85. Robert Southey to Robert Lovell, 5-6 April 1794
85. Robert Southey to Robert Lovell, 5–6 April 1794 *
Saturday evening. April 5th 1794.
Such are the melancholy effusions of a pensive evening hour. I had spent the afternoon with a much esteemd friend — & our future stations in life became the topic of discourse—they drew on the remembrance of present calamity, the miseries of dependance, the bad state of society, & the futility of Rectitude to insure happiness. You will not wonder if all this calld up an unpleasant train of ideas to my mind. I see that the nice susceptibility of Rectitude & firm perseverance of Integrity, rather prevent enjoyment, than procure it. & I feel that Vice & Folly will carry a man thro this world more agreably, whilst the one arms his head & the other his heart against those arrows that rankle most keenly in the sensible breast. surely the love of life must be very strong or the dread of Death very tremendous—for if there be not another world what wretch would remain in this? & if there be who but would venture for a happier life in it? tis growing late & the less is said on this subject the better. good night.
Of late I have been much in the rhyming mood, & you will have a delectable dose of democracy on the other side. poor Gerald  cannot possibly survive his trial <voyage>. Muir’s  mother is actually dying of a broken heart. have you seen the very beautiful address from the Sheffield society to these virtuous exiles?  Wyndham  wished the same laws were established in England. when William Penn  was tried for speaking seditious words in Gracechurch Street the Recorder declared that it would never be well for England till the Inquisition was introduced. you know the memorable verdict of the jury, & you know the future fate of the founder of Pensylvania. who knows but Muir may prophecy when he says “my imagination sometimes whispers to me, that I shall not be a spectator of inanimate Nature merely, but that I may contemplate an infant empire, a new Europe in embryo.” 
To the Exiled Patriots 
Caius Gracchus 
this high seasond ingredient goes to the Salmagundi for swine.  Tiberius Gracchus  my brother in democracy writes good verses & if you add your assistance sometimes, we may raise the reputation of the HogWash. How go on the subscriptions in Bristol for the militia? & that for a nobler purpose? The ministerial one was carried here, yesterday nem. con.  & I in the hall!
I have not yet seen Priestleys reasons for quitting this country. from the review I collect that he compares the present state of Europe with ancient prophecies & foretells the most dismal scenes of devastation.  “Oh I could prophesy”  says Hotspur & so say I but to prophecy no good evil is melancholy — & good impossible, when indeed after evil. Belsham  is elected Pastor in his place & by the little I know of this man he is more qualified to succeed, Joseph Priestley than the generality of dissenting preachers. he is the author of one or two very good works —thoughts on parliamentary reform & Memoirs of the house of Brunswick—Lunenburg.  my knowledge of this is from the reviews.
Have you ever seen Bowles’s  poems & more particularly his sonnets? tho he be an Oxford man,[MS torn] name is little known here; & tho [MS torn] first poet the University can now boast. Allen has lent a [MS torn] copy of his sonnets, for he printed but few copies & they are a[MS torn] to be obtained. they pleasd me so much that I shall trans[|MS torn] your opinion. —With respect to Madoc the evidence is [MS torn] of respectability agree in affirming that they have conversed with [MS torn] speak the Welsh language as their mother tongue, & who preserve [MS torn] origin. this account was corroborated by the testimony of Bowles [MS torn] Cherokee Chief.  however this matters not for a romance. Bare tra[MS torn] is sufficient grounds for a poet. both Mexico & Peru appear to [MS torn] have been in some degree civilized by this adventurous Old Cambr[MS torn] surely the subject is incomparably good. depicture the brothers of [MS torn] each other for the possessing of the Kingdom. Wales deluged with civil [MS torn] state of Europe during the reign of our Henry 2nd  — [MS torn] manners of Peru — the savage superstition of Mexico & the appearance of Nature in a savage country.  on this topic we will have some conversation. tis probable I shall be in Bristol before ‹by next› Sunday but I cannot pronounce with certainty
My silence on natural history & natural philosophy, arose from ignorance. they are subjects upon which till lately I knew nothing, & now but little. it is not however my nature to sit down contented with ignorance. The study claims my attention; anatomy chymistry & botany will be my chief studies. how much truth is there in the old adage Life is short—Science is long! I experience the truth every day. one book leads on another one study demonstrates the necessity of another, & so we proceed from year to year till Death—compresses all our acquisition into a clod of the valley!
