LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Ætat. 60. Ætat. 60. 239

As my task draws nearer to its conclusion, it becomes naturally more painful; and the more so, because, in chronicling the events which darkened my father’s later years, they rise up so vividly before my own sight.
“It is my youth, that where I stand
Surrounds me like a dream.
The sounds that round about me rise
Are what none other hears;
I see what meets no other eyes,
Though mine are dim with tears.”*

A happier home or a happier boyhood than mine had been, it would not be easy to conceive. My

* Henry Taylor.

father had so strongly imprinted on his memory the sad changes through which his own “gentle spirit” had to pass in childhood and boyhood;
“The first grief he felt,
And the first painful smile that clothed his front
With feelings not its own: ”
and how, on first quitting home,
“Sadly at night
He sat him down beside a stranger’s hearth;
And when the lingering hour of rest was come
First wet with tears his pillow:“—
that he resolved that the early years of his own children should be as happy as he could make them. He had again become the “father, teacher, playmate,” all in one, though probably with far less heart and hope than in earlier years; and he had given up as much time as he could possibly spare to my education. This, however, was somewhat of a desultory and irregular kind, more amusing and attractive, perhaps, than very profitable, at least as regarded the attainment of a good foundation for correct scholarship. He was himself far from being an accurate classic; indeed, he had spoiled his Latinity by continually reading bad Latin—“feeding upon monkish historians;” and although he did his best to put me in the right way, I found I had much up-hill work to undergo at too late a period, having learned the practice from him of catching at the general meaning of a passage without much knowledge or examination of its construction,—“making a shy at it,” as school-
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 241
boys say—an evil habit, as regards ordinary purposes, though doubtless profitable for him whose glance was so keen and so sure.

He had also an odd plan (conducing to this same end), which he practised a good deal with me in modern tongues,—of reading the original aloud, and making me render it into English by the ear: and this he would do with the Dutch, German, Danish, and Swedish, being particularly partial to the northern tongues, and wishing to become more versed in them himself. French he disliked exceedingly; and he did not teach me Spanish and Portuguese, which he knew thoroughly, probably for that very reason.

Another odd practice I may mention. After reading a portion of Homer in our daily studies, he would make me read aloud the same portion in every translation he possessed—Pope, Cowper, Chapman, and Hobbes—a process more amusing than profitable; and he would do the same thing with Virgil, out of Sotheby’s magnificent Polyglott.

In other matters I was left very much to myself, allowed to run riot amid the multitude of books, and permitted, if not encouraged, to indulge a desultory appetite for odd reading; and here again some objects were sacrificed which might have been attained had I been encouraged to read less and more carefully.

But while this sort of bringing up had, as all home education must have, some disadvantages, I must always feel grateful for it, as enabling me to have that appreciation of my father’s character,—that companionship with him and freedom from reserve, that
“perfect love that casteth out fear,” which I could never have felt had I been earlier sent out into the world. The most certain evil of the many years of schoolboy life is the want of friendship between father and son. To all of us, indeed, Greta Hall was a most delightful home. The daily walks; the frequent excursions “by flood and fell;” the extreme beauty of the surrounding country, his own keen appreciation of and deep delight in which had extended to his children; the pleasant summer society, full of change and excitement; the quieter enjoyments of winter—all tended to attach us more to it, perhaps, than was desirable. We “loved it, not wisely but too well.”

But its best days were over: he had said so with a too true foreboding, when, in the first month of the year, his eldest daughter had changed her name, and departed to another home on the distant coast of Sussex; and it being now thought necessary that I should be placed under her husband—Mr. Warter’s tuition—to be prepared for Oxford, my father prepared to take me thither. But the pain of quitting a peculiarly happy home is not much, if at all, diminished by postponement.
“Then, in truth, we learn
That never music like a mother’s voice,
And never sweetness like a father’s smile,
And never pleasures like that home-born throng,
Circling calm boyhood, has the world supplied.*

* Robert Montgomery.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 243
And like to this were my father’s own anticipations. “This,” he says, “will never again be
Cuthbert’s home, in the whole full meaning of that word. He will come to it at vacation times, but never more will he have that sense of home comfort and home happiness here, the want of which is very ill compensated by all the hopes and emulations and excitement of the world on which he must now enter. I shall miss him sadly, and begin to perceive that books, which have always been the chief pleasure of my life, will soon be the only ones with which there are no regrets to mingle.”*

But these plans were destined to be sadly and suddenly disconcerted for the time. I have before alluded to the weak and nervous state of my mother’s spirits; and, of late, total loss of appetite and sleep had caused serious apprehensions, which were, alas! too well founded; for just as we were on the point of departing, the melancholy truth became apparent, that she was no longer herself. It is, perhaps, rash to endeavour to search into the causes of these mysterious visitations of Providence; but it may, I think, fairly be alleged that an almost life-long anxiety about the uncertain and highly precarious nature of my father’s income, added to a naturally nervous constitution, had laid the foundation for this mental disease; and my father himself also now felt and acknowledged that Keswick had proved, especially of later years, far too unquiet a residence for her weakened spirits, and that much company and fre-

* To H. Taylor, Esq., Aug. 21. 1834.

quent visitors had produced exactly the opposite effect to what he had hoped. Her immediate removal seemed to offer the best hope of restoration, and this step was at once taken.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“York, Thursday night, Oct 2. 1834.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“After what Henry Taylor has imparted to you, you will not be surprised at learning that I have been parted from my wife by something worse than death. Forty years has she been the life of my life; and I have left her this day in a lunatic asylum.

“God, who has visited me with this affliction, has given me strength to bear it, and will, I know, support me to the end—whatever that may be.

“Our faithful Betty is left with her. All that can be done by the kindest treatment, and the greatest skill, we are sure of at the Retreat. I do not expect more than that she may be brought into a state which will render her perfectly manageable at home. More is certainly possible, but not to be expected, and scarcely to be hoped.

“To-morrow I return to my poor children. There is this great comfort,—that the disease is not hereditary, her family having within all memory been entirely free from it.

“I have much to be thankful for under this visitation. For the first time in my life I am so far beforehand with the world, that my means are provided
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 245
for the whole of next year; and that I can meet this additional expenditure, considerable in itself, without any difficulty. As I can do this, it is not worth a thought; but it must have cost me much anxiety had my affairs been in their former state.

“Another thing for which I am thankful is, that the stroke did not fall upon me when the printers were expecting the close of my naval volume; or the Memoir of Dr. Watts. To interrupt a periodical publication is a grievous loss to the publishers, or, at least, a very serious inconvenience. . . . .

“Some old author says, ‘Remember, under any affliction, that Time is short; and that though your Cross may be heavy, you have not far to bear it.’

“I have often thought of those striking words.

“God bless you, my dear Grosvenor! My love to Miss Page; she, I know, will feel for us, and will pray for us.

R. S.”
To Henry Taylor, Esq.
“York, Oct 2. 1834.
“My dear H. T.,

“Yesterday I deposited my dear wife in the Retreat for Lunatics, near this city, and to-day I visited her there. To-morrow I return home, to enter upon a new course of life. . . . .


“Recovery is possible; but I do not attempt to deceive myself, by thinking that it is likely. It is very probable that she may be brought into a state which will no longer require restraint. In that case, I shall engage a proper attendant from this place, bring her home, appropriate two rooms to her use, and watch over her to give her all the comforts of which she may be capable, till death do us part. . . . .

“The call upon me for exertion has been such, that, by God’s help, I have hitherto felt no weakness.

“That this is a far greater calamity than death would have been, I well know. But I perceive that it can be better borne at first, because there is a possibility of restoration, and, however feeble, a hope. Therefore that collapse is not to be apprehended which always ensues when the effort which the circumstances of a mortal sickness, and death, and burial, call forth in the survivor, is at an end.

“Mine is a strong heart. I will not say that the last week has been the most trying of my life; but I will say, that the heart which could bear it can bear anything.

“It is remarkable that the very last thing I wrote before this affliction burst upon me in its full force, was upon Resignation, little foreseeing, God knows, how soon and how severely my own principles were to be put to the proof. The occasion was this:—Mrs. Hughes thought it would gratify me to peruse a letter which she had just received from one of her friends,—a clergyman who had recently suffered
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 247
some severe domestic affliction. He said that his greatest consolation had been derived from a letter of mine, which she had allowed him to transcribe some years ago, and which he verily believed had at that time saved his heart from breaking. The letter must have been written upon my dear
Isabel’s death. I have no recollection of it; but that must have been the subject, because Mrs. Hughes and her husband had both been exceedingly struck with her, and declared,—when such a declaration could without unfitness be made,—that she was the most radiant creature they had ever beheld.

“This made me reflect upon the difference between religious resignation and that which is generally mistaken for it, and, for immediate purpose, in no slight degree supplies its place. You will see what I was thus led to write, in its proper place.

Davies came with me here, and has been of great use. God bless you, my dear H. T.!

R. S.”
To H. Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, Oct 6. 1834.
“My dear H. T.,

“Your letter did not surprise me, though it would from almost any one else. Thank you most heartily for your offer. But at present it is better that I should be alone, and that the girls should be left to themselves with Miss Hutchinson. For me this is best, because nothing is so painful as the reaction of
your own thoughts after you have been for awhile drawn away from them, if this be attempted too soon. When I can enjoy your company, I shall be most thankful for it; and as you know I shall not give myself to melancholy, you need not apprehend any ill consequences from my being alone.

“The worst of my business has been got through. I had Cuthbert at his lessons this morning; to-day will clear off the remaining and less important letters, and to-morrow I hope to resume my work; not, however, forcing myself to it, but following the course which my own instinct will point out.

Miss Fenwick will like to see the last passage which I wrote before this calamity burst upon me, and certainly with no prospective feelings. It will be safe with her if you tell her from whence it is extracted. God bless you!

