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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837

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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Since the commencement of this last and bitterest sorrow which had befallen my father, he had devoted himself wholly to the office of lightening, as far as possible, the affliction both to the poor sufferer herself, and to all his household. He had never quitted home, and, with the rare exception of a single friend, had seen no society whatever.

This sort of life, however, although his health did not appear yet to suffer, was naturally deemed so likely to prove permanently injurious to him, that his friends had often and strongly urged him to leave home for a time, and recruit himself by change of air and scene.

But while assenting to the desirableness of such a change, he had considerable difficulty in making up his mind to attempt it. My mother had become a constant object of solicitude; his presence was often useful, always a source of as much pleasure as she was capable of receiving; and he knew, moreover,
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that in absence there would always be a certain amount of anxiety, which would materially diminish the good to be gained. He felt, also, the comfort his presence was to his daughters, and the blank which the absence of his continual cheerfulness would make to them.

It happened, however, that the brief, enforced absence at Lancaster, which has just been noticed, came opportunely to decide him. He found that, after the momentary discomfort had passed away, his absence did not make any very material difference; and he determined to seize the time present, although the year was already so far advanced, for a journey of considerable length, in which I was to be his companion. Our progress was an extremely circuitous one; and as almost every halting-place was at the house of some hospitable friend, it was all pure pleasure to me; and indeed he himself enjoyed it as much as any one could do whose thoughts and heart were elsewhere: he appreciated every minute beauty of the country we passed through with all his natural quickness of perception, the frequent meetings with old friends were a source of evident pleasure, and with the remembrance of old times his spirits seemed occasionally to recover their old buoyancy: neither, indeed, could he help being gratified with the reception he everywhere met with. Our first halting-place was at Lord Kenyon’s beautiful seat, near Oswestry, whence the following letter was written, in which the reader will find an outline of our route.

To Charles Swain, Esq.
“Gredington, Oct. 27. 1836.
“My dear Sir,

“No compliment has ever been addressed to me which gratified me more than your Dedicatory Sonnet, and one only which gratified me so much (that of Henry Taylor’s Philip van Artevelde); both for the same reason, because both are in themselves singularly beautiful, and I know that both were written with sincerity.

“This letter is written from my first halting place on a very wide circuit. Cuthbert and I left home on Monday, bound for the Land’s End, from whence I shall turn back with him to Sussex, and having deposited him there, proceed to London. There my purpose is to remain a fortnight, after which I shall perform my promise of visiting Neville White whenever I went again to town, and then make the best of my way home. It is an unfavourable season for making such a journey, but my brother, Dr. Southey, advised and urged me to break from home, and not rely too confidently upon a stock of health and spirits on which there were large demands.

“Being able to do this (which I hardly expected till a fortunate subpœna to Lancaster put it to the proof), I had the additional motive of going to examine the only collections of Cowper’s letters which have not been entrusted to me,—those of Mr. Bagot, which I am to peruse with his son, near Birmingham, and those of Joseph Hill, which were bequeathed as
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 309
an heir-loom, with a good estate, to Jekyll. I go to Mr. Bagot’s on Monday next, and shall have access to Mr. Jekyll’s MSS. in London. There can be little doubt of my finding in these collections (especially in the latter) materials for my supplementary volume.

“There was a third inducement for this journey. I wished to show Cuthbert the scenes of my childhood and youth, which no one but myself could show him, and to introduce him to a few old friends, all that are left to me in that part of England. Probably it may be my last journey to those parts. We hope to reach Bristol on Thursday, Nov. 3., and intend to remain a week there.

“Direct to me at Mr. Cottle’s, Bedminster, Bristol. Cottle published my Joan of Arc in 1796, and there are very few who entertain a warmer regard for me than he has done from that time.

“The lines which I have written in Miss ——’s album are on the opposite page to that upon which O’Connell and Joseph Buonaparte have inscribed their effusions. You will see that mine did not require any premeditation:
“‘Birds of a feather flock together;
But vide the opposite page!
And thence you may gather I’m not of a feather
With some of the birds in this cage.’

As soon as Cowper is completed, Longman means to commence a monthly publication of my poems in ten volumes. The volumes shall be sent you duly as they are published. Very few of my successors in this generation would be so well en-
titled to them as an acknowledgment of their merits fewer still as a mark of personal regard.

Cuthbert desires his kind remembrances; and believe me always,

My dear Sir,
Yours with sincere regard,
Robert Southey.”

From Gredington we proceeded, after paying some visits on the way, to Bristol, where the publisher of Joan of Arc in 1796, Mr. Cottle, hospitably entertained us. From his hands my father had received, when struggling with his early difficulties, many most substantial acts of kindness which he was always prompt to mention and acknowledge, and under his roof, and with his sisters, my mother had been left after their romantic marriage. Here, therefore, were many mournful thoughts awakened, though no one could yield to them less, or dwell more wisely than he did upon every alleviation. We visited together all his old haunts,—his grandmother’s house at Bedminster, so vividly described in his Autobiography, the College Green where Miss Tyler had lived,—the house where he was born,—the schools he had been sent to. He had forgotten nothing,—no short cut,—no by-way; and he would surprise me often by darting down some alley, or threading some narrow lane,—the same which in his schoolboy days he traversed. We went to Westbury to look for Martin Hall*, the house where he had passed one of the happiest portions of his life; but no trace of it could be found; and we were then told, I be-

* See Vol I. p. 340.

Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 311
lieve erroneously, that the walls of a nunnery enclosed the place where it stood; at all events, the general features of the place were so changed, that my father did not recognise the house again, if indeed it was then standing.

This was a pleasant visit, and my father’s enjoyment was greatly enhanced by the company of Mr. Savage Landor, who was then residing at Clifton, and in whose society we spent several delightful days. He was one of the few men with whom my father used to enter freely into conversation, and on such occasions it was no mean privilege to be a listener. We also visited Corston,—his first boarding-school, and found all there exactly as he has described it in his Autobiography and in the “Retrospect.”

