LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XXVI. 1821

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 Vision of Judgment was now, at last, published, and my father had not overrated the measure of opposition and abuse with which its appearance would be hailed. Nor was this at all to be wondered at; for besides the unfriendly criticisms of his avowed enemies and opponents, the poem, both in its plan and execution, could not fail to give offence to many of those persons most disposed to receive favourably the productions of his pen. The Editor hopes he will not be thought chargeable with any want of filial respect, if he thinks it right here to express his own regret that such a subject should have been chosen,
as, however solemnly treated, it can hardly be said to be clear from the charge of being an injudicious attempt to fathom mysteries too deep for human comprehension; and it must be allowed, that to speculate upon the condition of the departed, especially when under the influence of strong political feelings, is a bold, if not a presumptuous undertaking.

My father adopted, as we have seen, his leading thoughts from Dante’s great poem; not reflecting that Dante himself, if it were not for the halo thrown around him by his antiquity and the established fame of his transcendant genius combined, would in these days be very offensive to many sincerely religious minds.

But while undoubtedly the Vision of Judgment had the effect of shocking the feelings of many excellent persons, the storm of abuse which greeted its author did not come from them; nor did it arise from any regret that spiritual matters should be thus handled. It was the preface and not the poem which called them forth.

Now whatever may be the opinion which any person may form of my father’s writings, one thing has always been conceded—that in none of them did he appeal to the darker passions of human nature, or seek to administer pernicious stimulants to a depraved taste; that in none did he paint vice in alluring colours, calling evil good and good evil; and that in all of them there is a constant recognition of the duties, the privileges, and the hopes derived from revealed religion.

There was, therefore, a perfect contrast between
his writings and those of some of the most popular authors of that day; and in the
Quarterly Review he often used unsparing language concerning those writers who were in the habit of spreading among the people Freethinking opinions in religion, and base doctrines in morals.

These things would naturally create a bitter enmity against him, in the minds of all who either by their own acts or by sympathy were implicated in such proceedings; and the more definite and pointed remarks which he took occasion to make in his preface to the Vision of Judgment, upon the principles and tendencies of these writers, wound up his offences to a climax in their estimation, and set in motion the array of opposition and invective to which I have just alluded. Before, however, noticing more particularly the remarks themselves, and the rejoinder and counter-rejoinder they called forth, we will look a little at the relative position of the parties with respect to their writings.

Lord Byron, as is well known, in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, had satirised my father in common with many others, but not in any peculiarly objectionable manner; and when, as has been noticed, they met once or twice in London society in the year 1813, it was with all outward courtesy. From that time Lord Byron became year after year more notorious, and his writings more objectionable in their tendency. But while my father could not but greatly disapprove of many portions of them, he had been far too busily employed to trouble himself much about Lord Byron. He rarely alludes to him in
his letters; for every allusion that I have found, I have printed. For some years he had made it a rule never to review poetry; and while he regarded him as a man of the highest talents, using them in a manner greatly to be lamented, and notoriously profligate as to his private life, he had never said this in print; and rarely seems to have spoken of him at all.

Lord Byron, on the other hand, appears to have regarded my father with the most intense dislike, which he veiled under an affectation of scorn and contempt which it is impossible to believe he could really feel. He had pronounced* his talents to be “of the first order,” his prose to be “perfect,” his Roderick “the first poem of the time,” and therefore he could not think meanly of his abilities; and widely as he differed from him on political subjects, that could be no reason for the bitter personal animosity he displayed towards him. This is sufficiently shown in many passages of his published letters, and more particularly in his Don Juan; which, in addition to the allusions in the poem itself, came over for publication with a Dedication to him prefixed to it, couched in coarse and insulting terms. This was suppressed at the time, (the editor states with Lord Byron’s reluctant consent); but its existence was well known, and it is now prefixed to the poem in the collected edition of his works.

But the feelings with which Lord Byron regarded my father were still more plainly shown in some observations upon an article in Blackwood’s Magazine,

* See Byron’s Life and Works, vol. ii. p. 268., and vol. vii. p. 239.

published for the first time in his
Life and Works, but written, be it observed, before the remarks on the Satanic School, in the preface to the Vision of Judgment.

The writer in Blackwood, it appears, had alluded to Lord Byron having “vented his spleen” against certain “lofty-minded and virtuous men,” which he interprets to mean “the notorious triumvirate known by the name of the Lake Poets;” and he then goes on to make various charges against my father, which it is impossible to characterise by any other epithet than false and calumnious. These were based upon the assumed fact, that on his return from the Continent, in 1817, my father had circulated slanderous reports respecting Lord Byron’s mode of life*; and upon this supposition, which was wholly without foundation, he proceeds in a strain of abuse which I will not sully these pages by quoting; suffice it to say, that when, at a later period, Lord Byron, in a letter to Sir Walter Scott, declares his intention of “working the Laureate,” as soon as he could muster Billingsgate enough†,” he had a plentiful supply of it in those then

* With reference to this accusation, which was made through some other medium during Lord Byron’s life, my father says, in a letter to the editor of the Courier, “I reply to it with a direct and positive denial;” and he continues, “If I had been told in that country that Lord Byron had turned Turk or monk of La Trappe, that he had furnished a harem or endowed a hospital, I might have thought the account, whichever it had been, possible, and repeated it accordingly, passing it, as it had been taken, in the small change of conversation for no more than it was worth. But making no inquiry concerning him when I was abroad, because I felt no curiosity, I heard nothing, and had nothing to repeat.”—See Appendix. I may add that there is no allusion to Lord Byron, either in my father’s letters written during that tour or in his journal

† See Life and Works of Byron, vol. v. p. 300.

unpublished pages. It is painful to have to recur to these deeds of the dead; but it is necessary because these facts prove that Lord Byron’s attacks upon my father preceded my father’s comments upon him, and were altogether unprovoked; and also because his authority is still occasionally employed by others for the purpose of bringing my father’s name and character into contempt.

