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SOUTHEY'S LIFE AND CORRESPONDENCE.*

WE E are glad to meet Dr. Southey tended narrative in the first_157 at last. We began to despair of pages of the first volume.

It is him, since he has been so long on contained in a series of letters to his the road — not that we were alto friend Mr. John May, and gives a gether ignorant of the causes of de familiar and most particular account lay. From time to time strange ru of his family and himself, their mours have reached us of feuds, and sayings and doings, chances and strifes, and heart-burnings, and un changes, up to the period of his seemly contentions, over the good school days at Westminster in his man's literary ashes. These things are fifteenth year. At that interesting painful to hear or speak of. However, epoch the history breaks off. It the Poet now returns to us in that might have been hardly possible to intellectual form and fashion, in continue it with equal minuteness, which he was always most likely to as it wound into the diversified lagain friends, and to keep them. We bours and business of his maturer rejoice to welcome him in that win life. ning shape. He--the high-souled, It was in the summer of 1820 bright-minded, troubled, worn-out that he sat down in the room, which man-rests from his many sadnesses he had peopled with the noblest and toils. Peace be with him. If spirits of all lands, to relate the he were visibly and bodily present story of his struggles and victories. in this solemn home of literature, He was then a ripe scholar of fortywhere we are writing, or in his six years : it was dark weather in a own green baunts by the musical season of sunshine; a lonesome and Lodore, he might have wondrous showery evening had closed a cloudy stories to tell, lovelier and more and ungenial day. Perhaps a mind gorgeous than the cloudy richness of like Cowper's, ever forecasting the Thalaba; stories,

fashion of uncertain sorrows, might Brought from a pensive though a happy have seen something ominous in the place.

coincidence. But the poet felt no Of all that is most beauteous, imaged sadness or apprehension. Living in there

the sunshine, he still looked forward In happier beauty ; more pellucid streams, with hope. An ampler ether, a diviner air, And fields invested with purpureal

Many of our readers will recollect

that charming essay on gleams;

a man's Climes which the sun, who sheds the

writing memoirs of himself, for brightest day

which we are indebted to one of the Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.

deepest thinkers of the earlier part But he stands now before us in his

of this century. He suggests the earthly dress, and again we say that

sensation of surprise, that would

startle a reflective man in advanced we rejoice to see him. Writing in his twenty-second year to one of his

age, on discovering at the bottom of earliest and dearest friends, Mr.

an old chest an account of himself, Southey said :

which he had written fifty years No man erer retained a more perfect

before. The web of feeling would knowledge of the history of his own

be curiously woven of various comind than I have done. I can trace the lours and patterns ; light and shadevelopement of my character from in dow intermingled. One great beauty fancy--for developed it has been, not

of the tale would be its reality; a changed. I look forward to the writing garland of flowers all gathered in of this history, as the most pleasing and the fresh morning of life, with the most useful employment I shall ever dew and bloom on the leaves. What undertake.

misty, uncertain, glimmering shapes We have a specimen of the in would come thronging into the me

* Life and Correspondence of the late Robert Southey. Edited by his Son, the Rev. C. C. Southey, M.A. London : Longman and Co. 1849.

mory; perplexed and intricate, like himself

up for the Post, as for a the moonbeams on curtains, which theatre. You see at once that he is shine and break up into gloom, as padded. The shape of his thoughts the wind rustles them with a sudden is always artificial. Gray's crowgust. The old man wonders at him quill was an emblem of his manner. self. It is like looking into a glass Byron imitated the worst style of once in half a century. He forgets Walpole and Gray. He is not himself what manner of man he was. The for a hundred pages together. From vernal fancies are faded ; the merry

this fault the letters of Southey apspeaking thoughts are silent. “They pear to be remarkably free. They died like the singing-birds of that give the man, the Pantisocrat, the time which sing no more.' Nothing enthusiast,

enthusiast, the self - opinionated. is as it was. All is changed. Eve's Each is there. He sits before a garden was not more defaced, when glass and paints himself. the slime of the deluge had passed The Recollections have much of over it. The life which we then had, the grace and ease of his latest and now seems almost as if it could not happiest prose. Perhaps there is a have been our own. We are like a slight excess of garrulity, and a disman returning, after the absence of position to enlarge upon trifles, that many years, to visit the embowered

might, as he suggested, if carefully cottage where he passed the morning cultivated, have ripened him into a of his life, and finding only a relic correspondent of Mír. Urban. But of its ruins.