I was much struck with his strong attachment to his native city, and his appreciation of all the beauties of the neighbourhood; and I have often wondered he did not take up his abode there or in the neighbourhood in earlier life.

Our next visit is described in the following letter.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bedminster, Nov. 10. 1836.
“My dear G.,

“Right glad should I be to feel myself sufficiently at rest and at leisure for writing at full length to you; but little rest shall I have, and as little leisure, till we meet in London some six weeks hence.

“We left home on Monday the 24th, crossed the
Mersey, and got to Chester the next evening, and the next day reached
Lord Kenyon’s to dinner. Gredington (his house) is in Flintshire, not far from old Bangor, where the monks were massacred, and one of the small meres which are not uncommon in Cheshire touches upon his grounds. The view is very splendid: Welsh mountains in the distance, stretching far and wide, and the fore and middle ground undulated and richly wooded. There we remained till Friday morning, and then posted to Sweeny Hall, near Oswestry, were Mr. Parker had a party to meet me at dinner. I called there on Davies’s mother and his two sisters, who are just such women as the mother and sisters of so thoroughly worthy a man ought to be. The former lives in a comfortable cottage which he purchased for his father some years ago, the two others are married; and the pleasure of seeing these good people, and of seeing with what delight they heard me talk of Davies, would have overpaid me for my journey.

“Saturday we reached Mr. Warter’s (near Shrewsbury) to dinner, staid there Sunday, and on Monday proceeded to Birmingham, from whence we took chaise for Mr. Egerton Bagot’s at Pipe Hayes. . . . .

“Two mornings were fully occupied in reading Cowper’s letters with him, and transcribing such as had hitherto been withheld.

“At four on Wednesday the chaise which I had ordered at Birmingham arrived, and took us to the Hen and Chickens. We then flew (that is to say, went in a fly) about a mile out of that town, to drink tea with
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 313
Mr. Riland, a clergyman, who married a sister of Robert Wolsely (your contemporary at Westminster), and who has now and then communicated with me by letter. We had a pleasant evening; after which we returned, like dutiful chickens, to rest under the Hen’s wings.

“Thursday, we came to Bristol, and took up our quarters here at Bedminster with Cottle. Here I have been to the church which I used to attend with my mother and grandmother more than half a hundred years ago; and I have shown Cuthbert my grandmother’s house,—what was once my garden of Eden. At church I was placed in a seat exactly opposite the spot on which our pew had stood; but the whole interior of the church had been altered. A few monuments only remained as they had been. November 8. Tuesday, we walked with Landor about the finest parts of the neighbourhood; but the house which I inhabited for one year at Westbury, and in which I wrote more verses than in any other year of my life, has been pulled down. Yesterday I took the North Pole* to Corston, and went into the house in which I had been at school fifty-five years ago.

“We go on Saturday to visit Bowles at Bremhill, and shall stay there till Wednesday.

“To-day I have a letter from home with accounts not on the whole unfavourable;—but upon which I must not allow myself to dwell. Right glad shall be, or rather right thankful, (for gladness and I have

* An appellation given to the Editor by Mr. Bedford.

little to do with each other now) to find myself at home again. I am well, thank God, and my spirits seldom fail; but I do not sleep better than at home, and lose that after-dinner nap, which has for some time been my soundest and most refreshing sleep. On the whole, however, I expect to find myself the better for this journey, when I return to remain by the wreck. You will not wonder that I am anxious to be there again, and that I have a satisfaction in being there—miserable as it is—which it is impossible to feel any where else.

“God bless you, my dear Grosvenor!

R. S.

“Our love to Miss Page.”

To Miss Katharine Southey.
“Wells, Wednesday Evening,
“Nov. 16. 1836.
“My dear Kate,

“. . . . . Look at the history of Bremhill, and you will see Bowles’s parsonage; it is near the fine old church, and as there are not many better livings, there are few more pleasantly situated. The garden is ornamented in his way, with a jet-fountain, something like a hermitage, an obelisk, a cross, and some inscriptions. Two swans, who answer to the names of Snowdrop and Lily, have a pond to themselves, and if they are not duly fed there at the usual time, up
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 315
they march to the breakfast-room window.
Mrs. Bowles has also a pet hawk called Peter, a name which has been borne by two of his predecessors. The view from the back of the house extends over a rich country, to the distant downs, and the white horse may be seen distinctly by better eyes than mine, without the sud of a glass. . . . .

“Much as I had heard of Bowles’s peculiarities, I should very imperfectly have understood his character if I had not passed some little time under his roof. He has indulged his natural timidity to a degree little short of insanity, yet he sees how ridiculous it makes him, and laughs himself at follies which nevertheless he is continually repeating. He is literally afraid of every thing. His oddity, his untidyness, his simplicity, his benevolence, his fears, and his good-nature, make him one of the most entertaining and extraordinary characters I ever met with. He is in his seventy-third year, and for that age is certainly a fine old man, in full possession of all his faculties, though so afraid of being deaf, when a slight cold affects his hearing, that he puts a watch to his ear twenty times in the course of the day. Our reception was as hospitable as possible, Mrs. Bowles was as kind as himself, and every thing was done to make us comfortable. . . . .

“The Bishop, unluckily, is at Weymouth; he wrote to Bowles to say how glad he should be to see us; but he will not be in Wells till this day-week. Whether the Dean (Goodenough) is here, the people of the inn cannot tell. . . . .

“Tell your dear mother that I earnestly wish to
be at home again, and shall spend no time on the way that can be spared.

“Love to all. So good night: and God bless you!

R. S.”

The next letter gives in brief an account of great part of the journey; and I think is not uninteresting, as showing his capabilities of bearing fatigue, and of deriving some pleasure from such a routine of visits as might reasonably have been expected to be wearisome to him.

