153. Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 7 May [1796]

153. Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 7 May [1796] ⁠* 

Horace — I rise from the perusal of your letters — powerfully have they affected me — I asked my own heart “why have I been estranged from this man?” I know not what changes Time may have produced in you, but if you are what you was — you will be as embarrassed as myself in answering the same question.

We have seen each other Horace but a very few hours since I spent so many weeks at Brixton. & <during> those few hours my heart was preoccupied <engrossed> by many feelings. since that period I have been driven into the foremost ranks — I have experienced much of the villainy of mankind — but I have discovered virtues enough to set the balance even. & if the falshood of a bosom friend sometimes induced a passing thought of misanthropy, the benevolence of others soon made me reconciled me to human nature.

After all the trash of metaphysics our characters are born with us. for if they were totally formed by circumstances — how is it that mine has remained the same thro so many a vicissitude?

Horace let our correspondence be renewed. it can last but a few months — & then we will communicate as much viva voce, as John Doe & Richard Roe [1]  will permit.

this is the shortest letter you ever have received from me — or ever will. tell me if it be the least welcome?

God bless you

Robert Southey.

Tuesday May 7.

direct to Cottles.


* Address: Horace Walpole Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmarks: CJU/ 8/ 96; AJU/ 8/ 96
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: The conflict between Southey’s dating and the postmark (8 June) makes it possible either that Southey misdated the letter by one month, or that he did not send it for a month after writing it. BACK

[1] Fictitious characters, often used to signify the plaintiff (Doe) and defendant (Roe) in legal suits. BACK

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