LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 17 July 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
“July 17. 1796.

“. . . . . Besides my letters I write for the Monthly Magazine. This is a new job: you may easily trace me there if it be worth your while. They give five guineas a sheet, but their sheets are sixteen closely printed pages. I manufacture up my old rubbish for them, with a little about Spanish literature. I shall be glad to get rid of all this.

“So you abuse Anna St. Ives, and commend the Pucelle of the detestable Voltaire. Now, Grosvenor, it was not I who said, ‘I have not read that book;’—I said—God be thanked that I did say it, and plague take the boobies who mutilated it in my absence,—I said, ‘I have never been guilty of reading the Pucelle of Voltaire.’ Report speaks it worthy of its author—a man whose wit and genius could only be equalled by his depravity. I will tell you what a man, not particularly nice in his moral opinions, said to me upon the subject of that book,—‘I should think the worse of any man who, having read one canto of it, could proceed to a second.’ . . . . Now, my opinion of Anna St. Ives is diametrically opposed to yours. I think it a book of consummate wisdom, and I shall join my forces to Mrs. Knowles, to whom I desire you would make my fraternal respects.


“How has this letter been neglected! no more delays, however. I am continually writing or read-
ing:—the double cacoethes grow upon me every day; and the physic of John Nokes, by which I must get cured, is sadly nauseous. N’importe. I wish I were in London, for if industry can do anything for anybody, it shall for me. My plan is to study from five in the morning till eight, from nine to twelve, and from one to four. The evening is my own. Now,
Grosvenor, do you think I would do this, if I had a pigsty of my own in the country?

“So goes the world! There is not a man in it who is not discontented. However, if no man had more reason for discontent than you and I have, it would be already a very good world; for, after all, I believe the worst we complain of is, that we do not find mankind as good as we could wish. . . . . Many of our mental evils—and God knows they are the worst—we make ourselves.

“If a young man had his senses about him when he sets out in life, he should seriously deliberate, whether he had rather never be miserable, or sometimes be happy. I like the up and down road best; but I have learned never to despise any man’s opinion because it is different from my own. Surely, Grosvenor, our restlessness in this world seems to indicate that we are intended for a better. We have all of us a longing after happiness; and surely the Creator will gratify all the natural desires that he has implanted in us. If you die before me, will you visit me? I am half a believer in apparitions, and would purchase conviction at the expense of a tolerable fright.

George Burnett’s uncle was for three months ter-
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 285
ribly afflicted by the nightmare,—so much so that, by being constantly disturbed, his health was considerably impaired. One night he determined to lie awake and watch for HER.
“‘Oh Bedford, Bedford,
If ever thou didst a good story love!’
One night, he says, he determined to lie awake and watch for HER. At the usual hour he heard HER coming up the stairs; he got up in the bed in a cold sweat; he heard HER come into the room; he heard HER open the curtain, and then—he leaped out of bed and caught HER by the hair before SHE—for SHE it was—could fall upon his breast. Then did this most incomparable hero bellow to John for a candle. They fought; she pulled and he pulled, and bellowed till John came with a light; and then—she vanished immediately, and he remained with a handful of HER hair.

“Now, Bedford, would you not have had that made into a locket? The tale, methinks, is no bad companion for your father’s dream. The exploit of Mr. Burnett is far beyond that of St. Withold—though, by the by, he met the nine foals into the bargain—and they made a bargain.

“I have written you an odd letter, and an ugly one, upon very execrable paper. By the by, if you have a Prudentius, you may serve me by sending me all he says about a certain Saint Eulalia, who suffered martyrdom at Merida. I passed through that city, and should like to see his hymn upon the occasion; and if there be any good in it, put it in a note.
How mortifying is this confinement of yours! I had planned so many pleasant walks, to be made so much more pleasant by conversation;
“For I have much to tell thee, much to say
Of the odd things we saw upon our journey,
Much of the dirt and vermin that annoyed us.
And you should have seen my
letters, before they went to press, and annotated them, and heard the plot of my tragedy; but now! I have a mortal aversion to all these disjunctive particles: but, and if, and yet, always herald some bad news. . . . . I shall be settled in London, I hope, before Christmas. I do not remember a happier ten weeks than I passed at Brixton, nor, indeed, a better employed period. God grant me ten such weeks of leisure once more in my life, and I will finish Madoc.

God bless you,
R. S.”