To John Rickman, Esq.
“Linton, Dec. 7. 1836.
“My dear R.,

After a course as erratic as that of a comet which has been driven out of its way (if comets are liable to such accidents), here we are, in certainly the most beautiful spot in the West of England. I was here in 1799, alone, and on foot. At that time the country between Porlock and Ilfracombe was not practicable for wheel carriages, and the inn at Linton received all travellers in the kitchen. Instead of that single public house, there are now several hotels, and in its accommodation, and in the number of good houses which have been erected by settlers, Linton vies with any watering place in Devonshire.

“We were within a few miles of this place a fortnight ago, when Poole parted with us at Holnicot, Sir T. Acland’s, Somersetshire House; but Sir T.
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 317
persuaded us to accompany him to Killerton, that we might see the road that he has opened along the side of the Exe, and then return to the south coast by way of Barnstaple. At Killerton we met
Scoresby the Ceticide, now the Reverend, and the Earl of Devon. We paid our visit to Mrs. Hodson, at Dawlish and there met Colonel Napier, brother to the Peninsular historian, and Mrs. Crawford, widow of the General, who was killed at Ciudad Rodrigo. Thursday last we breakfasted with Charles Hoare, the banker, who is uncle to both Sir Thomas and Lady Acland. He has a beautiful house, which he built himself, near Dawlish. From thence Sir Thomas drove us to Mamhead, where Sir Robert Newman has built, and is now busily decorating, the most gorgeous mansion I have ever seen. Here Lord Devon met us, and took us to Powderham Castle. The Poor-Law Bill is working well here, they tell me; and it has had the good effect of bringing the better kind of country gentlemen in contact with the farmers, who used to think that gentlemen knew nothing, and are now convinced that they are better informed than themselves.

“We staid one night at Powderham, and went next day to my old friend Lightfoot’s, near Crediton; there we spent three comfortable days in a parsonage, having every thing about us that the heart of man could desire. To-morrow we return to Barnstaple, and go to Mr. Buck’s, the chief of the North Devon Conservatives, near Bedeford, who has offered us hospitality, and to show us Clovelly and Hartland. Sir Thomas talks of meeting us again at Bude. . . . .
Poole’s we met Mr. Cross, whose discoveries astonished the Wittenagemot at Bristol. You would like his frank unassuming manner. . . . . We saw the storm of Tuesday, Nov. 29., from a house on the beach at Dawlish, which was considered to be in danger, if the wind had not changed when it did. The effect of the change more resembled what I suppose may be that of a hurricane than any thing I ever witnessed before: it whirled the waves about, and the whole surface of the sea was covered with spray flying in all directions. On Saturday week we were called out to a fire which consumed a large farm-house, not far from Lightfoot’s. It will be well if the ensuing week passes without our seeing a shipwreck; for when the winter commences with storms, they seem generally to prevail through it, as far as my observation extends, or rather as far as my recollection can be trusted.

“This wandering life is as little suited to my inclination as to my habits; but it has its use in shaking up the system and in refreshing old recollections. Much of what I see and hear will at some time or other turn to account, I hope; and, moreover, it will be a good thing for Cuthbert to have seen my old friends and so much of his own country.

“God bless you!

R. Southey.”

From Linton, after visiting Mr. Buck at Hartland Abbey, and meeting Sir Thomas Acland at Bude Haven, who had ridden fast and far that he might
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 319
welcome my father in three counties*, we pursued our way down the iron-bound north coast of Cornwall, visiting the most remarkable places. Tintagel†, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur (see some of the first chapters of
Morte d’ Arthur), interested him greatly; and the rugged scene lacked no accompaniments of storm and tempest which could increase its grandeur; for we could hardly keep our footing while we viewed it; and to have scaled the rocks which lead up to it would have been impossible in such weather, and dangerous enough at any time.

Further down the coast we visited that singular tract of sand which has been rendered well known by the discovery of the ancient British Church of Peranzabuloe (or St. Peran in the Sands), which, when we saw it, was again half buried. The structure itself was of the rudest and humblest kind; and what struck us most forcibly was, that the sand all around was filled with small fragments of human bones, indicating

* At Holnicot, in Somersetshire; Killerton, in Devonshire; and Bude, in Cornwall.

† I find this place well described in a topographical account of Cornwall:—
“Reft from the parent land by some dire shock,
Majestically stands an island rock,
On whose rough brow Tintagel’s donjon keep
Sternly uprears and bristles o’er the deep:
Her arches, portal tower, and pillars grey
Lie scattered, all in ruinous decay.
And wild the scene; from far is heard the roar
Of billows breaking on the shingly shore;
And at long intervals the startling shriek
Of the white tenants of the lofty peak;
Beneath in caverns raves the maddening surge,
Around with ruins capt grim rocks emerge,
And Desolation fills his gloomy throne,
Raised on the fragments of an age unknown.”

a burial place at some distant period of far greater extent than the size of the building or the population of the country would have led any one to think necessary. I suppose, however, it had been an oratory, and not a parish church. We were told that a few days before our visit, the sand shifting during a storm had exposed to view a row of stone coffins without covers, with the skeletons in them nearly perfect; but they had been again buried by the last turn of the wind, which, indeed, was already driving the sand, which is exceedingly deep and loose, over the remains of the little church itself.

Helston was our farthest resting place, where the Rev. Derwent Coleridge was then residing; from whence we visited the Land’s-end, with the wild grandeur of which my father was particularly struck. St. Michael’s Mount, in Penzance Bay, also pleased him greatly; and he was delighted at seeing the identical chair from which Rebecca Penlake was thrown, as narrated in his well-known ballad. It is situated on the outside of the church tower, and is evidently part of an old lanthorn or place to light a beacon fire on.

One other scene also which he had described in verse, he was much pleased at now being able to visit for the first time,—the Well of St. Keyne, near Liskeard, which we saw during a brief visit to the Rev. W. Farwell; and during this excursion, which was impracticable on foot, I saw my father for the first and last time in my life mount on horseback. That he had ever been a good rider I should think very doubtful; but on this occasion he surpassed my expectations.
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 321
Our Christmas was passed at Tavistock, at the
Rev. E. Bray’s, whose wife is the well-known novelist and the kind editress of Mary Colling’s simple verses. My father had known her for some time as a not unfrequent correspondent, but not until now personally. A second visit to Mr. Lightfoot ended our western sojourn.

