LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 26 June 1796

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“June 26. 1796.

“. . . . . Take the whole of the Spanish poem, it is by George of Montemayor, addressed by Sireno to a lock of Diana’s hair, whom, returning after twelve months’ absence, he finds married to another.

“‘Ah me, thou relic of that faithless fair!
Sad changes have I suffered since that day,
When in this valley from her long loose hair
I bore thee—relic of my love—away.
Well did I then believe Diana’s truth,
For soon true love each jealous care represses,
And fondly thought that never other youth
Should wanton with the maiden’s unbound tresses.
“‘There, on the cold clear Ezla’s breezy side,
My hand amid her ringlets wont to rove.
She proffered now the lock, and now denied,
With all the baby playfulness of love.
There the false maid, with many an artful tear,
Made me each rising thought of doubt discover,
And vowed, and wept, till hope had ceased to fear,
Ah me! beguiling like a child her lover.
“‘Witness thou, how that fondest, falsest fair,
Has sighed and wept on Ezla’s sheltered shore,
And vowed eternal truth, and made me swear
My heart no jealousy should harbour more.
Ah! tell me, could I but believe those eyes,
Those lovely eyes with tears my cheek bedewing,
When the mute eloquence of tears and sighs
I felt and trusted, and embraced my ruin?
“‘So false, and yet so fair! so fair a mien
Veiling so false a mind, who ever knew?
So true, and yet so wretched! who has seen
A man like me, so wretched and so true?
Fly from me on the wind! for you have seen
How kind she was, how loved by her you knew me.
Fly, fly! vain witness what I once have been,
Nor dare, all wretched as I am, to view me!
“‘One evening, on the river’s pleasant strand,
The maid, too well beloved! sat with me,
And with her finger traced upon the sand,
Death for Diana, not inconstancy.
And love beheld us from his secret stand,
And marked his triumph, laughing to behold me;
To see me trust a writing traced in sand,
To see me credit what a woman told me.’*

* Since copying this beautiful translation, I have found that my father had inserted it in his “Letters from Spain and Portugal.” I think, notwithstanding, the reader will not be displeased to see it here.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 281

“If you can add anything to the terseness of the conclusion, or the simplicity of the whole, do it. The piece itself is very beautiful.

“My letters occupy more of my time and less of my mind than I could wish. Conceive Garagantua eating wood strawberries one at a time, or green peas, or the old dish—pap with a fork, and you will have some idea how my mind feels in dwelling on desultory topics. Joan of Arc was a whole,—it was something to think of every moment of solitude, and to dream of at night; my heart was in the poem; I threw my own feelings into it in my own language, aye, and out of one part of it and another, you may find my own character. Seriously, Grosvenor, to go on with Madoc is almost necessary to my happiness: I had rather leave off eating than poetizing; but these things must be;—I will feed upon law and digest it, or it shall choke me. Did you ever pop upon a seditious ode in the ludicrous style, addressed to the cannibals? It was in the Courier and Telegraph; a stray sheep marked Caius Gracchus, to which you may place another signature.

Grosvenor, I do not touch on aught interesting tonight. I am conversing with you now in that easy, calm, good-humoured state of mind, which is, perhaps, the summum bonum,—the less we think of the world the better. . . . . My feelings were once like an ungovernable horse; now I have tamed Bucephalus; he retains his spirit and his strength, but they are made useful, and he shall not break my neck. . . . . This is, indeed a change; but the liquor that ceases to ferment, does
not immediately become flat,—the beer then becomes fine, and continues so till it is dead.

“To-morrow Wynn comes; shall I find him altered? Would that I were among you. If unremitting assiduity can procure me independence, that prize shall be mine. Christian went a long way to fling off his burthen in the Pilgrim’s Progress. . . . . I doubt only my lungs; I find my breath affected when I read aloud, but exercise may strengthen them.

“When do you come? It was wisely done of the old conjuror, who kept six princesses transformed into cats, to tie each of them fast, and put a mouse close to her nose without her being able to catch it. For the nearer we are to a good, the more do we necessarily desire it,—the attraction becomes more powerful as we approach the magnet. . . . .

“Do not despise Godwin too much. . . . . He will do good by defending Atheism in print, because when the arguments are known, they may be easily and satisfactorily answered. Tell Carlisle to ask him this question,—if man were made by the casual meeting of atoms, how could he have supported himself without superior assistance? The use of the muscles is only attained by practice,—how could he have fed himself? how know from what cause hunger proceeded? how know by what means to remedy the pain? The question appears to me decisive. . . . . Merry (of whose genius, erroneous as it was, I always thought highly) has published the ‘Pains of Memory’; a subject once given me, and from which some lines in Joan of Arc are extracted. Farewell!

R. S.”