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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 29 August 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
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“Bristol, August 29. 1796, by the fireside.

“. . . . . Do not hurt the polypi for the sake of trying experiments; mangle the dead as much as you please, but let not Carlisle dissect dogs or frogs alive. Of all experimental surgeons, Spallanzani is the only fair one I ever heard of. He kept a kite, and gave him all his food in little bags tied to a long string, which he used to pull up again to see the process of digestion; now this was using the kite very ill, but he served himself in the same manner.

“You will, perhaps, hear of me in Sussex, certainly if you go to Rye, which is only ten miles distant from Hastings. I wish you may see the Lambs. . . . . I was a great favourite there once, more so than I shall ever be anywhere again, for the same reason that people like a kitten better than a cat, and a kid better than the venerable old goat. . . . . I have been very happy at Rye, Grosvenor, and love to remember it; you know the history of the seventeen anonymous letters that Tom and I sent down the day before we went ourselves.* There is a windmill on the bank above the house: with the glass I used to tell the hour by Rye clock from the door; which clock, by-the-by, was taken among the spoils of the Spanish Armada.

“I hope you may go there. I wrote a good many bad verses in Sussex, but they taught me to write better, and you know not how agreeable it is

* I can find no account of this excursion. It was probably during one of his Westminster holidays.

Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 291
to me to meet with one of my old lines, or old ideas, in
Joan of Arc. . . . . If we were together now, we would write excellent letters from Portugal. I have begun a hymn to the Penates, which will, perhaps, be the best of all my lesser pieces; it is to conclude the volume of poems. . . . . It is a great advantage to have a London bookseller: they can put off an edition of a book however stupid; and without great exertions in its favour, no book, however excellent, will sell. The sale of Joan of Arc in London has been very slow indeed. Six weeks ago Cadell had only sold three copies. . . . .

“Would I were with you! for though I hate to be on the sea, I yet wish to pitch my tent on the shore. I do not know anything more delightful than to lie on the beach in the sun, and watch the rising waves, while a thousand vague ideas pass over the mind, like the summer clouds over the water; then, it is a noble situation to Shandeize. Why is it salt? why does it ebb and flow? what sort of fellows are the mermen? &c. &c.: these are a thousand of the prettiest questions in the world to ask, on which you may guess away ad secula seculorum—and here am I tormented by Mr. Rosser’s dilatory devils, and looking on with no small impatience to the time when I shall renounce the devil and all his works.

“I am about to leave off writing just when I have learnt what to write and how to write. . . . . I mean to attempt to get a tragedy on the stage, for the mere purpose of furnishing a house, which a successful play would do for me. I know I can write one,—beyond
this all is mere conjecture,—it is, however, worth trying, for I find lodgings very disagreeable. Lodge, however, I must in London, and you will be good enough to look out for me, I hope ere long, two rooms on the Brixton side the water.

“I have a thousand things to say to you. Long absence seems to have produced no effect on us, and I still feel that perfect openness in writing to you, that I shall never feel to any other human being. Grosvenor, when we sit down In Shandy Hall, what pretty speculations shall we make! You shall be Toby, and amuse yourself by marching to Paris, I will make systems, and Horace shall be Doctor Slop.

“I have projected a useful volume, which would not occupy a month,—specimens of the early English poets, with a critical account of all their works,—only to include the less known authors and specimens never before selected; my essays would be historical and biographical, as well as critical. I can get this printed without risking anything myself. . . . .

Yours sincerely,
R. S.”