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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. VIII. 1801

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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Ætat. 27. Ætat. 27. 145

In the course of the following June my father and mother returned to England, and for a short time again took up their residence at Bristol. His sojourn abroad had in all respects been a most satisfactory as well as a most enjoyable one: the various unpleasant and, indeed, alarming symptoms under which he had previously laboured, had proved to be rather of nervous than of organic origin; and as they seemed to have owed their rise to sedentary habits and continued mental exertion, they had readily given way, under the combined influence of change of scene and place, a more genial climate, and the healthful excitement of travel in a foreign land, and scenes full alike of beauty and of interest. He had not, indeed, been idle the while, for he had laid up large stores for his projected His-
tory of Portugal (never, alas! destined to be completed); and he had finished
Thalaba, a transcript of which had been sent to England, and its publication negotiated for with the Messrs. Longman, by his friend Mr. Rickman. He had now entirely abandoned all idea of continuing the study of the law, and his thoughts and wishes were strongly turned towards obtaining some appointment, which would enable him to reside in a southern climate. In the mean time, haying no especial reason for wishing to remain in Bristol, he had for some time contemplated a journey into Cumberland, for the double purpose of seeing the Lakes and visiting Mr. Coleridge, who was at this time residing at Greta Hall, Keswick; having been tempted into the north by the proximity of Mr. Wordsworth, and to whom he had written concerning this intention some months before leaving Lisbon. Mr. Coleridge’s answer waited his return, and a portion of it may not unfitly be transcribed here, describing, as it does, briefly yet very faithfully, the place destined to be my father’s abode for the longest portion of his life—the birth-place of all his children (save one), and the place of his final rest.

To Robert Southey, Esq.
“Greta Hall, Keswick; April 13. 1801.
“My dear Southey,

“I received your kind letter on the evening before last, and I trust that this will arrive at Bristol just in time to rejoice with them that rejoice. Alas! you will have found the dear old place sadly minused by
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 147
the removal of
Davy. It is one of the evils of long silence, that when one recommences the correspondence, one has so much to say that one can say nothing. I have enough, with what I have seen, and with what I have done, and with what I have suffered, and with what I have heard, exclusive of all that I hope and all that I intend—I have enough to pass away a great deal of time with, were you on a desert isle, and I your Friday. But at present I purpose to speak only of myself relatively to Keswick and to you.

“Our house stands on a low hill, the whole front of which is one field and an enormous garden, nine-tenths of which is a nursery garden. Behind the house is an orchard, and a small wood on a steep slope, at the foot of which flows the river Greta, which winds round and catches the evening lights in the front of the house. In front we have a giant’s camp—an encamped army of tent-like mountains, which by an inverted arch gives a view of another vale. On our right the lovely vale and the wedge-shaped lake of Bassenthwaite; and on our left Derwentwater and Lodore full in view, and the fantastic mountains of Borrodale. Behind us the massy Skiddaw, smooth, green, high, with two chasms and a tent-like ridge in the larger. A fairer scene you have not seen in all your wanderings. Without going from our own grounds we have all that can please a human being. As to books, my landlord, who dwells next door*, has a very respectable library, which he has put with mine; histories, encyclopaedias,

* Greta Hall was at this time divided into two houses, which were afterwards thrown together.

and all the modern gentry. But then I can have, when I choose, free access to the princely library of
Sir Guilfred Lawson, which contains the noblest collection of travels and natural history of, perhaps, any private library in England; besides this, there is the Cathedral library of Carlisle, from whence I can have any books sent to me that I wish; in short, I may truly say that I command all the libraries in the county. . . . .

“Our neighbour is a truly good and affectionate man, a father to my children, and a friend to me. He was offered fifty guineas for the house in which we are to live, but he preferred me for a tenant at twenty-five; and yet the whole of his income does not exceed, I believe, 200l. a year. A more truly disinterested man I never met with; severely frugal, yet almost carelessly generous; and yet he got all his money as a common carrier*, by hard labour, and by pennies and pennies. He is one instance among many in this country of the salutary effect of the love of knowledge—he was from a boy a lover of learning. . . . . The house is full twice as large as we want; it hath more rooms in it than Allfoxen; you might have a bed-room, parlour, study, &c. &c., and there would always be rooms to spare for your or my visitors. In short, for situation and convenience,—and when I mention the name of Wordsworth, for society of men of intellect,—I know no place in which you and Edith would find yourselves so well suited.”

The remainder of this letter, as well as another of

* This person, whose name was Jackson, was the “master” in Mr. Wordsworth’s poem of “The “Waggoner,” the circumstances of which are accurately correct.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 149
later date, was filled with a most gloomy account of his own health, to which my father refers in the commencement of his reply.

To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Bristol, July 11. 1801.

