21. Robert Southey to Thomas Phillipps Lamb, 5 August [1792]

21. Robert Southey to Thomas Phillipps Lamb, 5 August [1792] ⁠* 

Bath. Sunday August 5th

Dear Sir

I have taken the liberty to send the foregoing song in case you survey the bounds of Portslade as you purposed.

we have had an odd circumstance happen at a funeral last week which tho’ much talked of the corporation endeavour to suppress. Mr Foreman [1]  one of their number some years back emprisoned a poor man & treated him in a manner particularly unfeeling — the man at length obtaind his release & vowed should he survive Mr F. he would be revenged upon him [MS torn] Foreman last week died & early on Friday morning did the [MS torn] with only one mourner to follow it — the procession however was soon increasd — for the survivor (not forgetful of his vow) joined it driving six asses in pairs with each a bit of black crape fastened round his neck & trained in the slow mute step — these mourners followed to the churchyard & whilst the ceremony was performing were arranged on each side the entrance like so many mutes. the corporation wisely take the insult to themselves & wish to stop the report — but many people saw it & all talk of it.

Will you give my best compliments to Mrs L & tell her I am happy she has had the measles at last — believe me your much obliged humble servant

I am glad you have discarded the old gray.

Robert Southey

Inspect human life, look at each various stage.
Youth, frolicsome season, or manhood or age,
Look at all its wild mazes & intricate rounds
You will find it quite needful to keep within bounds
Derry down.

The schoolboy long kept to his studies so still
Leaps his bound’ries & runs wheresoever he will
But when he returns to the pedagogues grounds
Imposition attends him who goes out of bounds
Derry down.

Lo the Author — sedition distils from his pen
“Your monarchs pull down & set up rights of men” [2] 
No wreath of bright bay here his temples surrounds
But the pillory encircles who goes beyond bounds
Derry down.

See where the Bastile [3]  lifted on high its dull head
And buried poor Devils before they were dead —
Low lies the curst castle encumbring the ground
For when binding so hardly it bound beyond bounds
Derry down

Mark the mob — how poor wretches by day & by night
Like candles at lanterns they hang for a sight —
But whilst Freedom Freedom so loudly resounds
The Devil takes all that have got in his bounds
Derry down.

Kept close & half starvd — if by chance the poor ass
Strays beyond his own pasture to seek better grass
The first one who meets him immediately pounds
And leaves him to grieve that he went out of bounds
Derry down

But happier he than the wretch whom the laws
Have caught in their hungry insatiable jaws,
The Law with her myrmidons close him surrounds
And the Lord only knows when he’ll get out of bounds
Derry down.

You all of you know & have all learnt at school
That without an exception was never a rule —
Good company now with good liquor abounds
And when we are happy let’s think of no bounds
Derry down


* Address: Thomas Phillips Lamb Esqr/ Mountsfield Lodge/ Rye/ Sussex
Stamped: BATH
Postmark: AU/ 6/ 92
MS: Duke University Library, Southey papers. ALS; 4p. (c).
Previously published: John Wood Warter, Selections From the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 13–14. BACK

[1] Unidentified. BACK

[2] A paraphrase of sentiments associated with Thomas Paine (1737–1809; DNB), The Rights of Man (1791–1792). BACK

[3] Bastille, the fortress-prison in Paris, seized by a crowd on 14 July 1789, a date henceforth used to mark the beginning of the French Revolution. BACK