R. S.

“‘He had looked for consolation where, when sincerely sought, it is always to be found, and he had experienced that religion effects in a true believer all that philosophy professes, and more than all that mere philosophy can perform. The wounds which stoicism cauterises, Christianity heals.

“‘There is a resignation with which, it may be feared, most of us deceive ourselves. To bear what must be borne, and submit to what cannot be resisted, is no more than what the unregenerate heart is taught by the instinct of animal nature. But to acquiesce in the afflictive dispensations of Providence,—to make one’s own will conform in all things to
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 249
that of our heavenly Father,—to say to Him, in the sincerity of faith, when we drink of the bitter cup, “Thy will be done,”—to bless the name of the Lord as much from the heart when He takes away as when He gives, and with a depth of feeling of which, perhaps, none but the afflicted heart is capable; this is the resignation which religion teaches, this the sacrifice which it requires. This sacrifice L. had made, and he felt that it was accepted.’”

This was indeed a sad return,—this an awful separation between those who had been so long, so truly united; to this death had been a light evil, for when are we so near as then—
“‘Tis but the falling of a leaf,
The breaking of a shell,
The rending of a veil.”
But what a gulf is there “fixed” between the reasoning and the unreasoning mind?

Yet even now, when sorrow had indeed “reached him in his heart of hearts,” he sought for all sources of comfort, for all motives for resignation and thankfulness. Writing to Mr. Warter, from York, he says, “I cannot but regard it as a special mercy that this affliction should have fallen upon me at a time when there were no extraneous circumstances to aggravate it, the grievous thought excepted, of the grief it would cause at Tarring. How easily might it have happened, when I was pressed for time to bring out a volume for periodical publication, the delay of which would have been a most serious loss to the
publishers,—nor could it have occurred when I was so perfectly able to support the expense. My dear
Edith had laid by money for a time of need which will fully cover the mournful demand upon me. Moreover, Mr. Telford* has left me 200l. And, independent of this, I am, for the first time in my life, so far beforehand with the world, that I have means at command for a whole year’s expenditure, were my hand to be idle or palsied during that time. There is, therefore, no reason for anxiety concerning the means of meeting this additional expenditure.

“Thank God, my strength has not failed nor my health suffered.”

This, as may well be imagined, is a period not to be remembered without pain: the anxiety attendant upon absence, and the constantly varying accounts while the issue was yet doubtful and there was room for hope, though but slenderly grounded, had the most

* “That kind old man, Mr. Telford, has (most unexpectedly) left me 200l. His will, like his life, is full of kindness; bequests to all whom he loved, and all who had served under him so as to deserve his good opinion; and to the widows of such as had gone before them, a larger portion than would have been allotted to their husbands. Mr. Rickman is one of the executors, and put a copy of the will into my hands, doubling it at the place which concerned me. After the surprise and the first emotion, it was some time before I smiled at recollecting the whimsical manner in which I was designated thus—
To Thomas Campbell, poet, 200l.
Robert Southey, da 200l.
He had completed and put to press a history of all his works. It will be a splendid book with about seventy engravings. He was far the greatest man that has ever appeared in his profession, and has left behind him the greatest works; and as no man in that profession has left a greater name, so, I verily believe, no one in any line has ever left a better; for he was thoroughly disinterested, and as kind-hearted and considerate as man could be.”—To
Mrs. J. W. Warter, Sept. 11. 1834.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 251
injurious effect upon my father’s naturally sensitive mind. He kept up, indeed, wonderfully, and a common observer would have remarked but little change in him, except that he was unusually silent; but to his family the change was great indeed. Yet he bore the trial patiently and nobly; and when, in the following spring, it was found that the poor sufferer was likely in all respects to be better under his own roof, and the period of suspense and doubt and alternate hope and fear, had passed away, it was marvellous how much of the old elasticity remained, and how, though no longer happy, he could be contented and cheerful, and take pleasure in the pleasures of others. A few extracts from his letters will show his state of mind and feeling at this time. About three weeks after his return home he says, “This morning’s letter is decidedly favourable, and I feel its effects. Hitherto I have not recovered my natural sleep at night: plenty of exercise and quiet employment fail of their wonted effect in producing it, because in darkness and solitude uncomfortable thoughts prevent sleep for awhile, and then trouble it. I should not be the better for society nor for leaving home. There is nothing to be done but to pursue the same course of self-management, live in as much hope as it may be reasonable to encourage, and, above all, to bear always in mind that we have both entered on the last of our seven stages. In a very few years, what may have befallen us in the course of these years may be of some interest to any one who may write my life, but it will be of no consequence to us, whose lot, doubtful as it is for the short re-
maining portion of our time, is, I trust, fixed for eternity.”*

A little later he says to another friend, “I am beginning to sleep better the last few days, and I do everything that is likely to keep myself in bodily and mental health, walking daily in all weathers, never over-tasking myself, or forcing myself to a distasteful employment, yet never remaining idle. But my spirits would assuredly give way were it not for a constant reference to another world, and a patient hope of God’s mercy in this.”†

With one more extract I will conclude this year,—the saddest of all I have yet had to chronicle:—“I find it a grievous thing that I must now, for the first time, think about ways as well as means. For the last eight and thirty years I had nothing to do but to provide the means in my own quiet way, and deliver them over to one of the best stewards that ever man was blest with. The ways were her concern, and her prudence and foresight exempted me from all trouble as well as from all care. My daughters cannot yet stand here in their poor mother’s place, and I must be more accustomed to my new situation before I introduce them to it. Nothing can possibly exceed the good sense and good feeling which they have manifested under our present affliction; but their attentions to me give me a very painful sense of how much importance I am to their happiness. Cuthbert, also, is a great comfort to me. Whatever course I may find it necessary to take, his

* To H. Taylor, Esq., Oct, 23. 1834.

† To John May, Esq., Nov. 12. 1834.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 253
removal to Sussex will not be delayed beyond the commencement of the spring.”*

The new year brought nothing cheerful with it to our now diminished and saddened circle. The regular report from York was the only object of interest, and that, while it varied a little and sometimes raised temporary hopes, yet on the whole gradually prepared us for the conviction that no permanent restoration was to be expected, and that the most that could be looked for was such an improvement as would permit the sufferer to be taken care of under her own roof.

The days thus passed by in an almost unbroken routine of regular employment,—my father himself working, if possible, more closely than ever,—when an event occurred which broke the current of his thoughts for a time, and which, in its sequel, proved a most fortunate occurrence for the comfort of his remaining years, and one which helped very materially to lighten the still darker days which were yet in store.

One morning, shortly after the letters had arrived, he called me into his study. “You will be surprised,” he said, “to hear that Sir Robert Peel has recommended me to the King for the distinction of a baronetcy, and you will probably feel some disappointment when I tell you that I shall not accept it, and this more on your account than on my own. I think, however, that you will be satisfied I do so for good and wise reasons;” and he then read to me the following letters, and his reply to them.

* To G. C. Bedford, Esq., Dec. 18. 1834.

Sir Robert Peel to R. Southey, Esq.
“Whitehall Gardens, Feb. 1. 1835.
“My dear Sir,

I have offered a recommendation to the King (the first of the kind which I have offered), which, although it concerns you personally, concerns also high public interests, so important as to dispense with the necessity on my part of that previous reference to individual feelings and wishes, which, in an ordinary case, I should have been bound to make. I have advised the King to adorn the distinction of baronetage with a name the most eminent in literature, and which has claims to respect and honour which literature alone can never confer.

“The King has most cordially approved of my proposal to his Majesty; and I do hope that, however indifferent you may be personally to a compliment of this kind, however trifling it is when compared with the real titles to fame which you have established;—I do hope that you will permit a mark of royal favour to be conferred in your person upon the illustrious community of which you are the head.

“Believe me, my dear Sir, with the sincerest esteem,

Most faithfully yours,
Robert Peel.”

This was accompanied with another letter marked private.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 255
Sir Robert Peel to R. Southey, Esq.
“Whitehall, Feb. 1. 1835.
“My dear Sir,

“I am sure, when there can be no doubt as to the purity of the motive and intention, there can be no reason for seeking indirect channels of communication in preference to direct ones. Will you tell me, without reserve, whether the possession of power puts within my reach the means of doing anything which can be serviceable or acceptable to you; and whether you will allow me to find some compensation for the many heavy sacrifices which office imposes upon me in the opportunity of marking my gratitude as a public man, for the eminent services you have rendered, not only to literature, but to the higher interests of virtue and religion?

“I write hastily, and perhaps abruptly, but I write to one to whom I feel it would be almost unbecoming to address elaborate and ceremonious expressions, and who will prefer to receive the declaration of friendly intentions in the simplest language.

“Believe me, my dear Sir, with true respect.

Most faithfully yours,
Robert Peel.

“P.S.—I believe your daughter is married to a clergyman of great worth, and, perhaps, I cannot more effectually promote the object of this letter than by attempting to improve his professional situation. You cannot gratify me more than by writing to me with the same unreserve with which I have written to you.”

Robert Southey, Esq., to Sir Robert Peel.
“Keswick, Feb. 3. 1835.
“Dear Sir,

“No communications have ever surprised me so much as those which I have this day the honour of receiving from you. I may truly say, also, that none have ever gratified me more, though they make me feel how difficult it is to serve any one who is out of the way of fortune. An unreserved statement of my condition will be the fittest and most respectful reply.

