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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XX. 1815-1816

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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How deep an interest my father had taken in the protracted contest between France and England, the reader has seen; nor will he, I think, if well acquainted with the events of those times, and the state of feeling common among young men of the more educated classes at the close of the last century, be apt to censure him as grossly inconsistent, because he condemned the war at its outset, and augured well
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 125
at the commencement of
Bonaparte’s career, and yet could earnestly desire that war, in its later stages, “to be carried on with all the heart, and all the soul, and all the strength of this mighty empire,” and could rejoice in the downfall
“Of him, who, while Europe crouched under his rod,
Put his trust in his fortune, and not in his God.”
For the original commencement of the war in 1792-3 had been the combination of other European powers against revolutionary France,—a direct act of aggression supported by England, which would now be condemned by most men, and was then naturally denounced by all those who partook, in any degree, of Republican feeling.* But in the lapse of years the merits of the contest became quite altered; and from about the time when Bonaparte assumed the imperial crown, all his acts were marked by aggressiveness and overbearing usurpation. Not to speak of those personal crimes which turned my father’s feelings towards the man into intense abhorrence, his political measures with respect to Switzerland, Holland, Egypt, and Malta were those of an unscrupulous and ambitious conqueror: and the invasion of Portugal, with his insolent treachery towards the Spanish royal family, made his iniquity intolerable. The real difference between my father

* He himself says of the Peace of Amiens: “No act of amnesty ever produced such conciliatory consequences as that peace. It restored in me the English feeling which had long been deadened, and placed me in sympathy with my country; bringing me thus into that natural and healthy state of mind, upon which time, and knowledge, and reflection were sure to produce their proper and salutary effects.”—From a MS. Preface to the Peninsular War.

and the mass of writers and speakers in England at that time, was, that he never laid aside a firm belief that the Providence of God would put an end to Napoleon’s wicked career, and that it was the office of Great Britain to be the principal instrument of that Providence.

But in addition to the national feelings of joy and triumph at the successful termination of this long and arduous warfare, my father had some grounds for rejoicing more peculiar to himself. When one large and influential portion of the community, supported by the Edinburgh Review, prognosticated constantly the hopelessness of the war, the certain triumph of Bonaparte, and especially the folly of hoping to drive him out of Spain,—when their language was, “France has conquered Europe; this is the melancholy truth; shut our eyes to it as we may, there can be no doubt about the matter; for the present, peace and submission must be the lot of the vanquished;” he had stood forth among the boldest and most prominent of those who urged vigorous measures, and prophesied final success. And well might he now rejoice—kindle upon Skiddaw the symbol of triumph; and when contrasting the language he had held with that of those persons, exclaim, “Was I wrong? or has the event corresponded to this confidence?”
Άμέρια έπίλοιποι
Μάρτυρες σοϕώτατοι.
Bear witness Torres Vedras, Salamanca, and Vittoria! Bear witness Orthies and Thoulouse! Bear witness Waterloo!

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 127

With these feelings it was very natural that he should have been among the crowd of English who hastened over to view the scene of that “fell debate,” on the issue of which had so lately hung the fate of Europe.

To quote his own words:—

“And as I once had journeyed to survey
Far off Ourique’s consecrated field,
Where Portugal, the faithful and the bold,
Assumed the symbols of her sacred shield.
More reason now that I should bend my way,
The field of British glory to survey.
“So forth I set upon this pilgrimage,
And took the partner of my life with me,
And one dear girl, just ripe enough of age
Retentively to see what I should see;
That thus, with mutual recollections fraught,
We might bring home a store for after thought.”

Of this journey, as was his custom, he kept a minute and elaborate journal; but it is of too great length, and not possessing sufficient novelty, to be inserted here. The following letters, however, may not be without interest:—

To John Rickman, Esq.
“Brussels, Oct. 2. 1815.
“My dear Rickman,

“I wish you had been with me at Ghent, where the Beguines have their principal establishment. The Beguinage is a remarkable place, at one end of the city, and entirely enclosed. You enter through a gateway, where there is a statue of S. Elizabeth of
Hungary, the patroness of the establishment. The space enclosed is, I should think, not less than the area of the whole town of Keswick or of Christ Church; and the Beguinage itself, unlike almshouse, college, village, or town: a collection of contiguous houses of different sizes, each with a small garden in front, and a high brick wall enclosing them all; over every door the name of some saint under whose protection the house is placed, but no opening through which anything can be seen. There are several streets thus built, with houses on both sides. There is a large church within the enclosure, a burying-ground, without any grave-stones; and a branch from one of the innumerable rivers with which Ghent is intersected, in which the washing of the community is performed from a large boat; and a large piece of ground, planted with trees, where the clothes are dried. One, who was the second person in the community, accosted us, showed us the interior, and gave us such explanation as we desired, for we had with us a lady who spoke French. It is curious that she knew nothing of the origin of her order, and could not even tell by whom it was founded; but I have purchased here the Life of S. Bega, from whom it derived its name, and in this book I expect to find the whole history.

“There are about 6000 Beguines in Brabant and Flanders, to which countries they are confined; 620 were residents in the Beguinage. They were rich before the Revolution. Their lands were then taken from them, and they were obliged to lay aside the dress of the order; but this was only done in part,
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 129
because they were supported by public opinion; and being of evident utility to all ranks, few were disposed to injure them. They receive the sick who come to them, and support and attend them as long as the illness requires. They are bound by no vow, and my informant assured me, with evident pride, that no instance of a Beguine leaving the establishment had ever been known. She herself had entered it after the death of her husband; and I suppose their numbers are generally, if not wholly, filled up by women who seek a retreat, or need an asylum from the world. The property which a Beguine brings with her reverts to her heir-at-law. At the Revolution, the church of the Beguinage was sold, as confiscated religious property. This sale was a mere trick, or, in English phrase, a job to accommodate some partisan of the ruling demagogues with ready money. Such a man bought it, and in the course of two or three weeks resold it to two sisters of the community for 300 Louis d’ors, and they made it over again to the order. There is a refectory, where they dine in common if they please, or, if they please, have dinner sent from thence to their own chambers. We went into three chambers,—small, furnished with little more than necessary comforts, but having all these, and remarkably clean. In one, a Beguine, who had been bed-ridden many years, was sitting up and knitting. We were taken into the chamber, because it amused her to see visitors. She was evidently pleased at seeing us, and remarkably cheerful. In another apartment, two sisters were spinning, one of eighty-five, the other of eighty-three years of age.
In all this there is less information than I should have given you, if my tongue had not been the most antigallican in the world, and the Flemish French not very intelligible to my interpreter. The dress is convenient, but abominably ugly. I shall endeavour to get a doll equipped in it. The place itself I wish you could see; and, indeed, you would find a visit to Bruges and Ghent abundantly overpaid by the sight of those cities (famous as they are in history), and of a country, every inch of which is well husbanded.

“Bruges is, without exception, the most striking place I ever visited, though it derives nothing from situation. It seems to have remained in the same state for above 200 years; nothing has been added, and hardly anything gone to decay. What ruin has occurred there, was the work of frantic revolutionists, who destroyed all the statues in the niches of the Stadtt House, and demolished an adjoining church, one of the finest in the town. The air of antiquity and perfect preservation is such, that it carries you back to the age of the Tudors or of Froissart; and the whole place is in keeping. The poorest inhabitants seem to be well lodged; and if the cultivation of the ground and the well-being of the people be the great objects of civilisation, I should almost conclude that no part of the world was so highly civilised as this. At Ghent there is more business, more inequality, a greater mixture of French manners, and the alloy of vice and misery in proportion. Brussels, in like manner, exceeds Ghent, and is, indeed, called a second Paris. The modern part of the city is per-
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 131
fectly Parisian; the older, and especially the great square, Flemish. . . . .

“We have seen the whole field of battle, or rather all the fields, and vestiges enough of the contest, though it is almost wonderful to observe how soon nature recovers from all her injuries. The fields are cultivated again, and wild flowers are in blossom upon some of the graves.* The Scotchmen—‘those men without breeches’—have the credit of the day at Waterloo.

“The result of what I have collected is an opinion that the present settlement of these countries is not likely to be durable. The people feel at present pretty much as a bird who is rescued from the claw of one eagle by the beak of another. The Rhine is regarded as a proper boundary for Prussia; and it is as little desired that she should pass that river as that France should reach it. There is a spirit of independence here, which has been outraged, but from which much good might arise if it were conciliated. This, I am inclined to think, would be best done by forming a wide confederacy, leaving to each of the confederates its own territory, laws, &c.; and this might be extended from the frontiers of France to the Hanseatic cities. One thing I am certain, that

“The passing season had not yet effaced
The stamp of numerous hoofs impressed by force,
Of cavalry, whose path might still be traced.
Yet Nature everywhere resumed her course;
Low pansies to the sun their purple gave,
And the soft poppy blossomed on the grave.”

such arrangements would satisfy everybody, except those sovereigns who would lose by it. I am aware how short a time I have been in the country, and how liable men, under such circumstances, are to be deceived; by it I have taken the utmost pains to acquire all the knowledge within my reach, and have been singularly fortunate in the means which have fallen in my way. The merest accident brought me acquainted with a Liegois, a great manufacturer, &c., and I have not found that men talk to me with the less confidence because I am not a freemason. . . . .

“We turn our face homeward to-morrow, by way of Maestricht and Louvaine to Brussels. The delay here will possibly oblige us to give up Antwerp. However, on the whole, I have every reason to be pleased with the journey. No month of my life was ever better employed. God bless you!