“Yesterday I arrived, and found your letters; they did depress me, but I have since reasoned or dreamt myself into more cheerful anticipations. I have persuaded myself that your complaint is gouty; that good living is necessary, and a good climate. I also move to the south; at least so it appears: and if my present prospects ripen, we may yet live under one roof. . . . .

“You may have seen a translation of Persius, by Drummond, an M.P. This man is going ambassador, first to Palermo and then to Constantinople: if a married man can go as his secretary, it is probable that I shall accompany him. I daily expect to know. It is a scheme of Wynn’s to settle me in the south, and I am returned to look about me. My salary will be small—a very trifle; but after a few years I look on to something better, and have fixed my mind on a consulship. Now, if we go, you must join us as soon as we are housed, and it will be marvellous if we regret England. I shall have so little to do, that my time may be considered as wholly my own: our joint amusements will easily supply us with all expenses. So no more of the Azores; for we will see the Great
Turk, and visit Greece, and walk up the Pyramids, and ride camels in Arabia. I have dreamt of nothing else these five weeks. As yet every thing is so uncertain, for I have received no letter since we landed, that nothing can be said of our intermediate movements. If we are not embarked too soon, we will set off as early as possible for Cumberland, unless you should think, as we do, that
Mahomet had better come to the mountain; that change of all externals may benefit you; and that bad as Bristol weather is, it is yet infinitely preferable to northern cold and damp. Meet we must, and will.

“You know your old Poems are a third time in the press; why not set forth a second volume? . . . . . Your Christabel, your Three Graces, which I remember as the very consummation of poetry. I must spur you to something, to the assertion of your supremacy; if you have not enough to muster, I will aid you in any way—manufacture skeletons that you may clothe with flesh, blood, and beauty; write my best, or what shall be bad enough to be popular;—we will even make plays à-la-mode Robespierre Drop all task-work, it is ever unprofitable; the same time, and one twentieth part of the labour, would produce treble emolument. For Thalaba I received 115l.; it was just twelve months’ intermitting work, and the after-editions are my own. . . . .

“I feel here as a stranger; somewhat of Leonard’s feeling. God bless Wordsworth for that poem! ‘What

* “The Brothers” is the title of this poem.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 151
tie have I to England? My London friends? There, indeed, I have friends. But if you and yours were with me, eating dates in a garden at Constantinople, you might assert that we were in the best of all possible places; and I should answer, Amen: and if our wives rebelled, we would send for the chief of the black eunuchs, and sell them to the Seraglio. Then should
Moses learn Arabic, and we would know whether there was anything in the language or not. We would drink Cyprus wine and Mocha coffee, and smoke more tranquilly than ever we did in the Ship in Small Street.

“Time and absence make strange work with our affections; but mine are ever returning to rest upon you. I have other and dear friends, but none with whom, the whole of my being is intimate—with whom every thought and feeling can amalgamate. Oh! I have yet such dreams! Is it quite clear that you and I were not meant for some better star, and dropped, by mistake, into this world of pounds, shillings, and pence? . . . .

“God bless you!

Robert Southey.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“July 25.

“In about ten days we shall be ready to set forward for Keswick; where, if it were not for the rains, and the fogs, and the frosts, I should, probably,
be content to winter; but the climate deters me. It is uncertain when I may be sent abroad, or where, except that the south of Europe is my choice. The appointment hardly doubtful, and the probable destination Palermo or Naples. We will talk of the future, and dream of it, on the lake side. . . . . I may calculate upon the next six months at my own disposal; so we will climb Skiddaw this year, and scale Etna the next; and Sicilian air will keep us alive till
Davy has found out the immortalising elixir, or till we are very well satisfied to do without it, and be immortalised after the manner of our fathers. My pocketbook contains more plans than will ever be filled up; but whatever becomes of those plans, this, at least, is feasible. . . . . Poor H——, he has literally killed himself by the law; which, I believe, kills more than any disease that takes its place in the bills of mortality. Blackstone is a needful book, and my Coke is a borrowed one; but I have one law book whereof to make an auto-da-fé; and burnt he shall be: but whether to perform that ceremony, with fitting libations, at home, or fling him down the crater of Etna directly to the Devil, is worth considering at leisure.