Now I have made these observations solely to show upon which of the two (if upon either) the blame of a malicious or contentious temper must rest, not because I assume these calumnies to have been the reason why my father censured Lord Byron’s writings.* The worst of these insults he certainly never saw; the other he was acquainted with; but while the effect of it must undoubtedly have been to remove any delicacy with regard to hurting Lord Byron’s feelings, I am perfectly justified in asserting, that if there had not existed a great public cause,—a question of the most vital principles,—my father would never, upon that provocation, have gone out of his way to lift his hand against him.† He conceived it to be his duty, as one who had some influence over the opinions of others, to condemn as strongly as possible, works, the perusal of which he conscientiously believed was calculated to weaken the principles, corrupt the morals, and harden the heart.

With respect to the remarks in the preface to

* See Appendix.

† Had he seen the other attack, he could not have remained silent under it.

Vision of Judgment, while it must be admitted they are stern and severe, they are surely not more so than the occasion justified. They are no personal invective, but simply a moral condemnation of a class of publications, and to be judged by a consideration of the whole question whether they were deserved or not. The question itself as to the spirit and tendency of many of Lord Byron’s writings has never, by the public, been considered apart from his rank, his genius, and his redeeming qualities: admiration and adulation operated on the one hand, fear on the other; for while he himself and his advocates attributed the condemnation of his writings to “cowardice,” with far greater truth might that be alleged as a reason for the praise of many and the silence of more.*

It was natural, then, that my father should meet with a large share both of abuse and blame, for daring thus to attack the enemy in his stronghold; and while some marvelled at his imprudence, there was one great writer who said more than that with strange inconsistency. Mr. Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, suppressing the remarks themselves, attributed them wholly to envy; and it is not a little

* Mr. Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, says, “Lord Byron complains bitterly of the detraction by which he has been assailed, and intimates that his works have been received by the public with far less cordiality and favour than he was entitled to expect. We are constrained to say that this appears to us a very extraordinary mistake. In the whole course of our experience we cannot recollect a single author who has so little reason to complain of his reception; to whose genius the public has been so early and constantly just; to whose faults they have been so long and so signally indulgent”—Edinburgh Review, No. 72.

curious to observe, coupled with this, his own estimate of Lord Byron’s writings, some portions of which I cannot resist quoting here.

After various remarks, levelled apparently at my father, concerning “the base and the bigoted venting their puny malice in silly nicknames,” he goes on to say,

“He has no priest-like cant, or priest-like reviling to apprehend from us; we do not charge him with being either a disciple or an apostle of Satan, nor do we describe his poetry to be a mere compound of blasphemy and obscenity. On the contrary, we believe he wishes well to the happiness of mankind.”

After speaking of the immoral passages and profligate representations in his writings, which, he says, are not worse than Dryden or Prior or Fielding, justly adding, however, that “it is a wretched apology for the indecencies of a man of genius, that equal indecencies have been forgiven to his predecessors,”—he proceeds,—

“It might not have been so easy to get over his dogmatic scepticism, his hard-hearted maxims of misanthropy, his cold-blooded and eager expositions of the non-existence of virtue and honour. Even this, however, might have been comparatively harmless, if it had not been accompanied with that which may look at first sight like a palliation,—the frequent presentment of the most touching pictures of tenderness, generosity, and faith.

“The charge we bring against Lord Byron, in short, is, that his writings have a tendency to destroy all belief in the reality of virtue, and to make all enthusiasm and constancy of affection ridiculous; and this is effected, not merely by direct maxims and examples of an imposing or seducing kind, but by the constant exhibition of the most profligate heartlessness in the persons of those who have been transiently represented as actuated by the purest and most exalted emotions, and the lessons of that very teacher who had been but a moment before so beautifully pathetic in the expression of the loftiest conceptions.

This is the charge which we bring against Lord Byron. We say that, under some strange misapprehension of the truth and the duty of proclaiming it, he has exerted all the powers of his powerful mind to convince his readers, directly and indirectly, that all ennobling pur-
suits and disinterested virtues are mere deceits and illusions, hollow and despicable mockeries for the most part, and at best but laborious follies. Love, patriotism, valour, devotion, constancy, ambition—all are to be laughed at, disbelieved in, and despised! and nothing is really good, as far as we can gather, but a succession of dangers to stir the blood, and of banquets and intrigues to soothe it again. If the doctrine stood alone, with its examples, we believe it would revolt more than it would seduce; but the author has the unlucky gift of personating all those sweet and lofty illusions, and that with such grace find power and truth to nature, that it is impossible not to suppose for the time that he is among the most devoted of their votaries, till be casts off the character with a jerk; and the moment after he has moved and exalted us to the very height of our conceptions, resumes his mockery of all things sacred and sublime, and lets us down at once on some coarse joke, hard-hearted sarcasm, or relentless personality; as if to show
‘Whoe’er was edified, himself was not.’”*

It is difficult to imagine how anything more severe, and at the same time more just, than these remarks could have been penned; but I may fairly ask, with what consistency could the writer of them reckon my father as among the base and the bigoted, for his remarks on the “Satanic School?” He does not, he says, charge Lord Byron with being either a disciple or an apostle of Satan; but had he striven to picture forth the office of such a character, could he have done it better? What method more subtle or more certain could the Enemy of Mankind use to enlarge the limits of his empire than “to destroy all belief in the reality of virtue”—to convince men that all that is good, noble, virtuous, or sacred is “to be laughed at, disbelieved in, and despised?” Consciously or unconsciously, the reviewer in these passages has embodied the very system which those, whose philosophy is based upon Holy Scripture, believe that the Evil

* Edinburgh Review, No. 72.

Spirit is continually pursuing against the souls of men. He has said, virtually, only at greater length and more persuasively, exactly the same thing my father had said in those very passages he sneers at and condemns.