To Miss Katharine Southey.
“Stockleigh Poxneroy, Jan. 1. 1837.
“My dear Daughter,

“Whichever it be to whom this letter is due, (for I keep ill account of such things) I begin with such wishes to both, and to all others at home, and all friends round Skiddaw or elsewhere, as the first day of the year calls forth.

“It was some comfort to hear that your dearest mother listened to my letters, and asked some questions. And it is some comfort to know that my presence is not wanted, while it is in vain to wish that it were wished for. I shall be home by the middle of February; glad to be there, and glad that I have taken a journey which has warmed some old attachments, and been in many respects of use. As for Cuthbert, he declares that it would have been worth while to make the whole journey, for the sake of seeing Mary Colling. Verily I never saw any person in, and about whom, every thing was more entirely what you could wish, and what it ought to
be. She is the pattern of neatness and propriety, simplicity and good sense. Her old master, Mr. Hughes, is as proud of her as if she was his daughter. They live in a small house, the garden of which extends to the river Tavy, a beautiful stream; and her kitchen is such a kitchen for neatness and comfort, that you would say at once no person who could not be happy there deserved to be happy anywhere else. Strangers (and there are many whom
Mrs. Bray’s book draws to Tavistock and Dartmoor) generally inquire for her, and find means to see her, and she has already a little library of books which have been presented to her by such persons. . . . .

Mr. Bray’s is the only house in which I have eaten upon pewter since I was a child; he has a complete service of it, with his crest engraved upon it, and bright as silver. The house (built for him by the Duck, as the Duke of Bedford is called in Tavistock,) is a very good one, the garden large and pleasantly laid out; it includes some of the ruins, and a door from it opens upon a delightful walk on the Tavy. In spite of the weather we had two pleasant walks, one of about ten miles, the other about six; but of Dartmoor we could see nothing. Our time passed pleasantly, Mary paying us a visit every day; some more Fables in her own handwriting will be among the most interesting autographs that I have to dispose of.

“So much for Tavistock. I see it to great disadvantage. The Tavy is like our Greta in its better
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 323
parts, the water quite as clear; but snow has the effect of making water look dirty, and
Mr. Bray compared the foam of the river to soap-suds; a simile not less apt than that of Sir Walter, who likens the foam of a dark stream to the mane of a chestnut horse. The small patches of snow on the banks looked like linen laid there to dry or to bleach. The beauty of brook and torrent scenery was thus totally destroyed; yet I could well imagine what the country is at a better season, and in all such scenery it resembles Cumberland.

“I may fill up what remains of this paper with some epitaphs, which I wrote down from the tombs in Bremhill churchyard. The first two were as follows, on a Dissenter and his wife; and because they were Dissenters, Bowles, in reference to the latter, wrote the third, on one of his own flock.

“‘E. W. 1800.
“‘A loving wife, a friend sincere,
A tender mother, sleepeth here.”
“‘W. W. 1834.
“‘Here in the silent dust lies one
Beloved of God.
Redeemed he was by Christ,
Washed in his precious blood,
And faithful was his name.
From tribulation great he came,
In love he lived, in Christ he died;
His life desired, but God denied.’

Bowles, who loves not the Dissenters more than I do, wrote, in contrast to this, the following inscription, on a neighbouring tombstone:—

“‘Reader, this heap of earth, this grave-stone mark!
Here lie the last remains of poor John Dark,
Five years beyond man’s age he lived, and trod
This path each sabbath to the House of God;
From youth to age, nor ever from his heart
Did that best prayer our Saviour taught depart.
At his last hour with lifted hands he cried,
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done! and died.’

“This was a hit at those who went to meeting instead of church, and never used the Lord’s prayer; moreover it alluded to the Dissenter wishing to live longer if he could.

“And now God bless you all! Heartily indeed do I wish myself at home; but I am far from repenting of my journey.

Your dutiful father,
R. S.”
To Henry Taylor, Esq.
“Buckland, Jan. 8. 1837.
“My dear H. T.,

“. . . . . If I have learnt to look with indifference upon those whom I meet in casual society, it is because in early life circumstances (and disposition also) made me retire into myself, like a snail into his shell; and in later years, because so many new faces have come to me like shadows, and so departed. Yet I was not slow in my likings when young, nor has time rendered me so: it has only withheld me from making any advances towards intimacy with persons, however likeable, whom it is certain that I can have very few
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 325
opportunities of seeing again, and no leisure for conversing with by letter.

“It is indeed most desirable to knit our friends in a circle; and one of those hopes which, thank God, have in me the strength of certainties, is that this will be done in the next stage of our existence, when all the golden links of the chain will be refined and rendered lasting. I have been travelling for the last ten weeks through places where recollections met me at every stage; and this certainly alone could render such recollections endurable. My faith in that future which cannot be far off never fails.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Miss Katharine Southey.
“Tarring, Feb. 8. 1837.
“My dear Kate,

“. . . . . Yesterday I and Karl had a walk of some fourteen or fifteen miles, to the Roman encampments of Sisbury and Chankbury. The latter commands a noble prospect over the Weald. We had also a remarkable view of Worthing, which appeared like a ruined city (Balbec or Palmyra) in the distance, on the edge of what we knew to be the sea, but what might as well have been a desert; for it was so variegated with streaks of sunshine and of shade, that no one ignorant of the place could have determined whether it were sea or sky that lay before us. . . . .


