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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. II. 1794

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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So passed the close of 1793. At the latter end of the following January my father was again in residence at Balliol; before, however, we come to the events of the year, it is necessary to make a few preliminary remarks.

The expenses of my father’s education, both at school and college, had been defrayed by his uncle, the Rev. Herbert Hill, at that time chaplain to the British Factory at Lisbon, whom he so touchingly addresses in the Dedication to the “Colloquies:”—
“O friend! O more than father! whom I found
Forbearing always, always kind; to whom
No gratitude can speak the debt I owe.”
And the kindness with which this was done had been the more perfectly judicious, as, although it had been both wished and hoped that my father would take holy orders, his uncle had never even hinted to him that he was educating him with that view. Other friends, however, had not shown the same judgment, and he had up to this time considered himself as “destined for the church”—a
Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 201
prospect to which he had never reconciled himself, and which now began to weigh heavily upon him.

It is not to be concealed or denied, that the state of my father’s mind with respect to religion, and more especially with respect to the doctrines of the Church of England, was very different in very early life from the opinions and feelings which he held in the maturity of his later years. Neither is this much to be wondered at, when we remember the sort of “bringing up” he had received, the state of society at that time, and the peculiar constitution of his own mind. His aunt, Miss Tyler, although possessing many good qualities, could hardly be said to have been a religiously-minded person. He had been removed from one school to another, undergoing “many of those sad changes through which a gentle spirit has to pass in this uneasy and disordered world;”* and he has said himself, doubtless from his own experience, that such schools are “unfavourable to devotional feelings, and destructive to devotional habits; that nothing, which is not intentionally profane, can be more irreligious than the forms of worship which are observed there; and that at no time has a schoolboy’s life afforded any encouragement, any inducement, or any opportunity for devotion.”† It must also be borne in mind that the aspect of the Church in this country at that time, as it presented itself to those who did not look below the surface, was very different from that which it now presents, A cloud, as it were, hung over it; if it had not our

* Life of Cowper, vol. i. p. 6 † Ibid. p. 12.

unhappy divisions, it had not also the spur to exertion, and the sort of spiritual freshness, which the storms of those dissensions have infused into it—good coming out of evil, as it so often does in the course of God’s providence.

It is not so strange, therefore, that he should have entertained an invincible repugnance to taking Holy orders. Enthusiastic and visionary in the extreme, imbued strongly with those political views* which rarely fail to produce lax and dangerous views in religion, as his uncle quietly observes in one of his letters to him—“I knew what your politics were, and therefore had reason to suspect what your religion might be;” viewing the Church only as she appeared in the lives and preaching of many of her unworthy, many of her cold and indolent ministers; never directed to those studies which would probably have solved his doubts, and settled his opinions; and unfortified by an acquaintance with “that portion of the Church’s history, the knowledge of which,” as he himself says, “if early inculcated, might arm the young heart against the pestilent errors of these distempered times;”†—it is little to be wondered at if he fell into some of these errors.

His opinions at this time were somewhat unsettled, although they soon took the form of Unitarianism,

* In the following passage, written with reference to the times of Charles I., my father has evidently in view the causes of his own early republican bias:—“And, at the same time, many of the higher classes had imbibed from their classical studies prejudices in favour of a popular government, which were as congenial to the generous temper of inexperienced youth, as they are inconsistent with sound knowledge and mature judgment.”—Book of the Church, vol. ii. p. 356.

Book of the Church; Preface, p. 1.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203
from which point they seem gradually to have ascended without any abrupt transition, as the troubles of life increased his devotional feelings, and the study of religious authors informed his better judgment, until they finally settled down into a strong attachment to the doctrines of the Church of England. For the present he felt he could not assent to those doctrines, and therefore, although no man could possibly have been more willing to labour perseveringly and industriously for a livelihood, he began to feel much anxiety and distress of mind as to his future prospects, and to make several fruitless attempts to find some suitable profession.

