LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XVIII. 1813

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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The period of my father’s life to which the letters in this volume relate, may be said upon the whole, to have been the busiest and most stirring portion of
it, comprising, as it does, the maturest fruits of his poetical genius, with the most extensive engagements as a prose writer. His position in literature had been long no dubious one; and it had now become evident to him that he must rely upon literature alone as his profession, and trust to it wholly for his support. It might seem, indeed, with the chances, the friends, and the interest he possessed, he had been singularly unfortunate in not obtaining some employment which would have secured him a regular income, and thus rendered him dependent upon authorship, rather for the superfluities than the necessaries of life. If, however, there was any “tide in his affairs” which might have “led to fortune,” he did not “take it at the flood;” and having made those two applications which have been noticed (for the Stewardship of the Greenwich Hospital Estates, and for the office of Historiographer Royal), he became wearied with the trouble and annoyance of solicitation, and was, perhaps, too ready to abandon the advantages which he might have obtained. But he was himself very unwilling to take any office which would allow him only a small portion of time for the only pursuit in which he took any pleasure; and it must be admitted that it would not have been easy for his best friends (and warmer friends no man ever possessed) to find any situation or employment which could possibly have suited a man whose tastes and habits were so completely fixed and devoted to a literary life.

The first few years to which we are now coming were the happiest of his life. Settled to his heart’s
content at Keswick, having found a few friends in the neighbourhood and county, and having many distant ones most highly esteemed; finding in his labours and in his library (which was rapidly becoming one of the best ever possessed by any person of such limited means) ceaseless occupation and amusement that never palled, he had for the present all his heart’s desire, so far, at least, as was compatible with a doubtful and hardly-earned subsistence.

His principal source of income latterly, as the reader has seen, had been derived from the Edinburgh Annual Register; but this from the beginning had been a losing concern, though started with the most sanguine anticipations of success. Indeed, it appears, from the Life of Sir W. Scott (vol. iv. p. 77.), that the actual loss upon it had never been less than 1000l. per annum, and it was therefore not to be wondered at that some considerable irregularities occurred in the publisher’s payments, and that my father now found it prudent to declare his intention of withdrawing from it when the current volume should be concluded, having already suffered much inconvenience and some embarrassment from this cause.

The defalcation of 400l. a year from his income was, however, a very serious matter, and he found it needful, without delay, to cast about for means of supplying its place. The establishment of the Quarterly Review had thus occurred at a fortunate time, both as affording him regular and tolerably profitable employment, and also as giving him scope for ex-
pressing earnest thoughts in vigorous language, which made themselves felt, despite the editor’s merciless hand.

This was, indeed, in most respects a far better vehicle than the Register, affording a far wider range of subjects, and speaking to a different and much more numerous class of readers; and, however distasteful to him was the task of reviewing, his objections to it hardly applied to papers upon political, moral, or religious topics, and he felt and acknowledged that his reputation rose higher from his writings in the Quarterly Review than from any of his other works. It is true, indeed, that on its first establishment he wished rather to have books submitted to him for ordinary criticism than for the purpose of writing political essays; but that was simply because in mere reviewing he was well practised, and knew his strength; whereas the other, though a higher department of art, was new to him, and was also less safe ground with reference to those persons whom he believed to influence the publication.

He had also, at this time, and for a few years longer, a constant source of deep and heartfelt delight in the endearing qualities of his only boy, now little more than six years old, who possessed a singularly beautiful and gentle disposition, and who was just beginning to manifest an intellect as quick, and an aptitude for study as remarkable, as his own. This was the head and front of his happiness, the crowning joy of his domestic circle; and while that circle remained unbroken, and he himself head and
heart-whole to labour for his daily bread, the sun shone not upon a happier household. He might, indeed, had he been so disposed, have found enough in the precarious nature of his income to cause him much disquietude; but on such points his mind was imbued with a true philosophy; and while he laboured on patiently and perseveringly, he yet took no undue thought for the morrow, being well persuaded of the truth of the saying, that “sufficient for the day is” both the good and “the evil thereof.”

To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Jan. 3. 1813.
“My dear Friend,

“Many happy new years to you, and may those which are to come prove more favourable to you in worldly concerns than those which are past! I have been somewhat unwell this Christmas; first with a cold, then with a sudden and unaccountable sickness, which, however, has not returned, and I now hope I have been physicked into tolerable order. The young ones are going on well: little Isabel thrives, your god-daughter is old enough to figure at a Christmas dance, and Herbert will very soon be perfect in the regular Greek verb. A Testament is to come for him in my next parcel, and we shall begin upon it as soon as it arrives. No child ever promise I better, morally and intellectually. He is very quick of comprehension, retentive, observant, diligent, and as fond of a book and as impatient of idleness as I
am. Would that I were as well satisfied with his bodily health; but in spite of activity and bodily hilarity, he is pale and puny: just that kind of child of whom old women would say that he is too clever to live. Old women’s notions are not often so well founded as this; and having this apprehension before my eyes, the uncertainty of human happiness never comes home to my heart so deeply as when I look at him. God’s will be done! I must sow the seed as carefully as if I were sure that the harvest would ripen. My two others are the most perfect contrast you ever saw.
Bertha, whom I call Queen Henry the Eighth, from her likeness to King Bluebeard, grows like Jonah’s gourd, and is the very picture of robust health; and little Kate hardly seems to grow at all, though perfectly well,—she is round as a mushroom-button. Bertha, the bluff queen, is just as grave as Kate is garrulous; they are inseparable play-fellows, and go about the house hand in hand. Shall I never show you this little flock of mine? I have seen almost every one of my friends here except you, than whom none would be more joyfully welcomed.

“I shall have two interesting chapters in this volume for 1811*, upon Sicily and S. America. My Life of Nelson, by a miscalculation, which lies between Murray and the printer, will appear in two volumes instead of one, which will materially, beyond all doubt, injure the sale. Murray has most probably ordered a large impression, calculating upon

* Edinburgh Annual Register.

its going off as a midshipman’s manual, which design is thus prevented. If, however, this impression can pass off, I shall have no fear of its answering his purpose when printed in a suitable form; for though the subject was not of my own choice, and might be reasonably thought to be out of my proper line, I have satisfied myself in the execution far more than I could have expected to do. The second sheet of the second volume is now before me. I have just finished the battle of Copenhagen, which makes an impressive narrative. Two chapters more will complete it, and I hope to send you the book by the beginning of March. My labour with it will be completed much before that time, probably in ten days or a fortnight; and then the time which it now occupies will be devoted to the indigesta moles of
Mr. Walpole’s papers. I find the day too short for the employment which it brings; however, if I cannot always get through what is before me as soon as could be wished, in process of time I get through it all. My poem* comes on well; about 2700 lines are written; the probable extent is 5000; but the last half is like going down hill,—the difficulty is over, and your progress accelerates itself. The poem is of a perfectly original character. What its success may be I cannot guess.

Yours, very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

* Roderick, the Last of the Goths.

To Walter Scott, Esq.

