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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 30 January 1836

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, Jan. 30. 1836.
“My dear Friend,

“Your letter arrived this morning. I sent off by this day’s post the last portion of manuscript for my second volume; and having so done, I lay aside all thoughts of Cowper till Monday morning, giving myself thus what may be called a quarter’s holiday this evening. Methinks time has taken from me nothing which is so much to be regretted as leisure, or rather nothing of which I should so certainly, as well as allowably, wish to be possessed again. However, I live in hope of working my way to it. When Cowper and the Admirals are off my hands, I will engage in nothing that does not leave me master of my own time. It will be still too little for what I once hoped to perform.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 283

Cradock has advertised for the 13th; so on Monday, the 15th, your copy ought to be in Harley Street. The Life will extend to half a volume more, and with it my hurry ends, but not my work.

“I am very glad to hear that you are reading Dr. Thomas Jackson, an author with whom, more almost than any other, one might be contented in a prison. There is hardly any thing in his works which I wished away, except one shocking passage about the Jews. For knowledge and sagacity and right-mindedness, I think he has never been surpassed. You will be much pleased, also, with Knox’s Remains, and his correspondence with Bishop Jebb.

“There is no change for the better in our domestic circumstances. All hope is extinguished, while anxiety remains unabated, so sudden are the transitions of this awful malady. I can never be sufficiently thankful that my means of support are no longer precarious, as they were twelve months ago. The fear of being disabled, which I never felt before, might too probably have brought on the evil which it apprehended, when my life seemed to be of more consequence to my family than at any former time, and my exertions more called for. Thank God, Sir Robert Peel set me at ease on that score. Would to God that you were relieved from your cares in like manner! We have both cause to return thanks for the happiness that we have enjoyed, and for the consolations that are left us. If the last stage of our journey should prove the most uneasy, it will be the shortest. It is just forty years since we met in another country;
most probably before a fourth part of that time has elapsed, we shall meet in another state of existence.

“We have both great comfort in our children. Perhaps one reason why women bear affliction (as I think they generally do) better than men, is, because they make no attempt to fly from the sense of it, but betake themselves patiently to the duties, however painful, which they are called upon to perform. It is the old emblem of the reed and the oak—they bend, and therefore they are not broken; and then comes peace of mind, which is the fruit of resignation.

“Secluded as we now are from society, my daughters find sufficient variety of employment. They transcribe a good deal for me: indeed, whatever I want extracted of any length from books—most of my notes. One room is almost fitted up with books of their binding: I call it the Cottonian library; no patchwork quilt was ever more diversified. They have just now attired two hundred volumes in this fashion. Their pleasure, indeed, in seeing the books in order, is not less than my own; and, indeed, the greater part of them are now in such order, that they are the pride of my eye, as well as the joy of my heart.

“On Monday, I begin to give my mornings again to the Admirals, that is, as many mornings as my ever-growing business of letter-writing may leave leisure for—letters in half of which I have no concern, and in the other half no pleasure. The fourth volume will contain the lives of Essex, Raleigh, Sir William Monson, Blake, and Monk. Then, not to
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 285
extend unreasonably a work which was not intended by the publisher at first for more than two volumes, I shall drop the biography, and wind up in one volume more, with the Naval History from the Revolution, in continuous narrative. A good pretext for this is, that the age of naval enterprise and adventure, and consequently of personal interest, was past, and the interest thenceforth becomes political; events are regarded, not with reference to the principal actors, as in
Drake’s time, but to their bearings upon the national affairs. I shall be glad when this work is completed, because, though of all my books I have been best paid for it, it is that which I have taken the least interest in composing, and which any one who would have bestowed equal diligence upon it, might have executed quite as well. . . . .

“The snow has confined me three days to the house. It is now rapidly thawing, to my comfort; for I feel as if the machine wanted that sort of winding up which is given to it by daily exercise. God bless you, my dear old friend! May I live to write a great many more books; and may you and your daughters live, and read, and like them all. No small part of the pleasure which I take in writing arises from thinking how often the work in which I am engaged will make me present, in a certain sense, with friends who are far away.

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”