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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Nicholas Lightfoot, 8 February 1806

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Feb. 8. 1806.
“My dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* See p. 87.

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

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

“God bless you, Lightfoot!

Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”