we confess to liking the minuteness Opinions will always differ as to of his description. We are not inthe becoming style of these auto disposed to hear of the migration biographies. The most famous per from the blue bed to the brown. He former need not keep us very long. gives us a domestic interior, as real In a general way, the expenditure of and startling as the Apothecary's time may be set down in a short Shop of Mieris, with its one bewilcolumn. We want only an entry of dering crack in the counter. The the gold coins; the copper may be things and persons may be worth left out. It was pleasantly remarked nothing in themselves, but they deof many popular biographies in mo rive interest and value from the dedern times, that a chronicle of the scriber; like the wicker basket, or coats a man has worn, with the co string of onions, in pictures by Telour and date of each, might, for niers or Ostade. The stream of his every useful purpose, be as well family did not lead him into very called his life. We have few ex ancient times. He was unable to amples in our language. Cowley, trace it beyond 1696. Wellington, Bishop Hall, and Walter Scott, have in Somersetshire, was the well-head. given specimens, slighter or graver, In the church registers the Southeys in three opposite ways. Perhaps no are styled yeomen or farmers. His memoir written by one's self could grandfather's wife was a Locke, of equal the truthfulness of letters, the same family as the philosopher flowing out of the fulness of a loving (so called) of that name, who, we heart ; like those from Cowper to are pleasantly informed, “is still held Lady Hesketh, and Shenstone to in more estimation than he deserves.' Mr. Jago.

Their descendant was willing to Johnson affirmed that the life of no reckon them of gentle blood, as literary man had ever been pro using armorial bearings in an age perly composed. An author's own when they were very rarely assumed pen is unlikely to fill up the blank. without à title. The arms had a He will supply part, not a whole. religious character, and he was anxThe pleasantest illustrations of ge ious to believe that one of his 'annius have been picked up by acci cestors had served in the crusades, dent. In this light letters are inva or made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.' luable, when they are sincere. That His grandfather was bred a Disis seldom. Pope wrote for effect. senter, but afterwards came over to So did Cowper sometimes : compare the Church. Marrying at forty-five, his correspondence with Newton and he had two daughters and three Hill. The writer can scarcely be sons, of whom the second was Roidentified. Horace Walpole made bert, the poct's father, who was an

enthusiast in all country pleasures. before she would use it again.' Having been placed with a grocer in A confidential man-servant was as London, he gave a curious proof of odd as his mistress, and every night the strength of the passion. As he fed the crickets. In this strange was standing at the shop door, a garden-house the larger portion of porter went by carrying a hare. four years glided away-to a child This brought his favourite sport so heavily enough. He had no playforcibly to his mind, that he could mates, was kept inviolate from dust, not help crying at the sight.' The and slept with his aunt. This was circumstance was the anticipation, as the severest chapter of the lesson. well as the fulfilment, of Words Miss Tyler was a late riser; and the worth's reverie of Susan. In after little Robert did not dare to make years, and to preserve the impres- the slightest movement for fear of sion, he took a hare for his com disturbing her. During those weamercial crest, and had it painted risome hours his wits were at work, upon the window on each side the ' fancying figures and combinations door, and engraved in the shop bills. of forms in the curtains, wondering Upon his master's death he was at the motes in the slant sunbeam, removed to a linendraper's in Bris and watching the light from the cretol, where he continued for twelve vices of the window shutters. By or fourteen years.

degrees the progress of the shadow Robert Southey was born August stood him in the stead of a clock. 1, 1773. The twilight of his recol At two years of age he was inolection began with his third year. culated, and attributed his subseHe was gifted with the sensibility of quent thinness to the preparatory the poetical mind, and shed tears at regimen. His aunt had one friend the tale of Chevy Chase. His first whose name will ever possess a kind school was presided over by a dame, of juvenile celebrity,—this was the with intolerable features and no eye wife of Mr. F. Newberry, of St. Paul's. lashes. Under her rule he remained, As soon as he could read, the Bibwith occasional intervals

of absence, liopole presented him with a setuntil his sixth year. The Utopia- twenty in number of those astomania was already strong in him. nishing productions, which have so With two schoolfellows he formed a often amazed the slumbers of three plan of going to an island and living years. To this gist he traced some by themselves. The military taste of his literary tastes; but other ciralso showed itself in a walk with a cumstances helped them forward. neighbouring barber, who promised The Bath theatre was then in its him a sword. But it speedily re zenith.