“I must work at Keswick; the more willingly, because with the hope, hereafter, the necessity will cease. My Portuguese materials must lie dead, and this embarrasses me. It is impossible to publish any thing about that country now, because I must one day return there,—to their libraries and archives;
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 153
otherwise I have excellent stuff for a little volume; and could soon set forth a first vol. of my History, either civil or literary. In these labours I have incurred a heavy and serious expense. I shall write to
Hamilton, and review again, if he chooses to employ me . . . . . It was Cottle who told me that your Poems were reprinting in a third edition: this cannot allude to the Lyrical Ballads, because of the number and the participle present . . . . I am bitterly angry to see one new poem smuggled into the world in the Lyrical Ballads, where the 750 purchasers of the first can never get at it. At Falmouth I bought Thomas Dermody’s Poems, for old acquaintance sake; alas! the boy wrote better than the man! . . . . Pyes Alfred (to distinguish him from Alfred the pious*) I have not yet inspected; nor the wilful murder of Bonaparte, by Anna Matilda; nor the high treason committed by Sir James Bland Burgess, Baronet, against our lion-hearted Richard. Davy is fallen stark mad with a play, called the Conspiracy of Gowrie, which is by Rough; an imitation of Gebir, with some poetry; but miserably and hopelessly deficient in all else: every character reasoning, and metaphorising, and metaphysicking the reader most nauseously. By the by, there is a great analogy between hock, laver, pork pie, and the Lyrical Ballads,—all have a flavour, not beloved by those who require a taste, and utterly unpleasant to dram-drinkers, whose diseased palates can only feel

* This alludes to Mr. Cottle’sAlfred.”

pepper and brandy. I know not whether
Wordsworth will forgive the stimulant tale of Thalaba,—’tis a turtle soup, highly seasoned, but with a flavour of its own predominant. His are sparagrass (it ought to be spelt so) and artichokes, good with plain butter, and wholesome.

“I look on Madoc with hopeful displeasure; probably it must be corrected, and published now; this coming into the world at seven months is a bad way; with a Doctor Slop of a printer’s devil standing ready for the forced birth, and frightening one into an abortion. . . . . . Is there an emigrant at Keswick, who may make me talk and write French? And I must sit at my almost forgotten Italian, and read German with you; and we must read Tasso together. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Bristol, August 3. 1801.

“Following the advice of the Traumatic Poet*, I have been endeavouring to get money—and to get it

* The “Traumatic Poet” was a Bristol acquaintance of my father’s and Mr. Coleridge, who somewhat overrated his own powers of poetical composition; two choice sonnets of his, on “Metaphor” and “Personification,” were printed in the first volume of the Annual Anthology.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 155
honestly. I wrote to
——, and propounded to him Madoc, to be ready for the press in six months, at a price equivalent to that of Thalaba, in proportion to its length; and I asked for fifty pounds now, the rest on publication. —— writes to beat down the price. . . . . And I have answered, that the difference about terms sets me at liberty from my proposal.

“And so, how to raise the wind for my long land voyage? Why, I expect Hamilton’s account daily (for whom, by the by, I am again at work!), and he owes me I know not what; it may be fifteen pounds, it may be five-and-twenty: if the latter, off we go, as soon as we can get an agreeable companion in a post-chaise; if it be not enough, why I must beg, borrow, or steal. I have once been tempted to sell my soul to Stuart for three months, for thirteen guineas in advance; but my soul mutinied at the bargain . . . . . Madoc has had a miraculous escape! it went against my stomach and my conscience—but malesuada fames.

“Your West India plan is a vile one. Italy, Italy. I shall have enough leisure for a month’s journey, Moses, and the young one with the heathenish name, will learn Italian as they are learning English,—an advantage not to be overlooked; society, too, is something; and Italy has never been without some great mind or other, worthy of its better ages. When we are well tired of Italy, why, I will get removed to Portugal, to which I look with longing eyes, as the land of promise. But, in all sober seriousness, the plan I
propose is very practicable, very pleasant, and eke also very prudent. My business will not be an hour in a week, and it will enable me to afford to be idle—a power which I shall never wish to exert, but which I do long to possess. . . . .
Davy’s removal to London extends his sphere of utility, and places him in affluence; yet he will be the worse for it. Chameleon like, we are all coloured by the near objects; and he is among metaphysical sensualists: he should have remained a few years longer here, till the wax cooled, which is now passive to any impression. I wish it was not true, but it unfortunately is, that experimental philosophy always deadens the feelings; and these men who ‘botanise upon their mothers’ graves,’ may retort and say, that cherished feelings deaden our usefulness; and so we are all well in our way.

“. . . . . Do not hurry from the baths for the sake of meeting me; for when I set out is unpleasantly uncertain; and as I suppose we must be Lloyd’s guests a few days, it may as well or better be before your return. My mother is very unwell, perhaps more seriously so than I allow myself to fully believe. If Peggy* were—what shall I say?—released is a varnishing phrase; and death is desirable, when recovery is impossible. I would bring my mother with me for the sake of total change, if Peggy could be left, but that is impossible; recover she cannot, yet may, and I believe will, suffer on till winter. Almost I pre-feel

* His cousin, Margaret Hill, to whom he was greatly attached, then dying in a consumption.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 157
that my mother’s illness will, at the same time, recall me . . . . . The summer is going off, and I am longing for hot weather, to bathe in your lake; and yet am I tied by the leg. Howbeit,
Hamilton’s few days cannot be stretched much longer; and when his account comes I shall draw the money, and away. God bless you!

