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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 3 May 1831

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, May 3. 1831.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Would that I were more at leisure to converse with those who are at a distance; but leisure and I seem to have parted company for ever in this world, and occupation does not bring with it that quiet now which it used to do in less uneasy times.* Not that I have lost either heart or hope; for though nothing can be worse than all the manifestations of public feeling from all sides, I expect that the delusion will in a great degree be removed when the present excitement has spent itself; and though I have no reliance whatever upon the good sense of the people, there is yet goodness enough in the nation to make me trust in full faith that Providence will not deliver us over to our own evil devices, or rather to those of our rulers. Those who gave Earl Grey credit for sagacity, believed, upon his own representations, that time had moderated his opinions, and that he would always support the interests of

* “If I were in the seventeenth year of my age instead of the fifty-seventh, I might perhaps like the prospect of a general revolution in society, looking only at the evils which it was to sweep away, and the good with which it was to replace them. But I am old enough to know something of the course on which we have entered. Anarchy is the first stage—and there the road divides; one way leading by a circuitous route, and so difficult a one as to be scarcely practicable, back to the place from whence we start; the other by a broad and beaten way to military despotism. The tendency is to a despotism of institutions, which, when once established, stamps a whole people in its iron mould and stereotypes them.”—To H. Taylor, Esq, March 13. 1831.

Ætat. 57. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 147
his order. Provoked at the exposure of his whole Cabinet’s incapacity, which their budget brought forth, he has thrown himself upon the Radicals for support, bargained with
O’Connell, and stirred up all the elements of revolution in this kingdom, which has never been in so perilous a state since the Restoration.

“The poor people here say they shall all be ‘made quality’ when this ‘grand reform’ is brought about. ‘O it is a grand thing!’ The word deceives them; for you know, Grosvenor, it ‘stands to feasible’ that reform must be a good thing, and they are not deceived in supposing that its tendency is to pull down the rich, whatever may be its consequences to themselves.

“May 14.

“This letter has lain more than a week unfinished in my desk. To-day’s paper tells me that his Right Honour* has gained his election; and this I am very glad of, hoping, however, that the head of the family, or one of those uncles who can so well afford it, will bear the costs. There is no statesman to whom I ascribe more of the evils which are gathering round us than Lord Grenville. The Catholic question was an egg laid and hatched in that family, and Leda’s egg was not prolific of more evils to Troy than that question has proved, is proving, and will prove to these kingdoms. . . . .

“I saw Lord —— this morning: he said ‘we

* Mr. Wynn.

are going to wreck;’ and I was shocked to see how ill he looked; twenty years older than when I dined with him at
Croker’s in December last. It is not bodily fatigue, but anxiety, that has produced this change; the clear foresight of evils which are coming in upon us with the force of a spring-tide before a high wind. Every one whom I see or hear from is in worse spirits than myself; for I have an invincible and instinctive hope that the danger will be averted by God’s mercy. In the present state of the world nothing seems to proceed according to what would have been thought likely. Who, for example, could have expected that France would not have been at war before this time, or that Louis Philippe would have been still on his uneasy throne? Who would have supposed that Russia would have been defeated in its attempt to suppress the Poles? or that Austria could have put down the insurrection in Italy? I say nothing of the madness which King, Cabinet, and People have manifested at home, because they really seem to be acting under a judicial visitation of insanity. But I am almost ready to conclude that we shall weather this storm, because all probabilities and all appearances are against it. Some unexpected event may occur; the war for which France has been preparing upon so formidable a scale may break out in time, and in a way which will render it impossible for our Ministers to remain at peace; or such a revolution may be effected in that country as will frighten the King and Ministry here into their senses. Some death may take place which may derange the Administration; some schism
Ætat. 57. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 149
may make it fall to pieces; the agricultural insurrections and the burnings may begin again, and act in prevention of a revolution which they would otherwise inevitably follow; or, perhaps, the cholera morbus may be sent us as a lighter plague than that which we have chosen for ourselves.

“Be the end of these things what it may, Grosvenor, ‘we’s never live to see’t,’ as an old man of Grasmere, whom Betty knew, said upon some great changes which were taking place in his time; ‘but we’s, may be, hear tell,’, he added; and so say I.

“Further, I say, come to Keswick this year; and remember, Grosvenor, that you and I have not many ‘next years’ to talk of, even if life were less precious than it is.

“I have a great deal to say to you, and a great deal to show you, if I had you by the fireside, and in the boat, and on the ascent of Skiddaw, and two or three other mountains, where I would walk beside your horse, if your own feet were too sensitive to perform their own duty. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”