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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to William Lisle Bowles, 25 April 1837

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, April 25. 1837.
“My dear Mr. Bowles,

“I have to thank you for the honour which you intend me in your forthcoming edition,—a very great honour I cannot but consider it; especially remembering (what I shall never forget) the improvement, as well as the delight, which I derived from your poems more than forty years ago, and have acknowledged in a general preface (just drawn out) to my own. The Conscript Fathers of the Row have set me upon a collected edition of them.

“The booksellers in one respect have rendered me a service by accelerating what I looked forward to as a posthumous publication; for I might otherwise have
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 333
deferred the necessary preparations, waiting for a more convenient season, till it would have been too late. Indeed, it requires some resolution to set about a task which brings in review before me the greater part of my life—old scenes, old feelings, and departed friends. No doubt the reason why so many persons who have begun to write their own lives have stopt short when they got through the chapter of their youth is, that the recollections of childhood and adolescence, though they call up tender thoughts, excite none of that deeper feeling with which we look back upon the time of life when wounds heal slowly and losses are irreparable.

“The mood in which I have set about this revision is like that a man feels when he is setting his house in order. I waste no time in attempting to mend pieces which are not worth mending; but upon Joan of Arc, which leads the way, as having first brought me into notice, a good deal of patient labour has been bestowed. The faults of language have been weeded out, and as many others as it was possible to extirpate. This would have been a preposterous attempt if the poem had been of a piece before; but it was written in 1793, re-written in 1795, and materially altered in 1797, and what has been done now makes the diction of the same character throughout. Faults enough of every other kind remain to mark it for a juvenile production.

“The men who are now in power are doing the greatest injury they can to the Church by strengthening the only strong argument that can be brought up against the alliance between Church and State. They
certainly overlook all considerations of character, station, acquirements, and deserts in the disposal of their preferment, and regard nothing but the interests of their own party. It will tend to confirm the American Episcopalians in the only point upon which they differ from their English brethren; and I am more sorry for this than for the handle which it gives to the dissenters at home; for in these dark times, the brightest prospect is that of the Episcopal Church in America, and yet without an alliance with the State, and endowments for learned and laborious leisure, it never can be all that a church ought to be.

“I am a good hoper, even when I look danger full in the face. We are now in great danger of a severer dearth than any within our memory. Here in Cumberland, at this time, there is scarcely the slightest appearance of spring. Last year the hay failed, and the sheep are now dying for want of food. The gardens have suffered greatly by frosts, which continued till last week, and most of the grain which was sown in the early spring is lost. The manufacturers are out of employ, and the cold fit of our commercial disease is likely to be the most formidable that we have ever experienced. Mischief of course is at work in the manufacturing countries, and it will be tremendously aided by the New Poor Laws, which are not more useful in some of their enactments than they are inhuman in others. I fear, however, nothing so much as a premature change of ministry. Let the present men remain to reap what they have sown. You and I cannot live to see the issue of all these
Ætat. 63. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 335
changes that are in progress; but, as an old man in this neighbourhood said, ‘mayhap we may hear tell.’

“God bless you, my dear Sir. Present my kind regards to Mrs. Bowles, and believe me,

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”