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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

127. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [possibly started before and continued on 12 May 1795] ⁠* 

ELINOR. [1] 

a Monologue.

Scene the shores of New Holland. Morning.

———

Once more to daily toil! once more to wear
The weeds of Infamy — from every joy
The heart could feel, excluded, I arise
Worn out & faint with unremitting woe.
And once again with wearied steps I trace
The hollow-sounding shore. the full swoln {waves}
Gleam to the morning sun & dazzle oer
With many a splendid hue the breezy strand.
Oh there was once a time, when Elinor
Gazed on thine opening beam with joyous eye
Undimmd by guilt & grief! when her full soul
Felt thy mild radiance, & the rising day
Waked but to pleasure. on thy sea-girt verge
Oft England! have my evening steps stole on
Oft have mine eyes surveyed the blue expanse,
And markd the wild wind swell the ruffled surge
And seen the upheaved billows bosomed rage
Rush on the rock; & then my timid soul
Shrunk at the perils of the boundless deep
And heaved a sigh for suffering mariners.
Ah! little deeming I myself was doomed
To tempt the perils of the boundless deep
An Outcast! unbelovd & unbewaild!

Why stern Remembrance must thy iron hand
Harrow my soul? why calls thy cruel power
The fields of England to my exiled eyes
The joys which once were mine? even now I see
The lowly lovely dwelling! even now
Behold the woodbine clasping its white walls,
And hear the fearless redbreasts chirp around
To ask their morning meal; for I was wont
With friendly hand to give their morning meal
Was wont to love their song, when lingering {morn}
Streakd over the chilly landskip the dim light
And thro the opened lattice hung my head
To view the snow-drops bud. & thence at eve,
When mildly-fading sunk the summer sun,
Oft have I loved to mark the rooks slow course
And hear his hollow croak, what time he sought
The church-yard elm whose wide-embowering boughs
Full-foliagd, half conceald the house of God.
There my dead father! often have I heard
Thy hallowed voice explain the wonderous works
Of Heaven to sinful man. ah! little deemd
Thy virtuous bosom that thy shameless child
So soon should spurn the lesson! — sink the Slave
Of Vice & Infamy! the hireling prey
Of brutal appetite! at length worn out
With famine & the avenging scourge of guilt
Should dare dishonesty — yet dread to die!

Welcome ye savage lands — ye barbarous climes
Where angry England sends her outcast sons,
I hail your joyless shores! my weary bark
Long tempest-tost on Lifes inclement sea
Here hails her haven welcomes the drear scene
The marshy plain, the briar-entangled wood
And all the perils of a world unknown.
For Elinor has nothing new to fear
From fickle Fortune! all her rankling shafts
Barbd with disgrace & venomed with disease
Have pierced my bosom — & the dart of death
Has lost its terrors to a wretch like me.

Welcome ye marshy heaths — ye pathless woods
Where the rude native rests his wearied frame
Beneath the sheltering shade. where when the storm
As rough & bleak it rolls along the sky
Benumbs his naked limbs, he flies to seek
The dripping shelter. welcome ye wild plains
Unbroken by the plough, undelved by hand
Of patient rustic, where for lowing herds
And for the music of the bleating flocks
Alone is heard the Kangaroos sad note
Deepening in distance. welcome ye rude clime
The realm of Nature! for as yet unknown
The crimes & comfrots of luxurious life,
Nature benignly gives to all enough,
Denies to all a superfluity.
What tho the garb of Infamy I wear
Tho day by day along the echoing beach
I cull the wave-worn shells — yet day by day
I earn in honesty the frugal food
And lay me down at night to calm repose.
No more condemned the mercenary tool
Of brutal Lust — whilst heaves the indignant {heart}
With Virtues stifled sigh — to fold my arms
Round the rank felon, & for daily bread
To hug contagion to my poisoned breast —
On these wild shores Repentance savior hand
Shall probe my secret soul shall cleanse its {wounds}
And fit the faithful penitent for heaven.

————


Ode to a Frog [2] 

1

Poor being! wherefore dost thou fly
Why seek to shun my gazing eye
And palpitate with fear?
Indulge a passing travellers sight
And leap not on in vain affright —
No cruel foe is here.

2

I would but pause awhile to view
Thy dappled coat of many a hue
Thy rapid bound survey,
And see how well thy limbs can glide
Along the sedge-crownd streamlets tide,
Then journey on my way.

3

No savage sage am I whose power
Shall bear thee from thy rush-wove bower
To feel the unsparing knife;
No barbarous schemes this hand shall try,
Nor to prolong thy death would I
Prolong thy little life.

4

Ah let not him, whose wanton skill
Delights the mangled frog to kill
The meed of praise attain!
Philosophy abhors the heart
That prostitutes her sacred art
To give one being pain. [3] 

————

Did you ever see the cruel experiments tried upon frogs to discover the cause of muscular motion?

Sonnet. [4]  the 6 last lines by

Coleridge.

