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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 25 April 1814

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, April 25. 1814.
“My dear Friend,

“If the King of France has any stray cordon bleu to dispose of here, Herbert has a fair claim to one, having been the first person in Great Britain who mounted the white cockade. He appeared with one immediately upon the news from Bordeaux, and wore it till the news from Paris.* My young ones

* Of the occupation of Paris by the Allied Armies, and the restoration of the Bourbons.

were then all as happy as paper cockades could make them; and, to our great amusement, all the white ribband in Keswick was bought up to follow their example. My own feelings, on the first intelligence, were unlike anything that I ever experienced before, or can experience again. The curtain had fallen after a tragedy of five-and-twenty years. Those persons who had rejoiced most enthusiastically at the beginning of the revolution, were now deeply thankful for a termination which restored things, as nearly as can be, to the state from which they set out. What I said, with a voice of warning, to my own country, is here historically true,—that ‘all the intermediate sum of misery is but the bitter price which folly pays for repentance.’ The mass of destruction, of wretchedness, and of ruin which that revolution has occasioned, is beyond all calculation. Our conception of it is almost as vague and inadequate as of infinity. This, however, occurred to me at the time less than my own individual history; for I could not but remember how materially the course of my own life had been influenced by that tremendous earthquake, which seemed to break up the great deeps of society, like a moral and political deluge. I have derived nothing but good from it in every thing, except the mere consideration of immediate worldly fortune, which is to me as dust in the balance. Sure I am that under any other course of discipline I should not have possessed half the intellectual powers which I now enjoy, and perhaps not the moral strength. The hopes and the ardour, and the errors and the struggles and the difficulties of my early life
crowded upon my mind; and, above all, there was a deep and grateful sense of that superintending goodness which had made all things work together for good in my fortunes, and will, I firmly believe, in like manner uniformly educe good from evil upon the great scale of human events.

“I fear we shall make a bad peace. Hitherto the people have borne on their governors (I except Prussia, where prince and people have been worthy of each other). The rulers are now left to themselves, and I apprehend consequences which will flill heavy upon posterity, though not, perhaps, upon ourselves. I had rather the French philosophy had left any other of its blessings behind it than its candour and its liberality. It was very natural that the Emperor of Austria should not choose to have his son-in-law hanged. But here is Alexander breakfasting with Marshal Ney, who, if he had more necks than the Hydra or my Juggernaut*, owes them all to the gallows for his conduct in Galicia and in Portugal. Caulincourt is to have an asylum in Russia, and no doubt will be permitted to choose his latitude there. Candour is to make us impute all the enormities which the French have committed to Bonaparte. All the horrors, absolutely unutterable as they are, which you know were perpetrated in Portugal, and which I know were perpetrated in Spain, but which I literally cannot detail in history, because I dare not outrage human nature and common decency by such details,—all these must in candour be put out of re-

* See Curse of Kehama, Sect. xiv.

membrance. All was Bonaparte’s doing, and the most amiable of nations were his victims rather than his agents,—so this most veracious of nations tells us, and so we are to believe. But if the Devil could not have brought about all the crimes without the Emperor Napoleon, neither could the Emperor Napoleon have discharged the Devil’s commission without the most amiable of nations to act up to the full scope of his diabolical desires. At present, I admit, our business is to conciliate and consolidate the counterrevolution. But no visitings to Marshal Ney, no compliments to his worthy colleagues, no asylums for the murderers of the
Duc d’Enghien. In treating for peace, liberality will not fail to be urged by the French negotiators as a reason for granting them terms which are inconsistent with the welfare of Europe. Alexander is a weak man, though a good one; and our ministers will be better pleased to hear themselves called liberal by the Opposition, than to be called wise by posterity. . . . .

R. Southey.”