R. Southey,”

A letter from Mr. Bedford, containing some reproaches for a much longer silence than was his wont, called forth the following reply:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“August 19. 1801.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“The tone and temper of your letter left me in an uncomfortable mood;—certainly I deserved it—as far as negligence deserves reproof so harsh;—but indeed, Grosvenor, you have been somewhat like the Scotch judge, who included all rape, robbery, murder, and horse-stealing under the head of sedition; so have you suspected negligence of cloaking a cold, and fickle, and insincere heart. Dear, dear Grosvenor, if by any magic of ear you could hear how often your name passes my lips! or could you see how often I see your figure in my walks—the recollections—and the wishes—but what are these? A hundred times should I have begun a letter if there had been enough to fill it,—if I could have sent you the
exquisite laugh when I again saw St. Augustine and his load,—or the smile when I read Saunders’ death in the newspaper;—but these are unwriteable things—the gossip, and the playfulness, and the boyishness, and the happiness:—I was about to write, however,—in conscience and truth I was—and for an odd reason. I heard a gentleman imitate
Henderson; and there was in that imitation a decisiveness of pronunciation, a rolling every syllable over the tongue, a force and pressure of lip and of palate, that had my eyes been shut I could have half believed you had been reading Shakspeare to me,—and I was about to tell you so, because the impression was so strong.

“With Drummond it seems I go not, but he and Wynn design to get for me—or try to get—a better berth;—that of Secretary to some Italian Legation, which is permanent, and not personally attached to the minister. Amen. I love the south, and the possibility highly pleases me, and the prospect of advancing my fortunes. To England I have no strong tie; the friends whom I love live so widely apart that I never see two in a place; and for acquaintance, they are to be found everywhere. Thus much for the future; for the present I am about to move to Coleridge, who is at the Lakes;—and I am labouring, somewhat blindly indeed, but all to some purpose, about my ways and means; for the foreign expedition that has restored my health, has at the same time picked my pocket; and if I had not good spirits and cheerful industry, I should be somewhat surly
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 159
and sad. So I am—I hope most truly and ardently for the last time—pen-and-inking for supplies, not from pure inclination. I am rather heaping bricks and mortar than building; hesitating between this plan and that plan, and preparing for both. I rather think it will end in a romance, in metre Thalabian—in mythology Hindoo,—by name the
Curse of Kehama, on which name you may speculate; and if you have any curiosity to see a crude outline, the undeveloped life-germ of the egg, say so, and you shall see the story as it is, and the poem as it is to be, written piece-meal.

“Thus, then, is my time employed, or thus it ought to be; for how much is dissipated by going here and there,—dinnering, and tea-taking, and suppering, traying, or eveninging, take which phrase of fashion pleases you,—you may guess.

“Grosvenor, I perceive no change in myself, nor any symptoms of change; I differ only in years from what I was, and years make less difference in me than in most men. All things considered, I feel myself a fortunate and happy man; the future wears a better face than it has ever done, and I have no reason to regret that indifference to fortune which has marked the past. By the by, it is unfortunate that you cannot come to the sacrifice of one law book—my whole proper stock—whom I design to take up to the top of Mount Etna, for the express purpose of throwing him down straight to the devil. Huzza, Grosvenor! I was once afraid that I should have a deadly deal of law to forget whenever I had
done with it; but my brains, God bless them, never received any, and I am as ignorant as heart could wish. The tares would not grow.

“You will direct to Keswick, Cumberland. I set off on Saturday next, and shall be there about Tuesday; and if you could contrive to steal time for a visit to the Lakes, you would find me a rare guide.

“If you have not seen the second volume of Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads, I counsel you to buy them, and read aloud the poems entitled The Brothers, and Michael; which, especially the first, are, to my taste, excellent. I have never been so much affected, and so well, as by some passages there.

“God bless you. Edith’s remembrance.

Yours as ever,
Robert Southey.”

My father’s first impression of the Lake country was not quite equal to the feelings with which he afterwards regarded it; and he dreaded the climate, which, even when long residence had habituated him to it, he always considered as one of the greatest drawbacks to the north of England. “Whether we winter here or not,” he writes immediately on his arrival at Keswick, “time must determine; inclination would lead me to, but it is as cold as at Yarmouth, and I am now growling at clouds and Cumberland weather. The Lakes at first disappointed me,—they were diminutive to what I expected,—the mountains little, compared to Mon-
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 161
chique: and for beauty, all English, perhaps all existing, scenery must yield to Cintra, my last summer’s residence. Yet, as I become more familiar with these mountains, the more is their sublimity felt and understood: were they in a warmer climate, they would be the best and most desirable neighbours.”

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Sept. 6. 1801.