“I have a pension of 200l. conferred upon me through the good offices of my old friend and benefactor, Charles W. Wynn, when Lord Grenville went out of office; and I have the Laureateship. The salary of the latter was immediately appropriated, as far as it went, to a life insurance for 3000l. This, with an earlier insurance for 1000l, is the whole provision that I have made for my family; and what remains of the pension after the annual payments are made, is the whole of my certain income. All beyond must be derived from my own industry. Writing for a livelihood, a livelihood is all that I have gained; for having also something better in view, and therefore never having courted popularity, nor written for the mere sake of gain, it has not been possible for me to lay by anything. Last year, for the first time in my life, I was provided with a year’s expenditure beforehand. This exposition might suffice to show how utterly unbecoming and unwise it would be to
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 257
accept the rank, which, so greatly to my honour, you have solicited for me, and which his Majesty would so graciously have conferred. But the tone of your letter encourages me to say more.

“My life insurances have increased in value. With these, the produce of my library, my papers, and a posthumous edition of my works, there will probably be 12,000l. for my family at my decease. Good fortune, with great exertions on the part of my surviving friends, might possibly extend this to 15,000l., beyond which I do not dream of any further possibility. I had bequeathed the whole to my wife, to be divided ultimately between our four children; and having thus provided for them, no man could have been more contented with his lot, nor more thankful to that Providence on whose especial blessing he knew that he was constantly, and as it were immediately, dependent for his daily bread.

“But the confidence which I used to feel in myself is now failing. I was young, in health and heart, on my last birth-day, when I completed my sixtieth year. Since then I have been shaken at the root. It has pleased God to visit me with the severest of all domestic afflictions, those alone excepted into which guilt enters. My wife, a true helpmate as ever man was blessed with, lost her senses a few months ago. She is now in a lunatic asylum; and broken sleep, and anxious thoughts, from which there is no escape in the night season, have made me feel how more than possible it is that a sudden stroke may deprive me of those faculties, by the exercise of which this poor family has hitherto been supported.
Even in the event of my death, their condition would, by our recent calamity, be materially altered for the worse; but if I were rendered helpless, all our available means would procure only a respite from actual distress.

“Under these circumstances, your letter, Sir, would in other times have encouraged me to ask for such an increase of pension as might relieve me from anxiety on this score. Now that lay sinecures are in fact abolished, there is no other way by which a man can be served, who has no profession wherein to be promoted, and whom any official situation would take from the only employment for which the studies and the habits of forty years have qualified him. This way, I am aware, is not now to be thought of, unless it were practicable as part of a plan for the encouragement of literature; but to such a plan perhaps these times might not be unfavourable.

“The length of this communication would require an apology, if its substance could have been compressed; but on such an occasion it seemed a duty to say what I have said; nor, indeed, should I deserve the kindness which you have expressed, if I did not explicitly declare how thankful I should be to profit by it.

I have the honour to remain,
With the sincerest respect,
Your most faithful and obliged servant,
Robert Southey.”

Young as I then was, I could not, without tears, hear him read, with his deep and faltering voice, his
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 259
wise refusal and touching expression of those feelings and fears he had never before given utterance to, to any of his own family. And if any feelings of regret occasionally come over my mind that he did not accept the proffered honour, which, so acquired and so conferred, any man might justly be proud to have inherited, the remembrance at what a time and under what circumstances it was offered, and the feeling what a mockery honours of that kind would have been to a family so afflicted, and, I may add, how unsuitable they would be to my own position and very straitened means, make me quickly feel how justly he judged, and how prudently he acted.

The next letter shows how thankfully he anticipated the possibility of such a result as soon afterwards followed, from his communication in reply to Sir Robert Peel.

To the Rev. Neville White.
“Keswick, Feb. 16. 1835.
“My dear Neville,

“. . . . . You will see by the papers that a baronetcy has been offered to me. The offer came in a letter from Sir Robert Peel; and nothing could be more handsome than the way in which it was made. I may tell you (what must be known only to those from whom I have no secrets) he accompanied it with another letter, inquiring, in the kindest manner, if there was
any way wherein he could serve me. I replied by an unreserved statement of my circumstances, showing how utterly unbecoming and unwise it would be to accept of such, when I had absolutely nothing to bequeath with it. From the manner in which my answer was received (which I know not from himself, but from two other authentic sources), I have reason to believe that as soon as in his power, I may receive some substantial benefit.

“It was signally providential that I should have been enabled to meet the expenses which my domestic affliction has occasioned, and which, at any former time, would most seriously have embarrassed me; and what a blessing it will be if Providence should now, by this means, relieve me from all the anxieties attendant upon a precarious income—anxieties which, as you know, I have not felt before, because I was confident in my own powers of exertion; but how precarious these powers are, this recent visitation has made me feel too sensibly.

“God bless you, my dear Neville! I am in the midst of packing, and the arrangements which are necessary upon leaving home. It will be the first time that I ever left it without looking forward joyfully to the time of my return. But by God’s blessing I shall soon become accustomed to a small family. If my hopes of a permanent income are realised, I shall be able, after another year, to devote myself wholly to my own great works, regardless of booksellers, and without imprudence I shall be able to travel for health’s sake, whenever it may be expedient In short, I shall be thankful for the past, make the best
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 261
I can of the present, and look on to the future in humble, and yet, I trust, sure and certain hope.

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

In the preceding letter my father speaks of being on the point of leaving home. This was for the purpose—first, of conveying me into Sussex, and then, if it should be found practicable, of removing my mother to Keswick. This proved to be the case. A brief extract from a letter written to me from Scarborough, where he remained for a short time after leaving York, with his sad charge, will show the unvaried tone of his feelings under affliction. “The monotony of this week is a curious contrast to the excitement and movements of the preceding month. The first great change in your life has taken place during this interval, and I am about to enter upon not the least in mine,—so different will my household be from what it has formerly been, and so much will it be reduced. Your sisters will find themselves supported in the performance of their duties; and after the emotion which our return must produce is over, their spirits, I doubt not, will rally. We shall always have enough to do, they as well as myself; and this is certain, that they who are resigned to God’s all-wise will, and endeavour to do their duty in whatever circumstances they are placed, never can be thoroughly unhappy,—never, under any affliction, can find themselves without consolation and
support.”* And again, after a few days, he writes to
Mr. May. “The far greater number of incurable patients in the asylum are kept there that they may be out of the way of their respective families, though they are perfectly harmless. This may be necessary in some cases, but where it is not necessary it seems to me that we are no more justified in thus ridding ourselves of a painful duty than we should be in sending a wife or a mother to die in an infirmary, that we might escape the pain and trouble of attending upon a death-bed.”†

Immediately after his return, when his hopes had been raised by a temporary improvement, he writes:—“I had never any thought of leaving the girls with their mother, and transferring to them a duty which I am better able to bear. . . . . If anything should be done for me (which it would be equally unwise to build upon, and unjust to doubt, though, to be sure, it is not easy to sit between the two stools), if, I say, my circumstances should be rendered easy, I believe it would have a happy effect upon her who, for some twenty years, has been anxious over much upon that score; though, in the morning of life, when all my exertions, and all her economy were required, and if either had failed in their respective duties we must have sunk, her spirits failed as little as mine.”‡

Two days later the suspense was ended.

* March 27. 1835. † March 30. 1835.

‡ To H. Taylor, Esq., April 2. 1835.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 263
Sir Robert Peel to R. Southey, Esq.
“Whitehall, April 4. 1835.
“My dear Sir,

“I have resolved to apply the miserable pittance at the disposal of the Crown, on the Civil List Pension Fund, altogether to the reward and encouragement of literary exertions. I do this on public grounds; and much more with the view of establishing a principle, than in the hope, with such limited means, of being enabled to confer any benefit upon those whom I shall name to the Crown—worthy of the Crown, or commensurate with their claims.

“I have just had the satisfaction of attaching my name to a warrant which will add 300l. annually to the amount of your existing pension. You will see in the position of public affairs a sufficient reason for my having done this without delay, and without previous communication with you.

“I trust you can have no difficulty in sanctioning what I have done with your consent, as I have acted on your own suggestion, and granted the pensions on a public principle—the recognition of literary and scientific eminence as a public claim. The other persons to whom I have addressed myself on this subject are—Professor Airey of Cambridge, the first of living mathematicians and astronomers,—the first of this country at least, Mrs. Somerville, Sharon Turner, and James Montgomery of Sheffield.

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Most faithfully yours,
Robert Peel.”
Robert Southey, Esq. to Sir Robert Peel.
“Keswick, April 7. 1835.
“My dear Sir,

“You have conferred on me a substantial benefit sufficient to relieve me from anxiety concerning the means of subsistence, whenever my strength may fail, and equal to wishes that have always been kept within due bounds. Individually, therefore, I am not less grateful to you than as one of those who retain the old feelings and principles of Englishmen, I must ever be on public grounds.

“Were it not from the rumours (which yet I hope are untrue) that your health has suffered, I should regard the present aspects, not, indeed, with complacency, but without uneasiness or alarm. While we have you to look to I cannot doubt that the nation will be saved from revolution, and that, under Providence, you will be the means of saving it. For if you now retire from power it cannot be long before you will be borne in again upon the spring-tide of public opinion. Nothing in the course of public affairs has ever appeared to me more certain than this.

“I have the honour to remain, Sir Robert, with the sincerest respect.

Your grateful and obedient servant,
Robert Southey.”*

* The Editor, being in London in June last, solicited an interview with Sir Robert Peel for the purpose of asking his permission to publish this correspondence. With his usual kindness, a day was fixed; but it was—the day of his death. Since then, permission has been kindly granted by the family.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 265
To Henry Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, April 7. 1835.
“My dear H. T.,

“To-day has brought Sir R. Peel’s announcement that he has signed the warrant for an additional pension of 300l. This is just what I thought likely, what I think reasonable, and what, if I had been desired to name the sum for myself, I should have fixed on, with this difference only, that I would have had the amount of both pensions without deductions.*

“They give me, however, an income of 375l. a year, subject to no other contingencies than those of the state,—and I am contented and thankful.

“God bless you!

