171. Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 29[/30] August  *
Tuesday Aug 29th. Bristol.
I have been several times on the point of writing to you & as often delayed by the daily expectation of a letter. your last never reachd me. I have received but one from you, except what arrived to day & in that you evidently allude to another which must have been lost on the road.
Take care of despondence Horace. you are younger than I am — & yet I have not yet set out on my way of life — I am to live by the law — & know not even the ABC of it. of the nature of the application which you say has xxxxxxxx <failed> I know nothing. is not the law open to you? or the more rational & more respectable study of physic?
some subjects you say harrass you to distraction. if — as I suspect — they are upon some metaphysical questions — think nothing about them. I have followed the bubble myself till it burst — & take my word for it it is nothing but emptiness. time has produced some changes in me Horace since last we met. I have learnt heartily to despise the reptile race that pollute the world.
you love Rousseau. read his letter to that rascal Voltaire. perhaps the most eloquent & the most excellent of all his works. it is in answer to a Poem which Voltaire had written upon the earthquake at Lisbon  — speaking of religion he says — my mind cannot <endure> the painful state of suspense — & xxxx if the arguments on one side balance those on the other — I fling the weight of Hope into the scale of Reason.
My letters are advancing. I treat the Beast with as little respect as he deserves, & give my own opinion totally careless how far it may coincide with any one else.
I have now read the Monk — & admire the delicacy of Lewis  in criticising the Bible. there is genius in the book — but no good can possibly be produced by it. I would not have men distrust themselves. xx he who slides timidly will fall — & this is a slippery world.
apropos I must give you a couplet in the best alliterative stile
Lewiss poetry is contemptible — except the Water King — & Alonzo & Imogine  — of which the story is bad — & the most striking part very inferior to what appears to me its original the Franciscan monk at the marriage of Lorenzo in the Ghost-Seer of Frederick Schiller.  an author compared to whom the sublimity of Eschylus  & Shakesperexx is little have you read Fiesco? Stodhard  of Christ Church is one of the translators. you may hear something of him from Collins — if you still retain his acquaintance: with friendship I believe him totally unacquainted.
I envy you your Hastings expedition. that country is well known to me. I love the sea when on shore — but no motive shall ever take me a longer voyage than to Calais again. x somebody (a painter I believe — Tresham?) has [MS torn] a poem called the Sea Sick Minstrel  lately. tis a villainous subject. Oh Horace — conceive Heart Liver & Lights & Tripes & Trullibubs with the Fauxbourg St Intestinal Canal — in a state of insurrection — then the tocsin of the windpipe — then the discharge — such a scene of retchedness! — there is no occasion of the W.
I must give you the Effusion of a morning [MS torn] before [MS torn] breakfast. the Personification & image is I think new
I made a good pun the other day on a boy who had stolen some cakes — for I said he was παις κακος 
“With what a weight does Expectation load the wings of Time”!  says somebody — but at what a pace says <does> the bald old rascal run on when the spur of business goads! I have a great desire to write my tragedy & to finish Madoc. both of which I could do with great ease in a twelvemonth — I have heard people laugh at “give us this day our daily bread”  as a foolish petition — if those persons were at the trouble of getting it they would think otherwise.
Sunday is to be a day of rest from my law studies. & as I frequent no place of worship I shall then have leisure for writing.
Let me hear from you soon: you promisd some remarks on Joan of Arc. let them be critical ones. we shall meet soon — & then if you have time & inclination to execute half my plans — take the mantle of Elijah  — I have a thousand things to say <to> you when we meet —
yrs most truly.
* Address: Horace Walpole Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard Hastings/ Westminster./ Sussex
Postmarks: BSE/ 1/ 96; FSE/ 1/ 96
Endorsement: Thursday afternoon
MS: Houghton Library, bMS Eng 265.1 (15). ALS; 4p.
Dating note: The letter is dated ‘Tuesday Aug 29th’, but this could be a misdating as Tuesday was 30 August in 1796. BACK
 The Lisbon earthquake occurred on 1 November 1755. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) wrote to Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778) on 18 August 1756, in reply to Voltaire’s ‘Poem on the Lisbon Disaster’ (1756). BACK