———

Poor Wanderer of the Night! thou pale forlorn!
Remorse that man on his death-bed possess,
Who in the hour of credulous tenderness
Betrayed & left thee to the hard worlds scorn.
The hard world scoffs thy woes! the chaste Ones pride
Mimic of virtue mocks thy keen distress.
Thy Loves & they that envied thee, deride,
And Vice alone will shelter Wretchedness —
Oh I am sad to think — that there should be
Cold-bosomed lewd Ones who endure to place
Foul offerings at the shrine of Misery.
Forcing from Famines arms the embrace of Love —
May he shed healing on thy sore disgrace
He, the great Comforter who rules above.

Sonnet. [5] 

Fair is the rising morn when oer the sky
The orient sun expands his roseate ray,
And lovely to the Bards enthusiasts eye
Fades the meek radiance of departing day.
But fairer is the smile of one we love
Than all the scenes in Natures amply sway
And sweeter than the music of the grove
The Voice that bids us welcome. such delight
Were ours my Edith, on the distant shore
When all the labors of the day were oer
If thou shouldst smile a welcome. at thy sight
My heart would bound to rapture! far removed
To woodland scenes where Care intrudes no {more,}
We should be blest beloving & beloved. [6] 

———

The Soldier’s Wife [7] 

(written with Coleridge. {read this aloud & accent it}

Weàry way-wànderer ׀ lànguid & sìck at heart
Tràvelling paìnfully ׀ over the rùgged road,
Wìld-visagd Wànderer ׀ àh for thy heàvy chance!

Sorèly thy little one dràgs by thee bàre-footed
But àh for the bàby that hàngs at thy bènding back
Meàgre & livìd & screàming its wrètchedness.

Woè-begone mòther half ànger half àgony,
Ovèr thy shoùlders thou tùrnest to hùsh the babe
Bleàkly the blinding snow drìfts in thy hàgged cheek.

Thy hùsband will nèver retùrn for the wàr again
Còld is thy hòpeless heart — even as Chàrity
Còld are thy fàmishd babes — Gòd help thee wìdowed One!

There my dear Grosvenor. for RS returning at eleven o’clock — find your letter & immediately write thus much — you will allow no small miracle. now my eyes ache & I must to bed — by the by before I bid you good night take these lines which tickle me hugely

Despairing beside a clear stream
An elderly Gentleman sat,
A willow supported his wig
And over his wig was his hat.

Good night my dear Grosvenor. I will to my worst companion — the pillow! heigh ho! — God bless you.

Tuesday night. Bristol College Street. No 25


Now my dear Grosvenor you see why you could not receive this on Wednesday — because you directed to Bath & your letter came to me at eleven last night. you shall have another letter from me very shortly with what poetry I have yet unseen by you — but I have a good piece to send you soon — the first book of Madoc. I will ask your question tho methinks there would be but little probability of erring if I answered in the affirmative. perhaps the female heart is more alive to affection than mans — & the dangerous error entailed upon them by education is — that they almost always act from their feelings & not from fixed principles. you may be assured that no fixed principles can possibly form a resolution of celibacy.

I would willingly pass a fortnight with you could I quit this place. but I fear me that love makes a man very selfish when he seems to himself the most remote from selfishness. in truth Bedford I have almost insulated myself from mankind — I shun all company as much as possibly & when not with Edith love to be alone — that if unemployed in reading & writing I may enjoy solitary thoughts. this is better than sitting silent in company, & observing the little errors & follies of all around me — for I am grown an acute observer of men & agree with Burns that “they are an ugly squad.” [8] 

fare thee well. I could say very much — & will write to you very soon. “be just & fear not”. [9]  without φλαττεργ — Ι θινκ υ καπαβλε οφ πλησινγ ανγ υομαν θοτ υ υισh το πλςασε.* [10] 

*the language of the look the meaning of those attentions that really spring from a sincere desire of pleasing can never be mistaken. God bless you. remember me affectionately to your father & mother — & Horace. I will write soon to Wynn. — God bless him!

my Joan goes to the press immediately. [11] 


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster./ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: [illegible]
Watermark: G R in a circle with Britannia
Endorsement: Recd. May 14th/ 1795
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 95–96 [in part; verses not reproduced; where it is dated 12 May 1795]. BACK

[1] The poem had been published anonymously in the Morning Chronicle on 18 September 1794. A revised version appeared in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK

[2] A revised version appeared in the Monthly Magazine, 2 (October 1796), 731–732. BACK

[3] Once more … pain: Verses written in double columns. BACK

[4] A revised version was published in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poems on Various Subjects (1796). BACK

[5] A revised version appeared in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK

[6] Fair is … beloved: Verses written in double columns. BACK

[7] A revised version appeared in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK

[8] A paraphrase of Robert Burns (1759–1796; DNB), ‘Epistle to a Young Friend’ (1786), line 11, ‘Ye’ll find mankind an unco squad’. BACK

[9] Henry VIII, Act 3, scene 2, line 446. BACK

[10] A transliteration of the English, ‘Flattery — I think you [written as ‘u’] capable of pleasing any woman that you wish to please’, into Greek. BACK

[11] *the language ... immediately: Written in right hand margin. BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009