R. S.”

In the following letter my father alludes to a frequent interchange of letters between the ladies of the two households of Sydal Mount and Greta Hall, and this was the chief cause why so few letters have appeared in these volumes addressed to Mr. Wordsworth, which, if altogether unexplained, might perhaps have led the reader to imagine the two families were not so intimate as in reality they were.

Mr. Wordsworth himself, owing to the weakness in his eyes, which for a long time compelled him to write by dictation, was not a frequent correspondent,

* This proved to be the case with respect to the latter pension, and he received out of a nominal income of 500l., 444l., to which the Laureateahip being added, made in all 534l.

and my father, knowing that there was a constant communication going on, wrote only occasionally and briefly. There was also a very frequent personal intercourse and interchange of visits, and many weeks rarely elapsed without a meeting between some members of the two families.

To William Wordsworth, Esq.
“Keswick, May 9. 1835.
“My dear W.,

“Thank you for your new volume, which it is needless for me to praise. It will do good now and hereafter; more and more as it shall be more and more widely read; and there is no danger of its ever being laid on the shelf. I am glad to see that you have touched upon our white slavery, and glad that you have annexed such a postscript.

“My good daughters, who, among their other virtues, have that of being good correspondents, send full accounts to Rydal of our proceedings. We shall lose hope so gradually, that if we lose it, we shall hardly be sensible when it is lost. There is, however, so great an improvement in their poor mother’s state from what it was at any time during her abode in the Retreat, that we seem to have fair grounds of hope at present. It is quite certain that in bringing her home I have done what was best for her and for ourselves.

“I wish the late Administration had continued long
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 267
enough in power to have provided as well for
William* as it has done for me. It has placed me, as far as relates to the means of subsistence, at ease for the remainder of my days. Nor ought any man who devotes himself, as I have done, to literary pursuits, to think himself ill-recompensed with such an income as I shall henceforward receive from the Treasury. My new pension is directed to be paid without deductions.

“Bating what I suppose to be rheumatism in my right arm, and an ugly rash, I am in good health, and my spirits are equal to the demand upon them. To be relieved from suspense is the greatest of all reliefs.

“I am busy upon the Admirals and Cowper. After supper I compare his letters to Mr. Unwin, which are all in my hands, with the printed books, and see what has been omitted, and correct the blunders that have crept into the text. This will be a long operation. Besides this, I have heaps of his letters to Lady Hesketh, and sundry others. One very interesting one shows the state of his mind as to his worldly prospects about a year before his malady broke out. Another says, that at the Temple he carefully went through Homer with one of his friends, and compared the original with Pope throughout, execrating the translation as he went on. I shall collect a great deal from these materials, as well as add much to his printed letters.

“God bless you!

R. S.”

* Mr. Wordsworth’s younger son.


My father had ordered a copy of The Doctor to be sent to the Rev. John Miller, and the following letter was written in reply to one from him concerning it. In common with many others, it seems from the first he had believed my father to be the author.

To the Rev. John Miller.
“Keswick, July 20 1836.
“My dear Sir,

“A copy of the ‘unique Opus’ came to me upon its first appearance, with my name printed in red letters on the back of the title-page, and ‘from the author’ on the fly-leaf, in a disguised hand; in which hand, through the disguise, I thought I could recognise that of my very intimate friend, the author of Philip Van Artevelde. He, however, if my theory of the book be well founded, is too young a man to be the author. I take the preparatory postscript to have been written in sincerity and sadness: and if so, Henry Taylor was a boy at the time when (according to the statement there) the book was begun.

“It may, I think, be inferred from everything about the book, and in it, that the author began it in his blithest years, with the intention of saying, under certain restrictions, quidlibet de quolibet, and making it a receptacle for his shreds and patches; that beginning in jest, he grew more and more in earnest as he proceeded; that he dreamt over it, and brooded over it—laid it aside for months and years,
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 269
resumed it after long intervals, and more often latterly in thoughtfulness than in mirth; fancied, perhaps, at last that he could put into it more of his mind than could conveniently be produced in any other form; and having supposed (as he tells us) when he began, that the whole of his yarn might be woven up in two volumes, got to the end of a third, without appearing to have diminished the balls that were already spun and wound when the work was commenced in the loom, to say nothing of his bags of wool.

“To the reasons which he has assigned for not choosing to make himself publicly known, this no doubt may be added, that the mask would not conceal him from those who knew him intimately, nor from the few by whom he might wish to be known; but it would protect his face from dirt, or any thing worse that might be thrown at it

“I see in the work a little of Rabelais, but not much; more of Tristram Shandy, somewhat of Burton, and perhaps more of Montaigne; but methinks the quintum quid predominates.

“I should be as much at a loss to know who is meant by REVERNE as you have been, if I had not accidentally heard that the only person to whom the authorship is ascribed, upon any thing like authority, is the Rev. Erskine Neale. Mrs. Hodson (formerly Margaret Holford) being in the neighbourhood of Doncaster, and desirous to hunt out, if she could, the history of the Opus, inquired about it there, and was assured by a bookseller that it was written by this gentleman, who had once resided in
that place, but was then living at Hull. A clergyman whom she met there confirmed this, and there seemed to be no doubt about it in Doncaster. It is plain, therefore, that REVERNE designates this Great-every where-else-unknown; but I would not swear the book to him upon such evidence.

“I can resolve another of your doubts. The concluding signature is not in the Garamna tongue, but in cryptography, or, what might more properly be called, in Dovean language comicography. If you look at it, and observe that k, e, w spell Q, you will find that when the nut is cracked it contains no kernel.

“So much concerning a book which is a great favourite with my family, and has helped them sometimes to beguile what otherwise must have been hours of sorrow. Ten months have elapsed since our great affliction came upon us. . . . . This is the fortieth year of our marriage, and I know not whether the past or the present seems now to me most like a dream.

“Amid these griefs, you will be glad to know that some substantial good has befallen us. One of the last acts of Sir Robert Peel’s administration was to give me a pension of 300l., in addition to that of 200l. which I before possessed, the new one being (I am told) free from deductions; and this will emancipate me from all booksellers’ work, when my present engagements are completed. If my life be prolonged, I shall then apply myself to the histories of Portugal, of the Monastic Orders, and of English Literature, from the point where Warton breaks off. Do not
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 271
conclude that in entertaining such designs at my age, I am immemor sepulchri. For of the first at least three-fourths of the labour has been performed, and I have been very many years preparing for all three, hoping the time might come when I could afford to make them my chief employment.

“Farewell, my dear Sir. Present my best wishes to your brother and sister, and

Believe me always,
Yours with the sincerest respect and regard,
Robert Southey.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Aug. 1. 1835.
“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . Since my last letter we have had a severe shock in the death of Miss Hutchinson, Mrs. Wordsworth’s sister, who was one of the dearest friends these poor girls had, and who was indeed to me like a sister. She had been with us in all our greatest afflictions. Her strength had been so much exhausted in nursing Miss Wordsworth, the elder, and with anxiety for Dora, that after a rheumatic fever, from which she seemed to be recovered, she sunk at once, owing to mere weakness: an effusion on the brain was the immediate cause. Miss Wordsworth, whose death has been looked upon as likely any day for the last two years, still lives on. Her mind, at times, fails
now. Dora, who is in the most precarious state herself, cannot possibly amend while this anxiety continues, so that at this time Wordsworth’s is a more afflicted house than my own. They used to be two of the happiest in the country. But there is a time for all things, and we are supported by God’s mercy.

“Our health, thank God, continues good. . . . . If I could leave home with satisfaction, I should go either to Harrogate or Shap (if Shap, which I hope, would do,) for the sake of the waters. But my poor Edith likes none of us to leave her, and requests us not to do so. This, of course, would induce me to bear with any thing that can be borne whitout danger. Nor, indeed, should I willingly leave my daughters, who stand in need of all that can be done to cheer them in the performance of their duty, and who are the better because they exert themselves to keep up their own spirits for my sake.

“You will see how unprofitable it would be for me, under these circumstances, to look beyond the present anywhere—except to another world. In the common course of nature, it cannot be long before all the events of this life will be of no further importance to me, than as they shall have prepared me for a better. To look back over the nine-and-thirty years which have elapsed since you and I first met at Lisbon, seems but as yesterday. Wednesday, the 12th, completes my sixty-first year; and the likelihood is, that before a fourth part of the like interval has passed, you and I shall meet—where there will be no more sorrow nor parting.

“God bless you, my dear old friend, and bring us
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 273
thither in His own good time. My love to your dear daughters.

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Sept 29. 1835.
“My dear G.,

Mr. Wynn has killed two birds with one shot. Seeing how perfectly satisfied every body here was with his medallion of me, he asked for an introduction to Wordsworth, which I was about to have offered him. Off he set in good spirits to Rydal, and not finding Wordsworth there, was advised to follow him to Lowther. To Lowther he went, and came back from thence delighted with his own success, and with the civilities of Lord and Lady Lonsdale, who desired that they might have both medallions. Nothing, I think, can be better than Wordsworth’s, and he is equally pleased with mine.

“He tells me of some unpublished poems of Cowper, which he is in hopes of obtaining for me. . . . .

“To-morrow will be just twelve months since we set out on our miserable journey to York! One whole year! At our time of life there cannot be many more to look on to at most. If her illusions are like dreams to her, the reality is like a dream to me, but one from which there is no awaking.

“Yet, Grosvenor, I need not say that in doing all
which can be done, there is a satisfaction which, if it be not worth all it costs, is worth more than anything else. My spirits are as you might expect them to be—somewhat the better, because it is necessary that they should make the best appearances, and always equal to the demand upon them, for which I can never be sufficiently thankful. And what a blessing it is to be relieved from all anxiety concerning my ways and means; just at the time when it must otherwise have made itself felt in a way which it had never done before.

