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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 16 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. 16. 1818.
“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . I know something of rebellions, and generally suspect that there has been some fault in the master as well as in the boys, just as a mutiny in a man of war affords a strong presumption of tyranny against the captain. Without understanding the merits of this case, it is easy to perceive that the boys believed their privileges were invaded, and fancied that the
Ætat. 44. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 319
Magna Charta of Eton was in danger (the Habeas Corpus in schools is in favour of the governors—a writ issued against the subject, and affecting him in tail), —— took the patriotic side, acting upon Whig principles. They are very good principles in their time and place, and youth is a good time and school a good place for them. When he grows older, he will see the necessity of subordination, and learn that it is only by means of order that liberty can be secured. . . . . I have a fellow-feeling for ——, because I was myself expelled from Westminster, not for a rebellion (though in that too I had my share), but for an act of authorship.
Wynn and Bedford and Strachey (who is now chief secretary at Madras), and myself, planned a periodical paper in emulation of the Microcosm. It was not begun before the two former had left school, and Bedford and I were the only persons actually engaged in it. I well remember my feelings when the first number appeared on Saturday, March 1. 1792. It was Bedford’s writing, but that circumstance did not prevent me from feeling that I was that day borne into the world as an author; and if ever my head touched the stars while I walked upon the earth it was then. It seemed as if I had overleapt a barrier, which till then had kept me from the fields of immortality, wherein my career was to be run. In all London there was not so vain, so happy, so elated a creature as I was that day; and, in truth, it was an important day in my life; far more so than I, or than any one else could have anticipated, for I was expelled for the fifth number.
The subject of that number was flogging, and Heaven knows I thought as little of giving offence by it, as of causing an eclipse or an earthquake. I treated it in a strange, whimsical, and ironical sort of manner, because it had formed a part of the religious ceremonies of the heathens, and the Fathers had held that the gods of the heathens were our devils, and so I proved it to be an invention of the Devil, and therefore unfit to be practised in schools; and though this was done with very little respect for the Devil, or the Fathers, or the heathen gods, or the schoolmasters, yet I as little expected to offend one as the other. I was full of
Gibbon at the time, and had caught something of Voltaire’s manner. And for this I was privately expelled from Westminster, and for this I was refused admission at Christ Church, where Randolph, from the friendship which he professed for my uncle, could not else have decently refused to provide for me by a studentship: and so I went to Balliol instead, in a blessed hour; for there I found a man of sterling virtue (Edmund Seward), who led me right, when it might have been easy to have led me wrong. I used to call him Talus for his unbending morals and iron rectitude, and his strength of body also justified the name. His death in the year 1795 was the first severe affliction that I ever experienced; and sometimes even now I dream of him, and wake myself by weeping, because even in my dreams I remember that he is dead. I loved him with my whole heart, and shall remember him with gratitude and affection as one who was my moral father, to the last moment of my life; and to meet him again will
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at that moment be one of the joys to which I shall look forward in eternity. My dear
John May, I have got into a strain which I neither intended nor foresaw. Misfortunes, as the story says, are good for something. The stream of my life would certainly have taken a different direction, if I had not been expelled, and I am satisfied that it could never have held a better course. . . .

“God bless you, my dear friend!

Believe me,
Most truly and affectionately yours,
Robert Southey.”