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Liege, Oct. 6. 1815, six p.m.
“My dear Friend,

“I have a happy habit of making the best of all things; and being just at this time as uncomfortable as the dust and bustle, and all the disagreeables of an inn in a large filthy manufacturing city can make me, I have called for pen, ink, and paper, and am actually writing in the bar, the door open to the yard opposite to this unwiped table, the doors open to the public room, where two men are dining and talking
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 133
French, and a woman servant at my elbow lighting a fire for our party. Presently the folding-doors are to be shut, the ladies are to descend from their chambers, the bar will be kept appropriated to our house, the male part of the company will get into good humour, dinner will be ready, and then I must lay aside the grey goose-quill. As a preliminary to these promised comforts, the servant is mopping the hearth, which is composed (like a tesselated pavement) of little bricks about two inches long by half an inch wide, set within a broad black stone frame. The fuel is of fire-balls, a mixture of pulverised coal and clay. I have seen a great deal, and heard a great deal,—more, indeed, than I can keep pace with in my journal, though I strive hard to do it; but I minute down short notes in my pencil-book with all possible care, and hope, in the end, to lose nothing. As for
Harry and his party, I know nothing more of them than that they landed at Ostend a week before us, and proceeded the same day to Bruges. To-morrow we shall probably learn tidings of them at Spa. Meantime, we have joined company with some fellow-passengers, Mr. Vardon, of Greenwich, with his family, and Mr. Nash, an artist, who has lived many years in India. Flanders is a most interesting country. Bruges, the most striking city I have ever seen, an old city in perfect preservation. It seems as if not a house had been built during the last two centuries, and not a house suffered to pass to decay. The poorest people seem to be well lodged, and there is a general air of sufficiency, cleanliness, industry, and comfort, which I have never seen in any other
place. The cities have grown worse as we advanced. At Namur we reached a dirty city, situated in a romantic country; the Meuse there reminded me of the Thames from your delightful house, an island in size and shape resembling that upon which I have often wished for a grove of poplars, coming just in the same position. From thence along the river to this abominable place, the country is, for the greater part, as lovely as can be imagined, especially at Huy, where we slept last night, and fell in with one of the inhabitants, a man of more than ordinary intellect, from whom I learnt much of the state of public opinion, &c.

“Our weather hitherto has been delightful. This was especially fortunate at Waterloo and at Ligny, where we had much ground to walk over. It would surprise you to see how soon nature has recovered from the injuries of war. The ground is ploughed and sown, and grain and flowers and seeds already growing over the field of battle, which is still strewn with vestiges of the slaughter, caps, cartridges, boxes, hats, &c. We picked up some French cards and some bullets, and we purchased a French pistol and two of the eagles which the infantry wear upon their caps. What I felt upon this ground, it would be difficult to say; what I saw, and still more what I heard, there is no time at present for saying. In prose and in verse you shall some day hear the whole. At Les Quatre Bras, I saw two graves, which probably the dogs or the swine had opened. In the one were the ribs of a human body, projecting through the mould; in the other, the whole skeleton exposed.
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 135
Some of our party told me of a third, in which the worms were at work, but I shrunk from the sight. You will rejoice to hear that the English are as well spoken of for their deportment in peace as in war. It is far otherwise with the Prussians. Concerning them there is but one opinion; their brutality is said to exceed that of the French, and of their intolerable insolence I have heard but too many proofs. That abominable old
Frederic made them a military nation, and this is the inevitable consequence. This very day we passed a party on their way towards France—some hundred or two. Two gentlemen and two ladies of the country, in a carriage, had come up with them; and these ruffians would not allow them to pass, but compelled them to wait and follow the slow pace of foot soldiers! This we ourselves saw. Next to the English, the Belgians have the best character for discipline.

“I have laid out some money in books—four or five-and-twenty pounds—and I have bargained for a set of the Acta Sanctorum to be completed and sent after me—the price 500 francs. This is an invaluable acquisition. Neither our time or money will allow us to reach the Rhine. We turn back from Aix-la-Chapelle, and take the route of Maestricht and Louvaine to Antwerp, thence to Ghent again, and cross from Calais. I bought at Bruges a French History of Brazil, just published by M. Alphonse de Beauchamp, in three volumes octavo. He says, in his Preface, that having finished the two first volumes, he thought it advisable to see if any new light had been thrown upon the subject by modern
authors. Meantime, a compilation upon this history had appeared in England, but the English author,
Mr. Southey, had brought no new lights; he had promised much for his second volume, but the hope of literary Europe had been again deceived, for this second volume, so emphatically promised, had not appeared. I dare say no person regrets this delay so much as M. Beauchamp, he having stolen the whole of his two first volumes, and about the third part of the other, from the very Mr. Southey whom he abuses. He has copied my references as the list of his own authorities (manuscripts and all), and he has committed blunders which prove, beyond all doubt, that he does not understand Portuguese. I have been much diverted by this fellow’s impudence.

“The table is laid, and the knives and forks rattling a pleasant note of preparation, as the woman waiter arranges them.

“God bless you! I have hurried through the sheet, and thus pleasantly beguiled what would have been a very unpleasant hour. We are all well, and your god-daughter has seen a live emperor at Brussels. I feel the disadvantage of speaking French ill, and understanding it by the ear worse. Nevertheless, I speak it without remorse, make myself somehow or other understood, and get at what I want to know. Once more, God bless you, my dear friend.

“Believe me always most affectionately yours,

R. S.”
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 137
To John May, Esq.
“Brussels, Friday, Oct. 20. 1815.
“My dear Friend,

“I wrote to you from Liege, up to which time all had gone on well with us. Thank God, it is well with us at present; but your god-daughter has been so unwell, that we were detained six days at Aix-la-Chapelle in a state of anxiety which you may well imagine, and at an hotel, where the Devil himself seemed to possess the mistress and the greater part of the domestics. Happily, I found a physician who had graduated at Edinburgh, who spoke English, and pursued a rational system; and happily, also, by this painful and expensive delay I was thrown into such society, that now the evil is over, I am fully sensible of the good to which it has conduced. The day after my letter was written, we reached Spa, and remained there Sunday and Monday—a pleasant and necessary pause, though the pleasure was somewhat interrupted by the state of my own health, which was somewhat disordered there—perhaps the effect of the thin Rhenish wines and the grapes. Tuesday we would have slept at Verones (the great clothing town) if we could have found beds. An English party had pre-occupied them, and we proceeded to Herve, a little town half way between Liege and Aix-la-Chapelle, in the old principality of Limbourg. . . . .

“When we arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle, your goddaughter was so ill that, after seeing her laid in bed
(about one o’clock in the afternoon), I thought It necessary to go to the bankers, and request them to recommend me to a physician. You may imagine how painful a time we passed. It was necessary for her to gargle every hour, even if we waked her for it; but she never slept an hour continuously for the three first nights. Thank God, however, she seems thoroughly recovered, and I can estimate the good with calmness. While I acted as nurse and cook (for we were obliged to do everything ourselves), our party dined at the table d’hote, and there, as the child grew better, I found myself in the company of some highly distinguished Prussian officers. One of these, a Major Dresky, is the very man who was with
Blucher at Ligny, when he was ridden over by the French; the other. Major Petry, is said by his brother officers to have won the battle of Donowitz for Blucher. Two more extraordinary men I never met with. You would have been delighted to hear how they spoke of the English, and to see how they treated us, as representatives of our country. Among the toasts which were given, I put this into French: ‘The Belle-alliance between Prussia and England—may it endure as long as the memory of the battle,’ I cannot describe to you the huzzaing, and hob-nobbing, and hand-shaking with which it was received. But the chief benefit which I have received, was from meeting with a certain Henry de Forster, a major in the German Legion, a Pole by birth, whose father held one of the highest offices in Poland. Forster, one of the most interesting men I ever met with, has been marked for mis-
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 139
fortune from his birth. Since the age of thirteen he has supported himself, and now supports a poor brother of eighteen, a youth of high principles and genius, who has for two years suffered with an abscess of the spleen. Forster entered the Prussian service when a boy, was taken prisoner and cruelly used in France, and escaped, almost miraculously, on foot into Poland. In 1809 he joined the
Duke of Brunswick, and was one of those men who proved true to him through all dangers, and embarked with him. The Duke was a true German in patriotism, but without conduct, without principle, without gratitude. Forster entered our German Legion, and was in all the hot work in the Peninsula, from the lines of Torres Vedras till the end of the war. The severe duty of an infantry officer proved too much for his constitution, and a fall of some eighty feet down a precipice in the Pyrenees, brought on a haemorrhage of the liver, for which he obtained unlimited leave of absence, and came to Aix-la-Chapelle. I grieve to say that he had a relapse on the very day that we left him. I never saw a man whose feelings and opinions seemed to coincide more with my own. When we had become a little acquainted, he shook hands with me in a manner so unlike an ordinary greeting, that I immediately understood it to be (as really it was) a trial whether I was a freemason. This gave occasion to the following sonnet, which I put into his hands at parting:—
“The ties of secret brotherhood, made known
By secret signs, and pressure of link’d hand
Significant, I neither understand
Nor censure. There are countries where the throne
And altar, singly, or with force combined,
Against the welfare of poor humankind
Direct their power perverse: in such a land
Such leagues may have their purpose; in my own,
Being needless, they are needs but mockery,
But to the wise and good there doth belong,
Ordained by God himself, a surer tie;
A sacred and unerring sympathy:
Which bindeth them in bonds of union strong
As time, and lasting as eternity.

“He has promised me to employ this winter in writing his memoirs—a task he had once performed, but the paper was lost in a shipwreck. He has promised, also, to come with the MSS. (if he lives) to England next summer, when I hope and expect that the publication will be as beneficial to his immediate interests as it will be honourable to his memory.

“We left Aix on Tuesday for Maestricht, slept the next night at St. Tron, Thursday at Louvaine, and arrived here to-day. To-morrow I go again with Nash to Waterloo, for the purpose of procuring drawings of Hougoumont. On Sunday we go for Antwerp, rejoin the Vardons on Monday night at Ghent, and then make the best of our way to Calais and London. God bless you, my dear friend.

Yours most affectionately,
R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Wednesday, Dec. 6. 1815.
“My dear Friend,

“You will be glad to hear that we arrived safely this day, after a less uncomfortable journey than
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 141
might have been apprehended from the season of the year. We found all well, God be thanked, and
Edith, who complained a little the first day, got better daily as we drew nearer home. She complains of a headache now; but that is the natural effect of over-excitement, on seeing her brother and sisters and her cousin, and displaying the treasures which we have brought for them. We reached Wordsworth’s yesterday, about seven o’clock. Three hours more would have brought us home, but I preferred passing the night at his house, for had we proceeded, we should have found the children in bed; and a return home, under fortunate circumstances, has something of the character of a triumph, and requires daylight. Never, I believe, was there seen a happier household than this when the chaise drew up to the door. I find so many letters to answer, that to-morrow will be fully employed in clearing them off.

“God bless you, my dear friend!

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

I cannot resist here quoting from the Pilgrimage to Waterloo the account of the return home. Many readers will not have seen it before. Those who have will not be displeased to see it again, giving, as it does, so vivid, so true a picture of his domestic happiness.