“I received Rokeby on Monday evening, and you need not be told that I did not go to bed till I had read the poem through. It is yours all over, and, like all its brethren, perfectly original. I have only to congratulate you upon its appearance, upon its life and spirit, and (with sure and certain anticipation) upon its success. Let me correct an error in your last note, in time for the second edition. Robin the Devil lived not upon one of our islands, but on Curwen’s in Winandermere, which then belonged to the Philipsons’. You may find the story in Nicholson and BurnsHistory of Westmoreland, pp. 185-6.

“I enjoyed your poem the more, being for the first time able to follow you in its scenery. My introduction at Rokeby* was a very awkward one; and if the old woman who would not let me through the gate till I had promised her to call at the house, had been the porter or the porter’s wife on the day of your story, Edmund might have sung long enough before he could have got in. However, when this awkwardness was over, I was very much obliged to her for forcing me into such society, for nothing could be more hospitable or more gratifying than the manner in which I and my companions were received. The glen is, for its extent, more beautiful than any thing

* See vol. iii. p. 345.

I have seen in England. If I had known your subject, I could have helped you to some Teesiana for your description—the result of the hardest day’s march I ever yet made. For we traced the stream from its spring-head, on the summit of Crossfell, about a mile from the source of the Tyne, all the way to Highforce.

“In the course of next month I hope you will receive my Life of Nelson, a subject not self-chosen—and out of my way, but executed . Some of my periodical employment I must ere long relinquish, or I shall never complete the great historical works upon which so many years have been bestowed, in which so much progress has been made, and for which it is little likely that any other person in the country will ever so qualify himself again. Yonder they are lying unfinished, while I suffer myself to be tempted to other occupations of more immediate emolument indeed, but, in all other respects, of infinitely less importance. Meanwhile time passes on, and I who am of a short-lived race, and have a sense of the uncertainty of life more continually present in my thoughts and feelings than most men, sometimes reproach myself for not devoting my time to those works upon which my reputation, and perhaps the fortunes of my family, must eventually rest, while the will is strong, the ability yet unimpaired, and the leisure permitted me. If I do not greatly deceive myself, my History of Portugal will be one of the most curious books of its kind that has ever yet appeared—the matter is in itself so interesting, and I have hunted out so much that is recondite, and have so much strong light
to throw upon things which have never been elucidated before.

“Remember us to Mrs. Scott, and believe me,

My dear brother bard.
Yours most truly,
Robert Southey.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.

“It is somewhat late to speak of Christmas and the New Year; nevertheless I wish you as many as you may be capable of enjoying, and the more the better. Winter is passing on mildly with us; and if it were not for our miry soil and bad ways, I should not wish for pleasanter weather than January has brought with it. Ailments rather than inclination have led me of late to take regular exercise, which I was wont to think I could do without as well as a Turk; so I take two or three of the children with me, and, giving them leave to call upon me for their daily walk, their eagerness overcomes my propensities for the chair and the desk; we now go before breakfast, for the sake of getting the first sunshine on the mountains, which, when the snow is on them, is more glorious than at any other season. Yesterday I think I heard the wild swan, and this morning had the finest sight of wild-fowl I ever beheld: there was a cloud of them above the lake, at such a height, that frequently they became invisible, then twinkled
into sight again, sometimes spreading like smoke as it ascends, then contracting as if performing some military evolution,—once they formed a perfect bow; and thus wheeling and charging, and rising and falling, they continued to sport as long as I could watch them. They were probably wild ducks.

“Your godson is determined to be a poet, he says; and I was not a little amused by his telling me this morning, when he came near a hollow tree which has caught his eye lately, and made him ask me sundry questions about it, that the first poem he should make should be about that hollow tree. I have made some progress in rhyming the Greek accidence for him,—an easier thing than you would perhaps suppose it to be; it tickles his humour, and lays hold of his memory.

“This last year has been full of unexpected events, such indeed as mock all human foresight. The present will bring with it business of importance at home, whatever may happen abroad.

“There is one point in which most men, however opposite in their judgments about the affairs of the Peninsula, have been deceived,—in their expectations from the Cortes. There is a lamentable want of wisdom in the country; among the peasantry its place is supplied by their love of the soil and that invincible perseverance which so strongly marks the Spanish character. Bonaparte never can subdue them, even if his power had received no shock, and his whole attention were exclusively directed towards Spain: his life, though it should be prolonged to the length of Aurengzebe’s (as great a villain as himself),
would not give him time to wear out their perseverance and religious hatred. I have never doubted of the eventual independence of Spain; but concerning the government which may grow out of the struggle my hopes diminish, and I begin to think that Portugal has better prospects than Spain, because the government there may be induced to reform itself.

“If Gifford prints what I have written, and lets it pass unmutilated, you will see in the next Quarterly some remarks upon the moral and political state of the populace, and the alarming manner in which Jacobinism (disappearing from the educated classes) has sunk into the mob; a danger far more extensive and momentous than is generally admitted. Very likely a sort of cowardly prudence may occasion some suppressions, which I should be sorry for. Wyndham would have acknowledged the truth of the picture, and have been with me for looking the danger in the face. It is an old fact that the favourite song among the people in this little town just now as I have happened to learn; is upon Parker the mutineer: it purports to have been written by his wife, and is in metre and diction just what such a woman would write.

“"What part do you take in the East Indian question? I perceive its magnitude, and am wholly incapable of forming an opinion.

Coleridge’s tragedy*, which Sheridan and Kemble

* After the successful appearance of this tragedy, which was entitled “Remorse,” my father wrote—“I never doubted that Coleridge’s play would meet with a triumphant reception. Be it known now and remembered hereafter, that this self-same play, having had

rejected fifteen years ago, will come out in about a fortnight at Drury Lane.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Dr. Gooch.

“. . . . . Wordsworth refers, in more than one of his poems, with a melancholy feeling of regret, to the loss of youthful thoughts and hopes. In the last six weeks he has lost two children—one of them a fine boy of seven years old. I believe he feels, as I have felt before him, that ‘there is healing in the bitter cup,’—that God takes from us those we love as hostages for our faith (if I may so express myself),—and that to those who look to a reunion in a better world, where there shall be no separation, and no mutability except that which results from perpetual progressiveness, the evening becomes more delightful than the morning, and the sunset offers brighter and lovelier visions than those which we would build up in the morning clouds, and which disappear before the strength of the day. The older I grow—and I am older in feeling than in years—the more I am sensible of this: there is

no other alterations made in it now than C. was willing to have made in it then, was rejected in 1797 by Sheridan and Kemble. Had these sapient caterers for the public brought it forward at that time, it is by no means improbable that the author might have produced a play as good every season: with my knowledge of Coleridge’s habits I verily believe he would.”—To G. C. B. Jan. 27. 1813.

a precious alchemy in this faith, which transmutes grief into joy, or, rather, it is the true and heavenly euphrasy which clears away the film from our mortal sight, and makes affliction appear what, in reality, it is to the wise and good,—a dispensation of mercy.

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To Mr. Neville White.