These several projects are best narrated by himself:—

“Once more am I settled at Balliol, once more among my friends, alternately studying and philosophising, railing at collegiate folly, and enjoying rational society; my prospects in life are totally altered. I am resolved to come out Aesculapius secundus. . . . . Our society at Balliol continues the same in number. The freshmen of the term are not estimable (as Duppa says), and we are enough with the three Corpus men, who generally join us. The fiddle with one string is gone, and its place supplied with a harpsichord in Burnett’s room. Lightfoot still melodises on the flute, and, had I but a Jew’s harp, the concert would be complete. . . . . On Friday next my anatomical studies begin; they must be pursued with attention. Apollo has hitherto only received my devotion as the deity of poets; I must now address him as a physician. I could allege many
reasons for my preference of physic; some disagreeable circumstances must attend the study, but they are more than counterbalanced by the expansion it gives the mind, and the opportunities it affords of doing good. Chemistry I must also attend: of this study I have always been fond, and it is now necessary to pursue it with care.”*

And again, a few days after, he writes to Mr. Grosvenor Bedford: “I purpose studying physic: innumerable and insuperable objections appeared to divinity: surely the profession I have chosen affords at least as many opportunities of benefiting mankind. . . . . In this country a liberal education precludes the man of no fortune from independence in the humbler lines of life; he may either turn soldier or embrace one of three professions, in all of which there is too much quackery. . . . . Very soon shall I commence my anatomical and chemical studies. When well grounded in these, I hope to study under Cruikshank to perfect myself in anatomy, attend the clinical lectures, and then commence—Doctor Southey!!!”

He accordingly attended, for some little time, the anatomy school, and the lectures of the medical professors, but he soon abandoned the idea as hastily as he had adopted it; partly from being unable to overcome his disgust to a dissecting-room, and partly because the love of literary pursuits was so strong within him, that, without his being altogether aware of it at the time, it prevented his applying his mind

* To Horace Bedford, Esq., Jan. 24. 1794,

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 205
sufficiently to the requisite studies. His inclinations pointed ever to literature as the needle to the north; and however he might resolve, and however temporary circumstances led him for some years to attempt other objects and to frame other plans, an invisible arm seemed to draw him away from them, and place him in that path which he was finally destined to pursue, for which he had been fitted by Providence, and in which he was to find happiness, distinction, and permanent usefulness, both to his country and to his kind.

Among other schemes, which, at this time, crossed his mind, was the possibility of selling the reversion of some property, which he conceived he should inherit from his uncle, John Southey, of Taunton; and he now requests his friend, Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, to make some inquiries at Doctors Commons on the subject. “The information you may there receive,” he writes, “will perhaps have some weight In my scale of destiny; it rests partly on the will of John Cannon Southey, who died in 1760. Hope and fear have almost lost their influence over me. If my reversion can be sold for any comfortable independence, I am sure you would father advise me to seize happiness with mediocrity than lose it in waiting for affluence. My wishes aspire not above mediocrity. . . . . Every day do I repine at the education that taught me to handle a lexicon instead of a hammer, and destined me for one of the drones of society. Add to this, that had I a sufficiency in Independence, I have every reason to expect happiness. The most pleasing visions of
domestic life would be realised. . . . . When I think on this topic, it is rather to cool myself with philosophy than to indulge in speculation. Twenty is young for a Stoic, you will say; but they have been years of experience and observation. . . . They have shown me that happiness is attainable; but, withal, taught me by repeated disappointments never to build on so sandy a foundation. It will be all the same a hundred years hence, is a vulgar adage which has often consoled me. Now do I execrate a declamation which I must make. O for emancipation from these useless forms, this useless life, these haunts of intolerance, vice, and folly!”*

Respecting the reversion here mentioned no satisfactory information could be obtained, and he next turned his thoughts towards obtaining some official employment in London. “You know my objection to orders,” he writes to Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, “and the obstacles to any other profession: it is now my wish to be in the same office with you. . . . . Do, my dear Grosvenor, give me some information upon this topic. I speak to you without apologising; you will serve me if you can, and tell me if you cannot: it would be a great object to be in the same office with you. In this plan of life the only difficulty is obtaining such a place, and for this my hopes rest on Wynn and you; in case of success I shall joyfully bid adieu to Oxford, settle myself in some economical way of life, and, when I know my situation, unite myself to a woman whom I have

* May 11. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 207
long esteemed as a sister, and for whom I now indulge a warmer sentiment. . . . . Write to me soon. I am sanguine in my expectations if you can procure my admission. Promotion is a secondary concern, though of that I have hopes. My pen will be my chief dependence. In this situation, where a small income relieves from want, interest will urge me to write, but independence secures me from writing so as to injure my reputation. Even the prospect of settling honestly in life has relieved my mind from a load of anxiety.

