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ROBERT SOUTHEY.

WHAT heart does not warm to the memory of Robert Southey, pattern of the literary character in this wearing nineteenth century? Penniless, disowned by his friends, with no one to look up to for assistance, nothing could divert him from his cherished inclination. He lived for literature. Its pursuit constituted his happiness. For it he sacrificed proffered rank and power; and joyfully he devoted to its service a toiling life of unexampled industry. Yet this man so wedded to his absorbing vocation, in the social capacity of husband, father, relative and friend, stands above reproach. His life is one emphatic denial of the daring falsehood, that genius and virtue are incompatible, that domestic felicity is inconsistent with literary labour. England knew not a happier circle, than that which for years assembled by the humble hearthstone at Greta Hall. It is refreshing to turn aside from the babble of the world, and contemplate that peaceful home, nestling amid the Cumberland mountains.

Our hero first saw the light on the 12th August, 1774,

at Bristol, in which city his father was residing, engaged in trade. His ancestors, who were yeomen of Somersetshire, were settled about eighty years anterior to that period near Wellington in that county. As they bore arms, and the arms had a religious character, he was pleased to imagine they were of gentle blood; and that far back in crusading times, a Southey had couched a lance against the infidel in Palestine.

The sensibilities of the child were early awakened, and when he was three years old, the recital of the fine old ballad of "Chevy Chase" would bring tears into his eyes. Until his sixth year, he was placed at a school superintended by an antique dame of awful aspect, and the youthful dreamer there planned a scheme, to go with two of his school-fellows and live by themselves in freedom on some desert island. Some martial predilections that manifested themselves about this time, in jarring contrast with his more peaceful longings were speedily whipped out of him.

His holydays he occasionally spent with Miss Tyler, a maiden aunt, a half-sister of his mother, who had a house in one of the suburbs of Bath, and the life he led there must have clashed rudely with the gentle enthusiasm of his nature. This lady was a singular character, careless, or unable to understand the disposition of the bright-eyed boy she sheltered beneath her roof. She held the notion that a commanding mind was invariably associated with a violent temper, and indulged her own accordingly. Though scrupulously clean, she would go about in rags, lived in the worst kitchen, and was parsimonious of everything but money. A severe cleanliness was her exaggerated virtue, and her abhorrence of dust amounted to a disease. She would send out the tea-kettle to be emptied and refilled, if any one chanced to walk past the fire-place while it was sim

mering upon the hob; a cup would be buried for weeks if it had come in contact with the unclean lip of a stranger, and so sacred in her eyes was her cherry wood arm-chair, that “if any visitor who was not in her especial favour sat thereon, the leathern cushion was always sent into the garden to be aired and purified before she would use it again." The grounds about the house abounded with fruit trees, and the fragrant jessamine clustered over the steps that led from the parlour to the garden. This was a favourite spot with young Southey, where he would often sit for hours, indulging in the vague and strange reveries of childhood. The house was tastefully filled with antique furniture, a few prints adorned the walls, and a curtain guarded from flies and profanation, Gainsborough's portrait of its eccentric mistress. Here wearily passed the days of the child-poet; he was allowed no playmates; he experienced no sympathy; he was debarred from the exercises natural to his age, as no speck of dirt was ever allowed to soil his immaculate attire. He slept with his aunt, who was a late riser, and morning after morning had he to lie in painful tranquillity, fearing lest he might disturb her by some involuntary motion; occupied in tracing fanciful combinations in the folds of the curtains, and watching the countless motes dancing in the sunbeams that crept through the chinks of the shutters.

The wife of Francis Newberry, a son of Goldsmith's publishing patron, was a friend of Miss Tyler's, and she presented the nephew with twenty of those famous juvenile works, so popular, before it was the custom to torture the minds of children with elementary treatises on statics and political economy. To the eager perusal of these treasures Southey ascribed much of his early predilection for books. He was frequently taken to the theatre, for which amusement Miss Tyler had a strong partiality, and would con

verse with the actors who visited her house. He even caught the dramatic tone of conversation, and one Sunday on his return from church received a grave rebuke, for having observed that there had been a very full house that morning.

In his sixth year he was sent to a school at Bristol, kept by one Foot, a Baptist, who had sunk into Arianism, a vindictive and stern divine, who died after he had been there twelve months, and was succeeded by a Socinian. He was then removed to Corston, about nine miles from Bristol; this school was abruptly dissolved, and young Southey was sent to live with his grandmother at Bedminster, with whom Miss Tyler was then domesticated.

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He was next placed under a Welshman named Williams, at Bristol, from whom he learnt but little, but where he spent the pleasantest of his school days. Williams, who was proud of his elocution, once asked his pupil scornfully who taught him to read. My aunt," replied Southey. "Then give my compliments to your aunt," said the master, "and tell her that my old horse that has been dead twenty years could have taught you as well." Southey innocently delivered the message verbatim, and was astonished at the violent reception it met with. next placed under the superintendence of Lewis, a clergyman at Bristol, where Miss Tyler was then residing. This succession of teachers must, according to conventional notions of education, have been most injurious. An ordinary boy would have been as ignorant at the end of such a peregrination as at the beginning. But it was advantageous rather than hurtful to an inquisitive mind like Southey's. The frequent change of scene enlarged his ideas, and he had already commenced that system of unconscious self-culture, which is the principal, probably the only, effective education of superior minds. Newberry's

publications had awakened a taste for reading, which he gratified by all available means. Beaumont and Fletcher were read through before he was eight years old; he had also made himself familiar with some of the plays of Shakespeare, and the discrepancy between them, and the history of the times they treated of, was a grievous puzzle to him.

During one of his holidays, a friend made him a present of Hoole's translation of "Tasso." The book touched a nerve in his organization that had till then been dormant, and the remembrance of the gratification its pages afforded, endured through all his after life. The book was carefully preserved. "Forty years," said he, writing in 1823, "have tarnished the gilding upon its back, but they have not effaced my remembrance of the joy with which I received it, and the delight I found in its perusal." Tasso, Ariosto, Spenser, Mickle's "Lusiad," Pope's "Homer,” Josephus, Sidney's "Arcadia," and Rowley were diligently read. His father's library was limited, a small cupboard held all his books and his wine-glasses; but during the holidays, the boy had the run of a circulating library in the town comprising a few hundred volumes, and among them he revelled.

He had projected and commenced both tragedies and epic poems, before he was ten years of age, and was surprised that his schoolfellows should experience any difficulty in providing appropriate dialogue if he furnished the plot and characters. "It is the easiest thing in the world," said he, "to write a play, for you know you have only to think what you would say if you were in the place of the characters, and to make them say it." He was sensitive, however, of his fame, and some of his pieces having been discovered and read at his aunt's, he invented a cypher; but becoming unable to solve his own hieroglyphics, burnt his manuscripts in vexation.

In February, 1788, he went to Westminster, but not

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