“I very much regret that you could not come here this summer. That ‘more convenient season,’ for which you have so long waited, may now be put off till the Greek Kalends; and, for aught I can see, any movement of mine to the south may be as distant. Here I shall remain, as long as it is best for these members of my family that I should remain here, and that is likely to be as long as our present circumstances continue.

“Happily, while my faculties last, I shall never be in want of employment. At present I have rather more than is agreeable; but when the pressure is over, it will never be renewed. Just now two presses are calling upon me, a third longing for me, and a fourth at which I cast a longing eye myself. The two which, like the daughter of the horse-leech, cry Give, give, are employed upon Cowper and the Admirals. The third is asking for the new edition of Wesley; and the quantity of a good Quarterly Article must be written before that can be satisfied. Two, or, at the most, three chapters would give me my heart’s desire
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 275
with the other. But the Admirals will cover all my extraordinaries for two years to come largely; and when the
edition of Cowper is finished, I shall receive sweet remuneration to the amount of 1000 guineas, which, however, will be well earned.

“By the by, you are likely to possess Henderson’s life; and if so, I wish you would write me a letter about him, for he gave such a lift to Cowper by reciting John Gilpin, that a page or two to his honour might, with great propriety, be introduced.

“I shall finish my first volume in the course of a few days; the life will go far into the second. As much as possible, I have woven the materials into the narration, and made Cowper tell his own story; but still the work is a web.

“Will you believe that I had forgotten your direction, and that it took me five minutes to recollect it! Saville Row was running in my head; I danced for joy when I shouted Εύρήκα.

R. S.”

Sharpe recommended John Gilpin to Henderson. The last communication I ever had with him, was a note confirmatory of this.”

To the Rev. John Warter.
“Keswick, Oct 1. 1835.
“My dear W.,

“. . . . . Poor Karl* is to start on Monday, the 12th, if no mishap intervene. . . . His sisters will miss

* The German abbreviation of my name, which he commonly used.

him woefully. As for me, the blossoms of my life are shed, and I stand like a tree in winter,—well-rooted, and, as yet, whole at the heart, and with its head unscathed. There is this difference,—that the tree will put forth its foliage again.

“Time, however, passes rapidly with us; every day brings its employments, and my interest in them is unabated. Last week I received a parcel sent by Quillinan from Porto, containing Gil Vincente’s works, a present from one of the editors. My uncle would have rejoiced with me over it, but in losing him, I lost the only person who could fully enter into that branch of my pursuits. The book is printed at Hamburgh, from a copy of the first edition in the Gottenburgh Library: I believe there is no other copy of that edition in Europe, and none of the only other one are in England, that other, moreover, having been expurgated by the Inquisition. More than any other writer Gil V. may be called the father of the Spanish drama. He was a man of most extraordinary genius, his satire so undaunted, that it accounts for the almost utter annihilation of his work. As connected with the history of Portuguese manners and literature, this republication is the most important work that could have been undertaken. I sup upon him every night.

Grimshaw and his publishers, by taking the evangelical line, have removed the only uncomfortable circumstance in my way, which was the care I must otherwise have taken (in consideration to the publishers) not to say anything that would have been unpalatable to that party. . . . .

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 277

“The first fine day in next week. Bertha, Kate, Karl, and I are to accompany the Lord High Snab* to his estate, and there each of us is to plant a yew tree, which planting I am to celebrate in a poem that is to live as long as the yew trees themselves, live they ever so long. I need not tell you how happy the Lord High Snab is at the prospect of both the fête and the poem. It does one’s heart good to see a man so thoroughly happy who so thoroughly deserves to be so. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”

The following letter was written in reply to a communication from the Rev. T. G. Andrews, Dean of Westminster, on the subject of Westminster School, which at that time had greatly declined in numbers. Mr. Andrews, who took great interest in the matter, from “his family having been there for more than 200 years,” had written, urging my father, as an Old Westminster, to write some verses in commendation of the school, and with some allusion to the eminent men who had been educated there, which might be read on the anniversary dinner, and printed afterwards for circulation.

* A playful appellation given to Dr. Bell’s late amanuensis, Mr. Davies, who had lately purchased a small mountain farm near Keswick, called High Snab, whither for some years we made annual visits. The yew trees died, and of the poem, which was to have been in the form of an epistle addressed to his eldest daughter, only a few lines were ever written.

To the Rev. Gerrard Thomas Andrews.
“Keswick, Nov. 12. 1835.
“Dear Sir,

“I cannot but be much gratified by a letter like yours, and should be still more so did I think it likely, or even possible, that I could comply with a request that does me so much honour.

“I know what poems ought to be which are designed for a public meeting,—terse, pointed, and, above all, short. But I know, also, that I am given to prolixity, and that if I could find leisure, or muster resolution to begin upon such a subject, it would lead me astray from the desired object. The musings of an old man might draw some quiet tears from a solitary reader, but at such an assembly, they would be as much out of place as their author himself.

“My time is more fully occupied than can be well conceived by any one who is not acquainted with my habits of mind and the number of my pursuits. Moreover, I have outlived the inclination for writing poetry. To be asked for an epitaph, or to contribute something to a lady’s album, gives me much more annoyance than I ever felt at hearing Dr. Vincent say to me, ‘Twenty lines of Homer, and not go to breakfast.’

“Some causes of the decline at Westminster are of a permanent nature. Preparatory schools, which were not heard of fifty years ago, have annihilated the under school. King’s College and the London University take away a large proportion of the day
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 279
boys, who were very numerous in my time. Proprietary schools (another recent invention) are preferred by anxious parents; and too many patrician ones, though the father were at Westminster himself, forsake a falling house, and send their boys to Harrow or to Eton. A school declines faster as soon as it is known to be declining. The religio loci, which with you is an hereditary feeling, and with me a strong one, can do little, I fear, to counteract so many co-operating causes.

“Your father was before my time. I should love and venerate his name, even did I know nothing more of him than his kindness to Herbert Knowles.*

“I was placed at Westminster in the under fourth, a few weeks before Dr. Smith left it, in 1788. Botch Hayes was then usher of the fifth, and left it in disgust because he was not appointed under-master. Most of my contemporaries have disappeared; but in Charles W. W. Wynn and Grosvenor Bedford, I have still two of my dearest friends; and if I were beholden to the old school for nothing more than their friendship, I should have reason enough to bless the day on which I entered it.

Believe me, dear Sir,
Yours with sincere respect,
Robert Southey.”

* See Vol IV. p. 821.

To C. C. Southey.
“Keswick, Dec 16. 1835.
“My dear Cuthbert,

“Twice I wished for you yesterday; first, at breakfast, because it was a beautiful morning, and my feet itched for a ten miles’ walk. But you are in Sussex, Davies is in Shropshire, and I have not even a dog for a companion.

“Secondly, you were wished for two hours afterwards, when I had settled to my work, for then came the box of books from Ulverston. You would have enjoyed the unpacking. It is the best batch they ever sent home: thirty, volumes, besides three for Bertha and five of Kate’s.

“I should like, if it were possible, always to communicate my pleasures, and keep my troubles to myself. Here was no one to admire the books with us.

“You remember* when the miller invited me, to whom he had never spoken before, to rejoice with him over the pig that he had killed, the finest that he had ever fattened, and how he led me to the place where that which had ceased to be pig, and was not yet bacon, was hung up,—scalded, exenterate, and hardly yet cold,—by the hind-feet.

“Mr. Campbell’s† man, Willy, in like manner, yesterday, called on his acquaintance to admire a

* I remember it very well, and how my father rejoiced the man’s heart by admiring the goodly sight.

† A gentleman resident at Keswick, with whom he was very intimate.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 281
salmon which he had kippered the preceding night; the kitchen floor had been cleaned and swept, and the salmon was displayed on it, while Willy, half-seas over in the forenoon, pointed out to his master the beauty of the fish: he had never killed one in such condition before,—it was worth seven shillings.

“About six weeks hence I hope to rejoice both over Cowper and the Admirals, though not to take my leave of them then. But I hope to have a volume of each completed, and am now keeping on pari passu with both. The Evangelical Magazine has outdone its usual outdoings in abusing the first volume. They say I shall be known to posterity as embalmed in Lord Byron’s verse for an incarnate lie. The whole article is in this strain, and it has roused Cradock’s indignation as much as it has amused me; for it is written just as I should wish an enemy to write. God bless you, my dear boy!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Jan. 7. 1836.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“The best thing I can wish for myself, on the commencement of a new year (among those things which ‘stand to feasible’) is, that it may not pass away without your making a visit to Keswick. Other hope for the year I have none, and not much (to confess the truth) of this. Time, however, passes rapidly enough; and good part of it, by help of employment,
in a sort of world of my own, wherein I seem abstracted from every thing except what occupies my immediate attention. The most painful seasons are, when I lie down at night, and when I awake in the morning. But my health continues good, and my spirits better than I could possibly have expected, had our present circumstances been foreseen. . . . . It is remarkable that, of all employments at this time, the
Life of Cowper should be that on which I am engaged. Enough of this. God bless you!

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Jan. 30. 1836.
“My dear Friend,

“Your letter arrived this morning. I sent off by this day’s post the last portion of manuscript for my second volume; and having so done, I lay aside all thoughts of Cowper till Monday morning, giving myself thus what may be called a quarter’s holiday this evening. Methinks time has taken from me nothing which is so much to be regretted as leisure, or rather nothing of which I should so certainly, as well as allowably, wish to be possessed again. However, I live in hope of working my way to it. When Cowper and the Admirals are off my hands, I will engage in nothing that does not leave me master of my own time. It will be still too little for what I once hoped to perform.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 283

Cradock has advertised for the 13th; so on Monday, the 15th, your copy ought to be in Harley Street. The Life will extend to half a volume more, and with it my hurry ends, but not my work.

