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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Chauncy Hare Townshend, 17 August 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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“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.”