“In this plan of life every thing appears within the bounds of probability; the hours devoted to official attendance, even if entirely taken up by business, would pass with the idea that I was doing my duty, and honestly earning my subsistence. If they should not be fully occupied, I can pursue my own studies; and should I be fortunate enough to be in the same office with you, it would be equally agreeable to both. What situation can be pleasanter than that which places me with all my dearest friends?”*

In reply to this, Mr. Bedford urges upon him all the objections to which such a situation would be liable, and begs him to reconsider his determination with respect to taking Holy orders, probably thinking that a little time might calm his feelings and settle his opinions. His arguments, however, were of no avail; my father repeats his determination not to enter the Church, and continues: “Is it better that I should suffer inconvenience myself, or let my friends suffer

May 28. 1794.

it for me? Is six hours’ misery to be preferred to wretchedness of the whole twenty-four? . . . . I have only one alternative; some such situation, or emigration. It is not the sally of a momentary fancy that says this; either in six months I fix myself in some honest way of living, or I quit my country, my friends, and every fondest hope I indulge, for ever.”

But before many steps had been taken in the matter, an obstacle appeared which had not previously occurred to my father’s mind, and which at once put a stop to all further anticipations of the kind. It was evident that, before an official appointment of any kind, however trifling, could be procured, inquiry would be made at Oxford respecting his character and conduct; and, his political opinions once known, all chances of success would be destroyed. His republican views were so strong, and so freely expressed, that there was no possibility of any inquiry being made that would not place an insurmountable obstacle to his obtaining any employment under a Tory ministry. This being once suggested by a friend, was so apparent, that the scheme was as quickly abandoned as it had been hastily and eagerly conceived.*

“I think ——’s objection is a very strong one,” he writes: “my opinions are very well known. I would have them so; Nature never meant me for a negative character; I can neither be good or bad, happy or miserable, by halves. You know me to be

* June 1. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 209
neither captious nor quarrelsome, yet I doubt whether the quiet harmless situation I hoped for, were proper for me: it certainly, by imposing a prudential silence, would have sullied my integrity. I think I see you smile, and your imagination turns to a strait waistcoat and Moorfields. Aussi bien.
Some think him wondrous wise,
And some believe him mad.”*

In the midst of his disappointment at the failure of these plans, upon which he seems to have set his hopes somewhat strongly, his first acquaintance commenced with Mr. Coleridge, and from this sprang a train of circumstances fraught with much importance to the after lives of both.

Mr. Coleridge was, at this time, an undergraduate of Jesus College, Cambridge, where he had entered in February, 1791, and he had already given proofs both of his great talents and his eccentricities. In the summer of that year he had gained Sir William Brown’s gold medal for the Greek ode. It was on the slave trade, and its poetic force and originality were, as he said himself, much beyond the language in which they were conveyed. In the winter of 1792-3, he had stood for the University (Craven) Scholarship, with Dr. Keats, the late head master of Eton; Mr. Bethell of Yorkshire; and Bishop Butler, who was the successful candidate. In 1793, he had written without success for the Greek ode on astronomy, a translation of which is among my father’s minor poems. In the latter part of this year, “in a moment of despondency and vexation of spirit, occa-

* To Grosvenor Bedford, Esq., June 25. 1794.

sioned principally by some debts not amounting to 100l., he suddenly left his college and went to London,” and there enlisted as a private in the 15th Light Dragoons, under an assumed name bearing his own initials. In this situation, than which he could not by possibility have chosen one more incongruous to all his habits and feelings, he remained until the following April, when the termination of his military career was brought about by a chance recognition in the street. His family were apprised of his situation; and, after some difficulty, he was duly discharged, on the 10th of April, 1794, at Hounslow.*

