Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

moting a plan for the establishment of a convalescent asylum, to confirm health in the sick poor when discharged from hospitals and not yet strong for their old labour in unhealthy homes. He returned to London for a short time only, obtained an engagement to contribute original poems to the Morning Post for a guinea a week, and withdrew to Westbury, near Bristol, where Humphry (afterwards Sir Humphry) Davy was among his friends. There he prepared second editions of his “Letters from Spain and Portugal” and of his “Minor Poems." Over-. worked by constant labour at his desk, he took a long walk in Wales. In May 1799 he went again to London, to eat dinners at Gray's Inn, and returned with treasures from the bookstalls. But he was obliged then to leave Westbury. After a visit to North Devon he settled his household again, in October, on the Hampshire coast, at Barton, near Christchurch. Some failure of health from constant sedentary work caused Southey to be advised to try a southern climate for a time, and in the spring of the year 1800 he went again, but this time with his wife, to Lisbon. His visit was of course to uncle Hill. On his return lie once more settled at Bristol, and renewed active work with the pen. Coleridge, then settled at Greta Hall, Keswick, invited Southey and his wife to Cumberland. They stayed till the autumn of 1801, and

paid also a visit to Charles Wynn at Llanyedwin, where Southey re· ceived offer of the post of secretary to Mr. Corry, Chancellor of the

Exchequer for Ireland, with £350 a year salary, and light duties. The duties were so light that Mr. Corry proposed adding to them the education of his sons, and Southey, in 1802, resigned his post. In 1801 Southey had published " Thalaba” and two volumes of “Poems." During a visit to London as secretary to Mr. Corry, his mother lived with him in his London lodgings, and died there.

After he had given up official life, Southey settled again at Bristol, in a little house, where in the autumn his first child was born, and died. Southey worked at his translation of “ Amadis of Gaul” and the “History of Portugal.” He also edited Chatterton's poems for the benefit of Chatterton's sister and niece, securing £300 for their benefit. In July 1803 he was in London, planning the publication by Messrs. Longman of a “ Bibliotheca Britannica,” an encyclopædia of British literature on a large scale. Coleridge, having found his tendency to rheumatism increased by the climate of the lakes, went to Malta, and Southey, who had not yet found a fixed habitation, went to Greta Hall, a house planned originally to be two in one. There his wife, who had recently lost her child, could be with her sister, Mrs. Coleridge, who had two boys, Hartley and Derwent, and a baby, Sara; her other sister, Mrs. Lovell, Southey's wife had always with her. In May 1804 a daughter was born to Southey, whom he named Edith May.

-Sara Coleridge, who grew up regarding Southey as a father, spoke of him long afterwards as “upon the whole the best man she had ever known.” Thenceforward, Greta Hall continued to be Southey's home.

In 1805 " Madoc” was published ; a volume also of “ Metrical * Tales ;” and Southey, visiting Scotland, was cordially received by Walter Scott at Ashestiel. In 1807 the constant good offices of his friend Charles Wynn obtained for Southey a pension from the Civil List of £200 a year, reduced by taxation to £144, which took the place of the £160 hitherto supplied by private friendship. “Espriella's Letters” were published in the same year, and an English version of “Palmerin of England.” Southey was writing for periodicals, supply. ing lives of Spanish and Portuguese authors to Aikin's “ General Biography," at work on his version of the “ Chronicle of the Cid,” and also upon his large “History of Portugal.” The Library at Greta Hall was a busy workshop, with labour always cheerful, simple life in a home atmosphere of love and kindly fun. “There is no sense,” he said, “ so good as your honest genuine nonsense.”

Southey found time also to be kind to many strangers. He had given friendly advice to young Kirke White, who died in October 1806, and after his death it was due to the gentle spirit of Southey, who edited his “Remains," that the poor struggling youth found a friendly little place, though it could be but a little place, in the story of our literature. The course of public events caused Southey to concentrate his attention on the part of his comprehensive “ History of Portugal" which told the “ History of Brazil.". His uncle, the Rev. Herbert Hill, now settled in England as rector of Streatham, was able to guide him to sources of in. formation known to few. "The History of Brazil” was published in 1810. In the same year appeared also “ The Curse of Kehama.”