“I shall come home hungry for work, for sleeping after dinner, and for walking with a book in my hand. The first thing I have to do is to write a preface for Cowper’s Homer; little more than an evening’s employment. Then I set about reviewing Mrs. Bray’s book, and carefully reading through Joan of Arc, that it may be sent immediately to the press; for the first volume of my Poetical works is to appear on July 11. (a month after Cowper is finished), and we wish to have two or three more through the press, so as to prevent all danger of delay in the publication. Then there are two volumes of Cowperiana to prepare (for which I am to have, as is fitting, separate pay), and two volumes more of Admirals, besides other things: enough to do, but not too much; for I see my way through all, and was never in better trim for work. . . . .

“And now, God bless you all! Rejoice, Baron Chinchilla, for I am coming again to ask of you whether you have everything that a cat’s heart can desire! Rejoice, Tommy Cockhairn, for I must have a new black coat! and I have chosen that it should be the work of thy hands, not of a London tailor. Rejoice, Echo, for the voice which thou lovest will soon awaken thee again in thy mountains! Rejoice, Ben Wilson, for sample clogs are to be sent into the west country, for the good of the Devonshire men!

R. S.”
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 327
To —— ——.
“Keswick, March, 1837.

“You will probably, ere this, have given up all expectation of receiving an answer to your letter of December 29. I was on the borders of Cornwall when that letter was written; it found me a fortnight afterwards in Hampshire. During my subsequent movements in different parts of the country, and a tarriance of three busy weeks in London, I had no leisure for replying to it; and now that I am once more at home, and am clearing off the arrears of business which had accumulated during a long absence, it has lain unanswered till the last of a numerous file, not from disrespect or indifference to its contents, but because, in truth, it is not an easy task to answer it, nor a pleasant one to cast a damp over the high spirits and the generous desires of youth.

“What you are I can only infer from your letter, which appears to be written in sincerity; though I may suspect that you have used a fictitious signature. Be that as it may, the letter and the verses bear the same stamp; and I can well understand the state of mind which they indicate. What I am you might have learnt by such of my publications as have come into your hands; and had you happened to be acquainted with me, a little personal knowledge would have tempered your enthusiasm. You might have

* The lady to whom this and the next letter are addressed, is now well known as a prose writer of no common powers.

had your ardour in some degree abated by seeing a poet in the decline of life, and witnessing the effect which age produces upon our hopes and aspirations; yet I am neither a disappointed man nor a discontented one, and you would never have heard from me any chilling sermons upon the text, ‘All is vanity.’

“It is not my advice that you have asked as to the direction of your talents, but my opinion of them; and yet the opinion may be worth little, and the advice much. You evidently possess, and in no inconsiderable degree, what Wordsworth calls ‘the faculty of verse.’ I am not depreciating it when I say, that in these times it is not rare. Many volumes of poems are now published every year without attracting public attention, any one of which, if it had appeared half a century ago, would have obtained a high reputation for its author. Whoever, therefore, is ambitious of distinction in this way, ought to be prepared for disappointment.

“But it is not with a view to distinction that you should cultivate this talent, if you consult your own happiness. I, who have made literature my profession, and devoted my life to it, and have never for a moment repented of the deliberate choice, think myself nevertheless bound in duty to caution every young man who applies as an aspirant to me for encouragement and advice, against taking so perilous a course. You will say, that a woman has no need of such a caution: there can be no peril in it for her. In a certain sense this is true; but there is a danger of which I would, with all kindness and all earnestness, warn you. The day dreams in which you
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habitually indulge are likely to induce a distempered state of mind; and in proportion as all the ordinary uses of the world seem to you flat and unprofitable, you will be unfitted for them without becoming fitted for anything else. Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are you will be less eager for celebrity. You will not seek in imagination for excitement, of which the vicissitudes of this life, and the anxieties from which you must not hope to be exempted, be your state what it may, will bring with them but too much.

“But do not suppose that I disparage the gift which you possess; nor that I would discourage you from exercising it. I only exhort you so to think of it, and so to use it, as to render it conducive to your own permanent good. Write poetry for its own sake; not in a spirit of emulation, and not with a view to celebrity: the less you aim at that, the more likely you will be to deserve, and finally to obtain it. So written, it is wholesome both for the heart and soul; it may be made the surest means, next to religion, of soothing the mind, and elevating it. You may embody in it your best thoughts and your wisest feelings, and in so doing discipline and strengthen them.

“Farewell, Madam. It is not because I have forgotten that I was once young myself, that I write to you in this strain; but because I remember it. You
will neither doubt my sincerity, nor my good will; and, however ill what has here been said may accord with your present views and temper, the longer you live the more reasonable it will appear to you. Though I may be but an ungracious adviser, you will allow me, therefore, to subscribe myself, with the best wishes for your happiness here and hereafter,

Your true friend,
Robert Southey.”
To the same.
“Keswick, March 22. 1837.
“Dear Madam,

“Your letter has given me great pleasure, and I should not forgive myself if I did not tell you so. You have received admonition as considerately and as kindly as it was given. Let me now request that, if you ever should come to these lakes while I am living here, you will let me see you. You would then think of me afterwards with the more good will, because you would perceive that there is neither severity nor moroseness in the state of mind to which years and observation have brought me.

“It is, by God’s mercy, in our power to attain a degree of self-government, which is essential to our own happiness, and contributes greatly to that of those around us. Take care of over excitement, and endeavour to keep a quiet mind (even for your health it is the best advice that can be given you): your
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moral and spiritual improvement will then keep pace with the culture of your intellectual powers,

“And now, Madam, God bless you!

Farewell, and believe me to be your sincere friend,
Robert Southey.”
To H. Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, March 30. 1837.
“My dear H. T.,

“I too, as you may suppose, speculate (and sometimes more largely than is wise) upon Cuthbert’s past, present, and future. The past is past, and could not, I believe, all things considered, have been changed for the better; for the good and evil of public education and of private, as compared with each other, are so nearly balanced, that it would be difficult to say on which side the advantages preponderate. But life is uncertain, and it was a great object with me, feeling that uncertainty, to make his boyhood happy. Moreover the expense of a public school would have cost me no little anxiety, and must have put me to my shifts. . . . .