“I am very glad to hear that you are reading Dr. Thomas Jackson, an author with whom, more almost than any other, one might be contented in a prison. There is hardly any thing in his works which I wished away, except one shocking passage about the Jews. For knowledge and sagacity and right-mindedness, I think he has never been surpassed. You will be much pleased, also, with Knox’s Remains, and his correspondence with Bishop Jebb.

“There is no change for the better in our domestic circumstances. All hope is extinguished, while anxiety remains unabated, so sudden are the transitions of this awful malady. I can never be sufficiently thankful that my means of support are no longer precarious, as they were twelve months ago. The fear of being disabled, which I never felt before, might too probably have brought on the evil which it apprehended, when my life seemed to be of more consequence to my family than at any former time, and my exertions more called for. Thank God, Sir Robert Peel set me at ease on that score. Would to God that you were relieved from your cares in like manner! We have both cause to return thanks for the happiness that we have enjoyed, and for the consolations that are left us. If the last stage of our journey should prove the most uneasy, it will be the shortest. It is just forty years since we met in another country;
most probably before a fourth part of that time has elapsed, we shall meet in another state of existence.

“We have both great comfort in our children. Perhaps one reason why women bear affliction (as I think they generally do) better than men, is, because they make no attempt to fly from the sense of it, but betake themselves patiently to the duties, however painful, which they are called upon to perform. It is the old emblem of the reed and the oak—they bend, and therefore they are not broken; and then comes peace of mind, which is the fruit of resignation.

“Secluded as we now are from society, my daughters find sufficient variety of employment. They transcribe a good deal for me: indeed, whatever I want extracted of any length from books—most of my notes. One room is almost fitted up with books of their binding: I call it the Cottonian library; no patchwork quilt was ever more diversified. They have just now attired two hundred volumes in this fashion. Their pleasure, indeed, in seeing the books in order, is not less than my own; and, indeed, the greater part of them are now in such order, that they are the pride of my eye, as well as the joy of my heart.

“On Monday, I begin to give my mornings again to the Admirals, that is, as many mornings as my ever-growing business of letter-writing may leave leisure for—letters in half of which I have no concern, and in the other half no pleasure. The fourth volume will contain the lives of Essex, Raleigh, Sir William Monson, Blake, and Monk. Then, not to
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 285
extend unreasonably a work which was not intended by the publisher at first for more than two volumes, I shall drop the biography, and wind up in one volume more, with the Naval History from the Revolution, in continuous narrative. A good pretext for this is, that the age of naval enterprise and adventure, and consequently of personal interest, was past, and the interest thenceforth becomes political; events are regarded, not with reference to the principal actors, as in
Drake’s time, but to their bearings upon the national affairs. I shall be glad when this work is completed, because, though of all my books I have been best paid for it, it is that which I have taken the least interest in composing, and which any one who would have bestowed equal diligence upon it, might have executed quite as well. . . . .

“The snow has confined me three days to the house. It is now rapidly thawing, to my comfort; for I feel as if the machine wanted that sort of winding up which is given to it by daily exercise. God bless you, my dear old friend! May I live to write a great many more books; and may you and your daughters live, and read, and like them all. No small part of the pleasure which I take in writing arises from thinking how often the work in which I am engaged will make me present, in a certain sense, with friends who are far away.

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To Edward Moxon, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb. 3. 1836.
“My dear Sir,

“I have been too closely engaged in clearing off the second volume of Cowper to reply to your inquiries concerning poor Lamb sooner. His acquaintance with Coleridge began at Christ’s Hospital; Lamb was some two years, I thinks his junior. Whether he was ever one of the Grecians there, might be ascertained, I suppose, by inquiring. My own impression is, that he was not. Coleridge introduced me to him in the winter of 1794-5, and to George Dyer also, from whom, if his memory has not failed, you might probably learn more of Lamb’s early history than from any other person. Lloyd, Wordsworth, and Hazlitt became known to him through their connection with Coleridge.

“When I saw the family (one evening only, and at that time), they were lodging somewhere near Lincoln’s Inn, on the western side (I forget the street), and were evidently in uncomfortable circumstances. The father and mother were both living; and I have some dim recollection of the latter’s invalid appearance. The father’s senses had failed him before that time. He published some poems in quarto. Lamb showed me once an imperfect copy: the Sparrow’s Wedding was the title of the longest piece, and this was the author’s favourite; he liked, in his dotage, to hear Charles read it.

“His most familiar friend, when I first saw him.
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 287
White, who held some office at Christ’s Hospital, and continued intimate with him as long as he lived. You know what Elia says of him. He and Lamb were joint authors of the Original Letters of Falstaff. Lamb, I believe, first appeared as an author in the second edition of Coleridge’s Poems (Bristol, 1797), and, secondly, in the little volume of blank verse with Lloyd (1798). Lamb, Lloyd, and White were inseparable in 1798; the two latter at one time lodged together, though no two men could be imagined more unlike each other. Lloyd had no drollery in his nature; White seemed to have nothing else. You will easily understand how Lamb could sympathise with both.

Lloyd, who used to form sudden friendships, was all but a stranger to me, when unexpectedly he brought Lamb down to visit me at a little village (Burton) near Christ Church, in Hampshire, where I was lodging in a very humble cottage. This was in the summer of 1797, and then, or in the following year, my correspondence with Lamb began. I saw more of him in 1802 than at any other time, for I was then six months resident in London. His visit to this county was before I came to it; it must have been either in that or the following year: it was to Lloyd and to Coleridge.

“I had forgotten one of his school-fellows, who is still living—C. V. Le Grice, a clergyman at or near Penzance. From him you might learn something of his boyhood.

Cottle has a good likeness of Lamb, in chalk, taken by an artist named Robert Hancock, about the
year 1798. It looks older than Lamb was at that time; but he was old-looking.

Coleridge introduced him to Godwin, shortly after the first number of the Anti-Jacobin Magazine and Review was published, with a caricature of Gillray, in which Coleridge and I were introduced with asses’ heads, and Lloyd and Lamb as toad and frog. Lamb got warmed with whatever was on the table, became disputatious, and said things to Godwin which made him quietly say, ‘Pray, Mr. Lamb, are you toad or frog?’ Mrs. Coleridge will remember the scene, which was to her sufficiently uncomfortable. But the next morning S. T. C. called on Lamb, and found Godwin breakfasting with him, from which time their intimacy began.

“His angry letter to me in the Magazine arose out of a notion that an expression of mine in the Quarterly Review would hurt the sale of Elia: some one, no doubt, had said that it would. I meant to serve the book, and very well remember how the offence happened. I had written that it wanted nothing to render it altogether delightful but a saner religious feeling. This would have been the proper word if any other person had written the book. Feeling its extreme unfitness as soon as it was written, I altered it immediately for the first word which came into my head, intending to re-model the sentence when it should come to me in the proof; and that proof never came. There can be no objection to your printing all that passed upon the occasion, beginning with the passage in the Quarterly Review, and giving his letter.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 289

“I have heard Coleridge say that, in a fit of derangement, Lamb fancied himself to be young Norval. He told me this in relation to one of his poems.

“If you print my lines to him upon his Album Verses, I will send you a corrected copy. You received his letters, I trust, which Cuthbert took with him to town in October. I wish they had been more, and wish, also, that I had more to tell you concerning him, and what I have told were of more value. But it is from such fragments of recollection, and such imperfect notices, that the materials for biography must, for the most part, be collected.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”
To Henry Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, March 12. 1836.
“My dear H. T.,

“When I went to Lisbon the second time (in 1800), it was for my health. An illness (the only one I ever had) had weakened me, and I was liable to sudden pulsations of the heart, which seemed to indicate some organic derangement. It was inferred, or rather ascertained, that they arose from nervous excitability, because the moment I apprehended them they returned; and this conclusion was confirmed by a circumstance which has led me to this relation. Going out of our sitting-room one morning, I happened to hear the maid draw the bed curtains, pre-
paratory to making the bed in the chamber opposite. From that time, while I remained in those lodgings, I never went out of the room in the early part of the day without hearing the same sound, distinctly, though it came from within instead of without.

“Now let me tell you a more curious circumstance, of which I made a memorandum as soon as I returned. About two months ago I was going to the lake, and reading as I went. It was a bright, frosty day, and my Scotch bonnet (in which I appear like a Graberlunzie man) afforded no shelter to the eyes, but having been used to wear it, I was not inconvenienced by the light. Just on the rising ground, where the view of the lake opens, I suppose the sun came more directly upon my eyelids, but the page which I was reading appeared to be printed in red letters. It happened to be a page in which one book of a Latin poem ended and another began: the heading of this latter was, of course, in considerably larger types; these changed their colour first, and became red as blood; the whole page presently became so, and the opposite page presented a confused intermixture of red and black types when I glanced on it, but, fixing my eyes, the whole became rubric also, though there was nothing then so vivid as the large letters of the heading. The appearance passed away as my position to the sun was altered.

“This phenomenon never occurred to me before, but I observed it particularly, because, if my memory does not deceive me, I have more than once read of the same thing, and always as of something supernatural in the history of a Romish saint, or a fanatic
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 291
of some other denomination. According to the mood of mind in which it occurred, it would be taken for a manifestation of grace or of wrath. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Herbert Hill, Esq.
“Keswick, April 2. 1836.
“My dear Herbert,

“. . . . . James II.’s conduct in obtruding a Romish president upon Magdalen, was not worse than that of the present Ministry in appointing Dr. Hampden to the professorship of divinity. If they had given him any other preferment, even a bishopric, it would have been only one proof among many that it is part of their policy to promote men of loose opinions; but to place him in the office which he now holds, was an intentional insult to the university. In no way could the Whigs expect so materially to injure the Church, as by planting Germanised professors in our schools of divinity. Thank God there is too much sound learning in the land for them to succeed in this. Not the least remarkable of the many parallels between these times and those of Charles I., is to be found in the state of the clergy: from the time of the Reformation they had never been in so good a state as when the Church was for a while overthrown; and since the Restoration they have never been in so good a state as at present. I mean, that
there has never been so great a proportion of learned, and diligent, able men: men whose lives are conformable to their profession, who are able to defend the truth, and who would not shrink from any thing which they may be called upon to suffer for its sake.

