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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 22 December 1793

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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“Dec. 22. 1793.

“I have accomplished a most arduous task, transcribing all my verses that appear worth the trouble, except letters; of these I took one list,—another of my pile of stuff and nonsense,—and a third of what I have burnt and lost; upon an average 10,000 verses are burnt and lost, the same number preserved, and 15,000 worthless. Consider that all my letters* are excluded, and you may judge what waste

* Many of his early letters are written in verse; often on four sides of folio paper.

of paper I have occasioned. Three years yet remain before I can become anyways settled in life, and daring that interval my object must be to pass each hour in employment. The million would say I must study divinity; the bishops would give me folios to peruse, little dreaming that to me every blade of grass and every atom of matter is worth all the Fathers. I can bear a retrospect; but when I look forward to taking orders, a thousand dreadful ideas crowd at once upon my mind. Oh,
Horace, my views in life are surely very humble; I ask but honest independence, and that will never be my lot. . . . .

“I have many epistolary themes in embryo. Your brother’s next will probably be upon the advantages of long noses, and the recent service mine accomplished in time of need; philosophy and folly take me by turns. I spent three hours one night last week in cleaving an immense wedge of old oaken timber without axe, hatchet, or wedges; the chopper was one instrument, one piece of wood wedged another, and a third made the hammer. Shad* liked it as well as myself, so we finished the job and fatigued ourselves. I amused myself, after writing your letter, with taking profiles; to-day I shall dignify my own and Shad’s with pasteboard, marbled border, and a bow of green ribbon, to hang up in my collection room. . . . . The more I see of this strange world, the more I am convinced that society requires desperate remedies. The friends I have (and you

* A servant of his aunt’s, Miss Tyler.

Ætat. 19. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 199
know me to be cautious in choosing them), are many of them struggling with obstacles, which never could happen were man what nature intended him. A torrent of ideas bursts into my mind when I reflect upon this subject; in the hours of sanguine expectation these reveries are agreeable, but more frequently the visions of futurity are dark and gloomy, and the only ray that enlivens the scene beams on America. You see I must fly from thought: to-day I begin
Cowper’s Homer, and write an ode; to-morrow read and write something else.”