“Before I say anything of my own doings, let me rejoice with you over these great events in the North. Never in civilised Europe had there been so great an army brought together as Bonaparte had there collected, and never was there so total and tremendous a destruction. I verily think that this is the fourth act of the Corsican, and that the catastrophe of the bloody drama is near. May his fall be as awful as his crimes! The siege of Dantzic, and the accession of Prussia to our alliance, will, probably, be our next news. Saxony will be the next government to emancipate itself, for there the government is as well disposed as the people. I wish I could flatter myself that Alexander were great enough to perform an act of true wisdom as well as magnanimity, and re-establish Poland, not after the villanous manner of Bonaparte, but with
all its former territory, giving up his own portion of that infamously acquired plunder, and taking Prussia’s part by agreement, and Austria’s by force; for Austria will most likely incline towards the side of France, in fear of Russia, and in hatred of the House of Brandenburgh. May this vile power share in his overthrow and destruction, for it has cursed Germany too long!

“Was there ever an infatuation like that of the party in this country who are crying out for peace? as if this country had not ample cause to repent of having once before given up the vantage ground of war, at a peace forced upon the state by a faction! Let us remember Utrecht, and not suffer the Whigs of this day to outdo the villany of the Tories of that. There can be no peace with Bonaparte, none with France, that is not dictated at the edge of the sword. Peace, I trust, is now not far distant, and one which France must kneel to receive, not England to ask.

“The opening of the Baltic will come seasonably for our manufactures, and, if it set the looms to work again, we may hope that it will suspend the danger which has manifested itself, and give time for measures which may prevent its recurrence. You will see in the next Quarterly a paper upon the State of the Poor,—or, rather, the populace,—wherein I have pointed out the causes of this danger, and its tremendous extent, which, I believe, few persons are aware of. I shall be sorry if it be mutilated from any false notions of prudence. It may often be necessary to keep a patient ignorant of his real state,
but public danger ought always to be met boldly, and looked in the face. I impute the danger to the ignorance of the poor, which is the fault of the State, for not having seen to their moral and religious instruction; to the manufacturing system, acting upon persons in this state of ignorance, and vitiating them; and to the Anarchist journalists (
Cobbett, Hunt, &c.) perseveringly addressing themselves to such willing and fit recipients of their doctrines.

“In the last number I reviewed D’Israeli’s Calamities of Literature, the amusing book of a very good-natured man.

“The poem goes on slow and sure. Twenty years ago nothing could equal the ardour with which I pursued such employments. I was then impatient to see myself in print: it was not possible to long more eagerly than I did for the honour of authorship. This feeling is quite extinct; and, allowing as much as may be allowed for experience, wiser thoughts, and, if you please, satiety in effecting such a change, I cannot but believe that much must be attributed to a sort of autumnal or evening tone of mind, coming upon me a little earlier than it does upon most men. I am as cheerful as a boy, and retain many youthful or even boyish habits; but I am older in mind than in years, and in years than in appearance; and, though none of the joyousness of youth is lost, there is none of its ardour left. Composition, where any passion is called forth, excites me more than it is desirable to be excited; and, if it were not for the sake of gratifying two or three persons in the world whom I love, and who love me,
it is more than probable that I might never write a verse again. God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To the Rev. Herbert Hill.
“Keswick, Feb. 1. 1813.
“My dear Uncle,

“The Life of Nelson* was completed this morning. The printer began with it before it was half written, but I have distanced him by ten sheets. Do not fear that I have been proceeding too fast: it is he who, after the manner of printers, has given me plenty of time by taking his own. This is a subject which I should never have dreamt of touching, if it had not been thrust upon me. I have walked among sea terms as carefully as a cat does among crockery; but, if I have succeeded in making the narrative continuous and clear—the very reverse of what it is in the lives before me—the materials are, in themselves, so full of character, so picturesque, and so sublime, that it cannot fail of being a good book. . . . . I am very much inclined to attempt, under some such title as the Age of George III., a sketch of the revolutions which, almost everywhere

* This, which was perhaps upon the whole the most popular of any of my father’s works, originated in an article in the fifth number of the Quarterly Review, which was enlarged at Murray’s request. My father received altogether 300l. for it. 100?. for the Review; 100l. when the Life was enlarged; and 100l. when it was published in the Family Library.

and in all things, have taken place within the last half century. Any comparison which it might induce with
Voltaire would rather invite than deter me. When I come to town I shall talk with Murray about this.

“You wonder that I should submit to any expurgations in the Quarterly. The fact is, that there must be a power expurgatory in the hands of the editor; and the misfortune is, that editors frequently think it incumbent on them to use that power merely because they have it. I do not like to break with the Review, because Gifford has been something more than merely civil to me, and offered me services which I had no reason to expect, because the Review gives me (and shame it is that it should be so) more repute than anything else which I could do, and because there is no channel through which so much effect can be given to what I may wish to impress upon the opinion of the public. . . . .

“My aim and hope are, ere long, to support myself by the sale of half my time, and have the other half for the completion of my History. When I can command 500l. for the same quantity that Scott gets 3000l. for, this will be accomplished, and this is likely soon to be the case. God bless you!

R. S.”

My father’s publication of Kirke White’s Remains very naturally drew upon him many applications for similar assistance; and curious indeed would be the collections of verses, good, bad, and indifferent, which from time to time were transmitted to him by
youthful poets. But few of these, as may well be imagined, gave sufficient promise to warrant his giving any encouragement to their writers to proceed in the up-hill path of authorship; others, however, showed such proofs of talent, that he could not but urge its cultivation, though he invariably gave the strongest warnings against choosing literature as anything but a recreation, or a possible assistance while following some other profession. In the case of
Ebenezer Elliott this led to an interesting correspondence with a man of great genius. Many of the applications he received do not admit of any particular account; but among them are some which give us glimpses of youthful minds whose loss the world has cause to lament. Such was William Roberts: and such also was one whose story now comes before me.

It seems that at the beginning of the year a youth of the name of Dusautoy, then about seventeen years of age, the son of a retired officer residing at Totness, Devon, and one of a numerous family, had written to my father, enclosing some pieces of poetry, and requesting his opinion and advice as to their publication. Neither the letter nor the reply to it have been preserved; but in Dusautoy’s rejoinder, he expresses his grateful thanks for the warning given him; against the imprudence of prematurely throwing himself upon the cold judgment of the public; and asks in what degree it was probable or possible that literature would assist him in making his way to the bar, the profession to which at that time he was most inclined. Being one of a large family, his
laudable object was as far as possible to procure the means for his own education.*