“O joyful hour, when to our longing home
The long-expected wheels at length drew nigh!
When the first sound went forth, ‘They come, they come!’
And hope’s unpatience quicken’d every eye!
Never had man whom Heaven would heap with bliss
More glad return, more happy hour than this.
“Aloft on yonder bench, with arms dispread,
My boy stood, shouting there his father’s name,
Waving his hat around his happy head;
And there, a younger group, his sisters came:
Smiling they stood with looks of pleased surprise,
While tears of joy were seen in elder eyes.
“Soon all and each came crowding round to share
The cordial greeting, the beloved sight;
What welcomings of hand and lip were there!
And when those over-flowings of delight
Subsided to a sense of quiet bliss.
Life hath no purer, deeper happiness.
“The young companion of our weary way
Found here the end desired of all her ills;
She who in sickness pining many a day
Hunger’d and thirsted for her native hills,
Forgetful now of sufferings past and pain,
Rejoiced to see her own dear home again.
“Recover’d now, the homesick mountaineer
Sate by the playmate of her infancy,
The twin-like comrade,—render’d doubly dear
For that long absence: full of life was she,
With voluble discourse and eager mien
Telling of all the wonders she had seen.
“Here silently between her parents stood
My dark-eyed Bertha, timid as a dove;
And gently oft from time to time she woo’d
Pressure of hand, or word, or look of love,
With impulse shy of bashful tenderness,
Soliciting again the wish’d caress,
“The younger twain in wonder lost were they,
My gentle Kate, and my sweet Isabel:
Long of our promised coming, day by day
It had been their delight to hear and tell;
And now when that long-promised hour was come,
Surprise and wakening memory held them dumb.
. . . . . . . .
“Soon they grew blithe as they were wont to be;
Her old endearments each began to seek:
And Isabel drew near to climb my knee,
And pat with fondling hand her father’s cheek;
With voice and touch and look reviving thus
The feelings which had slept in long disuse.
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 143
“But there stood one whose heart could entertain
And comprehend the fulness of the joy;
The father, teacher, playmate, was again
Come to his only and his studious boy:
And he beheld again that mother’s eye
Which with such ceaseless care had watch’d his infancy.
“Bring forth the treasures now,—a proud display,—
For rich as Eastern merchants we return!
Behold the black Beguine, the Sister grey,
The Friars whose heads with sober motion turn,
The Ark well-fill’d with all its numerous hives,
Noah and Shem and Ham and Japhet, and their wives.
“The tumbler, loose of limb; the wrestlers twain;
And many a toy beside of quaint device,
Which, when his fleecy troops no more can gain
Their pasture on the mountains hoar with ice.
The German shepherd carves with curious knife,
Earning with easy toil the food of frugal life.
“It was a group which Richter, had he view’d,
Might have deem’d worthy of his perfect skill;
The keen impatience of the younger brood,
Their eager eyes and fingers never still;
The hope, the wonder, and the restless joy
Of those glad girls, and that vociferous boy!
“The aged friend* serene with quiet smile.
Who in their pleasure finds her own delight;
The mother’s heart-felt happiness the while;
The aunts, rejoicing in the joyful sight;
And he who in his gaiety of heart.
With glib and noisy tongue perform’d the showman’s part.
“Scoff ye who will! but let me, gracious Heaven,
Preserve this boyish heart till life’s last day!
For so that inward light by Nature given
Shall still direct, and cheer me on my way,
And brightening as the shades of life descend,
Shine forth with heavenly radiance at the end.”

* Mrs. Wilson, who is referred to occasionally in these volumes.

To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.
“Keswick, Dec. 15. 1815.
“My dear Wynn,

“. . . . . The infrequency of my letters, my dear Wynn, God knows, is owing to no distaste. The pressing employments of one who keeps pace with an increasing expenditure by temporary writings,—the quantity which, from necessity as well as inclination, I have to read, and the multiplicity of letters which I have to write, are the sufficient causes. You do not know the number of letters which come to me from perfect strangers, who seem to think a poet-laureate has as much patronage as the Lord Chancellor. Not unfrequently the writers remind me so strongly of my own younger days, that I have given them the best advice I could, with earnestness as well as sincerity; and more than once been thus led into an occasional correspondence. The Laureateship itself with me is no sinecure. I am at work in consequence of it at this time. Do not suppose that I mean to rival Walter Scott. My poem will be in a very different strain. . . . .

“During my stay in London, I scarcely ever went out of the circle of my private friends. I dined in company with Mina and some other Liberals—a set of men who (while I cannot but respect them as individuals, and feel that under the late Administration I myself might probably have felt and acted with them,) do certainly justify Ferdinand, not in his ca-
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 145
pricious freaks of favour and disfavour, but in the general and decided character of his measures. They are thorough Atheists, and would go the full length of their principles, being, I believe, all of them (as is, indeed, the character of the nation,) of the same iron mould as
Cortes and Pizarro. Mina is a finer character,—young and ardent, and speaking of his comrades with an affection which conciliates affection for himself. . . . . .

“There is but one point in your letter in which I do not agree with you, and that regards the army. The necessity of maintaining it appears to me manifest, and the contingent danger imaginary. Our danger is not from that quarter. If we are to suffer from the army, it will be by their taking part against the Government (as in France), and siding in a mob revolution. In my judgment, we are tending this way insensibly to our rulers and to the main part of the people, but I fear inevitably. The foundations of Government are undermined. The props may last during your lifetime and mine, but I cannot conceal from myself a conviction that, at no very distant day, the whole fabric must fall! God grant that this ominous apprehension may prove false.

“God bless you, my dear Wynn.

Yours affectionately,
R. S.”
To Mr. Neville White.
“Keswick, Jan. 8. 1816,
“My dear Neville,

“Did you ever watch the sands of an hour-glass? When I was first at Oxford, one of these old-fashioned measurers of time was part of my furniture. I rose at four o’clock, and portioned out my studies by the hour. When the sands ran low, my attention was often attracted by observing how much faster they appeared to run. Applying this image to human life, which it has so often been brought to illustrate, (whether my sands run low or not, is known only to Him by whom this frail vessel was made, but assuredly they run fast), it seems as if the weeks of my youth were longer than the months of middle age, and that I could get through more in a day then, than in a week now. Since I wrote to you, I have scarcely done anything but versify; and certain it is that twenty years ago, I could have produced the same quantity of verses in a fourth part of the time. It is true they would have been more faulty; but the very solicitude to avoid faults, and the slow and dreaming state which it induces, may be considered as indications that the season for poetry is gone by,—that I am falling into the yellow leaf, or, to use a more consoling metaphor, and perhaps a more applicable one, that poetry is but the blossom of an intellect so constituted as mine, and that with me the fruit is set,—in sober phrase, that it would be wisely done, if henceforth I confined myself to sober prose.
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 147
And this I could be well content to do, from a conviction in my own mind that I shall ultimately hold a higher place among historians (if I live to complete what is begun) than among poets. . . . .

“The affair of Lavalette, in France, pleases me well, except as far as regards the treatment of his wife for having done her duty. The king ought not to have pardoned him, and the law ought to have condemned him: both did as they ought, and, as far as depended upon them, his civil life was at an end. I should have had no pity for him if the axe had fallen; but a condemned criminal making his escape becomes a mere human creature striving for life, and the Devil take him, say I, who would not lend a hand to assist him, except in cases of such atrocious guilt as make us abhor and execrate the perpetrator, and render it unfit that he should exist upon earth.

“Of home politics, I grieve to say that the more I think of them, the worse they appear. All imaginable causes which produce revolution are at work among us; the solitary principle of education is the only counteracting power; and God knows this is very partial, very limited, and must be slow in its effects, even if it were upon a wider scale and a more permanent foundation. If another country were in this state, I should say, without hesitation, that revolution was at hand there, and that it was inevitable. If I hesitate at predicting to myself the same result here, it is from love or from weakness, from hope that we may mercifully be spared so dreadful a chastisement for our follies and our sins, and from fear of
contemplating the evils under which we should be overwhelmed. God bless you!

Yours most affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb. 4. 1816.
“My dear G.,

“I have an official from the Treasury this evening, telling me, as you anticipated, that the prayer of my petition* is inadmissible. To be sure, it is much better they should repeal the duty than grant an exemption from it speciali gratiâ; but if they will do neither the one nor the other, it is too bad.

“Is it true that the Princess Charlotte is likely to be married? You will guess why I wish to know; though, if I had not written half a marriage poem, I certainly would not begin one, for, between ourselves, I have not been well used about the Laureateship. They require task verses from me,—not to keep up the custom of having them befiddled, but to keep up the task,—instead of putting an end to this foolery in a fair and open manner, which would do the court credit, and save me a silly expense of time and trouble. I shall complete what I have begun, because it is begun, and to please myself, not to obtain favour with anybody else; but when these things are done, if they continue to look for New Years’ Odes from the Laureate, they shall have nothing else.

* A petition that some foreign books might come in duty free.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 149

Tom has been here for the last fortnight, looking about for a house. I cannot write verses in the presence of any person, except my wife and children. Tom, therefore, without knowing it, has impeded my Pilgrimage; but I can prosify, let who will be present, and Brazil is profiting by this interruption.

“Were you not here when poor Lloyd introduced M. Simond? and have you seen the said M. Simond’s Travels in England, by a native of France? You will like the liveliness and the pervading good sense; and you will smile at the complacency with which he abuses Handel, Raphael, and Milton. He honours me with a couple of pages—an amusing mixture of journalising, personal civility, and critical presumption. My poems and Milton’s, he says, have few readers, although they have many admirers. He applies to me the famous speech of the Cardinal to Ariosto, Dove Diavolo, &c., and thinks I write nonsense. However, it is better than Milton’s, both Milton’s love and theology being coarse and material, whereas I have tenderness and spirituality!!! He sets down two or three things which I told him, states my opinions as he is pleased to suppose, and concludes that the reason why I disapprove of Mr. Malthus’s writings is, that I do not understand them. Bravo, M. Simond! Yet, in the main, it is a fair and able book, and I wonder how so sensible a man can write with such consummate self-assurance upon things above his reach.

“I long to have my Brazilian History finished, that that of the war may go to press in its stead; and could I abstain from reviewing, three months
would accomplish this desirable object; but ‘I must live,’ as the French libeller said to
Richelieu, and, unlike the Cardinal, I know you will see the necessity for my so doing. However, I am in a fair train, and verily believe that after the present year I and the constable shall travel side by side in good fellowship. You will be glad to hear that I have got the correspondence of the Portuguese committee, with the official details of the conduct of Massena’s army, and the consequent state of the people and the country. If I live to complete this work, I verily believe it will tend to mitigate the evils of war hereafter, by teaching men in command what ineffaceable infamy will pursue them if they act as barbarians.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Chauncey Hare Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb. 10. 1816.