“. . . . . De Anthologiâ, which is of or concerning the Anthology. As I hope to be picking up lava from Etna, I cannot be tying up nosegays here in England; but blind Tobin, whom you know,—God bless him for a very good fellow!—but Tobin the blind is very unwilling that no more anthologies should appear; wherefore there will be more volumes, with which, all I shall have to do, will be to see that large-paper copies be printed to continue sets,—becoming myself only a gentleman contributor: to which ingenious publication I beg your countenance, sir, and support. . . . . You ask me questions about my future plans which I cannot readily answer, only that if I got a decent salary abroad, even should my health take a fancy to this queer climate, I have no estate to retire to at home, and so shall have a good prudential reason for remaining there. My dreams incline to Lisbon as a resting-place; I am really attached to the country,
and, odd as it may seem, to the people. In Lisbon they are, like all metropolitans, roguish enough, but in the country I have found them hospitable, even to kindness, when I was a stranger and in want. The consulship at Lisbon would, of all possible situations, best delight me,—better than a grand consulship,—’tis a good thousand a year. But when one is dreaming, you know,

“These lakes are like rivers; but oh for the Mondego and the Tagus! And these mountains, beautifully indeed are they shaped and grouped; but oh for the great Monchique! and for Cintra, my paradise!—the heaven on earth of my hopes; and if ever I should have a house at Cintra, as in earnest sincerity I do hope I shall, will not you give me one twelvemonth, and eat grapes, and ride donkeys, and be very happy? In truth, Grosvenor, I have lived abroad too long to be contented in England: I miss southern luxuries,—the fruits, the wines; I miss the sun in heaven, having been upon a short allowance of sunbeams these last ten days; and if the nervous fluid be the galvanic fluid, and the galvanic fluid the electric fluid, and the electric fluid condensed light, zounds! what an effect must these vile dark rainy clouds have upon a poor nervous fellow, whose brain has been in a state of high illumination for the last fifteen months!

“God bless you! I am going in a few days to meet Wynn at Liverpool, and then to see the Welsh lions. . . . . Grosvenor Bedford, I wish you would write a history, for, take my word for it, no employment else is one
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 163
thousandth part so interesting. I wish you would try it. We want a Venetian history. I would hunt Italy, for your materials, and help you in any imaginable way. Think about it, and tell me your thoughts.

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”

On my father’s arrival at Llangedwin, the residence of his friend Mr. C. W. W. Wynn, he found a letter awaiting him, offering him the appointment of private secretary to Mr. Corry, at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland: the terms “prudently limited to one year, lest they should not suit each other;” the proffered salary 400l. Irish, (about 350l. English,) of which the half was specified as travelling expenses. This had been brought about through his friend Mr. Rickman, who was at that time secretary to Mr. Abbot, and, in consequence, residing in Dublin,—an additional inducement to my father to accept the appointment, as he would have to reside there himself during half the year.

His immediate services being required, after hurrying back for a few days to Keswick, he lost no time in taking possession of his new office.

To Mrs. Southey.
“Dublin, Wednesday, Oct. 14. 1801.

“. . . . . On Sunday, after delaying till the latest possible moment for the chance of passengers, we dropped down the river Dee. The wind almost immediately failed us; I never saw so dead a calm; there was not a heaving, a ripple, a wrinkle on the water; the ship, though she made some way with the tide, was as still as a house, to our feelings. Had the wind continued as when we embarked, eighteen hours would have blown us to Dublin. I saw the sun set behind Anglesea; and the mountains of Carnarvonshire rose so beautifully before us, that, though at sea, it was delightful. The sun-rise on Monday was magnificent. Holyhead was then in sight, and in sight on the wrong side it continued all day, while we tacked and retacked with a hard-hearted wind. We got into Beaumaris Bay, and waited there for the midnight tide: it was very quiet; even my stomach had not provocation enough, as yet, to be sick. In the night we proceeded: about two o’clock a very heavy gale arose; it blew great guns, as you would say; the vessel shipped water very fast, it came pouring down into the cabin, and both pumps were at work,—the dismallest thump, thump, I ever heard: this lasted about three hours. As soon as we were clear of the Race of Holyhead the sea grew smoother, though the gale continued. On Tuesday the morning was hazy, we could not see land, though it was not far distant;
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 165
and when at last we saw it, the wind had drifted us so far south that no possibility existed of out reaching Dublin that night. The captain, a good man and a good sailor, who never leaves his deck during the night, and drinks nothing but butter-milk, therefore readily agreed to land us at Balbriggen; and there we got ashore at two o’clock. Balbriggen is a fishing and bathing town, fifteen miles from Dublin,—but miles and money differ in Ireland from the English standard, eleven miles Irish being as long as fourteen English. . . . .

“To my great satisfaction, we had in our company one of the most celebrated characters existing at this day; a man whose name is as widely known as that of any human being, except, perhaps, Bonaparte!