These remarks, including the quotation, have extended further than I could have wished; but the clergyman who finds cheap editions of Don Juan and Shelley’s Queen Mab lying in the cottages of his rural flock, who knows that they are sold by every hawker of books throughout the country, and that they are handed about from one to the other by schoolboys and artisans to supply shafts for the quiver of ribald wit and scoffing blasphemy, can hardly be thought out of season, if, when this subject is forced upon him, he allows his own feeling concerning such works to appear; and it is not unimportant, while doing so, to have pointed out the strong coincidence, upon this question in real opinion, which existed between two writers, in general so opposed to each other as my father and the editor of the Edinburgh Review.

As may well be imagined, the passage alluded to concerning the Satanic School roused Lord Byron’s anger to the uttermost; and he replied to it in a strain which compelled a rejoinder from my father, in a letter addressed to the Editor of the Courier, the effect of which was to make his lordship immediately sit down and indite a cartel, challenging my father to mortal combat, for which purpose both parties were to repair to the Continent. This challenge, however, never reached its destination, Lord Byron’s
“friend,” Mr.
Douglas Kinnaird, wisely suppressing it.

The passage itself, Lord Byron’s reply, and the rejoinder, together with a letter written in 1824, on the appearance of Capt. Medwin’s work, the reader will find in an Appendix to this volume.

To the Rev. Neville White.
“Keswick, April 25. 1821.
“My dear Neville,

“I heartily give you joy of your dear wife’s safe deliverance, and of the birth of your first child,—an event which, of all others in the course of human life, produces the deepest and most permanent impression.
“Who hath not proved it, ill can estimate
The feeling of that stirring hour,—the weight
Of that new sense; the thoughtful, pensive bliss.
In all the changes of our changeful state,
Even from the cradle to the grave, I wis
The heart doth undergo no change so great as this.

“So I have written in that poem which will be the next that I hope to send you; but I transcribe the lines here because you will feel their truth at this time. Parental love, however, is of slower growth in a father’s than in a mother’s heart: the child, at its birth, continues, as it were, to be a part of its mother’s life; but, upon the father’s heart it is a graft, and some little time elapses before he feels that it has united and is become inseparable. God bless the babe and its parents, and spare it and them, each for the other’s sake, amen!


Tilbrook wrote to tell me his disapprobation of my hexameters. His reasons were founded upon some musical theory, which I did not understand farther than to perceive that it was not applicable. His opinion is the only unfavourable one that has reached me; that of my friend Wynn, from whom I expected the most decided displeasure, was, that he ‘disliked them less than he expected.’ Women, as far as I can learn, feel and like the metre universally, without attempting to understand its construction. My brethren of the art approve it, and those whom I acknowledge for my peers are decidedly in its favour. Many persons have thanked me for that part of the preface in which Lord Byron and his infamous works are alluded to. . . . .

“I am going on steadily with many things, the foremost of which is the History of the War. The first volume will be printed in the course of September next. Whether it will be published before the other two, depends upon the booksellers, and is a matter in which I have no concern. I am proceeding also with my Dialogues, and with the Book of the Church,—two works by which I shall deserve well of posterity, whatever treatment they may provoke now from the bigoted, the irreligious, and the factious. But you know how perfectly regardless I am of obloquy and insult. Your brother Henry gave me that kind of praise which is thoroughly gratifying, because I know that I deserve it, when he described me as fearlessly pursuing that course which my own sense of propriety points out, without reference to the humour of the public.


“In the last Quarterly Review you would recognise me in the account of Huntington. I am preparing a life of Oliver Cromwell for the next. . . . .

Believe me, my dear Neville,
Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To C. H. Townshend, Esq.
“Keswick, May 6. 1821.
“My dear Chauncey,

“I received your little parcel this afternoon, and thank you for the book, for the dedication, and for the sonnet. As yet I have only had time to recognise several pieces which pleased me formerly, and to read a few others which please me now.

“The stages of your life have passed regularly and happily, so that you have had leisure to mark them with precision, and to feel them, and reflect upon them. With me these transitions were of a very different character; they came abruptly, and, when I left the University, it was to cast myself upon the world, with a heart full of romance, and a head full of enthusiasm. No young man could have gone more widely astray, according to all human judgment; and yet the soundest judgment could not have led me into any other way of life in which I should have had such full cause to be contented and thankful.

“The world is now before you; but you have neither difficulties to struggle with, nor dangers to
apprehend. All that the heart of a wise man can desire is within your reach. And you are blest with a disposition which will keep you out of public life, in which my advice to those whom I loved would be,—never to engage.

“Your Cambridge wit is excellent of its kind. I am not acquainted with Coleridge of King’s; but somewhat intimately so with one of his brothers*, now at the bar, and likely to rise very high in his profession. I know no man of whose judgment and principles I have a higher opinion. They are a remarkably gifted family, and may be expected to distinguish themselves in many ways.

“The Wordsworths spoke of you with great pleasure upon their return from Cambridge. He was with me lately. His thoughts and mine have for some time unconsciously been travelling in the same direction; for while I have been sketching a brief history of the English Church, and the systems which it has subdued or struggled with, he has been pursuing precisely the same subject in a series of sonnets, to which my volume will serve for a commentary, as completely as if it had been written with that intent. I have reason to hope that this work will be permanently useful. And I have the same hope of the series of Dialogues with which I am proceeding. Two of the scenes in which these are laid are noticed in your sonnets,—the Tarn of Blencathra and the Ruined Village. Wm. Westall has made a very fine drawing of the former, which

* Now Mr. Justice Coleridge.

will be engraved for the volume, together with five others, most of which you will recognise. One of them represents this house, with the river and the lake, and Newlands in the distance.

“Are you going abroad? Or do you wait till the political atmosphere seems to promise settled weather? God knows when that will be! For myself I know not what to wish for, when on the one side the old Governments will not attempt to amend anything, and on the other the Revolutionists are for destroying every thing. Spain is in a deplorable state, which must lead to utter anarchy. If other powers do not interfere (which I rather hope than think they will not), the natural course of such a revolution will serve as an example in terrorem to other nations. True statesmen are wanted there, and not there alone, but everywhere else; why it is that there has not been a single man in Europe worthy of the name for the last century, is a question which it might be of some use to consider. Burke would have been one, had he not been always led away by passion and party, and an Irish imagination. It is something in the very constitution of our politics which dwarfs the breed; for we have had statesmen in India. . . . .