“Have you read ‘Subscription no Bondage?’ Some one (I forget who) sent it me last year. Maurice* is said to be the author’s name; an abler treatise I have never read.

“I am glad that you are studying German, and that you sometimes write verses, not only as a wholesome exercise for thoughts and feelings which hardly find utterance in any other form, but also because if you ever become a prose writer, you will find the great advantage of having written poetry. No poet ever becomes a mannerist in prose, nor falls into those tricks of style which show that the writer is always labouring to produce effect.

“The third volume of Cowper will be published next week. The remaining part of the Life extends far into it. The dealers in weekly and monthly criticism appear to think it as much a matter of course that I am now to be beplaistered with praise as they once did that I was to be bespattered with abuse. On both occasions I have often remembered what the Moravian said to Wesley: Mi frater, non adhæret vestibus. To make amends, however, the Evangelical party have declared war against me; and I am told that in some places as much zeal is manifested in recommending Grimshawe’s edition, as in

* Rev. F. Maurice, Professor at King’s College, London.

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 293
canvassing for a vacant lectureship. My main labour is over, but a good deal yet remains to be done in biographical notices; some of which will probably form a supplementary volume. As for materials, I have been fed by the ravens. The information which I have come upon unexpectedly, or which has been supplied to me from various quarters to which no application was made, because I did not know that such documents existed, has been surprisingly great.

“It would have amused me much if you and Edward had exhibited your skill in special pleading upon the delectable book ‘The Doctor,’ as you intended. To convince a man against his will, you know, is no easy matter; and if you substitute knowledge for will, what must it be then? That the writer has at first or second hand picked up some things from me, is plain enough; if it be at first hand, there is but one man upon whom my suspicion could rest, and he is very capable of having written it, which is no light praise. He possesses all the talents that the book displays, but not the multifarious sort of knowledge, nor are the opinions altogether such as he would be likely to express. So if it be his, he must have had assistance, and must also have hung out false lights. However, some friends of Henry Taylor’s tell him that Dr. Bowring is the author; not the Dr. Bowring who is now M.P., who has had a finger in every revolutionary pie for the last fifteen years (and ought, indeed, to be denoted as dealer in revolutions and Greek scrip), but a retired practitioner of that name at Doncaster. H. Taylor’s informants know every thing
about him. The tedious chapters about Doncaster give some probability to this statement. You have it, however, as it came to me, for what it is worth; and the next volume, perhaps, if next there should be, may throw more light upon the authorship.

“God bless you, my dear Herbert!

R. S.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, June 13. 1836.
“My dear Friend,

“Time passes on so rapidly with me in the regular course of constant occupation, that it seems only a few days since that letter arrived which yours of this morning reminds me is two months old. . . . .

“There is no change in my poor Edith, nor is there likely to be any. Thank God there is no suffering, not even so much as in a dream (of this I am fully convinced), and her bodily health is better than it had been for very many years

“Only one of my daughters is with me at present. Kate has been prevailed on to go to Rydal, and if it be possible to remove poor Dora Wordsworth to the coast (which is her only chance of recovery), she will go with her. The loss of Miss Hutchinson, which was the greatest we could have sustained out of our own nearest kin, has drawn the bonds of affection closer between dear Dora and my daughters, who were almost equally dear to the dead. . . . .

Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 295

“You will not wonder that the Life of Cowper was a subject better suited to my own state of mind at this time than almost any other could have been. It was something like relief to have thoughts, from which it is not possible that I could escape, diverted as it were from home. There are passages which I dare say you will have perceived would not have been written unless I had had something more than a theoretical knowledge of this most awful of all maladies. . . . .

“I shall be very glad to see John Coleridge. The bishop sent me his kind remembrances from Demerara the other day. You ask if there be any likelihood of seeing me in town? Not at present; nor is it possible for me to say when it may be fitting for me to leave home. My presence, though it may be little comfort to my poor wife, is a very great one to my daughters; my spirits help to keep up theirs, and with what they have to do for me in the way of transcribing, and the arrival of letters and packets which would cease during my absence, they would feel a great blank were they left to themselves. In her quieter moods, too, my poor Edith shows a feeling towards me, the last, perhaps, which will be utterly extirpated. How often am I reminded of my own lines, and made to feel what a woeful thing it is—
‘When the poor flesh surviving, doth entomb
The reasonable soul.’

“You and I, my dear friend, have been afflicted in different ways, and both heavily. But the time is not far distant when we shall have all losses re-
stored, and understand that the ways of Providence are always merciful to those who put their trust in it.

Bedford and his cousin, Miss Page, are coming to lodge at the foot of the garden in the course of a fortnight. I have known him from the year 1788; we became familiar in 1790, intimate in 1791, and have kept up a constant and most intimate intercourse ever since. So you may suppose how much I shall enjoy his society. Mary Page, too, is the oldest of my female friends.

“God bless you, my dear old friend! and believe me always,

Yours most affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

In consequence of the presence of these friends, whose coming my father anticipates at the close of the last letter, this summer passed more cheerfully than those which for some time had preceded it; nor, indeed, could any persons have more thoroughly enjoyed each other’s society. Mr. Bedford, though afflicted with almost complete deafness, as well as other infirmities, had lost none of his natural cheerfulness and relish for odd humour and boyish jokes; and my father was never weary of talking into his trumpet. They had, indeed, both preserved up to so late a period of life more natural vivacity and elasticity of mind than falls to the lot of most persons even in youth; and both regarded it as a signal blessing that they had done so.

The cheerfulness of the summer was further in-
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 297
creased by the circumstance of another old “Westminster” (the
Rev. Edward Levett, late of Hampstead) passing some months at Keswick; and although they had rarely met since their boyish days, this tie quickly brought them into intimacy.

Soon after their departure my father was surprised by a subpœna to appear as a witness at the assizes at Lancaster, in what was commonly called “The great Will Case,” involving a property called the Hornby Castle Estate. The late possessor, whose name was Marsden, was presumed to have been a person of weak intellect, under the control of his steward, to whose son he had bequeathed the estate, worth from 6000l. to 7000l. a year. Admiral Tatham, the heir-at-law, challenged Marsden’s competency to make a will; and one of the points upon which his counsel (Mr., now Sir Cresswell Cresswell) relied, was the internal evidence contained in a series of letters purporting to be the production of the testator.

For the purpose of giving opinion upon these letters, several literary men had been subpoenaed,—Dr. Lingard, the historian (who had been a witness on a former trial, as knowing the testator personally), Mr. Wordsworth, my father. Dr. Shelton Mackenzie, and others. The following letter shows it was decided not to examine these witnesses, and Mr. Wordsworth was the only one sworn.

To H. Taylor, Esq.
“Keswick, Sept 10. 1836.
“My dear H. T.,

“The papers may have told you that Wordsworth’s evidence was not received. The point at issue was, whether certain letters produced in the testator’s handwriting could all be composed by the same person, or whether they did not imply such a difference of intellect, and contain such different peculiarities of spelling and style, as to be proofs of a long-laid scheme for defrauding the heir-at-law.

“The argument whether this course of inquiry should be gone into was raised as soon as W. had been sworn in the box, and was yielded by the plaintiff’s counsel (Cresswell)—less, I think, in deference to the advice of the judge, than because he saw that, in the event of a favourable verdict, Pollock was preparing to make it the plea for another trial.

“I wish you could have seen us at a board of law the preceding evening; and how Pollock was taken aback when he heard Wordsworth called into the box; and how well he recovered, and skilfully took his ground, though every step of his argument was sophistical. Wordsworth is now a ‘Sworn Critic,’ and Appraiser of Composition; ‘and he has the whole honour to himself,—an honour, I believe, of which there is no other example in literary history.

“We went on Tuesday, Quillinan accompanying us. On Wednesday we returned to Rydal, where I slept that night, and the next morning I walked
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 299
home without the slightest fatigue. But when
Wordsworth marvels that I can do this, and says that I must he very strong to undertake such a march, it shows that he is an old man, and makes me conscious that I am on the list of the elders.

“The journey has been useful as an experiment: and my plans are now laid for a long circuit. About the middle of October, as soon as the volume of Admirals can be finished—upon which I go doggedly to work from this day—I hope to start with Cuthbert for the West of England. We shall halt in Shropshire, and perhaps in Warwickshire, on the way to Bristol, thence to Taunton, Devonshire, and the Land’s End. I shall show him all the scenes of my childhood and youth, and the few old friends who are left; convey him to Tarring, and then come to London for two or three weeks, taking up my abode there with Rickman. God bless you!

R. S.”

Dr. Shelton Mackenzie has kindly favoured me with his recollections of this meeting with my father, of great part of which I avail myself here.

“At our meeting on the preceding evening, Mr. Wordsworth gave his opinion of the letters to this effect, judging from external as well as internal evidence, that though they came from one hand, they did not emanate from one and the same mind; that a man commencing to write letters might do so very badly, but as he advanced in life, particularly if, like Marsden, he wrote many letters, he would probably improve in style; such improvement being constant, and not capricious. That is, if he gradually learned to spell and write properly, he would not fall back at intervals into his original errors of composition and
spelling—that if once he had got out of his ignorance he could not fall back into it, except by design—that the human mind advances, but cannot recede, unless warped by insanity or weakened by disease. The conclusion arrived at, which facts afterwards proved, was, that the inequality in the letters arose from their being composed by different persons, some ignorant and some well informed, while another person always copied them fairly for the post.