“For the future, he knows my predilection, and knows also that he is just as free to choose his own profession, as if I had none. I indulge in no dreams respecting my life or his,—or into which their prolongation enters. But if he lives, I think he would be happier in a country parsonage than at the bar, or as a physician, or in a public office. He is free to
choose. I may live to see his choice, but not to know the result of it God bless you!

R. S.

“If you have never read Roger North’s Lives of the Lord Keeper Guildford, and his other two brothers, let me recommend them to you. Bating the law matters, you will be amused by every thing else. There is an edition in three octavos, published a few years ago. His Examen is also well worth reading by any one who wishes to understand our history from the Restoration to the Revolution.

“The influenza is leaving me slowly, and I wait for milder weather to get out of doors.”

To the Rev. W. L. Bowles.
“Keswick, April 25. 1837.
“My dear Mr. Bowles,

“I have to thank you for the honour which you intend me in your forthcoming edition,—a very great honour I cannot but consider it; especially remembering (what I shall never forget) the improvement, as well as the delight, which I derived from your poems more than forty years ago, and have acknowledged in a general preface (just drawn out) to my own. The Conscript Fathers of the Row have set me upon a collected edition of them.

“The booksellers in one respect have rendered me a service by accelerating what I looked forward to as a posthumous publication; for I might otherwise have
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deferred the necessary preparations, waiting for a more convenient season, till it would have been too late. Indeed, it requires some resolution to set about a task which brings in review before me the greater part of my life—old scenes, old feelings, and departed friends. No doubt the reason why so many persons who have begun to write their own lives have stopt short when they got through the chapter of their youth is, that the recollections of childhood and adolescence, though they call up tender thoughts, excite none of that deeper feeling with which we look back upon the time of life when wounds heal slowly and losses are irreparable.

“The mood in which I have set about this revision is like that a man feels when he is setting his house in order. I waste no time in attempting to mend pieces which are not worth mending; but upon Joan of Arc, which leads the way, as having first brought me into notice, a good deal of patient labour has been bestowed. The faults of language have been weeded out, and as many others as it was possible to extirpate. This would have been a preposterous attempt if the poem had been of a piece before; but it was written in 1793, re-written in 1795, and materially altered in 1797, and what has been done now makes the diction of the same character throughout. Faults enough of every other kind remain to mark it for a juvenile production.

“The men who are now in power are doing the greatest injury they can to the Church by strengthening the only strong argument that can be brought up against the alliance between Church and State. They
certainly overlook all considerations of character, station, acquirements, and deserts in the disposal of their preferment, and regard nothing but the interests of their own party. It will tend to confirm the American Episcopalians in the only point upon which they differ from their English brethren; and I am more sorry for this than for the handle which it gives to the dissenters at home; for in these dark times, the brightest prospect is that of the Episcopal Church in America, and yet without an alliance with the State, and endowments for learned and laborious leisure, it never can be all that a church ought to be.

“I am a good hoper, even when I look danger full in the face. We are now in great danger of a severer dearth than any within our memory. Here in Cumberland, at this time, there is scarcely the slightest appearance of spring. Last year the hay failed, and the sheep are now dying for want of food. The gardens have suffered greatly by frosts, which continued till last week, and most of the grain which was sown in the early spring is lost. The manufacturers are out of employ, and the cold fit of our commercial disease is likely to be the most formidable that we have ever experienced. Mischief of course is at work in the manufacturing countries, and it will be tremendously aided by the New Poor Laws, which are not more useful in some of their enactments than they are inhuman in others. I fear, however, nothing so much as a premature change of ministry. Let the present men remain to reap what they have sown. You and I cannot live to see the issue of all these
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changes that are in progress; but, as an old man in this neighbourhood said, ‘mayhap we may hear tell.’

“God bless you, my dear Sir. Present my kind regards to Mrs. Bowles, and believe me,

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Edward Moxon, Esq.
“Keswick, July 19. 1837.
“My dear Sir,

“I received Lamb’s Letters yesterday evening, and not very wisely looked through both volumes before I went to bed; for, as you may suppose, they kept possession of me during the night. Of late, I have seen much of myself in a way that thus painfully brings back the past; Sir Walter’s Memoirs first, then Joseph Cottle’s Recollections of so many things which had better have been forgotten; and now these Memorials of poor Charles Lamb. What with these, and the preparation of my own poems for an edition which I have set about in the same mood of mind as if it were designed for posthumous publication, my thoughts and feelings have been drawn to the years that are past far more than is agreeable or wholesome. . . . .

“I wish that I had looked out for Mr. Talfourd the letter* which Gifford wrote in reply to one in which

* See Vol V. p. 151.

I remonstrated with him upon his designating
Lamb as a poor maniac. The words were used in complete ignorance of their peculiar bearings, and I believe nothing in the course of Gifford’s life ever occasioned him so much self-reproach. He was a man with whom I had no literary sympathies; perhaps there was nothing upon which we agreed, except great political questions; but I liked him the better ever after for his conduct on this occasion. He had a heart full of kindness for all living creatures except authors; them he regarded as a fishmonger regards eels, or as Isaac Walton did slugs, frogs, and worms. I always protested against the indulgence of that temper in his Review; and I am sorry to see in this last number that the same spirit still continues there.

“A few remarks I will make upon these volumes as they occur to me. There was nothing emulous intended in Coleridge’s Maid of Orleans. When Joan of Arc was first in the press (1795), he wrote a considerable portion of the second book, which portion was omitted in the second edition (1798), because his style was not in keeping with mine, and because the matter was inconsistent with the plan upon which the poem had been in great part re-cast. All that Coleridge meant was to make his fragment into a whole.

“I saw most of Lamb in 1802, when he lived in the Temple, and London was my place of abode,—for the last time, God be thanked.

“It was not at Cambridge that Lloyd was attracted to Coleridge. He introduced himself to him at Bristol in 1796, resided with him afterwards at
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Stowey, and did not go to Cambridge till three or four years later, after his own marriage. . . . .