My father’s reply was as follows:—

* It appears that two years before writing to my father, young Dusautoy, then a school-boy of fifteen, had made a similar application to Sir Walter Scott; whose reply, which is now before me, is very characteristic of the kind-hearted frankness and sound judgment of the writer. Some portion of it will, I think, interest the reader, as it is now published for the first time. After saying that “though in general he had made it a rule to decline giving an opinion upon the verses so often sent him for his criticism, this application was so couched that he could not well avoid making an exception in their favour,” he adds,—“I have only to caution you against relying very much upon it: the friends who know me best, and to whose judgment I am myself in the constant habit of trusting, reckon me a very capricious and uncertain judge of poetry; and I have had repeated occasions to observe that I have often failed in anticipating the reception of poetry from the public. Above all, sir, I must warn you against suffering yourself to suppose, that the power of enjoying natural beauty, and poetical description, are necessarily connected with that of producing poetry. The former is really a gift of Heaven, which conduces inestimably to the happiness of those who enjoy it. The second has much more of a knack in it than the pride of poets is always willing to admit; and, at any rate, is only valuable when combined with the first. . . . . I would also caution you against an enthusiasm which, while it argues an excellent disposition and feeling heart, requires to be watched and restrained, though not repressed. It is apt, if too much indulged, to engender a fastidious contempt for the ordinary business of the world, and gradually to render us unfit for the exercise of the useful and domestic virtues, which depends greatly upon our not exalting our feelings above the temper of well ordered and well educated society. No good man can ever be happy when he is unfit for the career of simple and commonplace duty; and I need not add how many melancholy instances there are of extravagance and profligacy being resorted to under pretence of contempt for the common rules of life. Cultivate then, sir, your taste for poetry and the belles-lettres as an elegant and most interesting amusement; but combine it with studies of a more severe and solid cast, and such as are most intimately connected with your prospects in future life. In the words of Solomon—‘My son, get knowledge.’”

The remainder of the letter consists of some critical remarks upon the pieces submitted to him; which, he says, appear to him “to have all the merits and most of the faults of juvenile composition; to be fanciful, tender, and elegant; and to exhibit both command of language and luxuriance of imagination.”—Ashiestiel, May 6. 1811.

To James Dusautoy, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb. 12. 1813.
“My dear Sir,

“Your talents will do every thing for you in time, but nothing in the way you wish for some years to come. The best road to the bar is through the university, where honours of every kind will be within your reach. With proper conduct you would obtain a fellowship by the time you were one or two and twenty, and this would enable you to establish yourself in one profession or another, at your own choice.

“This course is as desirable for your intellectual as for your worldly advancement. Your mind would then have time and opportunity to ripen, and bring forth its fruits in due season. God forbid that they should either be forced or blighted! A young man cannot support himself by literary exertions, however great his talents and his industry. Woe be to the youthful poet who sets out upon his pilgrimage to the temple of fame with nothing but hope for his viaticum! There is the Slough of Despond, and the Hill of Difficulty, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death upon the way!

“To be called to the bar you must be five years a member of one of the inns of court; but if you have a university degree, three will suffice. Men who during this course look to their talents for support usually write for newspapers or reviews: the former is destructively laborious, and sends many poor fel-
lows prematurely to the grave: for the latter branch of employment there are always too many applicants. I began it at the age of four and twenty, which was long before I was fit for it.

“The stage, indeed, is a lottery where there is more chance of a prize: but there is an evil attending success in that direction which I can distinctly see, though you perhaps may not be persuaded of it. The young man who produces a successful play is usually the dupe of his own success: and being satisfied with producing an immediate and ephemeral effect, looks for nothing beyond it. You must aim at something more. I think your path is plain. Success at the university is not exclusively a thing of chance or favour; you are certain of it if you deserve it.

“Then you have considered this with your friends, tell me the result, and rest assured that my endeavours to forward your wishes in this, or in any other course which you may think proper to pursue, shall be given with as much sincerity as this advice; meantime read Greek, and write as many verses as you please. By shooting at a high mark you will gain strength of arm, and precision of aim will come in its proper season.

Ever yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”

Upon further consideration it was determined that Dusautoy should enter at Cambridge; and my father having taken some trouble in the matter, he was
very soon admitted a member of Emanuel College. In the following rear (1814) he was an unsuccessful competitor for the English poetical prize*, the present Master of Trinity.
Dr. Whewell, being the successful one. In the college examination he stood high, being the first man of his year in classics and fourth in mathematics. He also obtained several exhibitions, and had the promise of a scholarship as soon as a vacancy occurred. In the midst, however, of high hopes and earnest intentions he fell a victim, among many others, to a malignant fever, which raged at Cambridge with such violence that all lectures were stopped, and the men who had escaped its influence permitted to return home. As an acknowledgment of his talents and character he was buried in the cloisters of his college; a mark of respect, I understand, never before paid to any undergraduate.

My father had at one time intended publishing a selection from Dusautoy’s papers, which were sent to him for that purpose; but further reflection convinced him that his first inspection of them “had led him to form too hasty a conclusion, not as to the intellectual power which they displayed, but as to the effect which they were likely to produce if brought before the public. To me,” he continues, “the most obvious faults of these fragments are the most unequivocal proofs of genius in the author, as being efforts of a mind conscious of a strength which it had not yet learnt to use,—exuberance, which

* The subject was Boadicea; and Dusautoy’s composition an ode, “injudiciously written in Spenser’s stanza.”

proved the vigour of the plant and the richness of the soil. But common readers read only to be amused, and to them these pieces would appear crude and extravagant, because they would only see what is, without any reference to what might have been.”

To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.

“Do not be too sure of your victory in the House of Commons. It is not unlikely that when the securities come to be discussed you will find yourselves in a minority there, as well as in the country at large. The mischief, however, is done. It is like certain bodily complaints, trifling in themselves, but of infinite import as symptomatic of approaching death. The more I see, the more I read, and the more I reflect, the more reason there appears to me to fear that our turn of revolution is hastening on. In the minds of the busy part of the public it is already effected. The save-all reformers have made them suspicious; the opposition has made them discontented; the anarchists are making them furious. Methodism is undermining the Church, and your party, in league with all varieties of opinionists, have battered it till you have succeeded in making a breach. I give you all credit for good intentions; but I know the dissenters and the philosophists better than you do, and know that the principle
which they have in common is a hatred of the Church of England, and a wish to overthrow her. This they will accomplish, and you will regret it as much as I do; certainly not the less for having yourself contributed to its destruction.

“The end of all this will be the loss of liberty, for that is the penalty which, in the immutable order of things, is appointed for the abuse of it. What we may have to go through, before we sit down quietly in our chains, God only knows.

“Have you heard of the strange circumstance about Coleridge? A man hanging himself in the Park with one of his shirts on, marked at full length! Guess C.’s astonishment at reading this in a newspaper at a coffee-house. The thing is equally ridiculous and provoking. It will alarm many persons who know him, and I dare say many will always believe that the man was C. himself, but that he was cut down in time, and that his friends said it was somebody else in order to conceal the truth. As yet, however, I have laughed about it too much to be vexed.

