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The Ioet relates how he obtained Delia's Pocket
Metrical Letter, written from London 692 THE PILGRIM TO COMPOSTELLA
693 Notes and Illustrations
Memoir of Robert Southey.
MR ROBERT SOUTHEY is descended, both on his time only augments its strength, and it can never father's and on his mother's side, from respect- be defaced or obliterated. There are, howeter, able families in the county of Somerset ; and at few, or perhaps none, who in early youth do not the time the subject of the present Memoir was exhibit, more or less, an affectiou for the born, on the 12th of August, 1774, his father of all knowledge and virtue.» L'pon a mind like was a linen-draper in the city of Bristol ; but Southey's, tenderly sensible of the slightest touch though a man of great integrity and habitual punc- of beauty, this impression could not fail to be tuality, he did not succeed in business. Young deep, aided as it was by the individuals by whom Southey was brought up by bis mother's maiden he was surrounded, while he remained at Bristol. aunt, Miss Tyler, a lady of superior mind, and Miss Tyler took great pains with his education, and, great personal attractions, who lived in College- by encouraging him in reading some of our best Green, Bristol. She first placed her nephew under writers of the old school, converted his youthful the care of a Mr Foote, who kept a small school and transitory passion into a fixed and enthusiasin Bristol; from whence, before he had reached his tic attachnient to the Muses. We have been told seventh year, he was removed to a seminary at that, long before he left Carston, his productions Carston, near Bath. After continuing there about in verse had received great applause in the little two years, he returned to his native place, where domestic circle to which his ambition was then he was put under the care of a clergyman, who confined; but that circle was soon enlarged, his taught a select number of pupils for a few hours ambition expanded in proportion, and by the in the morning. At a very early age his friends dis- time he had been only a few months at Westcovered in him talents that deserved to be placed minster School, he became, as Randolph expresses in a higher sphere than that in which his father it, an actual « graduate in the thread-bare myshad moved : they therefore designed him for the tery. We have been shown two copies of verses church. With a view to give him every advan- said to have been written by Southey, when he tage, Robert Southey, in the year 1787, was sent was about fourteen years old. Deep thought, to Westminster School, having already attained, which is the offspring of experience, could not under his former instructors, such an acquaint, of course be expected in them; but they may be ance with the Latin and Greek languages as ex- justly adınired for the very easy and musical flow empted him from the drudgery of the lower of the numbers : indeed they prove, from internal forms.
evidence, that the author must have beeu some As in the infancy of nations, so in the infancy time addicted to the a Sisters Nine» to have alof individuals, a taste for poetry is the first fruit ready attained such excellence in versification. of cultivation. We speak of the taste for poetry His correct babits and amiable manners attracted as distinct from the mere sensual love of poetry, the love of his companions, and by one of the produced by the rise and fall of verse upon the Westininster masters he was treated as his own ear, which can be enjoyed even by barbarians, son. It happened, however, that, while he was because, as Ben Jonson says,
Nature is more at school there, a rebellion took place, in which strong in ther than study. According to the lie was compelled to join. Soon after, he was depth or slightness of the impression made by surprised by one of his friends, in tears; and poetry in childhood, the tone and colour is gene- upon being asked the reason, he replied, that his rally given to the future life. If it be only su- conscience had snote him for his ingratitude to perficial, the bustle and friction of the world soon his inaster, and that he could not refrain from wear it away; but in many cases the lapse of weeping.