“This is the sum of what Mr. Wordsworth at great length and very elaborately declared as the result he had arrived at. It was thought piled on thought, clear investigation, careful analysis, and accumulative reasoning.

“While Wordsworth was speaking, I noticed that Southey listened with great attention. Once or twice Wordsworth referred to him for his coincidence in an argument, and Southey very laconically assented. Dr. Lingard’s opinion was already on record, and my friend and myself very briefly stated ours to be precisely the same as Wordsworth’s. The next day Wordsworth was put into the witness-box, was sworn, and his examination had commenced, in fulfilment of Mr. Cresswell’s promise to the jury that they should hear the opinion of eminent literary characters as to the compound authorship of Marsden’s letters. But Sir F. Pollock, the leader on the other side, objected to such evidence, alleging that they might as well examine a batch of Edinburgh reviewers; and that it was substituting speculative opinion for actual fact, besides taking from the jury the power of judgment founded upon opinion. After a long argument, it was decided that this evidence was inadmissible; but, as the verdict eventually showed, the jury evidently thought that there was good reason why such evidence was set aside.

“While a friend went for a magistrate’s order for us to see the castle (which is used as the prison), Southey, Wordsworth, and myself had a brisk conversation.

“From the spot on which we stood (a sort of terrace) there was a fine view of the Irish sea, the country around Lancaster, and to the north the mountains of Cumberland and Westmoreland; which last were eagerly pointed out by Wordsworth. I hazarded the remark, that an American had compared these
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 301
mountains with some in the vicinity of his own Hudson river, and this led to a conversation about America. ‘I always lamented,’ said
Southey, ‘that Gifford’s anti-American feeling should be so prominent in the Quarterly; but he was obstinate, and the more I remonstrated the more he persevered.’ We spoke of American reprints of English works, and Wordsworth said it was wonderful what an interest they took in our literature;—‘it was the yearning of the child for the parent;’ while Southey remarked, with a smile, ‘Rather the yearning of the robber for his booty: they reprint English works, because it pays them better than to buy native copyrights; and until men are paid, and paid well for writing, depend on it that writing well must be an exception rather than the rule.’

“We now went to visit Lancaster castle, which need not here be described. After enjoying the fine view from the Keep we went to see the Penitentiary, within the castle. Dr. Lingard had left us before this, and the ball of conversation was kept up between Wordsworth, Southey, and myself. The principal subject was American literature; with which, at that time, I was pretty well acquainted. Wordsworth could scarcely believe that of a three volume work, published here at a guinea and a half, the reprint was usually sold in New York for two shillings—in later days the price has been as low as sixpence, the great sale making a fraction of profit worth looking for. Wordsworth expressed a strong desire to obtain an American reprint of any of Southey’s works; but Mr. Southey appeared quite indifferent. ‘I should be glad to see them,’ said he, ‘if the rogues would only give me a tithe of what the work of my brains may yield to them.’

“Returning to the terrace leading to the courts, Wordsworth and Mr. Quillinan went into the town; while Southey and myself walked up and down for about half an hour. ‘I am glad,’ said he, ‘that they would not take our evidence. It was nothing but matter of opinion, and if twenty men of letters swore one way on one day, twenty more would swear the reverse on the next day, and with equal conscientiousness.’ I said that I suspected the offering such evidence was enough, as its rejection made the jury suspect there was a cause for not
hearing it. ‘Like enough,’ said he, laughing heartily, ‘that would be a true lawyer’s trick!’

Southey then inquired whether some lines on the death of a child, which had gone the round of the newspapers shortly before, were not my composition. Learning that they were, he said, ‘The solace of song certainly does mitigate the sufferings of the wounded spirit. I have suffered deeply, and I found a comfort in easing my mind through poetry; even though much of what I wrote at such times I have not let the world see. It is a bitter cup,’ added he, ‘but we cannot expect the ties of kindred to remain for ever. One by one, as we live on, our friends and our relations drop through the broken arches of the bridge of life.’

“He spoke freely of his contemporaries. Lingard he praised for true earnestness, and a desire to state the facts. Another living historian he praised as ‘one of the most learned men in Europe.’ He regretted that Robert Montgomery should have been as much overpraised at first, as he was latterly abused. He eulogized the genius of Mary Ann Browne, then living at Liverpool, and said that he thought she had as much ability as Mrs. Hemans, with less mannerism. He said that the Corn Law Rhymer was a sort of pupil of his own: ‘he sent me his verses when he was a youth; I pointed out their defects, and he was not above trying to amend and remove them. There are parts of Elliott’s poems,’ added he, ‘not surpassed in the language.’

“We spoke of Wordsworth, and he said, ‘A clear half of what he has written will remain. Who can say how much of the rest of us will survive? Scott, for example; no one thinks of his poetry now.’ I ventured to say that in Scott’s case, as in his own, the excellence of their prose had thrown their poetry into the shade. ‘That is a flattering apology,’ said he; ‘but our prose may, from its very quantity, if from no other cause, have crowded down our poetry. One thing I do know; to write poetry is the best preparation for writing prose. The verse-maker gets the habit of weighing the meanings and qualities of words, until he comes to know, as if by intuition, what particular word will best fit into the sentence. People talk of
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 303
my style! I have only endeavoured to write plain English, and to put my thoughts into language which every one can understand.’ He mentioned
Cobbett as one of the best writers of English we had yet possessed. ‘He has a Saxon basis, derived from his education in the heart of an English county, where the Saxon roots occur once or twice in every sentence uttered by the peasantry. Cobbett,’ he added, ‘has done and said many foolish things; but he writes English such as every one, from Chaucer to Sir Thomas More, and from More to Cowper, cannot fail to comprehend. He is very much in earnest, and writes without stopping to pick out pretty words, or round off polished sentences.’

“I mentioned his Life of Nelson. ‘That,’ said he, ‘was a Quarterly article, and I expanded it into a book. I was afraid of the sea phrases; but I had no fear of making the book liked by the public, for I had material for ten times the extent I was bound to, and the man I wrote of lived in the nation’s heart.’

“The question of memory was touched upon, from my mentioning the dates of some events we spoke of. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘I could as soon fly as recollect these dates. I have trusted so little to memory, that memory will do little for me when I press her. I have a habit of making notes of what I should treasure in my mind, and the act of writing seems to discharge it from the mind to the paper. This is as to particulars; the main points of a subject I recollect very well.’

“To my surprise, when I inadvertently named Byron, he rather encouraged the subject. ‘You think,’ said he, ‘that if we had been personally acquainted there would probably have been few unkind feelings between us. We did meet, more than once, in London society. I saw that he was a man of quick impulses, strong passions, and great powers. I saw him abuse these powers; and, looking at the effect of his writings on the public mind, it was my duty to denounce such of them as aimed at the injury of morals and religion. This was all; and I have said so in print before now. It has been said that I, who avowed very strong opinions in my youth, should not have condemned others; but, from my youth until now, my desire has been to improve the condition, moral, religious, and physical, of the great body
of mankind. The means which I once thought best suited to effect this, are not the means which, after forty years’ constant thought, I would now employ. My purpose remains the same as it was in youth—I would use different machinery.’

“After the conversation we parted. Southey went to his friends at their inn, while I went to mine for some American reprints of English and Scotch magazines which I had with me. When I rejoined them they were at luncheon. Mr. Wordsworth again expressed a desire to obtain any reprints of Southey’s poems; and Southey said, ‘I wish they would reprint my History of Brazil.’ I said, alluding to the size of the work, that this would be a heavy affair. ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘it is in three thick quartos, and therefore quite out of the reach of common purchasers. It is a very curious fact that this very work has added some 1200l. a year to the income of a commercial house in London. They claimed some exemption (of duties, I think he said,) from information given them by a passage in that work, and thus they gain more by it in one year, than the author can expect for the labour and research of many.’

“Shortly after they departed, both poets kindly inviting me to correspond with them, and pressing me to visit them, if ever I went within ‘a day’s march’ of either. I never again saw these poets, but enjoyed the correspondence of each.

“The personal appearance and demeanour of Southey at this time (he was then aged 62) was striking and peculiar. The only thing in art which brings him exactly before me, is the monument by Lough, the sculptor. Like many other young men of the time, who had read Byron with great admiration, I had imbibed rather a prejudice against the Laureate. This was weakened by his appearance, and wholly removed by his frank conversation. He was calm, mild, and gentlemanly; full of quiet, subdued humour; the reverse of ascetic in his manner, speech, or actions. His bearing was rather that of a scholar, than of a man much accustomed to mingle in general society. Indeed, he told me that, next to romping with his children, when they were children, he ‘enjoyed a tête-à-tête conversation with an old friend, or a new. With one,’ added he, ‘I can talk
Ætat. 60. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 305
of familiar subjects, which we have discussed in former years; and with the other, if he have any brains, I open what to me is a new mine of thought. The educated Americans whom I have conversed with, always leave me something to think of.’

“In any place Southey would have been pointed at as ‘a noticeable man.’ He was tall, slight, and well made. His features were striking, and Byron truly described him as ‘with a hook nose and a hawk’s eye.’ Certainly his eyes were peculiar—at once keen and mild. The brow was rather high than square, and the lines well defined. His hair was tinged with grey, but his head was as well covered with it—wavy and flowing—as it could have been in youth. He by no means looked his age: simple habits, pure thoughts, the quietude of a happy hearth, the friendship of the wise and good, the self-consciousness of acting for the best purposes, a separation from the personal irritations which men of letters so often are subjected to in the world; and health, which up to that time had been so generally unbroken, had kept Southey from many of the cares of life, and their usually harrowing effect on mind and body. It is one of my most pleasant recollections that I enjoyed his friendship and regard.”