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”
To John Rickman, Esq.
“Keswick, May 13. 1821.
“My dear Rickman,

“The present Oliver Cromwell, whose book serves me for a heading in the Quarterly Review, has led me into an interesting course of reading, and I am surrounded with memoirs of that age. Among other books, I have been reading the Εικον Βασιλικη, which never fell in my way before. The evidence concerning its authenticity is more curiously balanced than in any other case, except perhaps that of the two Alexander Cunninghams; but the internal evidence is strongly in its favour, and I very much doubt whether any man could have written it in a fictitious character,—the character is so perfectly observed. If it be genuine (which I believe it to be as much as a man can believe the authenticity of any thing which has been boldly impugned) it is one of the most interesting books connected with English history. I have been reading also Hobbes’s Behemoth; it is worth reading, but has less of his characteristic strength and felicity of thought and expression than the Leviathan. There is one great point on which he dwells with unanswerable wisdom—the necessity that public opinion should be directed by Government, by means of education and public instruction.

“The course of the revolution in Portugal and Brazil will be to separate the two countries, and then I fear, to break up Brazil into as many separate
states as there are great Captaincies; these again to be subdivided among as many chieftains as can raise ruffians enough to be called an army. There is, however, some check to these in the fear of the negroes, which may reasonably exist in great part of the country. This mischief has been brought about by Portuguese journals printed in London since the year 1808, and directed always to this end.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To the Rev. Nicholas Lightfoot.
‘Keswick, June 2. 1821.
“My dear Lightfoot,

“Your letter brings to my mind how it happened that the last which I received from you remained unanswered. I began a reply immediately, but having expressed a hope that business might probably soon lead me into the west country, and intimated a little too confidently the likelihood of my succeeding to some good family estates there in consequence of Lord Somerville’s death, the letter was laid aside, till I could be more certain. Shortly afterwards I went to London, and the result of my legal inquiries there was, that owing to the clumsy manner in which a will was drawn up, estates to the value of a thousand a year in Somersetshire, which according to the clear intention of the testator, ought now to have devolved upon me, had been adjudged to Lord Somerville to be at his full disposal, and were by him
either sold or bequeathed to his half-brothers, so that the whole is gone to a different family. You know me well enough to believe that this never deprived me of an hour’s sleep nor a moment’s peace of mind. The only ill effect was that I fancied your letter had been answered, and wondered I did not hear from you again, which wonder, nothing but never ending business has prevented me from expressing to you long ere this.

“God knows how truly it would have rejoiced me to have seen you at Oxford. My heart was never heavier than during the only whole day which I passed in that city. There was not a single contemporary whom I knew; the only person with whom I spoke, whose face was familiar to me, was Dr. Tatham! except poor Adams and his wife, now both old and infirm. I went in the morning to look at Balliol, and as I was coming out he knew me, and then I recognised him, which otherwise I could not have done. I dined there in the hall, at ten o’clock at night, and the poor old woman would sit up till midnight that she might speak to me when I went out. After the business of the theatre was over I walked for some hours alone about the walks and gardens, where you and I have so often walked together, thinking of the days that are gone, the friends that are departed (Seward, and C. Collins, and Allen and poor Burnet), time, and change, and mortality. Very few things would have gratified me so much as to have met you there. I had applause enough in the theatre to be somewhat overpowering, and my feelings would have been very different if you
had been there, for then there would have been one person present who knew me and loved me.

“My lodging was at Oriel, in the rooms of an under-graduate, whose aunt is married to my uncle. Coplestone introduced himself to me and asked me to dinner the next day, but I was engaged to return to London and dine with Bedford. There is no one of our remembrance left at Balliol except Powell, and him I did not see. The master and the fellows there showed me every possible attention; I had not been two hours in Oxford before their invitation found me out.

“The King sent me word that he had read the Vision of Judgment twice and was well pleased with it; and he afterwards told my brother (Dr. S.) at the drawing-room, that I had sent him a very beautiful poem, which he had read with great pleasure.

“You will be pleased to hear that the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Durham, and Lord Liverpool told me when I was in town last year, that the Life of Wesley was a book which in their judgment could not fail of doing a great deal of good.

Always and affectionately yours,
Robert Southey.”

Among the great variety of strangers who found their way to Greta Hall with letters of introduction, there were a considerable proportion from America,—travellers from thence, as my father humorously observes in one of the letters in the last volume, inquiring as naturally for a real live poet in England,
as he would do for any of the wild animals of their country. Since that time, however, America has made rapid strides in literature, and native authors are not such rarities now as they were then. In this way he had made many agreeable and valuable acquaintances, and with several of them the intercourse thus begun was continued across the Atlantic; and he was the more rejoiced at the opportunity of showing them any attention in his power, because he had been most unjustly accused of holding and expressing opinions very unfavourable to America. Several papers had appeared in the
Quarterly Review, manifesting an unfriendly feeling towards that country, and these were ascribed to him*, while he was protesting against them privately, and strongly condemning the spirit in which they were written. This, however, was only one out of many instances in which the offences of the Quarterly Review were laid to his charge.

The gentleman (Mr. Ticknor of Boston), to whom the two following letters are addressed, was one of the most literary of his American visitors; and a feeling of mutual respect and good-will quickly sprang up between them, kept up by an occasional correspondence.

In the course of one of the evenings he passed at

* “I returned to the post-office the other day three half crowns worth of abuse sent from New Orleans in the shape of extracts from Yankee newspapers. Every disrespectful thing said of America in the Q. R. is imputed to me in that country, while I heartily disapprove of the temper in which America is treated. Such things, however, are not worth notice; and lies of this kind for many years past have been far too numerous to be noticed, unless I gave up half my time to the task.”—To G. C. B., Jan. 5. 1820.

