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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 14 October 1798

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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“Bwlch, Brecknockshire, Oct. 14. 1798.

“Without a map, my dear Edith will know nothing of the place I date from, and if she have a map to refer to, very probably she may miss the name. . . . . What have we seen? Woods, mountains, and mountain glens and streams. In those words are comprehended all imaginable beauty. Sometimes we have been winding up the dingle side, and every minute catching the stream below through the wood that half hid it, always hearing its roar; then over mountains, where nothing was to be seen but hill and sky, their sides rent by the winter streams; sometimes a little tract of cultivation appeared up some coomb-place, so lonely, so beautiful: they looked as though no tax-gatherer ever visited them. I have longed to dwell in these solitary houses in a mountain vale,
Ætat. 23. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 349
sheltered by the hills and the trees that grow finely round the houses; the vale rich by the soil swept down the hills; a stream before the door, rolling over large stones—pure water, so musical, too! and a child might cross it; yet at wet seasons it must thunder down a torrent. In such scenes there is a simpleness of sublimity fit to feed imagination. . . . Yesterday at two we reached Brecon, a distance of eighteen miles. A little but clean ale-house afforded us eight pennyworth of bread, cheese, and ale, and we departed for Crickhowel, a stage of thirteen more. A woman whom we met, and of whom we asked the distance, measured it by the ‘great Inn,’ at Bwlch, on the way, and we determined to halt there. Before we got there, heavy rain overtook us, and we were wet the lower half when we reached the great Inn, at Bwlch, which is not quite so good as the memorable ale-house at Tintern. However, we have very good beds here; the cream was good, and the tea excellent.

“So we have eat, drunk, dried ourselves, and grown comfortable; also we have had the pleasure of the landlord’s company, who, being somewhat communicative and somewhat tipsy, gave us the history of himself and family. . . . . I much like the appearance of the Welsh women; they have all a character in their countenances, an intelligence which is very pleasant. Their round shrewd national physiognomy is certainly better than that of the English peasantry, and we have uniformly met with civility. There is none of the insolence and brutality which characterise our colliers and milk-women.


“At Merthyr we witnessed the very interesting custom of strewing the graves. They are fenced round with little white stones, and the earth in the coffin shape planted with herbs and flowers, and strewn with flowers. Two women were thus decorating a grave—the one a middle-aged woman, and much affected. This affected me a good deal; the custom is so congenial to one’s heart; it prolongs the memory of the dead, and links the affections to them. . . . . This part of Brecknockshire is most beautiful. The Usk rolling through a rich and cultivated vale, and mountains rising on every side: we feel no fatigue, and I get more comfortable every day now our faces are turned homewards.

“God bless you, my dear Edith. Farewell. Now for the Black Mountain and St. David’s.