The players divided the treated before the prompt and liberal week between it and Bristol. Miss application of the horsewhip. Many Tyler was generally supplied with of his holydays were spent with his orders, and always availed herself of aunt, Miss Tyler, who occupied a them. Her talk was dramatic. Her house in what was then an agreeable nephew soon caught the tone of exsuburb of Bath. It looked into a pression, and once, returning from garden abounding in fruit trees, and church on Sunday morning, called the parlour steps were embowered down an angry rebuke by saying by jessamine. This was a favourite that it had been a very full house. scat of the child-poet. The furniture Healthier aids to reflection were not was old and picturesque. In the wanting. He delighted in fieldparlour hung the lady's portrait, by walks, and the ferry-boat at Walcot Gainsborough, with a curtain before was a great resource. The first disit to keep off the flies. Among the tinction of life came slowly npon the most curious articles were a cabinet poet. He saw his sixth year before of ivory, ebony, and tortoiseshell, and he was 'breeched' in a complete suit an arm-chair made of cherry-wood,

of forester's green.

He was then which seems to have had a particular sent as a day-scholar to a school at interest attached to it; 'if any visi Bristol, kept by a Baptist minister, tor who was not in her especial an old man and cruel. However, he favour sat thereon, the leathern died in twelve months, and was succushion was always sent into the ceeded by a Socinian, of more learngarden, to be aired and purified, ing and heresy. But the poet reaped

no advantage from the change. His father, for some cause unexplained, removed him to Corston, about nine miles from Bristol :

The stage was to drop me at the public-house, and my father to accompany it on horseback, and consign me to the master's care. When the time for our departure drew nigh I found my mother weeping in her chamber; it was the first time I had ever seen her shed tears. The room (that wherein I was born), with all its furniture, and her position and look at that moment, are as distinct in my memory as if the scene had occurred but yesterday; and I can call to mind with how strong and painful an effort it was that I subdued my own emotions. I allude to this in the Hymn to the Penates, as

The first grief I felt, And the first painful smile that clothed

my front

With feelings not its own.
What follows also is from the life :-

Sadly at night
I sat me down beside a stranger's hearth,
And when the lingering hour of rest was

come, First wet with tears my pillow.

The school-house was noticeable for its staircase of black oak, and rooms hung with faded tapestry; its shady garden, summer-house, gatepillars, surmounted with huge stone balls, a paddock, orchard, and walnuttrees. The master was a mathematician, who usually lived in the stars. The desk disenchanted him. Not that the scholastic promises were large: they only embraced writing and arithmetic. But twice in the week a French teacher from Bristol instructed a few ambitious students, of whom the poet was one, in Latin. Penmanship was the great fact of Corston; it was excellent, including what is called the Italian, engrossing, and some varieties of German text. Mr. Flower, that was the name of the pedagogue, had other instruments of confusion besides his orrery. With the reckless wisdom of fifty' he had married his housemaid. Of course, everything went wrong under the guidance of astronomy, folly, and fire-water.

Some brighter streaks diversify the picture. We have already mentioned the orchard ; the boys were the appointed gatherers ; and their labour was lightened and recommended by a very liberal per

mission to eat of the produce. They were also allowed to

Squail at the bannets, that is, being interpreted, to throw at his walnuts when it was time to bring them down : there were four or five fine trees on the hill-side above the brook. I was too little to bear a part in this, which required considerable strength; but for many days afterwards I had the gleaning among the leaves and broken twigs with which the ground was covered, and the fragrance of these leaves, in their inci. pient decay, is one of those odours which I can smell at will, and which, whenever it occurs, brings with it the vivid remembrances of past times.

But even these orchard gatherings bad a constant cheque and contrast in the Sunday evenings, when the astronomer collected

youthful congregation into the hall, and read a dreary sermon, or a scarcely less alarming chapter from Stackhouse's History of the Bible.

The poet's seat was at the extremity of a long form, within the faintest gleam of the fire. All troubles come to an end. So did those at Corston ; an intestine commotion, resulting in the flight of the master and the discoloured eyes of his son, unexpectedly turned all the pupils adrift.