“He is not above five feet, but, notwithstanding his figure, soon became the most important personage of the party. ‘Sir,’ said he, as soon as he set foot in the vessel, ‘I am a unique; I go any where, just as the whim takes me: this morning, sir, I had no idea whatever of going to Dublin; I did not think of it when I left home; my wife and family know nothing of the trip. I have only one shirt with me besides what I have on; my nephew here, sir, has not another shirt to his back: but money, sir, money,—anything may be had at Dublin.’ Who the devil is this fellow? thought I. We talked of rum,—he had just bought 100 puncheons, the weakest drop 15 above proof: of the west of England,—out he pulls an Exeter newspaper from his pocket: of bank paper,—his pocket-book was stuffed with notes, Scotch, Irish, and English; and I really am obliged to him for some clues to dis-
cover forged paper. Talk, talk, everlasting;—he could draw for money on any town in the United Kingdoms; ay, or in America. At last he was made known for
Dr. Solomon. At night I set upon the doctor, and turned the discourse upon disease in general, beginning with the Liverpool flux—which remedy had proved most effectual—nothing like the Cordial Balm of Gilead; at last I ventured to touch upon a tender subject—did he conceive Dr. Brodum’s medicine to be at all analogous to his own? ‘Not in the least, sir; colour, smell, all totally different: as for Dr. Brodum, sir,—all the world knows it—it is manifest to everybody—that his advertisements are all stolen, verbatim et literatim, from mine. Sir, I don’t think it worth while to notice such a fellow.’ But enough of Solomon, and his nephew and successor that is to be—the Rehoboam of Gilead—a cub in training.

Mr. Corry is out of town for two days, so I have not seen him. The probability is, Rickman tells me, that I shall return in about ten days: you shall have the first intelligence; at present I know no more of my future plans than that I am to dine to-day with the secretary of the Lord Lieutenant, and to look me out a lodging first.

“But you must hear all I have seen of Ireland. The fifteen miles that we crossed are so destitute of trees, that I could only account for it by a sort of instinctive dread of the gallows in the natives. I find they have been cut down to make pikes. Cars, instead of carts or waggons; women without hats, shoes, or stockings. One little town we passed, once
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 167
famous,—its name Swords; it has the ruins of a castle and a church, with a round tower adjoining the steeple, making an odd group; it was notoriously a pot-walloping borough: and for breeding early ducks for the London market, the manufactory of ducks appeared to be in a flourishing state. Post-chaises very ugly, the doors fastening with a staple and chain; three persons going in one, paying more than two. The hotel here abominably filthy. I see mountains near Dublin most beautifully shaped, but the day is too hazy. You shall hear all I can tell you by my next. I am quite well, and, what is extraordinary, was never once sick the whole way. . . . .

Edith, God bless you! I do not expect to be absent from you above a fortnight longer.

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To Mrs. Southey.
“Dublin, Oct. 16. 1801.
“Dear Edith,

“In my last no direction was given. You will write under cover, and direct thus:—

Right Honble
Isaac Corry,
&c. &c. &c.

This said personage I have not yet seen, whereby I am kept in a state of purportless idleness. He is
gone to his own country, playing truant from business among his friends. To-morrow his return is probable. I like his character; he does business well, and with method, but loves his amusement better than business, and prefers books better than official papers. It does not appear that my work will be any ways difficult,—copying and letter-writing, which any body could do, if any body could be confidentially trusted.

John Rickman is a great man in Dublin and in the eyes of the world, but not one jot altered from the John Rickman of Christchurch, save only that, in compliance with an extorted promise, he has deprived himself of the pleasure of scratching his head, by putting powder in it. He has astonished the people about him. The government stationer hinted to him, when he was giving an order, that if he wanted anything in the pocket-book way, he might as well put it down in the order. Out he pulled his own—‘Look, sir, I have bought one for two shillings.’ His predecessor admonished him not to let himself down by speaking to any of the clerks. ‘Why, sir,’ said John Rickman, ‘I should not let myself down if I spoke to every man between this and the bridge.’ And so he goes on in his own right way. He has been obliged to mount up to the third story, before he could find a room small enough to sleep in; and there he led me, to show me his government bed, which, because it is a government bed, contains stuff enough to make a dozen; the curtains being completely double, and mattrass piled upon mattrass, so that tumbling out would be a
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 169
dangerous fall. About our quarters here, when we remove hither in June, he will look out. The filth of the houses is intolerable,—floors and furniture offending you with Portuguese nastiness; but it is a very fine city,—a magnificent city,—such public buildings, and the streets so wide! For these advantages Dublin is indebted to the prodigal corruption of its own government. Every member who asked money to make improvements got it; and if he got 20,000 pounds, in decency spent five for the public, and pocketed the rest. These gentlemen are now being hauled a little over the coals, and they have grace enough to thank God the Union did not take place sooner.

