather than to aim at the exemplification of any particular moral precept. It has, however, so happened that both in
Thalaba and Kehama, the nature of the story led me to represent examples of faith. At a very early age, indeed, when I was a schoolboy, my imagination was strongly impressed by the mythological fables of different nations. I can trace this to the effect produced upon me when quite a child, by some prints in the Christian’s Magazine, copied, as I afterwards discovered, from the great work of Picart. I got at Picart when I was about fifteen, and soon became as well acquainted with the gods of Asia and America, as with those of Greece and Rome. This led me to conceive a design of rendering every mythology, which had ever extended itself widely, and powerfully influenced the human mind, the basis of a narrative poem. I began with the religion of the Koran, and consequently founded the interest of the story upon that resignation, which is the only virtue it has produced. Had Thalaba been more successful, my whole design would, by this time, have been effected; for prepared as I was with the whole materials for each, and with a general idea of the story, I should assuredly have produced such a poem every year. For popular praise, quoad praise, I cared nothing; but it was of consequence to me, inasmuch as it affected those emoluments with which my worldly circumstances did not permit me to dispense. The sacrifice, therefore, was made to prudence, and it was
not made without reluctance. Kehama lay by me in an unfinished state for many years, and but for a mere accident, might, perhaps, for ever have remained incomplete.

“Whether the design may ever be accomplished, is now doubtful. The inclination and the power remain, but the time has passed away. My literary engagements are numerous and weighty, beyond those of any other individual; and though, by God’s blessing, I enjoy good health, never-failing cheerfulness, and unwearied perseverance, there seems to be more before me than I shall ever live to get through. . . . .

Believe me. Sir,
Yours, with due respect,
Robert Southey.

“My next mythological poem, should I ever write another, would be founded upon the system of Zoroaster. I should represent the chief personage as persecuted by the evil powers, and make every calamity they brought upon him the means of evolving some virtue, which would never else have been called into action. In the hope that the fables of false religion may be made subservient to the true, by exalting and strengthening Christian feelings.”

Spottiswoodes and Shaw,