Greta Hall, my father had read to him the commencement of his poem of
Oliver Newman, to which reference has occasionally been made, with which Mr. Ticknor had been much pleased; and in consequence of the scene being laid in his native country, the MS. of the poem when finished was promised to him: to this the commencement of the following letter refers. Alas for the uncertainty of our intentions! No further progress of any moment was ever made in it; constant occupations of a different kind imperatively called for all his time and thoughts; many cares and more sorrows thickened upon him in these later years of his life; and the effort to resume the subject, though often contemplated, was never made.

To George Ticknor, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 19. 1821.
“My dear Sir,

“That I intended to thank you for the books you sent me from London in 1819, the unfinished letter which I have now fished up from the bottom of my desk will show; and it is better to say peccavi than to apologise for the old and besetting sin of procrastination. That I had received them, you would probably infer from the mention of Fisher Ames in the Quarterly Review. This omission has been attended with frequent self-reproaches, for I am sure you will not suppose that you were forgotten; but I looked forward to an honourable amends in sending
you the manuscript of my
New England poem, as soon as it should be completed. When that will be, I dare not promise; but the desire of sending you that first fair copy, part of which was put into your hands when you were here, is not one of the least inducements for taking it up speedily as a serious and regular occupation.

“I found your parcel last night, on my return home, after a fortnight’s absence. Its contents will be of the greatest use to me. I have already looked through Callender and the Archaiology, and find in the former applicable information not in my other authorities; and in the latter many curious facts. Our old divine, Dr. Hammond, used to say, that whatever his course of study might be in the first part of the week, something always occurred in it which was convertible to use in his next sermon. My experience is of the same kind, and you will perceive that these books will assist me in many ways.

“My little girls have not forgotten you. The infant whom you saw sleeping in a basket here in this library, where he was born three weeks before, is now, God be thanked, a thriving and hopeful child. Kenyon will be here in the course of the week, and we shall talk of you, and drink to our friends in New England. This is less picturesque than the votive sacrifices of ancient times, but there is as much feeling connected with it.

Mr. Everett sent me the two first numbers of his quarterly journal, telling me that I should not need an apology for the sentiments which it expresses towards England. I am sorry that those
opinions appear to have his sanction, esteeming him highly as I do; and desirous as I am that the only two nations in the world who really are free, and have grown up in freedom, should be united by mutual respect and kindly feelings, as well as by kindred, common faith, and the indissoluble bond of language. Remember me most kindly to him, and to
Mr. Cogswell also.

“I am collecting materials for a Life of George Fox, and the Rise and Progress of Quakerism. Perhaps some documents of American growth may fall in your way. We are never likely to meet again in this world; let us keep up this kind of intercourse till we meet in a better.

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

The following is the letter referred to as inclosed in the preceding one. I place it here as containing some interesting remarks upon American literature.

To George Ticknor, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 13. 1819.
“My dear Sir,

“I did not receive your friendly letter, and the books which you sent to Murray’s, till the last week in May, at which time I supposed you would be on your voyage homeward. Long ere this I trust you
will have reached your native shores, and enjoyed the delight of returning to your friends after a long absence. Life has few greater pleasures.

“You have sent me a good specimen of American divinity. I very much doubt whether we have any contemporary sermons so good. For though our pulpits are better filled than they were in the last generation, we do not hear from them such sound reasoning, such clear logic, and such manly and vigorous composition as in the days of South and Barrow. What is said in the memoir of Mr. Buckminster of the unimpassioned character of our printed sermons is certainly true; the cause of it is to be found in the general character of the congregations for which they were composed, always regular church-going people, persons of wealth and rank, the really good part of the community, and the Formalists and the Pharisees, none of whom would like to be addressed by their parish priest as miserable sinners standing in need of repentance. Sermons of country growth seldom find their way to the press; in towns the ruder classes seldom attend the Church service, in large towns because there is no room for them; and indeed, in country as well as town, the subjects who are in the worst state of mind and morals never enter the Church doors. Wesley and Whitfield got at them by preaching in the open air, and they administered drastics with prodigious effect. Since their days a more impassioned style has been used in the pulpit, and with considerable success. But the pith and the sound philosophy of the elder divines are wanting. Your Buckminster was taking
the right course. The early death of such a man would have been a great loss to any country.

“You have sent me also a good specimen of American politics in the works of Fisher Ames. I perused them with great pleasure, and have seldom met with a more sagacious writer. A great proportion of the words in the American vocabulary are as common in England as in America. But provided a word be good, it is no matter from what mint it comes. Neologisms must always be arising in every living language; and the business of criticism should be not to reprobate them because they are new, but to censure such as are not formed according to analogy, or which are merely superfluous. The authority of an English reviewer passes on your side of the Atlantic for more than it is worth; with us the Review of the last month or the last quarter is as little thought of as the last week’s newspaper. You must have learnt enough of the constitution of such works to know that upon questions of philology they are quite unworthy of being noticed. The manner in which they are referred to in the vocabulary led me to this, and this leads me to the criticisms upon Bristed and Fearon’s books in the Quarterly Review. I know not from whom they came, but they are not in a good spirit.

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 26. 1821.
“My dear Friend,

“How little are our lots in life to be foreseen! It might reasonably have been thought that, if any man could have been secured against ill fortune in his mercantile concerns by prudence, punctuality, method, and the virtues and habits which the mercantile profession requires, you, above all men, would have been uniformly and steadily prosperous; and yet to what a series of anxieties and losses have you been exposed, without any fault, or even anything which can justly be called incaution on your part! This, however, is both consolatory and certain, that no good man is ever the worse for the trials with which Providence may visit him, and the way in which you regard these afflictions exemplifies this.

