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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 14 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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“Bath, Dec. 14. 1793.

“The gentleman who brings this letter must occupy a few lines of it. His name is Lovel: I know him but very little personally, though long by report; you must already see he is eccentric. Perhaps I do wrong in giving him this, but I wish your opinion of him. Those who are superficially acquainted with him feel wonder; those who know him, love. This character I hear. He is on the point of marrying a young woman with whom I spent great part of my younger years; we were bred up together I may almost say, and that period was the happiest of my life. Mr. Lovel has very great abilities; he writes well: in short, I wish his acquaintance myself; and, as his stay in town is very short, you will forgive the introduction. Perhaps you may rank him with Duppa, and, supposing excellence to be at 100, Duppa is certainly much above 50. Now, my dear Grosvenor, I doubt I am acting improperly; it was enough to introduce myself so rudely: but abilities always claim respect, and that Lovel has these I think very certain. Characters, if anyways marked, are well worth studying; and a young man of two-and-twenty, who has been his own master since fifteen, and who owes all his knowledge to himself, is so far a respectable character. My knowledge of
him, I again repeat, is very confined: his intended bride I look upon as almost a sister, and one should know one’s brother-in-law. . . . .

“What is to become of me at ordination heaven only knows! After keeping the straight path so long the Test Act will be a stumbling-block to honesty; so chance and providence must take care of that, and I will fortify myself against chance. The wants of man are so very few that they must be attainable somewhere, and, whether here or in America, matters little; I have long learnt to look upon the world as my country.

“Now, if you are in the mood for a reverie, fancy only me in America; imagine my ground uncultivated since the creation, and see me wielding the axe, now to cut down the tree, and now the snakes that nestled in it. Then see me grubbing up the roots, and building a nice snug little dairy with them: three rooms in my cottage, and my only companion some poor negro whom I have bought on purpose to emancipate. After a hard day’s toil, see me sleep upon rushes, and, in very bad weather, take out my casette and write to you, for you shall positively write to me in America. Do not imagine I shall leave rhyming or philosophising, so thus your friend will realise the romance of Cowley, and even outdo the seclusion of Rousseau; till at last comes an ill-looking Indian with a tomahawk, and scalps me,—a most melancholy proof that society is very bad, and that I shall have done very little to improve it! So vanity, vanity will come from my lips, and poor Southey will either be cooked for a Cherokee, or oysterised by a tiger.

Ætat. 19. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 197

“I have finished transcribing Joan, and bound her in marble paper with green ribbon, and now am about copying all my remainables to carry to Oxford. Thence once more a clear field, and then another epic poem, and then another, and so on, till Truth shall write on my tomb—‘Here lies an odd mortal, whose life only benefited the paper manufacturers, and whose death will only hurt the post-office.’

“Do send my great coat, &c. My distresses are so great that I want words to express the inconvenience I suffer. So as breakfast is not yet ready (it is almost nine o’clock), you shall have an ode to my great coat. Excellent subject, excellent trifler,—or blockhead, say you; but, Bedford, I must either be too trifling or too serious; the first can do no harm, and I know the last does no good. So come forth my book of Epistles.”