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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 12 June 1803

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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“June 12. 1803.

“Why, Grosvenor, that is an idle squeamishness of yours, that asking a previous leave to speak. Where my conscience becomes second to your challenge, the offence shall be amended; where we differ, mine is the voice potential. But, in truth, I will tell you that I am out of humour with Kehama, for half a hundred reasons: historical composition is a source of greater, and quieter, and more continuous pleasure; and that poem sometimes comes into my head with a—shall I sit down to it? and this is so easily turned out again, that the want of inclination would make me half suspect a growing want of power, if some rhymes and poemets did not now and then come out and convince me to the contrary. . . . . Abuse away ad libitum.

“If Cumberland must have a Greek name, there is but one that fits him—Aristophanes—and that for the worst part of his character. If his plays had any honest principle in them, instead of that eternal substitution of honour for honesty, of a shadow for a substance—if his novels were not more profligate in their tendency than Matthew Lewis’s unhappy book—if the perusal of his Calvary were not a cross heavy enough for any man to bear who has ever read ten lines of Milton—if the man were innocent of all these things, he ought never to be forgiven for his
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
attempt to blast the character of
Socrates. Right or wrong, no matter, the name had been canonised, and, God knows, wisdom and virtue have not so many saints that they can spare an altar to his clumsy pickaxe. I am no blind bigot to the Greeks, but I will take the words of Plato and greater Xenophon against Richard Cumberland, Esq.

“. . . . . The Grenvilles are in the right, but they got right by sticking in the wrong: they turned their faces westward in the morning, and swore the sun was there; and they have stood still and sworn on, till, sure enough, there the sun is. But they stand upon the strong ground now, and have the argument all hollow; yet what is to come of it, and what do they want—their country asks that question. War? They have it; every man in the country says Amen, and they whose politics are most democratic say Amen most loudly and most sincerely. In spite of their speeches, I cannot wish them in; and, when change of ministry is talked of, cannot but feel with Fox, that, little as I may like them, ten to one I shall like their successors worse, and sure I am that worse war ministers than the last cannot curse this country. . . . . These men behaved so well upon Despard’s business, and have shown such a respect to the liberties and feelings of this country, that they have fully won my good will. I believe they will make a sad piecemeal patchwork administration. . . . . It does seem that, by some fatality, the best talents of the
kingdom are for ever to be excluded from its government. Fox has not done well, not what I could have wished; but yet I reverence that man so truly, that whenever he appears to me to have erred, I more than half suspect my own judgment

“I am promised access to the King’s library, by Heber; and, indeed, it is a matter of considerable consequence that I should obtain it. Morning, noon, and night, I do nothing but read chronicles, and collect from them; and I have travelled at a great rate since the burthen of translating and reviewing has been got rid of: but this will not last long; I must think by and by of some other job-work, and turn to labour again, that I may earn another holyday.

“I call Margaret, by way of avoiding all commonplace phraseology of endearment, a worthy child and a most excellent character. She loves me better than any one except her mother; her eyes are as quick as thought, she is all life and spirit, and as happy as the day is long: but that little brain of hers is never at rest, and it is painful to see how dreams disturb her. A Dios!

R. S.”