“A natural but melancholy association reminds me of you. Between three and four years ago, a youth, as ardent in the study of poetry as yourself, but under less favourable circumstances of fortune, sent me some specimens of his poems, and consulted me concerning the course of life which he should pursue. He was the eldest of a very large family, and the father a half-pay officer. He wished to go to London, and study the law, and support himself while studying it by his pen. I pointed out to him the certain misery and ruin in which such an event
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would involve him, and recommended him to go to Cambridge, where, with his talents and acquirements, he could not fail of making his way, unless he was imprudent. I interested myself for him at Cambridge; he was placed at Emmanuel, won the goodwill of his college, and was in the sure road both to independence and fame, when the fever of last year cut him off. I do not think there ever lived a youth of higher promise. His name was
James Dusautoy. This evening I have been looking over his papers, with a view of arranging a selection of them for the press. In seeking to serve him, I have been the means of sending him prematurely to the grave. I will at least endeavour to preserve his memory.*

“Of the many poets, young and old, whom I have known only by letter, Kirke White, Dusautoy, and yourself have borne the fairest blossom. In the blossom they have been cut off. May you live to bring forth fruit!

“I think you intimated an intention of going to Cambridge. The fever has broken out there again; physicians know not how to treat it; it has more the character of a pestilence than any disease which has for many years appeared in this island; and unless you have the strongest reasons for preferring Cambridge, the danger and the probability of the recurrence of this contagion are such, that you would do well to turn your thoughts towards Oxford on this account alone.

“Your sonnets have gratified me and my family.
Study our early poets, and avoid all imitation of your contemporaries. You cannot read the best writers of
Elizabeth’s age too often. Do you love Spenser? I have him in my heart of hearts.

“God bless you. Sir!

Robert Southey.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswick, March 17. 1816.
“My dear Scott,

“I have a debt upon my conscience, which has been too long unpaid. You left me a letter of introduction to the Duchess of Richmond, which I was graceless enough to make no use of, and, still more gracelessly, I have never yet thanked you for it. As for the first part of the offence, my stay at Brussels was not very long. I had a great deal to see there; moreover, I got among the old books; and having a sort of instinct which makes me as much as possible get out of the way of drawing-rooms, because I have an awkward feeling of being in the way when in them, I was much more at my ease when looking at Emperors and Princes in the crowd, than I should have been in the room with them.

“How I should have rejoiced if we had met at Waterloo! This feeling I had and expressed upon the ground. You have pictured it with your characteristic force and animation. My poem will reach you in a few weeks: it is so different in its kind, that, however kindly malice may be disposed, it will not
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 153
be possible to institute a comparison with yours. I take a different point of time and a wider range, leaving the battle untouched, and describing the field only such as it was when I surveyed it. . . . .

“Mountaineer as I am, the cultivated scenery of Flanders delighted me. I have seen no town so interesting as Bruges,—no country in a state so perfect as to its possible production of what is beautiful and useful, as the environs of that city and the Pays de Waes. Of single objects, the finest which I saw were the market-place at Brussels and at Ypres, and the town-house at Louvain; the most extraordinary, as well as the most curious, the cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle, which is, perhaps, the most curious church in existence. The most impressive were the quarries of Maestricht. I found a good deal of political discontent, particularly in the Liege country—a general sense of insecurity,—a very prevalent belief that England had let Bonaparte loose from Elba, which I endeavoured in vain to combat; and a very proper degree of disappointment and indignation that he had not been put to death as he deserved—a feeling in which I heartily concurred.

“Did I ever thank you for the Lord of the Isles? There are pictures in it which are not surpassed in any of your poems, and in the first part especially, a mixture of originality and animation and beauty, which is seldom found. I wished the Lord himself had been more worthy of the good fortune which you bestowed upon him. The laurel which it has pleased you, rather than any other person, to bestow upon me, has taken me in for much dogged work in rhyme;
otherwise, I am inclined to think that my service to the Muses has been long enough, and that I should, perhaps, have claimed my discharge. The ardour of youth is gone by; however I may have fallen short of my own aspirations, my best is done, and I ought to prefer those employments which require the matured faculties and collected stores of declining life. You will receive the long-delayed conclusion of my
Brazilian history in the course of the summer. It has much curious matter respecting savage life, a full account of the Jesuit establishments, and a war in Pernambuco, which will be much to your liking.

“Remember me to Mrs. Scott and your daughter, who is old enough to be entitled to these courtesies, and believe me, my dear Scott,

Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Sharon Turner, Esq.
“Keswick, April 2. 1816.
“My dear Turner,

“You will shortly, I trust, receive my Pilgrimage, the notes and title-page to which would have been at this time in the printer’s hands, if I had not been palsied by the severe illness of my son, who is at this time in such a state that I know not whether there be more cause for fear or for hope. In the disposition of mind which an affliction of this kind induces, there is no person whom I feel so much inclined to converse with as with you.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 155

“I have touched, in the latter part of my poem, upon the general course of human events, and the prospects of society. But perhaps I have not explained myself as fully and as clearly as if I had been writing in prose. The preponderance of good, and the progressiveness of truth and knowledge and general well-being, I clearly perceive; but I have delivered an opinion that this tendency to good is not an over-ruling necessity, and that that which is, is not necessarily the best that might have been, for this, in my judgment, would interfere with that free agency upon which all our virtues, and indeed the great scheme of Revelation itself, are founded.

“Time, my own heart, and, more than all other causes, the sorrows with which it has been visited (in the course of a life that, on the whole, has been happy in a degree vouchsafed to few, even among the happiest), have made me fully sensible, that the highest happiness exists, as the only consolation is to be found, in a deep and habitual feeling of devotion. Long ere this would I have preached what I feel upon this subject, if the door had been open to me; but it is one thing to conform to the Church, preserving that freedom of mind which in religion, more than in all other things, is especially valuable; and another to subscribe solemnly to its articles. Christianity exists nowhere in so pure a form as in our own Church; but even there it is mingled with much alloy, from which I know not how it will be purified. I have an instinctive abhorrence of bigotry. When Dissenters talk of the Establishment, they make me feel like a high Churchman; and when I get among
high Churchmen, I am ready to take shelter in dissent.

“You have thrown a new light upon the York and Lancaster age of our history, by showing the connection of those quarrels with the incipient spirit of Reformation. I wish we had reformed the monastic institutions instead of overthrowing them. Mischievous as they are in Catholic countries, they have got this good about them, that they hold up something besides worldly distinction to the respect and admiration of the people, and fix the standard of virtues higher than we do in Protestant countries. Would that we had an order of Beguines in England! There are few subjects which have been so unfairly discussed as monastic institutions: the Protestant condemns them in the lump, and the Romanist crams his legends down your throat. The truth is, that they began in a natural and good feeling, though somewhat exaggerated,—that they produced the greatest public good in their season, that they were abominably perverted, and that the good which they now do, wherever they exist, is much less than the evil. Yet, if you had seen, as I once did, a Franciscan of fourscore, with a venerable head and beard, standing in the cloister of his convent, where his brothers lay beneath his feet, and telling his beads, with a countenance expressive of the most perfect and peaceful piety, you would have felt with me how desirable it was that there should be such institutions for minds so constituted. The total absence of religion from our poor-houses, alms-houses, and hospitals, is as culpable in one way as the excess of superstition is in
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 157
another. I was greatly shocked at a story which I once heard from
Dr. Gooch. A woman of the town was brought to one of the hospitals, having been accidentally poisoned. Almost the last words which she uttered were, that this was a blasted life, and she was glad to have done with it! Who will not wish that she had been kissing the crucifix, and listening in full faith to the most credulous priest! I say this more with reference to her feelings at that moment, and the effect upon others, than as to her own future state, however awful that consideration may be. The mercy of God is infinite; and it were too dreadful to believe that they who have been most miserable here, should be condemned to endless misery hereafter.

“But I will have done with these topics, because I wish to say something respecting your second volume. You have surprised me by the additions you have made to our knowledge of our own early poetry. I had no notion that the Hermit of Hampole was so considerable a personage, nor that there remained such a mass of inedited poetry of that age. The Antiquarian Society would do well to publish the whole, however much it may be. You are aware how much light it would throw upon the history of our language, of our manners, and even of civil transaction;—for all these things I should most gladly peruse the whole mass. St. Francisco Xavier is not the Xavier who wrote the Persian Life of Christ. In p. 3. you mention some novel verses which relate to Portuguese history. If the Scald Halldon’s poem be not too long, may I request you to translate it for me, as a document for my history. Observe, that
this request is purely conditional, as regarding the extent of the poem. If it is more than a half hour’s work, it would be unreasonable to ask for time which you employ so well, and of which you have so little to spare.

“Remember us to Mrs. Turner, Alfred, and your daughter. We are in great anxiety, and with great cause, but there is hope. My wish at such time is akin to Macbeth’s, but in a different spirit—a longing that the next hundred years were over, and that we were in a better world, where happiness is permanent, and there is neither change nor evil.

“God bless you!

Yours very affectionately,
R. Southey.”

In the foregoing letter, my father speaks of his being at that time in a state of great anxiety, on account of the illness of his only boy Herbert, then ten years old, and in all respects a child after his father’s own heart. Having been not only altogether educated by his father, but also his constant companion and playfellow, he was associated with all his thoughts, and closely connected with all the habits of his daily life.

He seems, indeed, with all due allowance for parental partiality, to have been one of those children, of only too fair a promise, possessing a quietness of disposition hardly natural at that active age, and generally indicative of an innate feebleness of constitution, and evincing a quickness of intellect and a
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 159
love of study which seem to show that the mind has, as it were, outgrown the body.

This I gather, not merely from my father’s own letters, but from those who well remember the boy himself, and who speak of him as having been far beyond his age in understanding, and as bearing this painful and fatal illness with a patience and fortitude uncommon even in riper years.

This illness had now lasted for several weeks, and being of a strange and complicated nature, the want of that medical skill and experience which is only to be found in large towns, added much to the parents’ anxiety and distress.