Remember me to Mrs. Moxon;
And believe me always,
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.

“Remember me most kindly to Mr. Rogers when you see him. I am sorry that Cary has been so ill-treated. It may be hoped that the Archbishop may think it fitting to mark his sense of the transaction by giving him some preferment.

Mr. Talfourd has performed his task as well as it could be done, under all circumstances. The book must be purely delightful to every one, the very few excepted to whom it must needs recall melancholy recollections.”

The reader will have observed, from various passages in my father’s letters, the extreme pains and trouble he had taken to conceal the true authorship of The Doctor; the publication of this book, and the mystification about it, in which he contrived to involve so many people, being one of his chief sources of amusement—indeed his only recreation during his later years.

The two first volumes had been published at haphazard, the work being so unlike any other that had ever appeared, that he could form no anticipation of what its reception would be. With that reception (although the sale was never a large one) he was
fully satisfied, and encouraged to continue it at much, greater length than he at first intended; indeed, had his faculties and life been spared, there is no knowing where it would have ended.

When first he determined upon anonymous publication, it is certain he did not expect that the authorship would be so uniformly and confidently ascribed to him as proved to be the case, otherwise he might have hesitated at a step which ultimately involved him in so many statements, which, if not amounting to an absolute denial of the fact, yet sounded like it to the persons to whom they were written; and in some cases his friends felt hurt at what he had said in pure playfulness, and at being led on by his own expressions to assert positively that they knew he was not the author. He was himself from the first determined that this should not be like the authorship of the Waverley Novels—a secret and no secret. The vast extent of odd and out of the way reading manifested, the peculiar vein of humour, the admixture (distasteful to some minds, delightful to others,) of light topics with grave ones, and the strong opinions so plainly expressed on political and social subjects,—all combined to stamp him so positively as the author, to those who knew him personally or his writings well, that it required something more than a mere playful shifting off of the charge to convince them to the contrary. To some of these persons he admitted it, in a way which did not commit them to keeping it a secret, and yet enabled them to escape acknowledging that they knew him to be the writer; to others whom he was more
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anxious to mystify, he said more than they thought he ought to have said. But, after all, it must be said he never denied the authorship in direct terms, nor indeed said more on the subject than is asserted in hundreds of cases when any secret is intended to be kept; and if the matter seemed to occupy more of his attention and call forth more ingenuity than it was worth, it must be remembered it was the amusement of what would otherwise have been sad hours, and a relief from painful recollections and melancholy thoughts.

Among other expedients to put the critics and literary public on a wrong scent, one was to send all the original letters of acknowledgment for the first two volumes (among them an ingenious one from himself) to the late Theodore Hook, as a person who might fairly be suspected of having been the writer; and it was hoped he would have spoken of this hoax being passed upon him, and thus have given a fair pretext for fixing the authorship upon him. It does not appear, however, that he took up the joke with any zest, or that the matter was heard of until the letters were found among his papers after his death.

To H. Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 12. 1837.
My 63d Birthday.
“My dear H. T.,

“. . . . . I am amused to hear that before the fourth volume could be permitted to circulate in the Book
Club at Harrow, the chapter relating to the Loves of Nobs’s Sire and Dam was cut out, as being too loose and licentious for this virtuous age. O soul of Sir John Falstaff!

“I think of a special Inter«chapter upon the occasion, proposing a reform of our vocabulary: for example, that as no one ventures to pronounce the name of a she-dog before female ears, the principle of decency should be carried through, (as reformers phrase it,) and we should speak of a she-horse, a she-cow; he-goat and she-goat are in use, so ought he-sheep and she-sheep to be; or Tom-sheep, as no one has objected to Tom-cat: then touch upon the Family Shakspeare, and hint at a Family Bible upon a plan different from all others. . . . .

“People say they know me to be the author. As how? There are two ways: one is, by being in the secret. Now it must be presumed that none who are would commit so gross a breach of confidence as to proclaim it. The other way is, they know it by particular circumstances, and by internal evidences; their knowledge, therefore, is worth just what their opinion may be,—no more.

“This is certain, that some of my nearest relations and oldest friends have not been entrusted with the secret: in this way we have a good right to discredit the assertions of persons who show so little sense of what they ought to have considered a moral obligation.

“God bless you!

R. S.“
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“We dined yesterday in the bed of one of the Borodale streams. Karl, and Erroll Hill, Kate, Miss Muckle, Davies, and I. Just when we had finished our dinner came on a noble thunder-storm. The subject would have been good for a picture: rocks and umbrellas sheltered some of us well. I was among the fortunate. Erroll and Davies got well soaked. We sate it out like so many Patiences, except that Patience, though she may have been in as heavy a storm, was never in so merry a mood. The force of the storm was at Armboth, about two miles from us, where some sheep were killed and other mischief done. Lowdore was nearly dry in the morning; and on our return it was in great force. I did not think an hour’s rain could possibly have swollen the streams so much. God bless you!

R. Southey.”

The following letter refers to some apprehension my father had been, and indeed was then under, respecting the payment for his Life of Cowper, and labour in editing his works, in consequence of the insolvency of the firm of Baldwin and Cradock, who were the publishers, and who had engaged him to prepare the edition. With his usual equanimity, however, in such matters, although the sum at stake was, for him, a large one, he had not suffered himself to be at all discomposed, and patiently awaited the result; which was not so favourable as he had anticipated, for in addition to much trouble, and of necessity some anxiety, he received 250l. less than the stipulated payment.