“Since I received your letter I made my proposed visit to the sea-coast with the two Ediths and Cuthbert. We were at Netherhall, the solar of my friend and fellow-traveller, Senhouse, where his ancestors have uninterruptedly resided since the days of Edward II. (when part of the present building is known to have been standing), and how long before that no one knows. Some of his deeds are of Edward I.’s reign, some of Henry III.’s; and one is as far back as King John. We slept in the tower, the walls of which are nine feet thick. In the time of the great Rebellion the second of the two sons of this house went to serve the King, the elder brother (whom ill-
ness had probably detained at home) died, and the parents then wished their only surviving child to return, lest their ancient line should be extinct. A man who held an estate under the family was sent to persuade him to this, his unwillingness to leave the service in such disastrous times being anticipated; but the result of this endeavour was that Senhouse, instead of returning, persuaded the messenger to remain and follow the King’s fortunes. They were at Marston Moor together, and at Naseby. In the last of those unhappy fields Senhouse was dreadfully wounded, his skull was fractured, and he was left for dead. After the battle his faithful friend searched for the body, and found him still breathing. By this providential aid he was saved; his skull was pieced with a plate of metal, and he lived to continue the race. His preserver was rewarded by having his estate enfranchised; and both properties continue at this day in their respective descendants. This is an interesting story, and the more so when related as it was to me, on the spot. The sword which did good service in those wars is still preserved. It was made for a two-fold use, the back being cut so as to form a double-toothed saw.

“Netherhall stands upon the little river Ellen, about half a mile from the sea, but completely sheltered from the sea-wind by a long high hill, under cover of which some fine old trees have grown up. The Ellen rises on Skiddaw, forms the little and unpicturesque lake or rather pool which is called Overwater, near the foot of that mountain, and, though a very small stream, makes a port, where a
town containing 4000 inhabitants has grown up within the memory of man, on the Senhouse estate. It was called Maryport, after
Senhouse’s grandmother, a very beautiful woman, whose portrait is in his dining-room. His father remembered when a single summer-house standing in a garden was the only building upon the whole of that ground, which is now covered with streets. The first sash windows in Cumberland were placed in the tower in which we slept, by the founder of this town; and when his son (who died about six years ago at the age of eighty-four or five) first went to Cambridge, there was no stage coach north of York.

“Old as Netherhall is, the stones of which it is built were hewn from the quarry more than a thousand years before it was begun. They were taken from a Roman station on the hill between it and the sea, where a great number of Roman altars, &c. have been found. Some of them are described by Camden, who praises the Mr. Senhouse of his time for the hospitality with which he received him, and the care with which he preserved these remains of antiquity. . . . . It was a bishop of this family who preached Charles I.’s coronation sermon, and the text which he took was afterwards noted as ominous;—‘I will give him a crown of glory.’ The gold signet which he wore as a ring is now at Netherhall. God bless you!

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Sept. 9. 1821.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“I wish to possess a castle in Bohemia. My good aunt Mary has the like desire; and as there are two castles to be had there, together with twelve villages (enough to qualify me in all conscience for a baron of the holy Roman empire), I beseech you, with as little loss of time as may be, to transmit, in such manner as Herries may best direct, the sum of two pounds to W. H. Reinganum, Banquier, No. 13. Rue Zeil, Frankfort sur Maine, to purchase one ticket in my name, and one in my aunt Mary’s, in the lottery for the seven estates in Bohemia, which are to be played for at Vienna on the 1st of next month; and I invite you, Grosvenor, to purchase a ticket also, and let us go shares in the adventure; and if we get the prize, we will make a merry and memorable journey to Prague, and you shall take your choice of seven titles for your baronship, to wit, Zieken, Wolschow, Koyschitz, Shunkau, Libietitz, Prytanitz, and Oberstankau.

“Just suppose, Grosvenor, that Fortune, in one of her freaks, was to give us this prize, and we were to set out for the purpose of taking possession of twelve villages, two chateaux, seven farms, and several mills and manufactures, and valued judicially at 894,755 florins of Vienna. I suppose the inhabitants are included. The notion, I think, will amuse you as much as it does us. So buy the tickets, Grosvenor.
The castles in question are certainly two of the King of Bohemia’s castles, because they make the great prize in an imperial lottery; but whether they are two of the seven castles the history of which Corporal Trim began to Uncle Toby, I pretend not to determine. By all means, however, let us have a chance for them. I should like a good fortune well, and much the better if it were a queer one, and came in a comical way.

“So God bless you, Grosvenor! and make us both barons, and my aunt a Bohemian baroness.

R. S.”
To the Rev. Neville White.
“Keswick, Oct. 20. 1821.
“My dear Neville,

“. . . . . You form a just opinion of the character and tendency of William Taylor’s conversation. A most unfortunate perversion of mind has made him always desirous of supporting strange and paradoxical opinions by ingenious arguments, and showing what may be said on the wrong side of a question. He likes to be in a state of doubt upon all subjects where doubt is possible, and has often said, ‘I begin to be too sure of that, and must see what reasons I can find against it.’ But when this is applied to great and momentous truths, the consequences are of the most fatal kind. I believe no man ever carried Pyr-
rhonism farther. But it has never led him into immoralities of any kind, nor prevented him from discharging the duties of private life in the most exemplary manner. There never lived a more dutiful son. I have seen his blind mother weep when she spoke of his goodness; and his kindness and generosity have only been limited by his means.

“What is more remarkable is, that this habitual and excessive scepticism has weakened none of the sectarian prejudices in which he was brought up. He sympathises as cordially with the Unitarians in their animosity to the Church and State, as if he agreed with them in belief, and finds as strong a bond of union in party-spirit as he could do in principle.

“With regard to his talents, they arc very great. No man can exceed him in ingenuity, nor in the readiness with which he adorns a subject by apt and lively illustrations. His knowledge is extensive, but not deep. When first I saw him, three-and-twenty years ago, I thought him the best informed man with whom I had ever conversed. When I visited him last, after a lapse of eight years, I discovered the limits of his information, and that upon all subjects it was very incomplete.

“Of his heart and disposition I cannot speak more highly than I think. It is my belief that no man ever brought a kindlier nature into this world. His great talents have been sadly wasted; and, what is worse, they have sometimes been sadly misemployed. He has unsettled the faith of many, and he has prepared for his own old age a pillow of thorns. To all
reasoning, the pride of reason has made him inaccessible; and when I think of him, as I often do, with affection and sorrowful foreboding, the only foundation of hope is, that God is merciful, beyond our expectations, as well as beyond our deserts.