Subsequent examination, however (showing a great accumulation of matter at the heart), proved that no skill could have availed. After a period of much suffering, he was released on the 17th of April. The following letters have a painful interest:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Wednesday, April 17. 1816.
“My dear Bedford,

“Here is an end of hope and of fear, but not of suffering. His sufferings, however, are over, and, thank God, his passage was perfectly easy. He fell asleep, and is now in a better state of existence, for which his nature was more fitted than for this. You, more than most men, can tell what I have lost, and yet you are far from knowing how large a portion of my hopes and happiness will be laid in the grave with
Herbert. For years It has been my daily prayer that I might be spared this affliction.

“I am much reduced in body by this long and sore suffering, but I am perfectly resigned, and do not give way to grief.

“In his desk there are the few letters which I had written to him, in the joy of my heart. I will fold up these and send them to you, that they may be preserved when I am gone, in memory of him and of me.* Should you survive me, you will publish such parts of my correspondence as are proper, for the benefit of my family. My dear Grosvenor, I wish you would make the selection while you can do it without sorrow, while it is uncertain which of us shall be left to regret the other. You are the fit person to do this; and it will be well to burn in time what is to be suppressed.

“I will not venture to relate the boy’s conduct during his whole illness. I dare not trust myself to attempt this. But nothing could be more calm, more patient, more collected, more dutiful, more admirable.

“Oh! that I may be able to leave this country! The wound will never close while I remain in it. You would wonder to see me, how composed I am. Thank God, I can control myself for the sake of others; but it is a life-long grief, and do what I can to lighten it, the burden will be as heavy as I can bear.

R. S.

* These letters have not come into my hands. It does not appear that they have been preserved.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 161

“I wish you would tell Knox* what has happened. He was very kind to Herbert, and deserves that I should write to him.”

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“April 18. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Wherefore do I write to you? Alas, because I know not what to do. To-morrow, perhaps, may bring with it something like the beginning of relief. To-day I hope I shall support myself, or rather that God will support me, for 1 am weak as a child, in body even more than in mind. My limbs tremble under me; long anxiety has wasted me to the bone, and I fear it will be long before grief will suffer me to recruit. I am seriously apprehensive for the shock which my health seems to have sustained; yet I am wanting in no effort to appear calm and to console others; and those who are about me give me credit for a fortitude which I do not possess. Many blessings are left me—abundant blessings, more than I have deserved, more than I had ever reason to expect or even to hope. I have strong ties to life, and many duties yet to perform. Believe me, I see these things as they ought to be seen. Reason will do something. Time more. Religion most of all. The loss is but for

* A schoolfellow of my father’s at Westminster, who was afterwards one of the masters there.

this world; but as long as I remain in this world I shall feel it.

“Some way my feelings will vent themselves. I have thought of endeavouring to direct their course, and may, perhaps, set about a monument in verse for him and for myself, which may make our memories inseparable.

“There would be no wisdom in going from home. The act of returning to it would undo all the benefit I might receive from change of circumstance for some time yet. Edith feels this; otherwise, perhaps, we might have gone to visit Tom in his new habitation. Summer is at hand. While there was a hope of Herbert’s recovery, this was a frequent subject of pleasurable consideration; it is now a painful thought, and I look forward with a sense of fear to the season which brings with it life and joy to those who are capable of receiving them. You, more than most men, are aware of the extent of my loss, and how, as long as I remain here, every object within and without, and every hour of every day, must bring it fresh to recollection. Yet the more I consider the difficulties of removing, the greater they appear; and perhaps by the time It would be possible, I may cease to desire it.

“Whenever I have leisure (will that ever be?) I will begin my own memoirs, to serve as a post-obit for those of my family who may survive me. They will be so far provided for as to leave me no uneasiness on that score. My life insurance is 4000l.; my books (for there is none to inherit them now) may be worth 1500l.; my copyrights, perhaps, not less; and
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you will be able to put together letters and fragments, which, when I am gone, will be acceptable articles in the market. Probably there would, on the whole, be 10,000l. forthcoming. The whole should be
Edith’s during her life, and afterwards divided equally among the surviving children. I shall name John May and Neville White for executors,—both men of business, and both my dear and zealous friends. But do you take care of my papers, and publish my remains. I have perhaps much underrated the value of what will be left. A selection of my reviewals may be reprinted, with credit to my name and with profit. You will not wonder that I have fallen into this strain. One grave is at this moment made ready; and who can tell how soon another may be required? I pray, however, for continued life. There may be, probably there are, many afflictions for me in store, but the worst is past. I have more than once thought of Mr. Roberts; when he hears of my loss, it will for a moment freshen the recollection of his own.

“It is some relief to write to you, after the calls which have this day been made upon my fortitude. I have not been found wanting; and Edith, throughout the whole long trial, has displayed the most exemplary self-control. We never approached him but with composed countenances and words of hope; and for a mother to do this, hour after hour, and night after night, while her heart was breaking, is perhaps the utmost effort of which our nature is capable. Oh! how you would have admired and loved him, had you seen him in these last weeks! But you know something of his character. Never, perhaps,
was child of ten years old so much to his father. Without ever ceasing to treat him as a child, I had made him my companion, as well as playmate and pupil, and he had learnt to interest himself in my pursuits, and take part in all my enjoyments.

“I have sent Edith May to Wordsworth’s. Poor child, she is dreadfully distressed; and it has ever been my desire to save them from all the sorrow that can be avoided, and to mitigate, as far as possible, what is inevitable. Something it is to secure for them a happy childhood. Never was a happier than Herbert’s. He knew not what unkindness or evil were, except by name. His whole life was passed in cheerful duty, and love and enjoyment. If I did not hope that I have been useful in my generation, and may still continue to be so, I could wish that I also had gone to rest as early in the day; but my childhood was not like his.

“Let me have some money when you can, that these mournful expenses may be discharged. For five weeks my hand has been palsied, and this brings with it a loss of means—an evil inseparable from my way of life. To-morrow I shall endeavour to resume my employments. You may be sure, also, that I shall attend to my health; nothing which exercise and diet can afford will be neglected; and whenever I feel that change of air and of scene could benefit me, the change shall be tried. I am perfectly aware how important an object this is; the fear is, lest my sense of its moment should produce an injurious anxiety. God bless you!

R. S.
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 165

“You would save me some pain by correcting the remaining proofs*, for the sight of that book must needs be trying to me.”

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Saturday, April 20. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Desire Gifford to reserve room for me in this number: I will not delay it beyond the first week in May; he may rely upon this: I am diligently at work; the exertion is wholesome for me at this season, and I want the money. It is the La Vendee article.

“A proof has reached me, so your trouble on that score may be spared.

“I am in all respects acting as you would wish to see me, not unmindful of the blessings which are left and the duties which I have to perform. But indeed, Grosvenor, it is only a deep, heartfelt, and ever-present faith which could support me. If what I have lost were lost for ever, I should sink under the affliction. Throughout the whole sorrow, long and trying as it has been, Edith has demeaned herself with a strength of mind and a self-control deserving the highest admiration. To be as happy ever again as I have been is impossible; my future happiness must be of a different kind, but the difference will be in kind rather than degree; there will

* Of the Pilgrimage to Waterloo.

be less of this world in it, more of the next, therefore will it be safe and durable.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, April 22. 1816.
“My dear Friend,

“I thank you for your letter, for your sympathy, and for your prayers. We have been supported even beyond my hopes, and according to our need. I do not feel any return of strength, but it will soon be restored; anxiety has worn me to the bone. While that state continued I was incapable of any employment, and my time was passed day and night alternately in praying that the worst might be averted, and in preparing for it if it might take place.

“Three things I prayed for,—the child’s recovery if it might please God; that if this might not be, his passage might be rendered easy; and that we might be supported in our affliction. The two latter petitions were granted, and I am truly thankful. But when the event was over, then, like David, I roused myself, and gave no way to unavailing grief, acting in all things as I should wish others to act when my hour also is come. I employ myself incessantly, taking, however, every day as much exercise as I can bear without injurious fatigue, which is not much. My appetite is good, and I have now no want of sleep. Edith is perfectly calm and resigned. Her
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fortitude is indeed exemplary to the highest degree, but her employments do not withdraw her from herself as mine do, and therefore I fear she has more to struggle with. Perhaps we were too happy before this dispensation struck us. Perhaps it was expedient for us that our hearts should be drawn more strongly towards another world. This is the use of sorrow, and to this use I trust our sorrow will be sanctified.

Believe me, my dear Friend,
Ever most truly and affectionately yours,
Robert Southey.”
To William Wordsworth, Esq.
“Monday, April 22. 1816.
“My dear Wordsworth,

“You were right respecting the nature of my support under this affliction; there is but one source of consolation, and of that source I have drunk largely. When you shall see how I had spoken of my happiness but a few weeks ago, you will read with tears of sorrow what I wrote with tears of joy. And little did I think how soon and how literally another part of this mournful poem was to be fulfilled, when I said in it—
‘To earth I should have sunk in my despair,
Had I not claspt the Cross, and been supported there.’

“I thank God for the strength with which we have borne this trial. It is not possible for woman to have
acted with more fortitude than
Edith has done through the whole sharp suffering; she has rather set an example than followed it. My bodily frame is much shaken. A little time and care will recruit it, and the mind is sound. I am fully sensible of the blessings which are left me, which far exceed those of most men. I pray for continued life that I may fulfil my duties towards those whom I love. I employ myself, and I look forward to the end with faith and with hope, as one whose treasure is laid up in Heaven; and where the treasure is, there will the heart be also.

“At present it would rather do me hurt than good to see you. I am perfectly calm and in full self-possession; but I know my own weakness as well as my strength, and the wholesomest regimen for a mind like mine, is assiduous application to pursuits which call forth enough of its powers to occupy without exhausting it. It is well for me that I can do this. I take regular exercise and am very careful of myself.

“Many will feel for me, but none can tell what I have lost: the head and flower of my earthly happiness is cut off. But I am not unhappy.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 169
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Wednesday, April 24. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“You remember the two remedies for grief of which Pelayo speaks.* I practise what I preach, and have employed myself with a power of exertion at which I myself wonder; taking care so to vary my employments as not for any one to possess my mind too fully. I take regular exercise; I take tonics; I eat, drink, and sleep. See if this be not doing well. I converse as usual, and can at times be cheerful, but my happiness can never again be what it has been. Many blessings do I possess, but the prime blessing, the flower of my hopes, the central jewel of the ring, is gone. An early admiration of what is good in the stoical philosophy, and an active and elastic mind, have doubtless been great means of supporting me; but they would have been insufficient without a deeper principle; and I verily believe that were it not for the consolations which religion affords,—consolations which in time will ripen into hope and joy,—I should sink under an affliction which is greater than any man can conceive. You best can judge what the privation must be, and you can but judge imperfectly.