While the father of Southey was casting his eyes round in search of another school, he took up his abode with his relatives at Bedminster, a dirty village of colliers. The house had been built by his grandfather. • It stood in a lane. You ascended by several circular steps into a flower-garden. The porch was in great part lined, as well as covered, with white jessamine.' Here he often sat with his sister, threading fallen blossoms upon grass stalks. We think that the following description of the interior might have won the praise of Richardson :

On the right hand was the parlour, which had a brown or black boarded floor, covered with a Lisbon mat, and a handsome timepiece over the fireplace ; on the left was the best kitchen, in which the family lived. The best kit. chen is an apartment that belongs to other days, and is now no longer to be seen, except in houses which, having remained unaltered for the last half century, are inhabited by persons a degree lower in society than their former possessors. The one which I am now calling to mind after an interval of more

than forty years, was a cheerful room, with an air of such country comfort about it, that my little heart was always gladdened when I entered it during my grandmother's life. It had a stone floor, which I believe was the chief distinction between a best kitchen and a parlour. The furniture consisted of a clock, a large oval oak table with two flaps (over which two or three fowling-pieces had their place), a round tea-table of cherry wood, Windsor chairs of the same, and two large armed ones of that

easy

make (of all makes it is the easiest), in one of which my grandmother always sat. On one side of the fireplace the china was displayed in a buffet — that is, a cupboard with glass doors; on the other were closets for articles less ornamental, but more in use. The room was wainscotted and ornamented with some old maps, and with a long looking-glass over the chimney-piece, and a tall one between the windows, both in white frames. The windows opened into the fore-court, and were as cheerful and fragrant in the season of flowers as roses and jessamine, which grew luxuriantly without, could make them. There was a passage between this apartment and the kitchen, long enough to admit of a large airy pantry, and a larder on the left hand, the windows of both opening into the barton, as did those of the kitchen; on the right was a door into the back court. There was rack in the kitchen well furnished with bacon, and a mistletoe bush always suspended from the middle of the ceiling.

The green room, which was my uncle Edward's, was over the parlour. Over the hall was a smaller apartment, which had been my grandfather's office, and still contained his desk and his pigeonholes : I remember it well, and the largepatterned, dark, flock paper, with its faded ground. The yellow room, over the best kitchen, was the visitor's chamber; and this my mother occupied whenever she slept there. There was no way to my grandmother's, the blue room over the kitchen, but through this and an intervening passage, where, on the left, was a store-room. The blue room had a thorough light, one window looking into the barton, the other into the back court. The squire slept in the garret; his room was on one side, the servants' on the other : and there was a large open space between, at the top of the stairs, used for lumber and stores.

A door from the hall, opposite to the entrance, opened upon the cellar-stairs, to which there was another door from the back court. This was a square, having the house on two sides, the washhouse and brewhouse on the third, and

walled on the fourth. A vine covered one side of the house here, and grew round my grandmother's window, out of which I have often reached the grapes. Here also was the pigeon-house, and the pump, under which the fatal dipping was performed. The yard or barton was of considerable size ; the entrance to it was from the lane, through large folding-gates, with a horse-chestnut on each side. And here another building fronted you, as large as the house, containing the dairy and laundry, both large and excellent in their kind, seed-rooms, stable, haylofts, &c. The front of this outhouse was almost clothed with yew, clipt to the shape of the windows. Opposite the one gable-end were the coal and stick houses; and on the left side of the barton was a shed for the cart, and while my grandfather lived, for an open carriage, which after his death was no longer kept. Here too was the horseblock, beautifully overhung with ivy, from an old wall against which it was placed. The other gable-end was covered with fruit trees, and at the bottom was a raised camomile bed.

The garden-ground was in the old English fashion, combining use and pleasure in its sunny walls, green with cherry, peach, and nectarine trees; grassy walks, espaliers, and flowers.

An apricot tree grew in the fore-court, and a barberry bush by the orchard-gate. We have seen Southey's love and quick perception of rural odours; but we were not acquainted with Wordsworth's singular privation of that delightful faculty. His friend tells us, that 'once, and once only in his life, the dormant sense awakened. It was called forth by a bed of stocks in full bloom, at a house which he inhabited in Dorsetshire some five-and-twenty years ago. He says

it was like a vision of Paradise to him; but it lasted only a few minutes, and the faculty has continued torpid since that time.! Coleridge resembled Southey in his quick perception and enjoyment of perfumes ; and we think of him at this moment sitting at his cottage-door, in Clevedon, and saying to Sara, -

How exquisite the scents Snatch'd from yon bean-tield ! In this quiet home young Southey found many pleasures. Beauty of scenery was not; but he had still. ness, light and shadow, green lanes, country sounds, and flowers. He passed most of his time in the garden, and knew where to look for every

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