In the following June Mr. Coleridge went to Oxford, on a visit to an old school-fellow; and, being accidentally introduced to my father, an intimacy quickly sprung up between them, hastened by the similarity of the views they then held, both on the subjects of religion and politics. Each seems to have been mutually taken with the other. Coleridge was seized with the most lively admiration of my father’s person and conversation; my father’s impression of him is well told by himself. “Allen is with us daily, and his friend from Cambridge, Coleridge, whose poems you will oblige me by subscribing to, either at Hookham’s or Edwards’s. He is of most uncommon merit,—of the strongest genius, the clearest judgment, the best heart. My friend he already is, and must hereafter be yours. It is, I fear, impossible to keep him till you come, but my efforts shall not be wanting.”†

* Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria. Biographical Supplement, vol. ii. pp. 336, 337.

† To Grosvenor Bedford, Esq., June 12. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 211

We have seen that in one or two of his early letters my father speaks of emigration and America as having entered his mind; and the failure of the plans I have just mentioned, now caused him to turn his thoughts more decidedly in that direction, and the result was a scheme of emigration, to which those who conceived it, gave the euphonious name of “Pantisocracy.” This idea, it appears, was first originated by Mr. Coleridge and one or two of his friends, and he mentioned it to my father, on becoming acquainted with him at Oxford. Their plan was to collect as many brother adventurers as they could, and to establish a community in the New World upon the most thoroughly social basis. Land was to be purchased with their common contributions, and to be cultivated by their common labour. Each was to have his portion of work assigned him; and they calculated that a large part of their time would still remain for social converse and literary pursuits. The females of the party—for all were to be married men—were to cook and perform all domestic offices; and having even gone so far as to plan the architecture of their cottages, and the form of their settlement, they had pictured as pleasant a Utopia as ever entered an ardent mind.

The persons who at first entered into the scheme were my father; Robert Lovell, the son of a wealthy Quaker, who had married one of the Misses Fricker; George Burnett, a fellow-collegian, from Somersetshire; Robert Allen, then at Corpus Christi College; and Edmund Seward, of a Herefordshire family, also
a fellow-collegian, for whom my father entertained the sincerest affection and esteem.

Seward, however, did not long continue to approve of the plan; his opinions were more moderate than those of his friends, although he was inclined to hold democratic views, and he was strongly attached to the doctrines of the Church of England, in which he intended to take orders. His letters on the subject of Pantisocracy are indicative of a very thoughtful and pious mind; and he expresses much regret that he should at first have given any encouragement to a scheme, which he soon saw must fail if attempted to be carried out.

He perceived that the two chief movers, my father and Mr. Coleridge, were passing through a period of feverish enthusiasm which could not last; and he especially expresses his fear, that the views on religious subjects held by the party generally, were not sufficiently fixed and practical; and that discussions and differences of opinion on these points would probably arise, which, more than on any other, would tend to destroy that perfect peace and unanimity they so fondly hoped to establish.

These apprehensions, however, were not participated in by the rest of the party. Mr. Coleridge quitted Oxford for a pedestrian tour in Wales; and from Gloucester he writes his first letter to my father:—“You are averse,” he says, “to gratitudinarian flourishes, else would I talk about hospitality, attention, &c. &c.; however, as I must not thank you, I will thank my stars. Verily, Southey, I like not Oxford, nor the inhabitants of it. I would
Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 213
say thou art a nightingale among owls; but thou art so songless and heavy towards night that I will rather liken thee to the matin lark, thy nest is in a blighted cornfield, where the sleepy poppy nods its red-cowled head, and the weak-eyed mole plies his dark work; but thy soaring is even unto heaven. Or let me add (for my appetite for similies is truly canine at this moment), that as the Italian nobles their new-fashioned doors, so thou dost make the adamantine gate of Democracy turn on its golden hinges to most sweet music.”*

The long vacation having commenced, my father went down to his aunt at Bath, and from thence writes as follows;—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bath, July 20. 1794.

