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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Allan Cunningham, 3 June 1833

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, June 3. 1833.
“My dear Allan,

“Thank you in my own name, and in my daughter Bertha’s, for the completing volumes of your Painters. The work is very far the best that has been written for the Family Library, and will continue to be reprinted long after all the others with which it is now associated. I do not except the Life of Nelson from this; the world cares more about artists than admirals after the lapse of centuries; and as long as the works of those artists endure, or so long as their conceptions are perpetuated by engravings, so long will
Ætat. 58. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
a lively interest be excited by their lives, when written as you have written them.

“Give your history of the rustic poetry of Scotland the form of biography, and no bookseller will shake his head at it, unless he is a booby. People who care nothing about such a history would yet be willing to read the lives of such poets, and you may very well introduce all that you wish to bring forward under cover of the more attractive title. The biography of men who deserve to be remembered always retains its interest.

“Are you right as to Lawrence’s birthplace? The White Hart, which his father kept at Bristol, is in the parish of Christ Church, not St. Philip’s, which is a distant part of the city.

Sir George Beaumont’s marriage was in 1774, the year of my birth; he spent that summer here, and Faringdon was with him part of the time, taking up their quarters in the little inn by Lowdore. Hearne, also, was with him here, either that year or soon afterwards, and made for him a sketch of the whole circle of this vale, from a field called Crow Park. Sir George intended to build a circular banqueting room, and have this painted round the walls. If the execution had not always been procrastinated, here would have been the first panorama. I have seen the sketch, now preserved on a roll more than twenty feet in length.

Sir George’s death was not from any decay. His mother lived some years beyond ninety, and his health had greatly improved during the latter years of his life. He was never better than when last in
this country, a very few months before his death. The seizure was sudden: after breakfast, as he was at work upon a picture, he fainted; erysipelas presently showed itself upon the head, and soon proved fatal.

“I know that he painted with much more ardour in his old age than at other times of his life, and I believe that his last pictures were his best. In one point I thought him too much of an artist: none of his pictures represented the scene from which he took them; he took the features, and disposed them in the way which pleased him best. Whenever you enter these doors of mine, you shall see a little piece of his (the only one I have), which perfectly illustrates this: the subject is this very house, and scarcely any one object in the picture resembles the reality. His wish was, to give the character,—the spirit of the scene. But whoever may look upon this picture hereafter, with any thought of me, will wish it had been a faithful portrait of the place.

“He was one of the happiest men I ever knew, for he enjoyed all the advantages of his station, and entered into none of the follies to which men are so easily tempted by wealth and the want of occupation. His disposition kept him equally from all unworthy and all vexatious pursuits; he had as little liking for country sports as for public business of any kind, but had a thorough love for art and nature. And if one real affliction or one anxiety ever crossed his path in any part of his life, I never heard of it. I verily believe that no man ever enjoyed the world more; and few were more humbly, more wisely, more
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religiously prepared for entering upon another state of existence.

“He became acquainted with Coleridge here, before I came into this country; this led to his friendship with Wordsworth, and to his acquaintance with me (for more than acquaintance it can hardly be called). He has lodged more than once in this house, when it was in an unfinished state: this very room he occupied before the walls were plastered.

“Next to painting and natural scenery, he delighted in theatricals more than in anything else. Few men read so well, and I have heard those who knew him intimately say, that he would have made an excellent actor.

“Thank you for your good word in the Athenæum. I had not heard of it before: little of the good or evil which is said of me reaches this place; and as I believe the balance is generally largely on the wrong side (enmity being always more on the alert than friendship), my state is the more gracious. The new edition of Byron’s works is, I think, one of the very worst symptoms of these bad times.

“I am glad to hear of your sons’ welfare; they will all find your good name useful to them through life.

“Since this letter was begun, the influenza laid hold on me and all my children; all except Cuthbert had it very severely. I was completely prostrated by it for a full week, and it has left me emaciated and weak, nor, indeed, is my chest yet completely rid of it However, I begin to walk about, and have resumed my usual habits.


“God bless you, my dear Allan! My daughter joins in kind remembrances to Mrs. Cunningham. Believe me always,

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.