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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 16 February 1804

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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“Greta Hall, Feb. 16. 1804.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“I have seen a sight, more dreamy and wonderful, than any scenery that fancy ever yet devised for Faeryland. We had walked down to the lake side; it was a delightful day, the sun shining, and a few white clouds hanging motionless in the sky. The opposite shore of Derwentwater consists of one long mountain, which suddenly terminates in an arch, thus [figure of an arc], and through that opening you see a long valley between mountains, and bounded by mountain beyond mountain; to the right of the arch the heights are more varied and of greater elevation. Now, as there was not a breath of air stirring, the surface of the lake was so perfectly still, that it became one great mirror, and all its waters disappeared; the whole line of shore was represented as vividly and steadily as it existed in its actual being—the arch, the vale within, the single houses far within the vale, the smoke from their chimneys, the farthest hills, and the shadow and substance joined at their bases so indivisibly, that you could make no separation even in your judgment. As I stood on the shore, heaven and the clouds seemed
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 259
lying under me; I was looking down into the sky, and the whole range of mountains, having one line of summits under my feet, and another above me, seemed to be suspended between the firmaments. Shut your eyes and dream of a scene so unnatural and so beautiful. What I have said is most strictly and scrupulously true; but it was one of those happy moments that can seldom occur, for the least breath stirring would have shaken the whole vision, and at once unrealised it. I have before seen a partial appearance, but never before did, and perhaps never again may, lose sight of the lake entirely; for it literally seemed like an abyss of sky before me, not fog and clouds from a mountain, but the blue heaven spotted with a few fleecy pillows of cloud, that looked placed there for angels to rest upon them.

“I am treating with my bookseller to publish a supplementary or companion work to Ellis’s Specimens, beginning where he leaves off, and coming down to the present time, exclusive of the living poets, so that my work, with his, should contain a brief notice of all the English poets, good, bad, and indifferent, with specimens of each, except the dramatic writers. If this take place, it will cost me a journey to London, and a month’s hard work there; the main part can be done here. You know Ellis’s book, of course, and if you do not Nicholl can show it you (who, by the by, will go to the devil for charging half-a-guinea a volume for it, unless he can send Ellis instead). Now, if I should make this work, of which there is little doubt, you may, if so disposed, give me an opportunity of acknowledging
my obligations for assistance to my friend
Mr. G. C. Bedford, in the preface, and perhaps find some amusement in the task. So tell me your lordship’s pleasure, and I will prescribe to you what to do for me; and if you shall rouse yourself to any interest in the pursuit, it may prove really a good prescription. By doing something to assist me, you may learn to love some pursuit for yourself.

“With what can Isaac Reid have filled his one-and- twenty volumes? Comments upon Shakspeare seem to keep pace with the National Debt, and will at last become equally insufferable and out of fashion; yet I should like to see his book, and would buy it if I could. There must be a mass of English learning heaped together, and his Biog. Dramatica is so good a work that I do not think old age can have made him make a bad one; besides, this must have been the work or amusement of his life. . . . .

“I live almost as recluse a life as my neighbour, the Bassenthwaite Toad, whose history you have seen in the newspapers; only if he finds it dull I do not, for I have books, and port wine, and a view from my window. I feel as much pleasure in having finished my reviewing, as ever I did at school when my Bible exercise was done; and what sort of pleasure that was you may judge, by being told that one of the worst dreams that ever comes athwart my brain is, that I have those Latin verses to make. I very often have this dream, and it usually ends in a resolution to be my own master, and not make verses, and not stay any longer at school, because I am too old. It is odd that school never comes pleasantly in
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 261
my dreams; it is always either thus, or with a notion that I cannot find my book to go on with. I never dream of Oxford; perhaps my stay was not long enough to make an impression sufficiently deep.

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. S.“