Grosvenor, I believe nearly three weeks have elapsed since your last letter at Oxford damped my breakfast with disappointment: to see you at all times would be a source of much pleasure; but I should have been particularly glad to have introduced you to Allen and Coleridge; they shared in my disappointment, but that part of human unhappiness is not alleviated by partition. Coleridge is now walking over Wales. You have seen a specimen of Allen’s poetry, but never of his friend’s; take these, they are the only ones I can show, and were written on the wainscot of the inn at Ross, which was once the dwelling-house of Kyrle.”

July 6. 1794.


[Here follow the well-known lines to “The Man of Ross.”]

“Admire the verses, Grosvenor, and pity that mind that wrote them from its genuine feelings. ’Tis my intention soon to join him in Wales, and then to proceed to Edmund Seward, seriously to arrange with him the best mode of settling in America. Yesterday I took my proposals for publishing Joan of Arc to the printer; should the publication be any ways successful, it will carry me over, and get me some few acres, a spade, and a plough. My brother Thomas will gladly go with us, and, perhaps, two or three more of my most intimate friends; in this country I must either sacrifice happiness or integrity: but when we meet I will explain my notions more fully.

“I shall not reside next Michaelmas at Oxford, because the time will be better employed in correcting Joan, and overlooking the press. If I get fifty copies subscribed for by that time. . . . . Grosvenor, I shall inscribe Joan of Arc to you, unless you are afraid to have your name prefixed to a work that breathes some sentiments not perfectly in unison with court principles. Corrections will take up some time, for the poem shall go into the world handsomely—it will be my legacy to this country, and may, perhaps, preserve my memory in it. Many of my friends will blame me for so bold a step, but as many encourage me; and I want to raise money enough to settle myself across the Atlantic. If I have leisure to write there, my stock of imagery will be much increased. . . . . My proposals will be printed this evening. I remain here till to-morrow morning for
Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
the sake of carrying some to Bristol. Methinks my name will look well in print. I expect a host of petty critics will buzz about my ears, but I must brush them off. You know what the poem was at Brixton; when well corrected I fear not its success.

“I have a linen coat making, much like yours; ’tis destined for much service. Burnett ambulated to Bristol with me from Oxford; he is a worthy fellow, whom I greatly esteem. We have a wild Welshman, red hot from the mountains, at Balliol, who would please and amuse you much. He is perfectly ignorant of the world; but with all the honest warm feelings of nature, a good head, and a good heart. Lightfoot is A. B.; old Balliol Coll. has lost its best inhabitants in him and Seward; Allen, too, resides only six weeks longer in the University; so it would be a melancholy place for me, were I to visit it again for residence. My tutor will much wonder at seeing my name*; but, as Thomas Howe is half a democrat, he will be pleased. What miracle could illuminate him I know not; but he surprised me much by declaiming against the war, praising America, and asserting the right of every country to model its own form of government. This was followed by—‘Mr. Southey, you won’t learn any thing by my lectures. Sir; so, if you have any studies of your own, you had better pursue them.’ You may suppose I thankfully accepted the offer. Let me hear from you soon. You promised me some verses.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Southey.”

* As the author of Joan of Arc.


“P.S. How are the wasps this year? My dog eats flies voraciously, and hunts wasps for the same purpose. If he catches them, I fear he will follow poor Hyder.* I saved him twice to day from swallowing them like oysters.”

The Pantisocratic scheme seemed now to flourish; all were full of eager anticipation. “Everything smiles upon me,” says my father; “my mother is fully convinced of the propriety of our resolution; she admires the plan; she goes with us: never did so delightful a prospect of happiness open upon my view before; to go with all I love; to go with all my friends, except your family and Wynn; to live with them in the most agreeable and most honourable employment; to eat the fruits I have raised, and see every face happy around me; my mother sheltered in her declining years from the anxieties which have pursued her; my brothers educated to be useful and virtuous.”†

In the course of this month (August), Mr. Coleridge, having returned from his excursion in Wales, came to Bristol; and my father, who was then at Bath, having gone over to meet him, introduced him to Robert Lovell, through whom, it appears, they both at this time became known to Mr. Cottle; and here, also, Mr. Coleridge first became acquainted with his future wife, Sarah Fricker, the eldest of the three sisters, one of whom was married to Robert Lovell, the other having been engaged for some time

* A dog belonging to Mr. Bedford’s father, which died from the sting of a wasp in the throat.