The Rooks 
The parting knell was instituted in the darker ages of superstition, from the idea that the sound terrified the Devil from his prey.
You see I am commenced Sonnetteer. The Knell extends sixteen lines in fact the subject is not that of a sonnet. but as I look on this species of poetry as much resembling the Greek Epigrams which are of indefinite length. I see no impropriety either in compressing an idea in less than fourteen lines for simplicity or in lengthening it for perspicuity. Your Warton I much like. tis a good subject well handled. 
my remembrances to Mrs L. &c. if you write immediately I shall receive your letter. This I rather hope than expect.
Sunday April 6. 1794.
* Address: Mr Robert Lovell/ No 25 College
Street/ Bristol/ Single Sheet
Endorsement: R Southey to R Lovell
MS: Special Collections, Tulane University Libraries, Manuscripts Collection M 1105. ALS; 4p. (c).
 Joseph Gerrald (1763–1796; DNB), political reformer, found guilty of sedition in March 1794 and transported to Australia in May 1795. BACK
 Thomas Muir (1765–1799; DNB), political reformer who was found guilty of sedition in August 1793 and transported to Australia in May 1794. BACK
 A Serious Lecture Delivered at Sheffield February 28 1794 ... to Which are Added a Hymn and Resolutions (1794). BACK
 William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Lord Grenville (1759–1834; DNB), politician, Foreign Secretary 1791–1801, Prime Minister 1806–1807. Gerrald and Muir had been convicted under Scottish law, and Wyndham desired that the same law applied in England. BACK
 In 1670, the Quaker leader William Penn (1644–1718; DNB) was tried for addressing a tumultuous assembly at Gracechurch Street. The judge refused to accept the jury’s ‘not guilty’ verdict and Penn was imprisoned. BACK
 Published in part in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s A Moral and Political Lecture (1795) and Conciones ad Populum (1795). Southey never issued the poem under his own signature, though a variant version appeared in the Galignani brothers’ unauthorised edition of his Poetical Works, published in Paris in 1829. The version published in 1829 was possibly supplied by Southey’s erstwhile friend, John Horseman. BACK
 Martyrs ... crime: Verse written in double columns. The last line quotes Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802; DNB), The Botanic Garden, 2 vols (Lichfield, 1789–1791), II, p. 117. BACK
 Daniel Isaac Eaton, (c. 1753–1814; DNB) Pig’s Meat; or, Lessons for the Swinish Multitude (1794–1795). If Southey sent his poem to Eaton, the latter did not publish it. BACK
 Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163–132 BC), elder brother of Gaius Gracchus and also a proponent of reform. This is possibly a pseudonym for Southey’s friend and fellow radical Robert Allen. BACK
 Joseph Priestley (1733–1804; DNB), had emigrated to America in April 1794. The reference is to his The Present State of Europe Compared with Antient Prophecies; A Sermon, Preached at the Gravel Pit Meeting in Hackney, February 28, 1794 (1794). BACK
 William Belsham, Remarks on the Nature and Necessity of a Parliamentary Reform (1793) and Memoirs of the Kings of Great Britain of the House of Brunswic-Lunenberg (1793). BACK
 William Lisle Bowles, Fourteen Sonnets, Elegiac and Descriptive. Written During a Tour (1789). BACK
 ‘General’ William Augustus Bowles (1763–1805), American loyalist and prominent figure among the Creek Indians, who led an Indian delegation to George III (1738–1820; reigned 1760–1820; DNB) in 1790–1791. See John Williams (1727–1798), Further Observations on the Discovery of America, by Prince Madog ab Owen Gwynedd, About the Year 1170 (London, 1792), p. 2. BACK