At the age of little more than eighteen, in ence is rendered certain almost solely to those November, 1792, Mr Southey entered at Baliol who have had an opportunity of seeing the aniCollege, Oxford, where he was admired for his mated letters, and the high-wrought poems, of fine poetical countenance, his good nature, his the several parties upon the subject. singular phraseology, and the extreme punc- When the three friends quitted college,' and tuality with which he kept his appointments. repaired to Bristol, for the purpose of carrying His father was at this time in no condition, from their design into execution, Mr Southey's father losses in trade, to defray his expenses, which was dead of a broken heart, in consequence of were paid, we believe, in a great measure, by his his embarrassments. It has been related by one maternal uncle, the Rev. Mr Hill, and by his aunt who certainly had the best means of knowing Miss Tyler. At Easter, in 1794, Mr S. T. Cole-him, that he was « a man who had been so acridge, who had just abandoned Cambridge, came customed to regulate his motions by the neigh(with his fellow cantab Hucks) on a visit to Or- bouring clock, that the clock might at length (so ford. His fame for extraordinary powers of con- punctual were his movements) have been reguversation, his stupendous talents, and eccentric lated by him.» He was, also, extremely fond of manners had preceded him. He was hailed by the country and its employments. the young Oxonians, and particularly by those Robert Southey had for some time been acwho were admirers of all the extravagances of quainted with a family of the name of Fricker, the French revolution, and of the sophisms con- in which there were four daughters, three of tained in Godwin's Political Justice, which had whom were at that time of a marriageable age. just appeared, at that time forming a numerous To one of these young ladies (Edith) Mr Southey and a separate class, mutually addressing each formed an attachment; and, as female society other by the title of citizens. A debating club was necessary, in order to render the colony upon questions of this nature was instituted: the more extensive and flourishing, it was proposed members met in each others' rooms. Among them that Mr Coleridge and Mr Lovel should marry were the present Sir John Stoddart, then a stu- the other two, and that the mother and her dent of Christ Church; the Rev. Dr T. F. Dibdin, youngest daughter should accompany the
expethen a commoner at St John's; the Rev. J. Horse- dition. In consequence of this arrangenient, man, now Rector of Heyden, then of Corpus; R. Lovel espoused Miss Fricker, an actress of BrisAllen, a servitor of University College, who died tol, and Coleridge and Southey agreed to unite in Portugal, etc. etc. This jacobinical assembly their destinies with her sisters, Sarah and Edith, created great aların among the heads of the the former being a mantua-maker, and the latUniversity, and the more so, as the exemplary ter (who was very beautiful), with her youngest moral conduct in other respects of the members sister, keeping a little day-school near the church prevented their taking any notice of them; so of St Mary, Radcliff. Lovel died shortly after, that none were or could be expelled, as has been much regretted. Coleridge, Southey, and Burnet said: two, however, were rusticated for a very lived together, with great simplicity, in Collegetrifling fault. Southey was soon induced to for- street,” Bristol, during 1795; but the characters sake his studies and the University, and to set off of Coleridge and Southey were found to be unfor Bristol, where he joined Coleridge, and they, congenial for so close an intimacy. Southeyin conjunction with Lovel, George Burnet, Ro- all truth, sincerity, and obligingness; with (at bert Allen, and a few others, formed a plan to es- that time) little belief in revealed religion, and tablish a Pantisocratical Society on the banks of affecting still less; with order in all his dealings, the Ohio. Lovel was to supply the principal uprightness in all his conduct,-was but ill suited part of the funds for the infant colony, in which to the wild, unsettled enthusiasm, negligence, and they were to have every thing in common, and, wayward manners of Coleridge; yet admiration as the title they gave their Society implies, all for his amazing powers of mind kept them togewere to have the same share in the administration ther for some time. Burnet was endowed with a of the public affairs of their new government. Mr Wordsworth had recently become known to Southey's democratical opinions rendered him obSouthey, through the medium of their common noxious to the beads of bis' college ; but he was not
expelled, as has been sometimes said by those who are friend, Coleridge ; but Wordsworth, though
no friends to his political principles. deeply infected with the same political enthu- It was there he wrote his Joan of Arc, and, at the siasm, had good sense enough to decline joining same time, a great part of Madoc, which, after more in their scheme of emigration.
changes than any other of his poeins, appeared in 1805. The excessive extravagance of their views at this Coleridge gave public lectures on the French Revolution, distance of time, and when so many events have the wFali of Robespierre,» which was written and printed in
1 and they jointly produced a drama, in blank verse, called intervened, can scarcely be believed; and its exist the course of four days.