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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 1 January 1797

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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“Jan. 1. 1797

“So, Bedford, begins the year that will terminate our correspondence. I mean to spend one summer in North Wales, studying the country for Madoc, and do not intend writing to you then, because you shall be with me. And for all the rest of the days I look on to clearly, the view is bounded by the smoke of London. Methinks, like Camoens, I could dub it Babylon, and write lamentations for the ‘Sion’ of my birth-place, having, like him, no reason to regret the past, except that it is not the present; it is the country I want. A field thistle is to me worth all the flowers of Covent Garden.

“However, Bedford, happiness is a flower that will blossom anywhere; and I expect to be happy, even in London. You know who is to watch at my gate; and if he will let in any of your club, well and good.

“Time and experience seem to have assimilated us: we think equally ill of mankind, and from the complexion of your last letters, I believe you think as badly as I do of their rulers. I fancy you are mounted above the freezing point of aristocracy, to the temperate degree where I have fallen. . . . . Methinks, Grosvenor, the last two years have made me the
elder; but you know I never allow the aristocracy of years.

“I have this day finished my Letters, and now my time is my own,—my ‘race is run;’ and perhaps the next book of mine which makes its appearance will be my ‘posthumous works!’. . . . I must be on the Surrey side of the water; this will suit me and please you. I am familiar with the names of your club,—shall I ever be so with themselves? Naturally of a reserved disposition, there was a considerable period of my life in which high spirits, quick feelings, and principles enthusiastically imbibed, made me talkative;—experience has taught me wisdom, and I am again as silent, as self-centering as in early youth.

“After the nine hours’ law study, I shall have a precious fragment of the day at my own disposal; now, Grosvenor, I must be a miser of time, for I am just as sleepy a fellow as you remember me at Brixton. You see I am not collected enough to write,—this plaguy cough interrupts me, and shakes all the ideas in my brain out of their places.

“Jan. 7.

“A long interval, Grosvenor, and it has not been employed agreeably. I have been taken ill at Bristol. . . . . I was afraid of a fever. . . . . a giddiness of head, which accompanied the seizure, rendered me utterly unfit for anything. I was well nurst, and am well. . . . . When I get to London I have some comfortable plans; but much depends on the likeability of your new friends: you say you have en-
Ætat. 23. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 301
gaged some of them to meet me: now if you taught them to expect anything in me, they must owe their disappointment to you. Remember that I am as reserved to others as I am open to you. You have seen a hedgehog roll himself up when noticed, even so do I shelter myself in my own thoughts. . . . .

“I have sketched out a tragedy on the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, which is capable of making a good closet drama. My ideas of tragedy differ from those generally followed; there is seldom nature enough in the dialogue. Even Shakespeare gets upon the stilts sometimes; the dramatist ought rather to display a knowledge of the workings of the human heart than his own imagination; high strained metaphor can rarely be introduced with propriety—similes never.—Do you think I shall strip tragedy of all its ornaments? this, time must discover. Yet look on the dramatic parts of Joan of Arc; they are the best;—the dialogue is impassioned, but it is natural. John Doe and Richard Roe must, however, form the chief personages in the last act of my life. Grosvenor, will it be a tragedy or a comedy? However, I will not now think of the catastrophe, but rather look on to the pleasant scenes when we shall meet. Fare you well. . . . .

Yours affectionately,
R. S.”