“I have just got General Mackinnon’s Journal*: never was any thing more faithful than his account of the country and the people. We have, I fear, few such men in the British army. I knew a sister of his well some years ago, and should rejoice to meet with her again, for she was one of the cleverest women I ever knew. When they lived in France, Bonaparte was a frequent visitor at their mother’s

* See Inscription, xxxv. p. 178. one vol. edit.

house. Mackinnon would have made a great man. His remarks upon a want of subordination, and proper regulations in our army, are well worthy of
Lord Wellington’s consideration. It was by thinking thus, and forming his army, upon good moral as well as military principles, that Gustavus became the greatest captain of modern times: so he may certainly be called, because he achieved the greatest things with means which were apparently the most inadequate. God bless you!

R. Southey.”

In a former letter my father speaks of an article he had written for the forthcoming number of the Quarterly Review, on the state of the poor, and he there mentions briefly the heads of the general view he had taken of the subject. This had appeared, and Mr. Rickman now comments on it, whose practical and sensible remarks I quote here, as showing his frankness in stating differences of opinion, and his friend’s willingness to hear and consider them:—

“I have read your article on the poor with great satisfaction, for the abundance of wit it contains, and the general truth of its statements and reflections. With some things you know I do not agree,—for instance, not in your dislike of manufactures to the same degree,—especially I do not find them guilty of increasing the poor. For instance, no county is more purely agricultural than Sussex, where twenty-three persons, parents and children, in one hundred receive parish relief; no county more clearly to be referred to the manufacturing character than Lancashire, where
the persons relieved by the parish are seven in one hundred,—not a third part of the agricultural poverty. An explanation of this (not in a letter) will perhaps lead you to different views of the poor’s-rate plan of relief, which in agricultural counties operates as a mode of equalising wages according to the number of mouths in a family, so that the single man receives much less than his labour is worth, the married man much more. I do not approve of this, nor of the Poor Laws at all; but it is a view of the matter which, in your opinion more, perhaps, than in mine, may lessen the amount of the mischief. . . . .

“I am afraid nothing will settle my mind about your wide education plan—a great good or a great evil certainly, but which I am not sure while the liberty of the press remains. I believe that more seditious newspapers than Bibles will be in use among your pupils.

“We go on badly in the House of Commons. . . . . The Ministry considers nothing, forsooth, as a Cabinet question,—that is, they have no opinion collectively, I cannot imagine anything in history more pitiful than their junction and alliance with the high and mighty mob against the East India Company—an establishment second only, if second, to the English Government, in importance to mankind. As to the Catholics, they will gain little from the House of Commons, and nothing from the Lords.”*

* J. R. to R. S., March 12. 1813.

To John Rickman, Esq.

“You and I shall agree about general education. Ignorance is no preventive in these days, if, indeed, it ever were one which could be relied on. All who have ears can hear sedition, and the more ignorant they are, the more easy is it to inflame them. My plan is (I know not whether Gifford has ventured to give it) to make transportation the punishment for seditious libelling. This and this only would be an effectual cure. The existence of a press in the state in which ours is in, is incompatible with the security of any Government.

“About the manufacturing system, as affecting the poor-rates, doubtless you are best informed. My argument went to show that, under certain circumstances of not unfrequent occurrence, manufactures occasioned a sudden increase of the craving mouths, and that the whole previous discipline of these persons fitted them to become Luddites. It is most likely there may be some ambiguity in that part of the article, from the vague use of the word poor, which ought to be distinguished from pauper,—a distinction I never thought of making till your letter made me see the necessity for so doing.

“You give me comfort about the Catholics, and strengthen my doubts about the East India question. I have written on the former subject in the forthcoming
Register, very much to the purport of
Mr. Abbot’s speech. Mr. Perceval should have given the Catholics what is right and proper they should have, by a bill originating with himself. What but ruin can be expected when a Government comes to capitulate with the factious part of its subjects! . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.

Tom is made quite unhappy by these repeated victories of the Americans; and for my own part I regard them with the deepest and gloomiest forebodings. The superior weight of metal will not account for all. I heard a day or two ago from a Liverpoolian, lately in America, that they stuff their wadding with bullets. This may kill a few more men, but will not explain how it is that our ships are so soon demolished, not merely disabled. Wordsworth and I agreed in suspecting some improvement in gunnery (Fulton is likely enough to have discovered something) before I saw the same supposition thrown out in the ‘Times.’ Still there would remain something more alarming to be resolved, and that is, how it happens that we injure them so little? I very much fear that there may be a dreadful secret
at the bottom, which your fact about the cartridges* of the Macedonian points at. Do you know, or does
Henry know, a belief in the navy which I heard from Ponsonby, that the crew of the —— loaded purposely in this manner, in order that by being made prisoners they might be delivered from ——’s tyranny? When Coleridge was at Malta, Sir A. Ball received a round-robin from ——’s crew, many of whom had served under him, and who addressed him in a manner which made his heart ache, as he was, of course, compelled to put the paper into ——’s hands. One day Coleridge was with him when this man’s name was announced, and turning, he said to him in a low voice, ‘Here comes one of those men who will one day blow up the British navy.’

“I do not know that the captain of the Macedonian was a tyrant. Peake certainly was not; he is well known here, having married a cousin of Wordsworth’s; his ship was in perfect order, and he as brave and able a man as any in the service. Here it seems that the men behaved well; but in ten minutes the ship was literally knocked to pieces, her sides fairly staved in; and I think this can only be explained by some improvements in the manufactory of powder, or in the manner of loading, &c. But as

* “H. Sharp is just arrived from Lisbon; he has been in America, where he went on board the Macedonian and the United States.1 He says the captured ship was pierced through and through, and full of shot, while in the American vessel scarcely any have been lodged. Our ship seems to have been very badly fought; the captors declared that they found many of the guns with the cartridges put in the wrong way.”—G. C. B. to R. S., May 24. 1813

1 The name of the vessel that took the Macedonian.

a general fact, and of tremendous application, I verily believe that the sailors prefer the enemy’s service to our own. It is in vain to treat the matter lightly, or seek to conceal from ourselves the extent of the evil. Our naval superiority is destroyed!

“My chief business in town will be to make arrangements for supplying the huge deficit which the termination of my labours in the Register occasions. I wish to turn to present account my Spanish materials, and still more the insight which I have acquired into the history of the war in the Peninsula; and to recast that portion of the Register, carry it on, and bring it forth in a suitable form. This cannot be done without the consent of the publishers—Ballantyne, Longman, and Murray. To the two latter I have written, and am about to write to James Ballantyne. Should the thing be brought to bear, I must procure an introduction to Marquis Wellesley,—that is, to the documents which I doubt not he would very readily supply; and I should have occasion for all the assistance from the Foreign Office which my friends could obtain. To the Marquis I have means of access through Mr. Littleton, and probably, also, via Gifford, through Canning. It may be of use if you make known my wishes in that quarter.

