LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 3 April 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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Bristol, April 3. 1803.

“I have been thinking of Brixton, Grosvenor, for these many days past, when more painful thoughts would give me leave. An old lady, whom I loved greatly, and have for the last eight years regarded with something like a filial veneration, has been carried off by this influenza. She was mother to Danvers, with whom I have so long been on terms of the closest intimacy. . . . . Your ejection from Brixton has very long been in my head as one of the evil things to happen in 1803, though it was not predicted in Moore’s Almanack. However, I am glad to hear you have got a house, . . . . and still more, that it is an old house.
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 205
I love old houses best, for the sake of the odd closets and cupboards and good thick walls that don’t let the wind blow in, and little out-of-the-way polyangular rooms with great beams running across the ceiling,—old heart of oak, that has outlasted half a score generations; and chimney pieces with the date of the year carved above them, and huge fire-places that warmed the shins of Englishmen before the house of Hanover came over. The most delightful associations that ever made me feel, and think, and fall a-dreaming, are excited by old buildings—not absolute ruins, but in a state of decline. Even the clipt yews interest me; and if I found one in any garden that should become mine, in the shape of a peacock, I should be as proud to keep his tail well spread as the man who first carved him. In truth, I am more disposed to connect myself by sympathy with the ages which are past, and by hope with those that are to come, than to vex and irritate myself by any lively interest about the existing generation.

“Your letter was unusually interesting, and dwells upon my mind. I could, and perhaps will some day, write an eclogue upon leaving an old place of residence. What you say of yourself impresses upon me still more deeply the conviction, that the want of a favourite pursuit is your greatest source of discomfort and discontent. It is the pleasure of pursuit that makes every man happy; whether the merchant, or the sportsman, or the collector, the philobibl, or the reader-o-bibl, and maker-o-bibl, like me,—pursuit at once supplies employment and hope. This is what I have often preached to you, but perhaps I never told
you what benefit I myself have derived from resolute employment. When
Joan of Arc was in the press, I had as many legitimate causes for unhappiness as any man need have,—uncertainty for the future, and immediate want, in the literal and plain meaning of the word. I often walked the streets at dinner time for want of a dinner, when I had not eighteen-pence for the ordinary, nor bread and cheese at my lodgings. But do not suppose that I thought of my dinner when I was walking—my head was full of what I was composing: when I lay down at night I was planning my poem; and when I rose up in the morning the poem was the first thought to which I was awake. The scanty profits of that poem I was then anticipating in my lodging-house bills for tea, bread and butter, and those little &cs. which amount to a formidable sum when a man has no resources; but that poem, faulty as it is, has given me a Baxter’s shove into my right place in the world.

“So much for the practical effects of Epictetus, to whom I hold myself indebted for much amendment of character. Now,—when I am not comparatively, but positively, a happy man, wishing little, and wanting nothing,—my delight is the certainty that, while I have health and eyesight, I can never want a pursuit to interest. Subject after subject is chalked out. In hand I have Kehama, Madoc, and a voluminous history; and I have planned more poems and more histories; so that whenever I am removed to another state of existence, there will be some valde lacrymabile hiatus in some of my posthumous works.

“We have all been ill with La Gripe. But the
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 207
death of my excellent old friend is a real grief, and one that will long be felt: the pain of amputation is nothing,—it is the loss of the limb that is the evil. She influenced my every-day thought, and one of my pleasures was to afford her any of the little amusements, which age and infirmities can enjoy. . . . . When do I go to London? If I can avoid it, not so soon as I had thought. The journey, and some unavoidable weariness in tramping over that overgrown metropolis, half terrifies me;—and then the thought of certain pleasures, such as seeing
Rickman, and Duppa, and Wynn, and Grosvenor Bedford, and going to the old book-shops, half tempts me. I am working very hard to fetch up my lee-way; that is, I am making up for time lost during my ophthalmia. Fifty-four more pages of Amadis, and a preface—no more to do—huzza! land! land! . . . .

“God bless you!
R. S.”