“The peace was not welcome to the patricians, it took away all their hopes of ‘any fun’ by the help of France. The government, acting well and wisely, control both parties,—the Orangemen and the United Irishmen,—and command respect from both; the old fatteners upon the corruption are silent in shame: the military, who must be kept up, will be well employed in making roads,—this measure is not yet announced to the public. It will be difficult to civilise this people. An Irishman builds him a turf stye, gets his fuel from the bogs, digs his patch of potatoes, and then lives upon them in idleness: like a true savage, he does not think it worth while to work that he may better himself. Potatoes and butter-milk,—on this they are born and bred; and whiskey sends them to the third heaven at once. If Davy had one of them in his laboratory, he could analyze his fleshy blood, and bones into nothing but potatoes, and but-
ter-milk, and whiskey; they are the primary elements of an Irishman. Their love of ‘fun’ eternally engages them in mischievous combinations, which are eternally baffled by their own blessed instinct of blundering. The United Irishmen must have obtained possession of Dublin but for a bull. On the night appointed, the mail-coach was to be stopped and burnt, about a mile from town; and that was the signal; the lamplighters were in the plot; and oh! to be sure! the honeys would not light a lamp in Dublin that evening, for fear the people should see what was going on. Of course alarm was taken, and all the mischief prevented. Modesty characterises them as much here as on the other side of the water. A man stopped
Rickman yesterday,—‘I’ll be oblaged to you, sir, if you’ll plaise to ask Mr. Abbot to give me a place of sixty or seventy pounds a year.’ Favours, indeed, are asked here with as unblushing and obstinate a perseverance as in Portugal. This is the striking side of the picture—the dark colours that first strike a stranger; their good qualities you cannot so soon discover. Genius, indeed, immediately appears to characterise them; a love of saying good things—which 999 Englishmen in a thousand never dream of attempting in the course of their lives. When Lord Hardwicke came over, there fell a fine rain, the first after a long series of dry weather; a servant of Dr. Lindsay’s heard an Irishman call to his comrade in the street—‘Ho, Pat! and we shall have a riot,’—of course, a phrase to quicken an Englishman’s hearing,—‘this rain will breed a riot—the little potatoes will be pushing out the big ones.’

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 171

“Did I send, in my last, the noble bull that Rickman heard? He was late in company, when a gentleman looked at his watch, and cried, ‘It is to-morrow morning!—I must wish you good night.’

“I have bought no books yet, for lack of money. To-day Rickman is engaged to dinner, and I am to seek for myself some ordinary or chop-house. This morning will clear off my letters; and I will make business a plea hereafter for writing fewer,—’tis a hideous waste of time. My love to Coleridge, &c., if, indeed, I do not write to him also.

Edith, God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Dublin, Oct. 16, 1801.
“Dear Coleridge,

“The map of Ireland is a beautiful map—mountains, and lakes, and rivers; which I hope one day to visit with you. St. Patrick’s Purgatory and the Giant’s Causeway lie in the same comer. Where ‘Mole, that mountain hoar,’ is, I cannot find, though I have hunted the name in every distortion of possible orthography. A journey in Ireland has, also, the great advantage of enabling us to study savage life. I shall be able to get letters of introduction, which, as draughts for food and shelter in a country where whiskey-houses are scarce, will be invaluable.
This is in the distance: about the present, all I know has been just written to
Edith; and the sum of it is, that I am all alone by myself in a great city.

“From Lamb’s letter to Rickman I learn that he means to print his play, which is the lukewarm John*, whose plan is as obnoxious to Rickman as it was to you and me; and that he has been writing for the Albion, and now writes for the Morning Chronicle, where more than two thirds of his materials are superciliously rejected. Stuart would use him more kindly. Godwin, having had a second tragedy rejected, has filched a story from one of De Foe’s novels for a third, and begged hints of Lamb. . . . . Last evening we talked of Davy. Rickman also fears for him; something he thinks he has (and excusably, surely) been hurt by the attentions of the great: a worse fault is that vice of metaphysicians—that habit of translating right and wrong into a jargon which confounds them; which allows everything, and justifies everything. I am afraid, and it makes me very melancholy when I think of it, that Davy never will be to me the being that he has been. I have a trick of thinking too well of those I love, better than they generally deserve, and better than my cold and containing manners ever let them know: the foibles of a friend always endear him, if they have coexisted with my knowledge of him; but the pain is, to see beauty grow deformed—to trace disease from the first infection. These scientific men are,

* The name of this play is “John Woodvil.”

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 173
indeed, the victims of science; they sacrifice to it their own feelings, and virtues, and happiness.

“Odd and ill-suited moralisings, Coleridge, for a man who has left the lakes and the mountains to come to Dublin with Mr. Worldly Wisdom! But my moral education, thank God, is pretty well completed. The world and I are only about to be acquainted. I have outgrown the age for forming friendships. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. Southey.”