† To Grosvenor Bedford, Esq., August 1. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 217
to my father. They were the daughters of
Stephen Fricker, who had carried on a large manufactory of sugar pans or moulds at Westbury, near Bristol, and who, having fallen into difficulties, in consequence of the stoppage of trade by the American war, had lately died, leaving his widow and six children wholly unprovided for.

During this visit to Bath, the tragedy entitled “The Fall of Robespierre”* was written, the history of which is best explained by the following extract of a letter from my father to the late Henry Nelson Coleridge, Esq.:—“It originated in sportive conversation at poor Lovell’s, and we agreed each to produce an act by the next evening—S. T. C. the first, I the second, and Lovell the third. S. T. C. brought part of his; I and Lovell, the whole of ours. But L.’s was not in keeping, and therefore I undertook to supply the third also by the following day. By that time S. T. C. had filled up his. A dedication to Mrs. Hannah More was concocted, and the notable performance was offered for sale to a bookseller in Bristol, who was too wise to buy it. Your uncle took the MSS. with him to Cambridge, and there rewrote the first act at leisure, and published it. My portion I never saw from the time it was written till the whole was before the world. It was written with newspapers before me as fast as newspapers could be put into blank verse. I have no desire to claim it now; but neither am I ashamed of it; and, if you think proper to print the whole, so be it.”

* Printed in “Remains of S. T. Coleridge.”


From Bath Mr. Coleridge went up to London, apparently with the view of consulting some friend respecting the publication of the “Fall of Robespierre.” From thence he thus writes to my father:—“The day after my arrival I finished the first act: I transcribed it. The next morning Franklin (of Pembroke Coll. Cam., a ci-devant Grecian of our school—so we call the first boys) called on me, and persuaded me to go with him and breakfast with Dyer, author of “The Complaints of the Poor,” “A Subscription,” &c. &c. I went; explained our system. He was enraptured; pronounced it impregnable. He is intimate with Dr. Priestley, and doubts not that the Doctor will join us. He showed me some poetry, and I showed him part of the first act, which I happened to have about me. He liked it hugely; it was “a nail that would drive.” . . . . Every night I meet a most intelligent young man, who has spent the last five years of his life in America, and is lately come from thence as an agent to sell land. He was of our school. I had been kind to him: he remembers it, and comes regularly every evening to “benefit by conversation,” he says. He says 2000l. will do; that he doubts not we can contract for our passage under 400l.; that we shall buy the land a great deal cheaper when we arrive at America than we could do in England; “or why,” he adds, “am I sent over here?” That twelve men may easily clear 300 acres in four or five months; and that, for 600 dollars, a thousand acres may be cleared, and houses built on them. He recommends the Susquehana, from its excessive beauty and its
Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 219
security from hostile Indians. Every possible assistance will be given us; we may get credit for the land for ten years or more, as we settle upon. That literary characters make money there: &c. &c. He never saw a bison in his life, but has heard of them: they are quite backwards. The mosquitos are not so bad as our gnats; and, after you have been there a little while, they don’t trouble you much.”*

From London Mr. Coleridge returned to Cambridge, and writes from thence, immediately on his arrival, full of enthusiasm for the grand plan:—“Since I quitted this room what and how important events have been evolved! America! Southey! Miss Fricker! . . . . Pantisocracy! Oh! I shall have such a scheme of it! My head, my heart, are all alive. I have drawn up my arguments in battle array: they shall have the tactitian excellence of the mathematician, with the enthusiasm of the poet. The head shall be the mass; the heart, the fiery spirit that fills, informs, and agitates the whole.” And then in large letters, in all the zeal of Pantisocratic fraternity, he exclaims,—“SHAD GOES WITH US: HE IS MY BROTHER!!” and, descending thence to less emphatical calligraphy, “I am longing to be with you: make Edith my sister. Surely, Southey, we shall be frendotatoi meta frendous—most friendly where all are friends. She must, therefore, be more emphatically my sister. . . . C——, the most excellent, the most Pantisocratic of aristocrats, has been laughing