Reaction from the republicanism of his younger days, and experience of the failure of the French Revolution to realize ideals, had brought Southey, as it had brought Wordsworth, to distrust of efforts towards sudden change. His way of thought upon political questions had therefore become Conservative. Walter Scott had endeavoured to help Southey by associating him with The Edinburgh Review, of which the first number had appeared on the roth of October 1802. But Francis Jeffrey, its editor, had dealt pertly with Southey's verse, and Southey's political opinions were not those of the Edinburgh Reviewers But when Scott himself seceded from The Edinburgh, and agreed to write for a new Review, The Quarterly, that was to be established by John Murray in London, and to maintain political opinions with which both Scott and Southey were in accord, a new field of industry was opening for Southey. The first number of The Quarterly Review

appeared in February 1809, with William Giffard for its editor. Southey was among the first who were invited to contribute, and the Quarterly Review had in him an active supporter during the rest of his life. But in its earlier years he was very much exercised by the free prunings of the editor. Mr. Giffard desired every one to express in the Review Mr. Giffard's opinions in Mr. Giffard's way; but Southey valued, in himself and in others, individuality of thought and expression. He was sometimes, by a transposition of words, made to say for the Review what he had not said, and what was, indeed, the reverse of his opinion. Southey fretted a little, and would have broken the connection, if he had not been retained by stronger ties of public feeling and by private need of earnings, and by hope that time would teach Giffard that better part of his art as an editor in which he was deficient. Southey earned also substantially in 1809, and for a few years afterwards, by writing for The Edinburgh Annual Register.

To the fifth number of the Quarterly Review Southey contributed an article on Nelson, which John Murray, the publisher, afterwards invited him to expand into a biography. Thus the “Life of Nelson” was not a book on a subject chosen by himself. It became one of his best books, because the theme was worthy of the care he spent upon it. The materials, he himself said, were so full of character, so picturesque and so noble, that the book could not fail to be a good one. As to the sea terms, he said he had walked among them as carefully as a cat does among crockery, but he thought he had succeeded in making the narrative continuous and clear, and had satisfied himself in the execution of the book far more than he had thought possible. In fact, he had a theme that satisfied his mind, and so he was at his best in treatment of it.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE LIFE OF NELSON.

CHAPTER 1.

Nelson's birth and boyhood-He is entered on board the Raisonnable

Goes to the West Indies in a Merchant Ship–His dislike to the Royal Navy-Serves in the Triumph-Sails in Captain Phipps' voyage of discovery to the North Pole-Adventures in the Polar Regions-Passes his examination for a Lieutenancy-Proceeds to the East Indies in the Seahorse— Returns in ill health-Consequent despondency- Reaction of feeling-Serves as Acting-Lieutenant in the Worcester, and is made Lieutenant into the Lowestoffe, Commander into the Badger brig, and Post into the HinchinbrookExpedition against the Spanish Main-Its failure-Injury to Nelson's health-He is appointed to the Janus, but obliged to resign the command-Returns to England-Is sent to the North Seas in the Albemarie-His services during the American War-Narrowly escapes matrimony—Is presented at Court.

HORATIO, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September 29, 1758, in the parsonage house of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of Norfolk, of which his father was rector. The maiden name of his mother was Suckling: her grandmother was an elder sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and this child was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died in 1767, leaving eight out of eleven children. Her brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy, visited the widower upon this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys. Three years afterwards, when Horatio was only twelve years of age, being at home during the Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper that his uncle was appointed to the Raisonnable, of sixty-four guns. “Do, William," said he to a brother who was a year and a half older than himself, “write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to sea with uncle Maurice." Mr. Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had gone for the recovery of his health ; his circumstances were straitened, and he had no prospect of ever seeing them bettered; he knew that it was the wish of providing for himself by which Horatio was chiefly actuated ; and did not oppose his resolution ; he understood also the boy's character, and had always said, that in whatever station he might be placed, he would climb, if possible, to the very top of the tree. Accordingly, Captain Suckling was written to. “What,” said he in his answer, “has poor Horatio done, who is so weak, that he above all the rest should be sent to rough it out at sea ? But let him come, and the first time we go into action, a cannon-ball may knock off his head, and provide for him at once."

* It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his uncle would have chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never of a strong body, and the ague, which at that time was one of the most common diseases in England, had greatly reduced his strength; yet he had already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind, which, during his whole career of labour and of glory, so eminently distinguished him. When a mere child he strayed a-bird's-nesting from his grandmother's house in company with a cow-boy : the dinner hour elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found ; and the alarm of the family became very great, for they apprehended that he might have been carried off by gipsies. At length, after search had been made for him in various directions, he was discovered, alone, sitting composedly by the side of a brook which he could not get over. “I wonder, child," said the old lady when she saw him, " that hunger and fear did not

« ПредишнаНапред »