“Nature hath assigned
Two sovereign remedies for human grief:
Religion,—surest, firmest, first, and best;
And strenuous action next.”
Roderick, Canto xiv.


“Enough of this. I shall soon find a better mode of at once indulging and regulating these feelings. Upon this subject I have thoughts in my head which will, by God’s blessing, produce good and lasting fruit.

“At present one of my daily employments is the Carmen Nuptiale, which is now nearly completed. It will extend to about a hundred and ten stanzas, the same metre as the Pilgrimage, which printed in the same manner may run to seventy pages,—say three sheets. Its English title the Lay of the Laureate, which is not only a taking title for an advertisement, but a remarkably good one. It is for Longman to determine in what form he will print it, and what number of copies: quarto pamphlets I think are not liked for their inconvenient size.

“There must be a presentation copy bound for the Princess. Through what channel shall I convey it? Lord William Gordon would deliver it for me if I were to ask him. Can you put me in a better way? Would Herries like to do it, or is it proper to ask him?

“In a few days I shall send you the MSS.; the printing will be done presently. It comes too close upon the Pilgrimage; but whatever may be thought of it at Court, it will do me credit now and hereafter. I am very desirous of completing it, that I may have leisure for what lies nearer my heart.

“I will have a copy for Edith bound exactly like the court copy. What would it cost to have both these printed upon vellum? more, I suspect, than the fancy is worth.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 171

“Press upon Gifford my earnest desire that the article of which the first portion accompanies this note may appear in the present number. It is of consequence to me, and the subject is in danger of becoming stale if it be delayed: dwell upon this point. It will be as interesting a paper as he has ever received from me.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, April 26. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

Herbert died on the 17th, and he was in the tenth year of his age; say nothing more than this. How much does it contain to me, and to the world how little!

“I have great power of exertion, and this is of signal benefit at this time. My mind is closely employed throughout the whole day. I do more in one day than I used to do in three: hitherto the effect is good, but I shall watch myself well, and be careful not to exact more than the system will endure. I have certainly gained strength; but as you may suppose every circumstance of spring and of reviving nature brings with it thoughts that touch me in my heart of hearts. Do not, however, imagine that I am unhappy. I know what I have lost, and that no loss could possibly have been greater; but it is only for a time; and you know what my habitual and rooted feelings are upon this subject.


“It is not unlikely that Gifford will do for me in this number what he has done by me in others—displace some other person’s article to make room for mine. He will act wisely if he does so, for the freshness of the subject will else evaporate. I shall finish it with all speed upon this supposition. It would surprise you were you to see what I get through in a day.

“The remainder of the proofs might as well have been sent me. Surrounded as I am with mementos, there was little reason for wishing to keep them at a distance. And however mournful it must ever be to remember the Proem, and the delight which it gave when the proof sheet arrived, I am glad that it was written, and Edith feels upon this point as I do. The proofs had better come to me, if it is not too late. I can verify the quotations, which it is impossible for you to do, and may perhaps add something.

“Tell Pople I shall be obliged to him if he will make some speed with the History of Brazil; that I find it impossible to comprise it in two volumes; a third there must be, but it will go to press as soon as the second is printed; and that there will be no delay on my part (that is, as far as man can answer for himself) till the whole is completed. I send a portion of copy in the frank which covers this. If I mistake not, this second volume will be found very amusing as well as very curious.

Edith May returned from Wordsworth’s this morning,—we missed her greatly, and yet her return was a renewal of sorrow. Her mother behaves
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 173
incomparably well: it is not possible that any mother could suffer more, or support her sufferings better. She knows that we have abundant blessings left, but feels that the flower of all is gone; and this feeling must be for life. Bitter as it is it is wholesome.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“April 30. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Time passes on. I employ myself, and have recovered strength; but in point of spirits, I rather lose ground. The cause, perhaps, is obvious. At first, we make great efforts to force the mind from thoughts which are intolerably painful; but as, from time, they become endurable, less effort is made to avoid them, and the poignancy of grief settles into melancholy. Both with Edith and myself, this seems to be the case. Certain I am that nothing but the full assurance of immortality could prevent me from sinking under an affliction which is greater than any stranger could possibly believe; and thankful I am that my feelings have been so long and so habitually directed toward this point. You probably know my poems better than most people, and may perceive how strongly my mind has been impressed upon this most consoling subject.

“Yesterday I finished the main part of the Lay. There remain only six or eight stanzas as a L’Envoy,
which I may, perhaps, complete this night; then I shall send you the whole in one packet through
Gifford. I have said nothing about it to Longman, for I think it very probable that you may advise me not to publish the poem now it is written, lest it should give offence; and having satisfied myself by writing it, it is quite indifferent to me whether it appears now or after my decease. The emolument to be derived from it is too insignificant to be thought of, and the credit which I should gain, I can very well do without. So take counsel with any body you please, and remember that I, who am easily enough persuaded in any case, am in this perfectly unconcerned; for were it a thing of course that I should produce a poem on this occasion, there is at this time, God knows, sufficient reason why I might stand excused.

“Do not imagine that the poem has derived the slightest cast of colouring from my present state of mind. The plan is precisely what was originally formed. William Nichol is likely to judge as well as any man whether there be any unfitness in publishing it. You are quite aware that I neither wish to court favour nor to give offence, and that the absurdity of taking offence (if it were taken) would excite in me more pity than resentment.

“Good night! I am going to the poem in hope of completing it. I cannot yet bear to be unemployed, and this I feel severely. You know how much I used to unbend, and play with the children, in frequent intervals of study, as though I were an idle man. Of this I am quite incapable, and shall long
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 175
continue so. No circumstance of my former life ever brought with it so great a change as that which I daily and hourly feel, and perhaps shall never cease to feel. Yet I am thankful for having possessed this child so long; for worlds I would not but have been his father. Of all the blessings which it has pleased God to vouchsafe me, this was and is the greatest.

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Friday, May 3. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“You will have seen, by my last letters, that I am not exhausting myself by over-exertion. On the contrary, for many days I have been forcing myself to the more difficult necessity of bearing my own recollections. Time will soften them down; indeed, they now have, and always have had, all the alleviation which an assured hope and faith can bestow; and when I give way to tears, which is only in darkness or in solitude, they are not tears of unmingled pain. I begin to think that change of place would not be desirable, and that the pain of leaving a place where I have enjoyed so many years of such great happiness, is more than it is wise to incur without necessity. Nor could I reconcile either Edith or myself to the thought of leaving poor Mrs. Wilson*,

* Mrs. Wilson (the “aged friend” mentioned in the stanzas quoted from the Pilgrimage to Waterloo) had been housekeeper to Mr. Jack-

whose heart is half broken already, and to whom our departure would be a death-stroke. Her days, indeed, must necessarily be few, and her life-lease will probably expire before the end of the term to which we are looking on.

“Murray has sent me 50l. for the La Vendee article, which makes me indifferent when it appears; and proposes to me half a dozen other subjects at 100l. each, at which rate I suppose in future I shall supply him with an article every quarter. This will set me at ease in money matters, about which, thank God and the easy disposition with which he has blessed me, I have never been too anxious.

“It is needless to say I shall be glad to see you here, but rather at some future time, when you will find me a better companion, and when your company would do me more good. Nor, indeed, must you leave your mother; her deliverance from the infirmities of life cannot be long deferred by any human skill, or any favourable efforts of nature. Whenever that event takes place, you will need such relief as change of scene can afford; and whenever it may be, I hold myself ready to join you and accompany you to the Continent, for as long a time as you can be spared from your office, and as long a journey as that

son, the former owner of Greta Hall, and she continued to occupy part of one of the two houses, which, though altogether in my father’s occupation, had not been wholly thrown together as was afterwards done. She had once been the belle of Keswick; and was a person of a marvellous sweetness of temper and sterling good sense, as much attached to the children of the family as if they had been her own, and remembered still by every surviving member of it with respect and affection.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 177
time may enable us to take. Remember this, and look to it as a fitting arrangement which will benefit us both. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Chauncey Hare Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, May 16. 1816.

“. . . . . The loss which I have sustained is, I believe, heavier than any like affliction would have proved to almost any other person, from the circumstance of my dear son’s character, and the peculiar habits of my life. The joyousness of my disposition has received its death-wound; but there are still so many blessings left me, that I should be most ungrateful did I not feel myself abundantly rich in the only treasures which I have ever coveted. Three months ago, when I looked around, I knew no man so happy as myself, that is, no man who so entirely possessed all that his heart desired, those desires being such as bore the severest scrutiny of wisdom. The difference now is, that what was then the flower of my earthly happiness is now become a prominent object of my heavenly hopes,—that I have this treasure in reversion, instead of actually possessing it; but the reversion is indefeasible, and when it is restored to me it will be for ever; the separation which death makes is but for a time.

“These are my habitual feelings, not the offspring
of immediate sorrow, for I have felt sorrow ere this, and, I hope, have profited by it.

“The Roman Catholics go too far in weaning their hearts from the world, and fall in consequence into the worst practical follies which could result from Manicheism. We lay up treasure in heaven when we cherish the domestic charities. ‘They sin who tell us love can die,”and they also err grievously who suppose that natural affections tend to wean us from God. Far otherwise! They develope virtues, of the existence of which in our own hearts we should else be unconscious; and binding us to each other, they bind us also to our common Parent.

“Let me see your poem when you have finished it, and tell me something more of yourself, where your home is, and where you have been educated. Anything that you may communicate upon this subject will interest me. In my communication with Kirke White, and with poor Dusautoy, I have blamed myself for repressing the expression of interest concerning them, when it has been too late. Perhaps they have thought me cold and distant, than which nothing can be farther from my nature; but may your years be many and prosperous. God bless you!

Your affectionate Friend,
R. Southey.”

* Kehama, Canto ii. v. 10.

Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 179
To the Rev. Nicholas Lightfoot.
“May, 1816.
“My dear Lightfoot,

“I thank you for your letter. You may remember that in my youth I had a good deal of such practical philosophy as may be learned from Epictetus; it has often stood me in good stead; it affords strength, but no consolation; consolation can be found only in religion, and there I find it. My dear Lightfoot, it is now full two-and-twenty years since you and I shook hands at our last parting. In all likelihood, the separation between my son and me will not be for so long a time; in the common course of nature it cannot possibly be much longer, and I may be summoned to rejoin him before the year, yea, before the passing day or the passing hour be gone. Death has so often entered my doors, that he and I have long been familiar. The loss of five brothers and sisters (four of whom I remember well), of my father and mother, of a female cousin who grew up with me, and lived with me; of two daughters, and of several friends (among them two of the dearest friends that ever man possessed), had very much weaned my heart from this world, or, more properly speaking, had fixed its thoughts and desires upon a better state wherein there shall be no such separation, before this last and severest affliction. Still it would be senseless and ungrateful to the greatest degree, if I were not to feel and acknowledge the abundant blessings that I still possess, especially believing,
trusting, knowing, as I do, in the full assurance of satisfied reason and settled faith, that the treasure which has been taken from me now, is laid up in heaven, there to be repossessed with ample increase.

“Whenever I see Crediton, I must journey into the West for that sole purpose. My last ties with my native city were cut up by the roots two years ago, by the death of one of my best and dearest friends, and I shall never have heart to enter it again. Will you not give me one of your summer holidays, and visit, not only an old friend, but the part of England which is most worth visiting, and which attracts visitors from all parts? . . . .

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To the Rev. Herbert Hill.
“Keswick, May 4. 1816.
“My dear Uncle

“My estimate of human life is more favourable than yours. If death were the termination of our existence, then, indeed, I should wish rather to have been born a beast, or never to have been born at all; but considering nothing more certain than that this life is preparatory to a higher state of being, I am thankful for the happiness I have enjoyed, for the blessings which are left me, and for those to which I look with sure and certain hope. With me the enjoyments of life have more than counterbalanced its
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 181
anxieties and its pains. No man can possibly have been happier; and at this moment, when I am suffering under almost the severest loss which could have befallen me, I am richer both in heart and hope than if God had never given me the child whom it hath pleased him to take away. My heart has been exercised with better feelings during his life, and is drawn nearer towards Heaven by his removal. I do not recover spirits, but my strength is materially recruited, and I am not unhappy.

“I have employed myself with more than ordinary diligence. You will receive portions of my History in quick succession. I find abundant materials for a third volume, and have therefore determined not to injure a work, which has cost me so much labour, by attempting to compress it because the public would prefer two volumes to three. . . . . You will see that the story of Cardenas* is not an episode: it is the beginning of the great struggle with the Jesuits. This volume will bring the narrative down to the beginning of the last century, and conclude with the account of the manners of Brazil at that time, and the state of the country, as far as my documents enable me to give it. . . . .

“You see I have not been idle; indeed, at present there is more danger of my employing myself too much than too little. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”

* Hist. of Brazil, ch. xxv.

To Mr. Neville White.
“Keswick, May 4. 1816.
“My dear Neville,

“Thank you for your letter. I have had the prayers and the sympathy of many good men, and perhaps never child was lamented by so many persons of ripe years, unconnected with him by ties of consanguinity. But those of my friends who knew him loved him for his own sake, and many there are who grieve at his loss for mine. I dare not pursue this subject. My health is better, my spirits are not. I employ myself as much as possible; but there must be intervals of employment, and the moment that my mind is off duty, it recurs to the change which has taken place: that change, I fear, will long be the first thought when I wake in the morning, and the last when I lie down at night. Yet, Neville, I feel and acknowledge the uses of this affliction. Perhaps I was too happy; perhaps my affections were fastened by too many roots to this world; perhaps this precarious life was too dear to me.

Edith sets me the example of suppressing her own feelings for the sake of mine. We have many blessings left,—abundant ones, for which to be thankful. I know, too, to repine because Herbert is removed, would be as selfish as it would be sinful. Yea, I believe that, in my present frame of mind, I could lay my children upon the altar, like Abraham, and say, ‘Thy will be done.’ This I trust will continue, when the depressing effects of grief shall have passed away. I hope in time to recover some portion
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 183
of my constitutional cheerfulness, but never to lose that feeling with which I look on to eternity. I always knew the instability of earthly happiness; this woeful experience will make me contemplate more habitually and more ardently that happiness which is subject neither to chance nor change.

“Do not suppose that I am indulging in tears, or giving way to painful recollections. On the contrary, I make proper exertions, and employ myself assiduously for as great a portion of the day as is compatible with health. For the first week I did as much every day as would at other times have seemed the full and overflowing produce of three. This, of course, I could not continue, but at the time it was salutary. God bless you, my dear Neville!

Yours most affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“May 15. 1816.
“My dear G.,

“. . . . . If egotism* in poetry be a sin, God forgive all great poets! But perhaps it is allowable in them, when they have been dead a few centuries; and therefore they may be permitted to speak of themselves and appreciate themselves, provided they leave especial

* This refers to some observations which had been made upon the Proem to the marriage song for the Princess Charlotte.

orders that such passages be not made public until the statute of critical limitation expires. Who can be weak enough to suppose that the man who wrote that third stanza would be deterred from printing it by any fear of reprehension on the score of vanity? Who is to reprehend him? None of his peers assuredly; not one person who will sympathise with him as he reads; not one person who enters into his thoughts and feelings; not one person who can enter into the strain and enjoy it. Those persons, indeed, may who live wholly in the present; but I have taken especial care to make it known, that a faith in hereafter is as necessary for the intellectual as for the moral character, and that to the man of letters (as well as the Christian) the present forms but the slightest portion of his existence. He who would leave any durable monument behind him, must live in the past and look to the future. The poets of old scrupled not to say this; and who is there who is not delighted with these passages, whenever time has set his seal upon the prophecy which they contain? . . . .

“My spirits do not recover: that they should again be what they have been, I do not expect,—that, indeed, is impossible. But, except when reading or writing, I am deplorably depressed: the worst is, that I cannot conceal this. To affect anything like my old hilarity, and that presence of joyous feelings which carried with it a sort of perpetual sunshine, is, of course, impossible; but you must imagine that the absence of all this must make itself felt. The change in my daily occupations, in my sports, my relaxations,
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 185
my hopes, is so great, that it seems to have changed my very nature also. Nothing is said, but I often find anxious eyes fixed upon me, and watching my countenance. The best thing I can say is, that time passes on, and sooner or later remedies everything. . . . .

“I will have the books bound separately, because a book is a book, and two books are worth as much again as one; and if a man’s library comes to the hammer, this is of consequence; and whenever I get my knock-down blow, the poor books will be knocked down after me. But why did I touch upon this string? Alas! Grosvenor, it is because all things bear upon one subject, the centre of the whole circumference of all my natural associations

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Chauncey Hare Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, June 5. 1816.

“Thank you for both your letters. The history of your school-boy days reminds me of my own childhood and youth. I had a lonely childhood, and suffered much from tyranny at school, till I outgrew it, and came to have authority myself. In one respect, my fortune seems to have been better than yours, or my nature more accommodating. Where intellectual sympathy was not to be found, it was sufficient for me if moral sympathy existed. A kind heart and a gentle disposition won my friendship
more readily than brighter talents, where these were wanting. . . . .

“I left Westminster in a perilous state,—a heart full of feeling and poetry, a head full of Rousseau and Werter, and my religious principles shaken by Gibbon: many circumstances tended to give me a wrong bias, none to lead me right, except adversity, the wholesomest of all discipline. An instinctive modesty, rather than any purer cause, preserved me for a time from all vice. A severe system of stoical morality then came to its aid. I made Epictetus, for many months, literally my manual. The French revolution was then in its full career. I went to Oxford in January, 1793, a Stoic and a Republican. I had no acquaintance at the college, which was in a flagitious state of morals. I refused to wear powder, when every other man in the university wore it, because I thought the custom foolish and filthy; and I refused even to drink more wine than suited my inclination and my principles. Before I had been a week in the college, a little party had got round me, glad to form a sober society, of which I was the centre. Here I became intimate with Edmund Seward, whose death was the first of those privations which have, in great measure, weaned my heart from the world. He confirmed in me all that was good. Time and reflection, the blessings and the sorrows of life, and I hope I may add, with unfeigned humility, the grace of God, have done the rest. Large draughts have been administered to me from both urns. No man has suffered keener sorrows, no man has been more profusely blest. Four months ago no human
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 187
being could possibly be happier than I was, or richer in all that a wise heart could desire. The difference now is, that what was then my chief treasure is now laid up in Heaven.

“Your manuscript goes by the next coach. I shall be glad to see the conclusion, and any other of your verses, Latin or English. Is any portion of your time given to modern languages? If not, half an hour a day might be borrowed for German, the want of which I have cause to regret. I was learning it with my son; and shall never have heart to resume that as a solitary study which in his fellowship was made so delightful. The most ambitious founder of a family never built such hopes upon a child as I did on mine; and entirely resembling me as he did, if it had been God’s will that he should have grown up on earth, he would have shared my pursuits, partaken all my thoughts and feelings, and have in this manner succeeded to my plans and papers as to an intellectual inheritance. God bless you!

Robert Southey.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, June 12. 1816.
“My dear Friend,

“I have not written to you for some weeks. Time passes on, and the lapse of two months may perhaps enable me now to judge what permanent effect this late affliction may produce upon my habitual state of mind. It will be long before I shall cease to be
sensible of the change in my relaxations, my pleasures, hopes, plans, and prospects; very long, I fear, will it be before a sense of that change will cease to be my latest thought at night and my earliest in the morning. Yet I am certainly resigned to this privation; and this I say, not in the spirit with which mere philosophy teaches us to bear that which is inevitable, but with a Christian conviction that this early removal is a blessing to him who is removed. We read of persons who have suddenly become gray from violent emotions of grief or fear. I feel in some degree as if I had passed at once from boyhood to the decline of life. I had never ceased to be a boy in cheerfulness till now. All those elastic spirits are now gone; nor is it in the nature of things that they should return. I am still capable of enjoyment, and trust that there is much in store for me; but there is an end of that hilarity which I possessed more uninterruptedly, and in a greater degree, than any person with whom I was ever acquainted. You advised me to write down my recollections of
Herbert while they were fresh. I dare not undertake the task. Something akin to it, but in a different form, and with a more extensive purpose, I have begun; but my eyes and my head suffer too much in the occupation for me to pursue it as yet; and as these effects cannot be concealed, I must avoid as much as possible all that would produce them. This, believe me, is an effort of forbearance, for my heart is very much set upon completing what I have planned. The effect upon Edith will be as lasting as upon myself; but she had not the
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 189
same exuberance of spirits to lose, and therefore it will be less perceptible. The self-command which she has exercised has been truly exemplary, and commands my highest esteem. Your
god-daughter, thank God, is well. Her daily lesson will long be a melancholy task on my part, since it will be a solitary one. She is now so far advanced that I can make some of her exercises of use, and set her to translate passages for my notes, from French, Spanish, or Portuguese. Of course this is not done without some assistance and some correction. Still while she improves herself she is assisting me, and the pleasure that this gives me is worth a great deal. She is a good girl, with a ready comprehension, quick feelings, a tender heart, and an excellent disposition. I pray God that her life may be spared to make me happy while I live, and some one who may be worthy of her when it shall be time for her to contract other ties and other duties.