* September 6. 1794.

at me. Up I arose, terrible in reasoning. He fled from me, because ‘he would not answer for his own sanity, sitting so near a madman of genius.’ He told me that the strength of my imagination had intoxicated my reason, and that the acuteness of my reason had given a directing influence to my imagination. Four months ago the remark would not have been more elegant than just: now it is nothing.”*

In the mean time, my father, though not quite so much carried away as Mr. Coleridge, was equally earnest in forwarding the plan as far as it could be forwarded without that which is the sinews of emigration, as well as of war, and without which, though the “root of all evil,” not even Pantisocracy could flourish. “In March we depart for America,” he writes to his brother Thomas, then a midshipman on board the Aquilon frigate, “Lovell, his wife, brother, and two of his sisters; all the Frickers; my mother, Miss Peggy, and brothers; Heath, apothecary, &c.; G. Burnett, S. T. Coleridge, Robert Allen, and Robert Southey. Of so many we are certain, and expect more. Whatever knowledge of navigation you can obtain will be useful, as we shall be on the bank of a navigable river, and appoint you admiral of a cock-boat. . . . .

“My aunt knows nothing as yet of my intended plan; it will surprise her, but not very agreeably. Every thing is in a very fair train, and all parties eager to embark. What do your common blue trowsers cost? Let me know, as I shall get two or three pairs for my working winter dress, and as many jackets,

* September 18. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 221
either blue or grey: so my wardrobe will consist of two good coats, two cloth jackets, four linen ones, six brown holland pantaloons, and two nankeen ditto for dress. . . . .

“My mother says I am mad; if so, she is bit by me, for she wishes to go as much as I do. Coleridge was with us nearly five weeks, and made good use of his time. We preached Pantisocracy and Aspheterism everywhere. These, Tom, are two new words, the first signifying the equal government of all, and the other the generalisation of individual property; words well understood in the city of Bristol. We are busy in getting our plan and principles ready to distribute privately. . . . . The thoughts of the day, and the visions of the night, all centre in America. Time lags heavily along till March, but we have done wonders since you left me. . . . . I hope to see you in January; it will then be time for you to take leave of the navy, and become acquainted with all our brethren, the pantisocrats. You will have no objection to partake of a wedding dinner in February.”* . . . .

By the middle of the following month the plan was still progressing favourably, but the main difficulty was beginning to occur to them. My father writes again to his brother:—“Our plan is in great forwardness; nor do I see how it can be frustrated. We are now twenty-seven adventurers. Mr. Scott talks of joining us; and if so, five persons will accompany him I wish I could speak as satisfactorily upon money matters. Money is a huge evil

* September 20. 1794.

which we shall not long have to contend with. All well.

“Thank you for the hanger; keep it for me. You shall not remain longer in the navy than January: live so long in hope; think of America I and remember that while you are only thinking of our plan, we are many of us active in forwarding it.

“Would you were with us! we talk often of you with regret. This Pantisocratic scheme has given me new life, new hope, new energy, all the faculties of my mind are dilated; I am weeding out the few lurking prejudices of habit, and looking forward to happiness. I wish I could transfuse some of my high hope and enthusiasm into you, it would warm you in the cold winter nights.”* . . . .

Hitherto all had gone on pretty smoothly, the plan of emigration, as well as my father’s engagement to marry, had been carefully concealed from his aunt. Miss Tyler, who, he was perfectly aware, would most violently oppose both; and now, when at last she became acquainted with his intentions, her anger knew no bounds. The consequences cannot be more graphically described than by himself.

To Thomas Southey.
“Bath, October 19. 1794.
“My dear Brother Admiral,

“Here’s a row! here’s a kick up! here’s a pretty commence! we have had a revolution in the College

* Bath, October 14. 1794.

Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 223
Green, and I have been turned out of doors in a wet night. Lo and behold, even like mine own brother, I was penniless: it was late in the evening; the wind blew and the rain fell, and I had walked from Bath in the morning. Luckily my father’s old great coat was at
Lovell’s. I clapt it on, swallowed a glass of brandy, and set off; I met an old drunken man three miles off, and was obliged to drag him all the way to Bath, nine miles! Oh, Patience, Patience, thou hast often helped poor Robert Southey, but never didst thou stand him in more need than on Friday the 17th of October, 1794.

“Well, Tom, here I am. My aunt has declared she will never see my face again, or open a letter of my writing.—So be it; I do my duty, and will continue to do it, be the consequences what they may. You are unpleasantly situated, so is my mother, so were we all till this grand scheme of Pantisocracy flashed upon our minds, and now all is perfectly delightful.

“Open war—declared hostilities! the children are to come here on Wednesday, and I meet them at the Long Coach on that evening. My aunt abuses poor Lovell most unmercifully, and attributes the whole scheme to him; you know it was concerted between Burnett and me. But of all the whole catalogue of enormities, nothing enrages my aunt so much, as my intended marriage with Mrs. Lovell’s sister Edith; this will hardly take place till we arrive in America; it rouses all the whole army of prejudices in my aunt’s breast. Pride leads the fiery host, and a pretty kick up they must make there.


“I expect some money in a few days, and then you shall not want; yet, as this is not quite certain, I cannot authorise you to draw on me. Lovell is in London, he will return on Tuesday or Wednesday, and I hope will bring with him some ten or twenty pounds; he will likewise examine the wills at Doctors’ Commons, and see what is to be done in the reversion way.—Every thing is in the fairest train. Favell and Le Grice, two young Pantisocrats of nineteen, join us; they possess great genius and energy. I have seen neither of them, yet correspond with both. You may, perhaps, like this sonnet on the subject of our emigration, by Favell:—
No more my visionary soul shall dwell
On joys that were; no more endure to weigh
The shame and anguish of the evil day.
Wisely forgetful! O’er the ocean swell,
Sublime of Hope, I seek the cottag’d dell
Where Virtue calm with careless step may stray,
And, dancing to the moonlight roundelay,
The wizard passion wears a holy spell.
Eyes that have ach’d with anguish! ye shall weep
Tears of doubt-mingled joy, as those who start
From precipices of distemper’d sleep,
On which the fierce-ey’d fiends their revels keep,
And see the rising sun, and feel it dart
New rays of pleasure trembling to the heart.

“This is a very beautiful piece of poetry; and we may form a very fair opinion of Favell from it. Scott, a brother of your acquaintance, goes with us. So much for news relative to our private politics.

“This is the age of revolutions, and a huge one we have had on the College Green. Poor Shadrack is left there, in the burning fiery furnace of her displeasure, and a prime hot birth has he got of it; he saw me depart with astonishment.—‘Why, Sir, you
Ætat. 20. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 225
be’nt going to Bath at this time of night, and in this weather! Do let me see you sometimes, and hear from you, and send for me when you are going.’

“We are all well, and all eager to depart. March will soon arrive, and I hope you will be with us before that time.

“Why should the man who acts from conviction of rectitude grieve because the prejudiced are offended? For me, I am fully possessed by the great cause to which I have devoted myself; my conduct has been open, sincere, and just; and though the world were to scorn and neglect me, I should bear their contempt with calmness.

Fare thee well.
Yours in brotherly affection,
Robert Southey.”

It might have been hoped that this storm would have blown over; and that when Pantisocracy had died a natural death, and the marriage had taken place, Miss Tyler’s angry feelings might have softened down; but it was not so, and the aunt and nephew never met again!

One other incident belongs to the close of this year—the publication of a small volume of poems, the joint production of Mr. Lovell and my father. Many of them have never been republished. The motto prefixed to them was an appropriate one:—
“Minuentur atræ
Carmine curæ.”