“Thank you for the copy of Cromwell’s Letters. The transcriber has tasked his own eyes, and mine also, by copying them in the very form of the writing. I cannot attempt to read them by candle-light. You will by this time have seen my sketch of Cromwell’s Life. It is the only article of mine which was ever printed in the Quarterly Review without mutilation. Gifford has made only one alteration; that, however, is a very improper one. I had said that Hampden might have left behind him a name scarcely inferior to Washington’s; and he has chosen to alter this to a memorable name, not calling to mind that his name is memorable. The sentence is thus made nonsensical. Pray restore the proper reading in your copy of the Review. Murray wishes me to fill up the sketch for separate publication. I am fond of biography, and shall probably one day publish a series of English lives. I spent a week lately at Lowther Castle, and employed all my mornings in reading and extracting from a most extensive collection of pamphlets of Cromwell’s age. . . . .

“God bless you, my dear friend!

Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Nov. 11. 1821.
My dear Grosvenor,

“Lakers and visitors have now disappeared for the season, like the swallows and other birds who are lucky enough to have better winter quarters allotted to them than this island affords them. The woodcocks and snipes have arrived, by this token, that my bookbinder here sent me a brace of the latter last week; and this reminds me to tell you, that if you ever have an owl dressed for dinner, you had better have it boiled, and smothered with onions, for it is not good roasted. Experto crede Roberto.

“Two or three weeks ago, calling at Calvert’s I learnt that Raisley C. had committed the great sin of shooting an owl. The criminality of the act was qualified by an ingenuous confession, that he did not know what it was when he fired at it: the bird was brought in to show us, and then given me that I might show it to your godson, owls and monkeys being of all created things those for which he has acquired the greatest liking from his graphic studies. Home I came with the owl in my hand, and in the morning you would have been well pleased had you seen Cuthbert’s joy at recognising, for the first time, the reality of what he sees daily in Bewick or in some other of his books. Wordsworth and his wife were here, and as there was no sin in eating the owl, I ordered it to be dressed and brought in, in the place of game that day at dinner. It was served up with-
out the head, and a squat-looking fellow it was, about the size of a large wild pigeon, but broader in proportion to its length. The meat was more like bad mutton than anything else. Wordsworth was not valiant enough to taste it.
Mrs. W. did, and we agreed that there could be no pretext for making owls game and killing them as delicacies. But if ever you eat one, by all means try it boiled, with onion sauce.

“I asked your opinion, a good while since, concerning a dedication for the Peninsular War, and hitherto you have not opined upon the subject in reply. It has this moment, while I am writing, occurred to me, that I could, with sincere satisfaction in so doing, inscribe it to Lord Sidmouth. I have always felt thankful to him for the peace of Amiens, and should like to tell him so in public, as I once did vivâ voce. And I should do it the more willingly if he is going out of office, which I rather think he is.

Gifford will have a paper upon Dobrizhoffer from me for this next number. Will you tell him that in a volume of tracts at Lowther, of Charles I.’s time, I found a Life of Sejanus by P. M., by which initials some hand, apparently as old as the book, had written Philip Massinger. I did not read the tract, being too keenly in pursuit of other game; but I believe it had a covert aim at Buckingham. I have not his Massinger, and therefore do not know whether he is aware that this was ever ascribed to that author; if he is not, he will be interested in the circumstance, and may think it worthy of farther inquiry.


“My History is in good progress. I am finishing the longest chapter in the volume, and one of the most interesting. It contains the events in Portugal from the commencement of the insurrection in Spain till the arrival of our expedition.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To the Rev. Neville White.
“Keswick, Nov. 29. 1821.
“My dear Neville,

“. . . . . What you relate of William Taylor is quite characteristic of the manner in which he abuses his own powers, playing the mere sophist, and disregarding the opinions and feelings of others; careless how he offends and hurts them, though as incapable as man can be of giving intentional pain, or doing intentional wrong. He was not serious, for he knows very well that to call for proof of a negative is an absurdity, and that reason and discourse of reason are very different things. If he misleads some, his example operates as a warning upon others. They see how he has squandered his abilities, and that the hereditary blindness which he has some cause to apprehend, and of which he lives in fear, is not the darkest evil in his prospect. There is no rest but in religious faith, and none know this more feelingly than they who are without it.

“It would not surprise me if an expert Roman
Ætat. 47. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 101
Catholic priest (were he to come in his way) should ensnare him in a spider’s web of sophistry, more skilfully constructed than his own, and of a stronger thread. The pleasure of defending transubstantiation would go a long way towards making him believe in it.

“What a state is Ireland in at this time! The horrors of the Irish massacres may be credited in their whole extent, because we see that the same temper is exhibited at this time, and the same atrocities perpetrated in retail, opportunity being all that is wanted for committing them upon the great scale. The state of things in that country is a reproach to human nature, and our Government has much to answer for. They must know that such a people ought to be kept under military law till they are fit for anything better; that they stand in need of Roman civilisation, and that no weaker remedy can possibly suffice. Cromwell’s government, if it had lasted twenty years longer, would have civilised that island. His tyranny was as useful there and in Scotland as it was injurious in England, because they were barbarous countries, and he introduced order and despotic justice into both. But in England we had order and justice before his time. The rebellion dislocated both, and it was not possible for him to repair the evil in which he had been so great an agent. . . . .

“God bless you, my dear Neville!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

The reader will have observed in his later letters to Mr. May, frequent allusion to Brazilian affairs as affecting his fortunes, and in the following one, my father speaks of his having transferred to him for his present use what little money he had at command, and expressing a regret at not being able more effectually to assist him in his difficulties. These passages, though relating to matters of a private nature, I am glad to have the opportunity of publishing, with Mr. May’s approval, as illustrative of the kindness of my father’s heart, the warmth and stability of his friendships, and his grateful remembrance of many similar services rendered to him by his friend in past years.