R. S.”
To Mr. Neville White.

Josiah Conder had told me, though less particularly, the circumstances of your sister’s happy death,
for happy we must call it. The prayer in the Litany against sudden death, I look upon as a relic of Romish error, the only one remaining in that finest of all human compositions,—death without confession and absolution being regarded by the Romanist as the most dreadful of all calamities, naturally is one of the evils from which they pray to be delivered. I substitute the word violent in my supplications; for since that mode of dissolution which, in the Scriptures, is termed falling asleep, and which should be the natural termination of life passed in peace and innocence and happiness, has become so rare, that it falls scarcely to the lot of one in ten thousand, instantaneous and unforeseen death is the happiest mode of our departure, and it is even more desirable for the sake of our surviving friends than for our own. I speak feelingly, for at this time my wife’s brother is in the room below me, in such a state of extreme exhaustion, that having been carried down stairs at two o’clock, it would not in the least surprise me, if he should expire before he can be carried up again. He is in the last stage of consumption,—a disease which at first affected the liver having finally assumed this form; his recovery is impossible by any means short of miracle. I have no doubt that he is within a few days of his death, perhaps a few hours; and sincerely do I wish, for his sake and for that of four sisters who are about him, that the tragedy may have closed before this reaches you. According to all appearance it will.

“Your letter, my dear Neville, represents just that state of mind which I expected to find you in.
The bitterness of the cup is not yet gone, and some savour of it will long remain; but you already taste the uses of affliction, and feel that ties thus broken on earth are only removed to heaven.

Montgomery’s poem came in the same parcel with your letter. I had previously written about it to the Quarterly, and was told, in reply, that it was wished to pass it by there, because it had disappointed every body. I wish I could say that I myself did not in some degree feel disappointed also; yet there is so much that is really beautiful, and which I can sincerely praise, and the outline of the story will read so well with the choicest passages interspersed, that I shall send up a reviewal, and do, as a Frenchman would say, my possible. Of what is good in the poem I am a competent judge; of what may be defective in it, my judgment is not, perhaps, so properly to be trusted, for having once planned a poem upon the Deluge myself, I necessarily compare my own outline with Montgomery’s. The best part is the death of Adam. Oh! if the whole had been like that! or (for that is impossible) that there had been two or three passages equal to it! Montgomery has crippled himself by a metre, which, of all others, is the worst for long and various narrative, and which most certainly betrays a writer into the common track and commonplaces of poetical language. He has thought of himself in Javan, and the character of Javan is hardly prominent enough to be made the chief personage. Yet there is much, very much to admire and to recur to with pleasure.

“God bless you! Remember me to your mother,
and tell
James I shall always be glad to hear from him, as well as of him.

Yours most truly,
R. Southey.”
To Dr. Southey.

“Do you want to make your fortune in the philosophical world? If so, you may thank Owen Lloyd for the happiest opportunity that was ever put into an aspirant’s hands. You must have heard the vulgar notion that a horsehair, plucked out by the root and put in water, becomes alive in a few days. The boys at Brathay repeatedly told their mother it was true, that they had tried it themselves and seen it tried. Her reply was, show it me and I will believe it. While we were there last week in came Owen with two of these creatures in a bottle. Wordsworth was there; and to our utter and unutterable astonishment did the boys, to convince us that these long thin black worms were their own manufactory by the old receipt, lay hold of them by the middle while they writhed like eels, and stripping them with their nails down on each side, actually lay bare the horsehair in the middle, which seemed to serve as the backbone of the creature, or the substratum of the living matter which had collected round it.

Wordsworth and I should both have supposed that it was a collection of animalculæ round the hair
(which, however, would only be changing the nature of the wonder), if we could any way have accounted for the motion upon this theory; but the motion was that of a snake. We could perceive no head; but something very like the root of the hair. And for want of glasses, could distinguish no parts. The creature, or whatever else you may please to call it, is black or dark brown, and about the girth of a fiddle string. As soon as you have read this draw upon your horse’s tail and mane for half a dozen hairs; be sure they have roots to them; bottle them separately in water, and when they are alive and kicking, call in
Gooch, and make the fact known to the philosophical world.* Never in my life was I so astonished as at seeing, what even in the act of seeing I could scarcely believe, and now almost doubt. If you verify the experiment, as Owen and all his brethren will swear must be the case, you will be able to throw some light upon the origin of your friend the tapeworm, and his diabolical family.

“No doubt you will laugh and disbelieve this, and half suspect that I am jesting. But indeed I have only told you the fact as it occurred; and you will at once see its whole importance in philosophy, and the use which you and Gooch may derive from it, coming forth with a series of experiments, and with

* “The Cyclopædia says that the Gordius Aquaticus is vulgarly supposed to be animated horsehair; the print of the creature represents it as much smaller than Owen Lloyd’s manufactory, which is as large as the other Gordii upon the same plate, and very like them. But I distinctly saw the hair when the accretion was stripped off with the nail.”—R. S. to J. R., August 2. 1813.

such deductions as your greyhound sight and his beagle scent will soon start and pursue.

“And if the horse’s hair succeeds, Sir Domine, by parallel reasoning you know, try one of your own.

R. S.”
To Walter Savage Lander, Esq.
“Keswick, June 30. 1813.

“Your comedy came to hand a fortnight ago. . . . . The charitable dowager is drawn from the life. At least it has all the appearance of a portrait. As a drama there is a want of incident and of probability in that upon which the catastrophe depends; but the dialogue abounds with those felicities which flash from you in prose and verse, more than from any other writer. I remember nothing which at all resembles them, except in Jeremy Taylor: he has things as perfect and as touching in their kind, but the kind is different; there is the same beauty, the same exquisite fitness; but not the point and poignancy which you display In the comedy and in the commentary, nor the condensation and strength which characterise Gebir and Count Julian.

“I did not fail to notice the neighbourly compliment which you bestow upon the town of Abergavenny. Even out of Wales, however, something good may come besides Welsh flannel and lambswool stockings. I am reading a great book from Brecknock; for from Brecknock, of all other places under the sun, the fullest Mahommedan history which has
yet appeared in any European language, has come forth. Without being a good historian,
Major Price is a very useful one; he amuses me very much, and his volumes are full of facts which you cannot forget, though the Mahommedan propria quæ maribus render it impossible ever accurately to remember any thing more than the great outlines. A dramatist in want of tragic subjects never need look beyond these two quarto volumes.

“What Jupiter means to do with us, he himself best knows; for as he seems to have stultified all parties at home, and all powers abroad, there is no longer the old criterion of his intentions to help us in our foresight. I think this campaign will lead to a peace: such a peace will be worse than a continuance of the war if it leaves Bonaparte alive; but the causes of the armistice are as yet a mystery to me; and if hostilities should be renewed, which on the whole seems more probable than that they should be terminated, I still hope to see his destruction. The peace which would then ensue would be lasting, and during a long interval of exhaustion and rest perhaps the world will grow wiser and learn a few practical lessons from experience. . . . . God bless you!

R. S.

At the beginning of September my father went for a visit of a few weeks to London and the vicinity; and his letters from thence detail fully all the circumstances connected with his appointment to the office of Poet-Laureate. These have been several times related, but never so accurately as here by himself.
Mr. Lockhart, in his Life of Sir Walter Scott, gives the main facts, but was probably not acquainted with them all. My father, in the preface to the collected edition of his poems, corrects that account in a few minor details, but for obvious reasons omits to mention that the offer of the office to Sir Walter was made without the Prince’s knowledge.