To Mrs. Hodson.
“Keswick, Oct 27. 1837.
“My dear Mrs. Hodson,

“Happily, pecuniary assistance is not needed. There is reason to think I shall suffer no eventual loss. The price to have been paid me was 1000 guineas. That sum not having been paid upon the completion of the work, the copyright rests with me, and the property of the edition cannot be sold without my assignment. The sum was intended to cover Cuthbert’s expenses through his University course. Even if it should be materially diminished, or lost, it will not distress me. Dr. Bell left me 1000l.: that sum is vested in the French funds, and, if need be, may be drawn out for this purpose. But my own opinion is, that the copyright is good security for payment in full. I had written good part of a letter in reply to yours, saying that I have no other concern with the publishers of my poems than to receive from them half the eventual profits, which half is not the lion’s half. I was writing also playfully about The Doctor; but it was an effort, and I had no heart to go on, for our long tragedy is drawing to its close. The change has been very rapid. Thank God, there is no suffering either of body or mind. How long this may last it is impossible to say. To all appearance she is in the very last stage of emaciation and weakness. There is no strength for suffering left, she will probably fall asleep like an infant, and you may imagine what a comfort it is for me to believe, as I verily do, after two and forty years of
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marriage, that no infant was ever more void of offence towards God and man. I never knew her to do an unkind act, nor say an unkind word.

“We are as well as we can be in this state. The event has long been to be desired,—the worst has long been past,—and when one sharp grief is over, we shall be thankful for her deliverance from the body of this death.

“God bless you, my dear Mrs. Hodson!

Robert Southey.”
To Dr. Shelton Mackenzie.
“Keswick, Nov. 3. 1837.
“My dear Sir,

“I am greatly obliged to you for the efficient and timely assistance* which you have given to a publication that needs all the aid it can muster. Longman proposed it, not because there was any call for such an edition, but because he did not like that Galignani should have the market to himself. My own intention was to prepare for a posthumous collection, which I was confident would prove a good post-obit for my children. The Conscript Fathers of the Row thought that the present ought not to be neglected for prospective views, and I gave up my own opinion, thinking that they were better qualified

* Dr. S. Mackenzie had reviewed the new edition of my father’s poems in the Liverpool paper which he conducted, and had strongly urged him, by letter, not to be too brief in his autobiographical prefaces.

to form a judgment upon such points. They then proposed giving only a vignette title-page. Upon that point I represented that any such parsimony would be fatal to the project; for if they made the book inferior in its appearance to the other works which had been published in the same manner and at the same price, it was neither more nor less than a confession that they had no reliance upon their own speculation, and did not think the work in sufficient repute for them to venture the same outlay upon it, which was readily advanced upon the credit of more fashionable names. They yielded to this argument, and have performed their part well.

“What I aimed at in my Prefaces was to say neither too little nor too much, and to introduce no more of my own history than was naturally connected with the rise and progress of the respective poems. But of this there will be a great deal. Many years ago I began to write my own Life and Recollections in letters to an old and dear friend. About half a volume was produced in this way, till it became inconvenient to afford time for proceeding,—and, to confess the truth, my heart began to fail. This, no doubt, is the reason why so many autobiographies proceed little beyond the stage of boyhood. So far all our recollections are delightful as well as vivid, and we remember everything; but when the cares and the griefs of life are to be raised up, it becomes too painful to live over the past again.

“Doubtful, or more than doubtful, as it is, whether I shall ever have heart to proceed with these letters,
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your advice shall have the effect of making me say more than I had thought of saying in these prefaces.

Wat Tyler is printed in the second volume, and in the third there will be the Devil’s Walk at much greater length than it has ever appeared.

“You will have your reward for refusing to conduct a journal that aims at a mischievous end. The time is fast coming when it will be seen that measures of true reform are to be expected from those only one of whose chief endeavours it is to preserve what is good.

“Farewell, my dear Sir, and believe me always,

Very truly and thankfully yours,
Robert Southey.”
To ——— ———
“Keswick, Nov. 3. 1837.
“My dear Sir,

“I have never seen the book to which you allude, but I suppose it to be that which bears the fictitious name of Search. The end which I should propose and expect from any theological investigation would be simply a conviction that Christianity is neither a fable cunningly devised, nor a superstition which has sprung from a combination of favouring causes, but that it is a scheme of Providence indicated by prophecies, and proved by miracles. With this consent of the understanding, I should be satisfied in Y——’s case. The rest would assuredly follow in due time and in natural course.


“I could agree with you that personal identity unbroken by death were little to be desired, if it were all,—if we were to begin a new life in the nakedness of that identity. But when we carry with us in that second birth all that makes existence valuable, our hopes and aspirations, our affections, our eupathies, our capacities of happiness and of improvement; when we are to be welcomed into another sphere by those dear ones who have gone before us, and are in our turn to welcome there those whom we left on earth, surely, of all God’s blessings the revelation which renders this certain is the greatest. There have been times in my life when my heart would have been broken, if this belief had not supported me. At this moment it is worth more than all the world could give. . . . .

“Nov. 4.

“The end cannot be far off, and all is going on most mercifully. For several days when I have supported her down stairs, I have thought it was for the last time; and every night when she has been borne up, it has seemed to me that she would never be borne down alive. Thank God, there is no pain, no suffering of any kind; and only such consciousness as is consolation.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
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To Joseph Cottle, Esq.
“Keswick, Nov. 16. 1837.
“My dear Cottle,

“It pleased God to release my poor dear Edith this morning from a pitiable state of existence, though we have always had the consolation of thinking it was more painful to witness than to endure. She had long been wasting away, and for the last month rapidly. For ten days she was unable to leave her bed. There seemed to be no suffering till excess of weakness became pain, and at no time any distress of mind; for being sensible where she was and with whom, and of the dutiful affection with which she was attended, she was sensible of nothing more.

“My poor daughters have been mercifully supported through their long trial. Now that the necessity for exertion is over, they feel that prostration which in such cases always ensues. But they have discharged their duties to the utmost, and they will have their reward. It is a blessed deliverance!—the change from life to death, and from death to life! inexpressibly so for her.

My dear old friend,
Yours affectionately, in weal or in woe,
Robert Southey.”*

* This is endorsed, “The last letter which Joseph Cottle received from his old friend Robert Southey.”