“I suppose you will receive my Lay in a few days.

“God bless you, my dear friend!

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

In this series of melancholy letters there have been several allusions to a monument in verse which my father contemplated raising to the memory of his dear son. This design was never completed, but several hints and touching thoughts were noted down, and about fifty lines written, which seem to be the commencement. The latter part of these I quote here:—

“Short time hath passed since, from my pilgrimage
To my rejoicing home restored, I sung
A true thanksgiving song of pure delight.
Never had man whom Heaven would heap with bliss
More happy day, more glad return than mine.
Yon mountains with their wintry robe were clothed
When, from a heart that overflow’d with joy,
I poured that happy strain. The snow not yet
Upon those mountain sides hath disappeared
Beneath the breath of spring, and in the grave
Herbert is laid, the child who welcomed me
With deepest love upon that happy day.
Herbert, my only and my studious boy;
The sweet companion of my daily walks;
Whose sports, whose studies, and whose thoughts I shared,
Yea, in whose life I lived; in whom I saw
My better part transmitted and improved.
Child of my heart and mind, the flower and crown
Of all my hopes and earthly happiness.”

These fragments are published in the latest edition of his poems.

To Chauncey Hare Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, July 22. 1816.
“My dear Chauncey,

“. . . . . It will be unfortunate if chance should not one day bring me within reach of you; but I would rather that chance should bring you to Cumberland, when you can spare a few weeks for such a visit. You will find a bed, plain fare, and a glad welcome; books for wet weather, a boat for sunny evenings; the loveliest parts of this lovely county within reach and within sight; and myself one of the best guides to all the recesses of the vales and mountains. As a geologist, you will enjoy one more pleasure than I do, who am ignorant of every branch
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 191
of science. Mineralogy and botany are the only branches which I wish that I had possessed, not from any predilection for either, but because opportunities have fallen in my way for making observations (had I been master of the requisite knowledge) by which others might have been interested and guided. These two are sciences which add to our out-door enjoyments, and have no injurious effects. Chemical and physical studies seem, on the contrary, to draw on very prejudicial consequences. Their utility is not to be doubted; but it appears as if man could not devote himself to these pursuits without blunting his finer faculties.

“This county is very imperfectly visited by many of its numerous guests. They take the regular route, stop at the regular stations, ascend one of the mountains, and then fancy they have seen the Lakes, in which, after a thirteen years’ residence, I am every year discovering new scenes of beauty. Here I shall probably pass the remainder of my days. Our church, as you may perhaps recollect, stands at a distance from the town, unconnected with any other buildings, and so as to form a striking and beautiful feature in the vale. The churchyard is as open to the eye and to the breath of heaven as if it were a Druid’s place of meeting. There I shall take up my last abode, and it is some satisfaction to think so—to feel as if I were at anchor, and should shift my berth no more. A man whose habitual frame of mind leads him to look forward, is not the worse for treading the churchyard path, with a belief that along that very path his hearse is one day to convey him.


“Do not imagine that I am of a gloomy temper,—far from it; never was man blessed with a more elastic spirit or more cheerful mind; and even now the liquor retains its body and its strength, though it will sparkle no more.

“Your comments upon the Castle of Indolence express the feeling of every true poet; the second part must always be felt as injuring the first. I agree with you, also, as respecting the Minstrel, beautiful and delightful as it is. It still wants that imaginative charm which Thomson has caught from Spenser, but which no poet has ever so entirely possessed as Spenser himself. Among the many plans of my ambitious boyhood, the favourite one was that of completing the Faëry Queen. For this purpose I had collected every hint and indication of what Spenser meant to introduce in the progress of his poem, and had planned the remaining legends in a manner which, as far as I can remember after a lapse of four or five-and-twenty years, was not without some merit. What I have done as a poet falls far short of what I had hoped to do; but in boyhood and in youth I dreamt of poetry alone; and I suppose it is the course of nature, that the ardour which this pursuit requires should diminish as we advance in life. In youth we delight in strong emotions, to be agitated and inflamed with hope, and to weep at tragedy. In maturer life we have no tears to spare; it is more delightful to have our judgment exercised than our feelings.

“God bless you! Come and visit me when you can. I long to see you.

R. S.”
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 193
To Chauncey Hare Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, August 17. 1816.
“My dear Chauncey,

“I was from home for a few days’ absence when your letter arrived. I have seen too many instances of unjust prepossession to be surprised at them now. Much of my early life was embittered by them when I was about your age; and in later years I have been disinherited by two uncles in succession, for no other assignable or possible reason than the caprice of weak minds and misgoverned tempers. In this manner was I deprived of a good property, which the ordinary course of law would have given me. These things never robbed me of a moment’s tranquillity,—never in the slightest degree affected my feelings and spirits, nor ever mingled with my dreams. There is little merit in regarding such things with such philosophy. I suffered no loss, no diminution of any one enjoyment, and should have despised myself if anything so merely external and extraneous could have disturbed me. It is not in the heel, but in the heart, that I am vulnerable; and in the heart I have now been wounded: how deeply. He only who sees the heart can tell.

“Whenever you come I shall rejoice to see you. Do not, however, wind up your expectations too high. In many things I may, in some things I must, disappoint the ideal which you have formed. No man has ever written more faithfully from his heart; but my manners have not the same habitual unreserve as my pen. A disgust at the professions of
friendship and feeling and sentiment in those who have neither the one nor the other, has, perhaps, insensibly led me to an opposite extreme; and in wishing rather esse quam videri, I may sometimes have appeared what I am not.

“I would not have you look on to the University with repugnance or dread. My college years were the least beneficial and the least happy of my life; but this was owing to public and private circumstances, utterly unlike those in which you will be placed. The comfort of being domesticated with persons whom you love, you will miss and feel the want of. In other respects, the change will bring with it its advantages. To enter at college, is taking a degree in life, and graduating as a man. I am not sure that there would be either schools or universities in a Utopia of my creation; in the world as it is, both are so highly useful, that the man who has not been at a public school and at college feels his deficiency as long as he lives. You renew old acquaintances at college; you confirm early intimacies. Probably, also, you form new friendships at an age when they are formed with more judgment, and are therefore likely to endure. And one who has been baptized in the springs of Helicon, is in no danger of falling into vice, in a place where vice appears in the most disgusting form.

“There is a paper of mine in the last Quarterly, upon the means of bettering the condition of the poor. You will be interested by a story which it contains of an old woman upon Exmoor. In Wordsworth’s blank-verse it would go to every heart. Have
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 195
you read
The Excursion? and have you read the collection of Wordsworth’s other poems, in two octavo volumes? If you have not, there is a great pleasure in store for you. I am no blind admirer of Wordsworth, and can see where he has chosen subjects which are unworthy in themselves, and where the strength of his imagination and of his feeling is directed upon inadequate objects. Notwithstanding these faults, and their frequent occurrence, it is by the side of Milton that Wordsworth will have his station awarded him by posterity. God bless you!

R. S.”
To John Rickman, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 25. 1816.
“My dear Rickman,

“I have been long in your debt; my summers are more like those of the grasshopper than of the ant. Wynn was here nearly a week, and when he departed I rejoined him with my friend Nash at Lowther. . . . . This, and a round home by way of Wordsworth’s employed a week; and what with the King of Prussia’s librarian, the two secretaries of the Bible Society, and other such out of the way personages who come to me by a sort of instinct, I have had little time and less leisure since my return.

“The last odd personage who made his appearance was Owen of Lanark*, who is neither more nor

* On this subject see Colloquies, vol. i. p. 132. &c.

less than such a Pantisocrat as I was in the days of my youth. He is as ardent now as I was then, and will soon be cried down as a visionary (certainly he proposes to do more than I can believe practicable in this generation); but I will go to Lanark to see what he has done. I conversed with him for about an hour, and, not knowing anything about him, good part of the time elapsed before I could comprehend his views,—so little probable did it appear that any person should come to me with a levelling system of society, and tell me he had been to the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Ministers, &c. But he will be here again in a day or two, and meantime I have read a pamphlet which is much more injudicious than his conversation, and will very probably frustrate the good which he might by possibility have produced.

“To this system he says we must come speedily. . . . . What he says of the manufacturing system has much weight in it; the machinery which enables us to manufacture for half the world has found its way into other countries; every market is glutted; more goods are produced than can be consumed; and every improvement in mechanism that performs the work of hands, throws so many mouths upon the public,—a growing evil which has been increasing by the premature employment of children, bringing them into competition with the grown workmen when they should have been at school or at play. He wants Government to settle its paupers and supernumerary hands in villages upon waste lands, to live in community; urging that we must go to the root of the evil at once. He talks of what he
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 197
has done at Lanark (and this indeed has been much talked of by others); but his address to his people there has much that is misplaced, injudicious, and reprehensible. Did you see him in London? Had we met twenty years ago, the meeting might have influenced both his life and mine in no slight degree. During those years he has been a practical man, and I have been a student; we do not differ in the main point, but my mind has ripened more than his.

“You talk of brain transfusion, and placing one man’s memory upon another man’s shoulders. That same melancholy feeling must pass through the mind of every man who labours hard in acquiring knowledge; for, communicate what we can, and labour as assiduously as we may, how much must needs die with us? This reflection makes me sometimes regret (as far as is allowable) the time which I employ in doing what others might do as well, or what might as well be left undone. The Quarterly might go on without me, and should do so if I could go on without it. But what would become of my Portuguese acquirements and of yonder heap of materials, which none but myself can put in order, if I were to be removed by death?

“For the two voted monuments, I want one durable one, which should ultimately pay itself,—a pyramid not smaller than the largest in Egypt, the inside of which should serve London for Catacombs: some such provision is grievously wanted for so huge a capitol. God bless you!

R. S.”