There is now, however, no reason for suppressing any of the circumstances, and no further comments of mine are needful to elucidate what the reader will find so clearly explained.

To Mrs. Southey.

One of the letters which you forwarded was from James Ballantyne; my business in that quarter seems likely to terminate rather better than might have been expected. I wish you had opened the other, which was from Scott. It will be easier to transcribe it than to give its contents; and it does him so much honour that you ought to see it without delay.—‘My dear Southey,—On my return home I found, to my no small surprise, a letter tendering me the laurel vacant by the death of the poetical Pye. I have declined the appointment as being incompetent to the task of annual commemoration; but chiefly as being provided for in my professional department, and unwilling to incur the censure of en-
grossing the emolument* attached to one of the few appointments which seems proper to be filled by a man of literature who has no other views in life. Will you forgive me, my dear friend, if I own I had you in my recollection? I have given
Croker the hint, and otherwise endeavoured to throw the office into your choice (this is not Scott’s word, but I cannot decypher the right one). I am uncertain if you will like it, for the laurel has certainly been tarnished by some of its wearers, and, as at present managed, its duties are inconvenient and somewhat liable to ridicule. But the latter matter might be amended, and I should think the Regent’s good sense would lead him to lay aside these biennial commemorations; and as to the former point, it has been worn by Dryden of old, and by Warton in modern days. If you quote my own refusal against me, I reply, 1st, I have been luckier than you in holding two offices not usually conjoined. 2dly, I did not refuse it from any foolish prejudice against the situation, otherwise how durst I mention it to you my elder brother in the muse? but from a sort of internal hope that they would give it to you, upon whom it would be so much more worthily conferred. For I am not such an ass as not to know that you are my better in poetry, though I have had (probably but for a time) the tide of popularity in my favour. I have not time to add ten thousand other reasons, but I only wished to tell you how the matter was, and to beg you to think before

* Sir Walter Scott seems to have been under the impression that the emoluments of the Laureateship amounted to 300l. or 400l. a year,—See Life of Scott, vol. iv. p. 118.

you reject the offer which I flatter myself will be made you. If I had not been, like Dogberry, a fellow with two gowns already, I should have jumped at it like a cock at a gooseberry. Ever yours most truly, W. S.’

“I thought this was so likely to happen, that I had turned the thing over in my mind in expectation. So as soon as this letter reached me, I wrote a note to Croker to this effect,—that I would not write odes as boys write exercises, at stated times and upon stated subjects; but that if it were understood that upon great public events I might either write or be silent as the spirit moved, I should now accept the office as an honourable distinction, which under those circumstances it would become. To-morrow I shall see him. The salary is but a nominal 120l.; and, as you see, I shall either reject it, or make the title honourable by accepting it upon my own terms. The latter is the most probable result. . . . .

“No doubt I shall be the better on my return for this course of full exercise and full feeding, which follows in natural order. By good fortune this is the oyster season, and when in town I devour about a dozen in the middle of the day; so that in the history of my life this year ought to be designated as the year of the oysters, inasmuch as I shall have feasted on them more than in any other year of my life. I shall work off the old flesh from my bones, and lay on a new layer in its place,—a sort of renovation which makes meat better, and therefore will not make me the worse. Harry complains of me as a
general disturber of all families. I am up first In the house here and at his quarters; and the other morning when I walked from hence to breakfast with
Grosvenor, I arrived before anybody except the servants were up. This is as it should be. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.

“I saw your letter about the Laurel, and you will not be sorry to hear how completely I had acted in conformity with your opinion.

Pye’s death was announced a day or two before my departure from Keswick, and at the time I thought it so probable that the not-very-desirable succession might be offered me, as to bestow a little serious thought upon the subject, as well as a jest or two. On my arrival in town Bedford came to my brother’s to meet me at breakfast; told me that Croker had spoken with him about it, and he with Gifford; that they supposed the onus of the office would be dropt, or if it were not, that I might so execute it as to give it a new character; and that as detur digniori was the maxim upon which the thing was likely to be bestowed, they thought It would become me to accept it. My business, however, whatever might be my determination, was to call without delay at the Admiralty, thank C. for what
was actually intended well, and learn how the matter stood.

“Accordingly I called on Croker. He had spoken to the Prince; and the Prince observing that I had written ‘some good things in favour of the Spaniards,’ said the office should be given me. You will admire the reason; and infer from it that I ought to have been made historiographer because I had written Madoc. Presently Croker meets Lord Liverpool, and tells him what had passed; Lord Liverpool expressed his sorrow that he had not known it a day sooner, for he and the Marquis of Hertford had consulted together upon whom the vacant honour could most properly be bestowed. Scott was the greatest poet of the day, and to Scott therefore they had written to offer it. The Prince was displeased at this; though he said he ought to have been consulted, it was his pleasure that I should have it, and have it I should. Upon this Croker represented that he was Scott’s friend as well as mine, that Scott and I were upon friendly terms; and for the sake of all three he requested that the business-might rest where it was.

“Thus it stood when I made my first call at the Admiralty. I more than half suspected that Scott would decline the offer, and my own mind was made up before this suspicion was verified. The manner in which Scott declined it was the handsomest possible; nothing could be more friendly to me, or more honourable to himself. God bless you!

Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Mrs. Southey.

“I have stolen away from a room full of people, that I might spend an hour in writing to you instead of wasting it at the card-table. Sunday I went by appointment to Lord William Gordon, who wanted to take me to see a young lady. Who should this prove to be but Miss Booth; the very actress whom we saw at Liverpool play so sweetly in Kotzebue’s comedy of the Birth-day. There was I taken to hear her recite Mary the Maid of the Inn! and if I had not interfered in aid of her own better sense. Lord W. and her mother and sisters would have made her act as well as recite it. As I know you defy the monster, I may venture to say that she is a sweet little girl, though a little spoilt by circumstances which would injure anybody; but what think you of this old lord asking permission for me to repeat my visit, and urging me to ‘take her under my protection,’ and show her what to recite, and instruct her how to recite it? And all this upon a Sunday! So I shall give her a book, and tell her what parts she should choose to appear in. And if she goes again to Edinburgh, be civil to her if she touches at the Lakes; she supports a mother and brother, and two or three sisters. When I returned to Queen Anne Street from the visit, I found Davy sitting with the Doctor, and awaiting my return. I could not dine with him to-morrow,
having an engagement, but we promised to go in the evening and take
Coleridge with us, and Elmsley, if they would go. It will be a party of lions, where the Doctor must for that evening perform the part of Daniel in the lion’s den.

