75. Robert Southey to Nicholas Lightfoot, 22
Dec. 22nd. 1793
In various scenes & ways six months are past
Twas then in sultry Summers genial reign
When blazing Sirius scorchd the arid plain,
To Isis minstrelld banks we bade adieu
For Bristol I for plains Danmonian 
We left old Pompey 
tottering to its fall
And aged Cæsars stronger neighbouring wall 
We fled from quadrangles & duty prayer
To health & exercise & country air.
Now Summer burns the arid earth no more
Now haly Autumns fruitful reign is oer
Stern Winter comes & rarifies the air
aged matron calls us there.
Tis said that Oxfords genius will inspire
With heaven taught strains the youthful minstrels <lyre>
That as the Bard shall wander oer that grove
Where musing Addison 
was wont to
Or stroll where Isis rolls along the plains
Or Cherwells murmurs found in Wartons 
The local power shall give the kindling flame
And Inspiration point the path to Fame.
Vain dreams are these as you & I can tell
No meditation fills the students cell
Of Helicon 
the Genius scorns to taste
And lets the insipid waters run to waste
For Helicon has lost its power divine
And Oxford rather loves inspiring wine —
For Aganippes font 
They rather go to Godwin Joyce or Wells 
The virgin Muses too have had their day
So Oxford courts Sal Draper or Sue Gray. 
Where wizard power enthralld the sacred <ground>
The weird dames their cauldron circled round
As round & round in mystic wise they go
Each various seed of magic ills they throw
Rites that appal all Hells affrighted ear
And even Demogorgon 
Yet be the magic sisters might forgot
Methinks I see thee now the closet shut
Down at thy mighty incantations set.
The gown of flannel wraps thy limbs around
Abominations Pot is on the ground.
Each dire ingredient flung each morning there
The dry old thumb preservd with curious care
The shavings — cucumber & soap & blood
And water of all sorts compose the flood.
Down on thy table lies the flute whose sound
Shall call the magic powers of Taste around
Till thy whole soul fulfilld with feard rage
Turns to the good Lactantius’ 
Or casts oer Hutcheson 
the moral eye
Or reads & uses famous Calliepi. 
There as you sit in slippers loose alone
Falls full & banging on the door the stone
Like hail they come — you need not look to see
Such folly only can proceed from me.
No modest lie is this tis plain & true
For I must have my turn as well as you.
No magic cauldron does your friend require
You stir the Pot & S — --y stirs the fire —
If his dull Reason fails to understand
Up goes the restless poker in his hand
Or should his intellect more bright appear
Why tis but just the fire should burn as clear.
Then up I set the loud harmonious roar
Not bottle when hes drunk can bellow more
Sit down again to study at my ease
And eat some solid feet of toasted cheese
And then for exercise & change of air —
I quit the sofa for the great armd chair.
At chapel too I sleep or talk each day
Laugh — read — in short do any thing but pray
For when Devotions fervor strongest glows
Comes the curst twang of Ginger
And then I feel a strange & wicked whim
And hope the Cherubims dont sing like him
Then comes a laugh — so Satan is so strong
That I must sleep to save from doing wrong.
Tis true that every day your friendly care
Would drag me out to catch a breath of air.
Perhaps at last I sally forth — but then
Old Nick himself cant get me back again.
Thus obstinately mulish & perverse
I grow each day dear Lightfoot
worse & worse.
For other task at home my time employs
I neither stir the fire or keep a noise
But quit my bed & then take up my pen
Quit that at night & go to bed again.
But Term approaching bars my longer stay
Time Inclination call me hence away
With pleasure I once more my friends shall view
Already dinging donging on my ear
That most abominable bell I hear
snaffles service oer
You seem to pray & I most truely snore.
Already you to play the flute begin
to fiddle & your friend to sing
Already will my Fancys eager eye
Look on to Summer & the gooseberry pye
And ten o clock I seem to hate een now
Tis true. for him a very due respect stirs
God bless my tutor — but Duce take his lectures
The name composes me so if you please
My good friend Shad
Ill have my toasted cheese
now in plain prose my dear Lightfoot I write to settle our journey to old Ball Coll. come
to Bristol Tuesday Wednesday. Thursday we will see all the seeables & Friday off. I wish it were in
my power to offer you a bed but you will take inclination for ability. we have much to be seen so come earlier if you can. but write
& let me know all the whens &c.
you see I must this term. E Seward cannot be ordaind till Trinity
he will spend the intermediate time with us at Ball.
poor Burnett has been alone. they all got drunk in the
Batchelor’s common room on the Gaudy except our friend who went to Lewis. they
broke all his windows forced thro the wainscott & flung all the chairs out of window. his absence was most fortunate as they
brought a bottle of wine to pour down his throat by force. execrable blockheads twas well both for me & for them that I was absent
for had my passions been stirrd I should have used my leveller & got beat. Phelpss  adventures that night will amuse you another time.
now time presses. so believe me
most sincerely your
direct to Miss Tylers
* Address: Nicholas Lightfoot/ Moreton/ near/ Exeter./ Single
Watermark: J. LARKING
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng Lett. c. 453. ALS; 4p.
 A building in the grounds of Balliol College, Oxford. It
derived its name from the fact that it was opposite a college house known as ‘Caesar’. BACK
 A house in the grounds of Balliol
College, Oxford. It was named after Henry Adelmare Caesar (1564/5–1636; DNB), who had lived there in the
1590s whilst studying for his D.D. BACK
 Joseph Addison (1672–1719; DNB),
a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. The footpath around Magdalen deer-park is known as ‘Addison’s walk’. BACK
 Thomas Warton (1728–1790; DNB), The Triumph of Isis, A Poem () and ‘The Complaint of Cherwell’
 A mountain in Greece, reputed to be the home of the Muses. BACK
 The fountain of the Muses, at the foot of Mount
 Favourite haunts of Oxford students,
probably the coffee-houses run by Mary Goodwin and Joyce and Hayes, and the liquor-merchants run by Edward Wells. BACK
 Names (possibly generic) of Oxford
 A god whose very name was meant to terrify. BACK
 Lucius Caelius Firmianus Lactantius (c.
240–320), early Christian rhetorician and philosopher. Latin tutor to Crispus, son of the Emperor Diocletian (245–313; reigned
 Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746; DNB), moral philosopher. His Latin works included Philosophiae Moralis Institutio Compendiaria,
Ethices et Jurisprudentiae Naturalis Elementa Continens (1742). BACK
 This may be a reference to Calliope, the
muse of epic poetry. BACK
Spencer Phelps (d. 1856), a student at Balliol College, Oxford, BA 1797. BACK