To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Dec. 10. 1821.
“My dear Friend,

“It is not often that I allow myself to wish the accidents of fortune had been more in my favour, and that I were in possession of that property which, in the just ordinary course of things, ought to have devolved upon me; but I cannot help feeling that wish now.

“By this post I write to Bedford, desiring that he will transfer to you 625l. in the three-per-cents. I wish it was more, and that I had more at command in any way. I shall in the spring, if I am paid for the first volume of my history as soon as it is finished. One hundred I should, at all events,
Ætat. 47. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 103
have sent you then. It shall be as much more as I may receive.

“One word more. I entreat you break away from business if it be possible, as early in the spring as you can, and put yourself in the mail for this place. Though you cannot leave your anxieties behind you, yet you may, by means of change of air and scene, be assisted in bearing them, and lay in here a store of pleasant recollections, which in all moods of mind are wholesome.

“I cannot write to you about indifferent things, troubled as you needs must be, and sympathising as I must do with you. Yet I trust that you now know the extent of the evil; and that when this storm is weathered, there may be prosperity and comfort in store for one who so eminently deserves them.

“God bless you, my dear friend!

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To the Rev. Neville White.
“Keswick, Dec 11. 1821.
“My dear Neville,

“When the Life is reprinted, I can modify the passage which expresses an essential difference of opinion upon religious subjects with Henry. That difference is certainly not now what it was then, but it is still a wide one; though, had Henry lived till this time, I believe there would scarcely have been a shade of difference between us. I am perfectly sure
that, with a heart and intellect like his, he would have outgrown all tendency toward Calvinism, and have approached nearer in opinion to
Jeremy Taylor than to the Synod of Dort.

“You wrong the Government with regard to Ireland. They neither now have, nor ever have had, a wish to keep the savages in that country in their state of ignorance and barbarity; and it would surprise you to know what funds have been established for their education. I know Dr. Bell was surprised at finding how large the endowments were, and felt that on that score it was not means that were wanting, but the just direction of them. How to set about enlightening such a people as the wild Irish is one of the most difficult duties any government was ever called upon to perform, obstructed as it is by such a body of priests, who can effectually prevent any better instruction than they themselves bestow. I want more information concerning certain parts of Irish history than I possess at present; but in one or more of the works which I have in hand I shall trace the evils of Ireland to their source. Meantime, this I may safely assert, as a general deduction from all that I have learnt in the course of history, that the more we know of preceding and coexisting circumstances and difficulties, the more excuse we shall find for those men and measures which, with little knowledge of those circumstances, we should condemn absolutely. This feeling leads not to any thing like indifference concerning right and wrong, nor to any lukewarmness or indecision in opinion; but certainly to a more
Ætat. 47. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 105
indulgent and charitable tone of mind than commonly prevails.

“God bless you, my dear Neville!

And believe me yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Walter Savage Landor, Esq.
“Keswick, Dec. 19. 1821.

“At last I have received the books*,—a rich cargo, in which I shall find much to amuse, and not a little to profit by. As yet, I have only had time to catalogue them, and look into them as this was done. In so doing, I saw that you had given a Jesuit the lie, for what he said of the cause of the first rebellion. A lying Jesuit he is; but in this instance the falsehood is merely chronological. The Long Parliament passed a decree, forbidding all persons to bow at the name of Jesus; Sir Edward Dering made a very eloquent speech upon the occasion, which I shall send you ere long in the little sketch of our Church history which I am preparing. This decree was subsequent to the Irish massacre. The fact which the Jesuit might have dwelt upon with advantage is, that the intolerance of the Parliament seeking to enforce the penalty of death against recusant priests, when Charles, like his father, was inclined to toleration, gave a pretext for the rebellion, and furnished those who instigated it with means for alarming and enraging the populace.

* A present of various foreign books from Mr. Landor.


“I shall send your letter to Wordsworth, who will, I am sure, be much gratified at seeing what you say of him. His merits are every day more widely acknowledged, in spite of the duncery, in spite of the personal malignity with which he is assailed, and in spite of his injudicious imitators, who are the worst of all enemies.

“Nothing can be more mournful than the course of events abroad. All that the Spanish-Americans wanted they would have obtained now, in the course of events, without a struggle, if they had waited quietly. A free trade could not, from the first, have been refused them, nor any internal regulations which they thought good; and now the separation would have taken place unavoidably. As it is, it has cost twelve years of crime and misery. It is a most interesting part of the world for its natural features, for what we know of its history, and for what we do not,—how some parts should have attained to so high and curious a state of civilisation, and how the greater part of its inhabitants should have sunk so completely into savages. I will send you, in the next package, Humboldt’s Travels, as far as they are published. He is among travellers what Wordsworth is among poets. Of Italian nobility I would take your opinion without hesitation, knowing nothing of them myself; but in Spain and Portugal I would have had a house of peers, were it only in respect to great names, and those heroic remembrances which are the strength and glory of a nation. The nobles were, for the most part, deplorably degenerate; but as a bad spirit had degraded, a
Ætat. 47. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 107
better one would improve the next generation; and I would demolish nothing but what is injurious. My fear is, that they will demolish every thing, and this fear I have felt from the beginning. Deeply, therefore, as I detested the old misrule, I did not rejoice in the Spanish and Portuguese revolutions. In Portugal I wished for a great minister,—such as
Pombal would have been in these times; in Spain, for a court revolution, which should have sent Ferdinand to a monastery, and established a vigorous ministry under his brother’s name, by whom the reforms which the country needed might have been steadily but gradually effected. I entirely agree with you, that old monarchical states cannot be made republican, nor new colonial ones be made monarchical.

“Since the disappearance of the Queen’s fever this country has been unusually calm: little is heard of distress, and less of disaffection. Of the latter we shall hear plentifully when the bills of restriction are expired, and of the former also, when it shall be found (as it will be) that the renewed activity of our manufacturers will have again glutted the South American markets.

“God bless you!

R. S.”