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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynn, 4 November 1818

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, Nov. 4. 1818.
“My dear Wynn,

“Since I wrote to you at Boulogne, the greater part of my time has been consumed by interruptions of which I ought not to complain, seeing they must needs be beneficial to my health, however they may be felt in the sum total of the year’s work. I have had for a guest C——. There is something remarkable in the history of this family. His grandmother was a she-philosopher, a sort of animal much worse than a she-bear. Her housekeeper having broken her leg, she was exceedingly indignant at not being able to convince her that there was no such thing as pain; and when the poor woman complained that the children disturbed her by playing in a room over her head, she insisted upon it that that was impossible, because it was the nature of sound to ascend; and, therefore, she could not be disturbed unless they played in the room under her. This good lady bred up her children as nearly as she could upon Rousseau’s maxims, and was especially careful that they
should receive no religious instruction whatever. Her daughter had nearly grown up before she ever entered a church, and then she earnestly entreated a friend to take her there from motives of curiosity. This daughter has become a truly religious woman. The son has not departed from the way in which he was trained up; but as he is not a hater of religion, only an unbeliever in it, and has a good living in his gift, he chooses that his only son should take orders, this living being the most convenient means of providing an immediate establishment for him!

“C—— introduced himself to me about three years ago by sending me some poems, which for a youth of seventeen were almost better than should be wished. . . . . When he first proposed to visit me, his father was thrown into a paroxysm of anger, notwithstanding the mollia tempora fandi had been chosen for venturing to make the request; but he suffered him to see me in London last year. He had formed a notion that I was a Methodist, and drank nothing but water; and I believe it raised me considerably in his estimation when C—— assured him that I seemed to enjoy wine as much as any man. . . . .

Wilberforce, also, has been here with all his household, and such a household! The principle of the family seems to be that, provided the servants have faith, good works are not to be expected from them, and the utter disorder which prevails in consequence is truly farcical. The old coachman would figure upon the stage. Upon making some complaint about the horses, he told his master and
Ætat. 44. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 317
mistress that since they had been in this country they had been so lake-and-river-and-mountain-and-valley-mad, that they had thought of nothing which they ought to think of. I have seen nothing in such pell-mell, topsy-turvy, and chaotic confusion as Wilberforce’s apartments since I used to see a certain breakfast-table in Skeleton Corner.* His
wife sits in the midst of it like Patience on a monument, and he frisks about as if every vein in his body were filled with quicksilver; but, withal, there is such a constant hilarity in every look and motion, such a sweetness in all his tones, such a benignity in all his thoughts, words, and actions, that all sense of his grotesque appearance is presently overcome, and you can feel nothing but love and admiration for a creature of so happy and blessed a nature.

“A few words now concerning myself. It was my intention to have spent the Christmas in London; a very unexpected cause induced me to delay my journey. More than six years have elapsed since the birth of my youngest child: all thoughts of having another had naturally ceased. In February or March, however, such an event may be looked for. My spirits are more depressed by this than they ought to be; but you may well imagine what reflections must arise. I am now in my forty-fifth year, and if my life should be prolonged it is but too certain that I should never have heart again to undertake the duty which I once performed with such diligence and such delightful hope. It is well for us

* A part of Christ Church, so called, where Mr. Wynn’s rooms were situated.

that we are not permitted to choose for ourselves. One happy choice, however, I made when I betook myself to literature as my business in life. When I have a heart at ease, there can be no greater delight than it affords me; and when I put away sad thoughts and melancholy forebodings, there is no resource so certain.

“I begin to be solicitous about making such a provision as should leave me at ease in my ways and means, if loss of health or any other calamity should render me incapable of that constant labour, from which, while health and ability may last, I shall have no desire to shrink. When my next poem is finished, I shall be able to do what has never before been in my power,—to demand a sum for it.

“God bless you, my dear Wynn!

Yours most affectionately,
R. S.”