“I dined on Sunday at Holland House, with some eighteen or twenty persons. Sharp was there, who introduced me with all due form to Rogers and to Sir James Mackintosh, who seems to be in a bad state of health. In the evening Lord Byron came in.* He had asked Rogers if I was ‘magnanimous,’ and requested him to make for him all sorts of amends honourable for having tried his wit upon me at the expense of his discretion; and in full confidence of the success of the apology, had been provided with a letter of introduction to me in case he had gone to the Lakes, as he intended to have done. As for me, you know how I regard things of this kind; so we met with all becoming courtesy on both sides, and I saw a man whom in voice, manner, and countenance I liked very much more than either his character or his writings had given me reason to expect. Rogers wanted me to dine with him on Tuesday (this day): only Lord Byron and Sharp were to have been of the party, but I had a pending engagement here, and was sorry for it.

“Holland House is a most interesting building.

* The following is Lord Byron’s account of this meeting:—“Yesterday, at Holland House, I was introduced to Southey, the best looking bard I have seen for some time. To have that poet’s head and shoulders I would almost have written his Sapphics. He is certainly a prepossessing-looking person to look at, and a man of talent and all that, and—there is his eulogy.”—Life of Byron, vol ii. p. 244.

The library is a sort of gallery, 109 feet in length; and, like my study, serves for drawing-room also. The dinner-room is pannelled with wood, and the pannels emblazoned with coats of arms, like the ceiling of one room in the palace at Cintra. The house is of
Henry the Eighth’s time. Good night, my dear Edith.

“We had a very pleasant dinner at Madame de Stael’s. Davy and his wife, a Frenchman whose name I never heard, and the Portuguese ambassador, the Conde de Palmella, a gentlemanly and accomplished man. I wish you had seen the animation with which she exclaimed against Davy and Mackintosh for their notions about peace.

“Once more farewell!

R. Southey.”

The following poetical announcement of his being actually installed may excite a smile:—
“I have something to tell you, which you will not be sorry at,
’Tis that I am sworn in to the office of Laureat.
The oath that I took there could be nothing wrong in,
’Twas to do all the duties to the dignity belonging.
Keep this, I pray you, as a precious gem,
For this is the Laureat’s first poem.

“There, my dear Edith, are some choice verses for you. I composed them in St. James’s Park yesterday, on my way from the Chamberlain’s office, where a good old gentleman usher, a worthy sort of fat old man in a wig and bag and a snuff coloured full dress suit with cut steel buttons and a sword, administered an oath.” . . . .

To Walter Scott, Esq.

“If you have not guessed at the reason why your letter has lain ten weeks unanswered, you must have thought me a very thankless and graceless fellow, and very undeserving of such a letter. I waited from day to day that I might tell you all was completed, and my patience was nearly exhausted in the process. Let me tell you the whole history in due order, before I express my feelings towards you upon the occasion. Upon receiving yours I wrote to Croker, saying that the time was passed when I could write verses upon demand, but that if it were understood that, instead of the old formalities, I might be at liberty to write upon great public events or to be silent, as the spirit moved,—in that case the office would become a mark of honourable distinction, and I should be proud of accepting it. How this was to be managed he best knew; for, of course, it was not for me to propose terms to the Prince. When next I saw him he told me that, after the appointment was completed, he or some other person in the Prince’s confidence, would suggest to him the fitness of making this reform, in an office which requires some reform to rescue it from the contempt into which it had fallen. I thought all was settled, and expected every day to receive some official communication, but week after week past on. My headquarters at this time were at Streatham.* Going one

* His uncle, Mr. Hill, was then rector of that parish.

day into town to my brothers, I found that
Lord William Gordon, with whom I had left a card on my first arrival, had called three times on me in as many days, and had that morning requested that I would call on him at eleven, twelve, one, or two o’clock. I went accordingly, never dreaming of what this business could be, and wondering at it. He told me that the Marquis of Hertford was his brother-in-law, and had written to him, as being my neighbour in the country,—placing, in fact, the appointment at his (Lord William’s) disposal, wherefore he wished to see me to know if I wished to have it. The meaning of all this was easily seen; I was very willing to thank one person more, and especially a good-natured man, to whom I am indebted for many neighbourly civilities. He assured me that I should now soon hear from the Chamberlain’s office, and I departed accordingly, in full expectation that two or three days more would settle the affair. But neither days nor weeks brought any further intelligence; and if plenty of employments and avocations had not filled up my mind as well as my time, I should perhaps have taken dudgeon, and returned to my family and pursuits, from which I had so long been absent.

“At length, after sundry ineffectual attempts, owing sometimes to his absence, and once or twice to public business, I saw Croker once more, and he discovered for me that the delay originated in a desire of Lord Hertford’s that Lord Liverpool should write to him, and ask the office for me. This calling in the Prime Minister about the disposal of an office,
the net emoluments of which are about 90l. a-year, reminded me of the old proverb about shearing pigs. Lord Liverpool, however, was informed of this by Croker; the letter was written, and in the course of another week Lord Hertford wrote to Croker that he would give orders for making out the appointment. A letter soon followed to say that the order was given, and that I might be sworn in whenever I pleased. My pleasure, however, was the last thing to be consulted. After due inquiry on my part, and some additional delays, I received a note to say that if I would attend at the Chamberlain’s office at one o’clock on Thursday, November 4., a gentleman-usher would be there to administer the oath. Now it so happened that I was engaged to go to Woburn on the Tuesday, meaning to return on Thursday to dinner, or remain a day longer, as I might feel disposed. Down I went to the office, and solicited a change in the day; but this was in vain, the gentleman-usher had been spoken to, and a Poet-Laureate is a creature of a lower description. I obtained, however, two hours’ grace; and yesterday, by rising by candlelight and hurrying the postboys, reached the office to the minute. I swore to be a faithful servant to the King, to reveal all treasons which might come to my knowledge, to discharge the duties of my office, and to obey the Lord Chamberlain in all matters of the King’s service, and in his stead the Vice-Chamberlain. Having taken this upon my soul, I was thereby inducted into all the rights, privileges, and benefits which
Henry James Pye, Esq., did enjoy, or ought to have enjoyed.


“The original salary of the office was 100 marks. It was raised for Ben Jonson to 100l. and a tierce of Spanish canary wine, now wickedly commuted for 26l.; which said sum, unlike the canary, is subject to income-tax, land-tax, and heaven knows what taxes besides. The whole net income is little more or less than 90l. It comes to me as a Godsend, and I have vested it in a life-policy: by making it up 102l. it covers an insurance for 3000l. upon my own life. I have never felt any painful anxiety as to providing for my family,—my mind is too buoyant, my animal spirits too good, for this care ever to have affected my happiness; and I may add that a not unbecoming trust in Providence has ever supported my confidence in myself. But it is with the deepest feeling of thanksgiving that I have secured this legacy for my wife and children, and it is to you that I am primarily and chiefly indebted.

“To the manner of your letter I am quite unable to reply. We shall both be remembered hereafter, and ill betide him who shall institute a comparison between us. There has been no race; we have both got to the top of the hill by different paths, and meet there not as rivals but as friends, each rejoicing in the success of the other.

“I wait for the levee, and hope to find a place in the mail for Penrith on the evening after it, for I have the Swiss malady, and am home-sick. Remember me to Mrs. Scott and your daughter; and believe me, my dear Scott,

Most truly and affectionately yours,
Robert Southey.”