My father’s presence seems only to have been required in Dublin for a very short time; and after rejoining my mother at Keswick, they went at once to London, Mr. Corry’s duties requiring his residence there for the winter portion of the year. Here, when fairly established in his “scribe capacity,” he appears to have experienced somewhat of the truth of the saying, “When thou doest well to thyself, men shall speak good of thee.” “I have been a week in town,” he writes to Mr. William Taylor, “and in that time have learnt something. The civilities which already have been shown me, discover how much I have been abhorred for all that is valuable in my nature; such civilities excite more contempt than anger, but they make me think more despicably of the world than I could wish to do. As if this were a baptism that purified me of all sins—a regeneration; and the one congratulates me, and the other visits me, as if the author of Joan of Arc and of
Thalaba were made a great man by scribing for the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“I suppose,” he continues, “my situation, by all these symptoms, to be a good one;—for a more ambitious man, doubtless very desirable, though the ladder is longer than I design to climb. My principles and habits are happily enough settled; my objects in life are, leisure to do nothing but write, and competence to write at leisure; and my notions of competence do not exceed 300l. a year. Mr. Corry is a man of gentle and unassuming manners; fitter men for his purpose he doubtless might have found in some respects, none more so in regularity and despatch.”* . . . .

These qualities, however, which my father might truly say be possessed in a high degree, were not called into much exercise by the duties of his secretaryship, which he thus humorously describes:—

To John Rickman, Esq.
“London, Nov. 20. 1801.

“The chancellor and the scribe go on in the same way. The scribe has made out a catalogue of all books published since the commencement of ’97 upon finance and scarcity; he hath also copied a paper written by J. R., containing some Irish alderman’s hints about oak bark; and nothing more hath the scribe done in his vocation. Duly he calls at the chancellor’s door;

* Nov. 11, 1801.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 175
sometimes he is admitted to immediate audience; sometimes kicketh his heels in the antechamber (once he kicked them for cold, but now there is a fire); sometimes a gracious message emancipates him for the day. Secrecy hath been enjoined him as to these state proceedings. On three subjects he is directed to read and research—corn-laws, finance, tythes, according to their written order. Alas! they are heathen Greek to the scribe! He hath, indeed, in days of old, read
Adam Smith, and remembereth the general principle established; he presupposeth that about corn, as about everything else, the fewer laws the better: of finance he is even more ignorant: concerning the tythes, something knoweth he of the Levitical law, somewhat approveth he of a commutation for land, something suspecteth he why they are to be altered; gladly would the people buy off the burthen, gladly would the government receive the purchase money,—the scribe seeth objections thereunto. Meantime, sundry are the paragraphs that have been imprinted respecting the chancellor and the scribe; they have been compared (in defiance of the Butleraboo statute) to Empson and Dudley; and Peter Porcupine hath civilly expressed a hope that the poet will make no false numbers in his new work: sometimes the poet is called a Jacobin; at others it is said that his opinions are revolutionised: the chancellor asked him if he would enter a reply in that independent paper whose lying name is the True Briton, a paper over which the chancellor implied he had some influence; the poet replied ‘No, that those flea-bites itched only if they were scratched:’ the scribe hath been
courteously treated, and introduced to a
Mr. Ormsby; and this is all he knoweth of the home politics. . . . .
Ευρηκα.   Ευρηκα.   Ευρηκα.
You remember your heretical proposition de Cambro-Britannis—that the Principality had never produced, and never could produce, a great man; that I opposed
Owen Glendower and Sir Henry Morgan to the assertion in vain. But I have found the great man, and not merely the great man, but the maximus homo, the μεγιστος άνθρωπος the μεγιστοτατος—we must create a super-superlative to reach the idea of his magnitude. I found him in the Strand, in a shopwindow, laudably therein exhibited by a Cambro-Briton; the engraver represents him sitting in a room, that seems to be a cottage, or, at best, a farm, pen in hand, eyes uplifted, and underneath is inscribed—
‘The Cambrian Shakespear.’
But woe is me for my ignorance! the motto that followed surpassed my skill in language, though it doubtless was a delectable morsel from that great Welshman’s poems. You must, however, allow the justice of the name for him, for all his writings are in Welsh; and the Welshmen say that he is as great a man as
Shakspeare, and they must know, because they can understand him. I inquired what might be the trivial name of this light and lustre of our dark age, but it hath escaped me; but that it meant, being
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 177
interpreted, either Thomas Denbigh, or some such every-day baptismal denomination. And now am I no prophet if you have not, before you have arrived thus far, uttered a three-worded sentence of malediction. . . . . To-day I dine with
Lord Holland; Wynn is intimate with him, and my invitation is for the sake of Thalaba. The sale of Thalaba is slow—about 300 only gone. . . . .

Yours truly,
R. Southey.”