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frequently stops on his journey to dip into one of the many commonplace books which his industry contrived to fill, and with which his friends since his decease have astonished the public. How often the good Doctor's quotations are without any interest whatever, and how often their actual merit has nothing to do with the matter in hand, we need not inform those who are acquainted with this grotesque production. Had the Doctor given himself time to think, he would certainly have kept much of his erudition out of sight, and not been a whit the less welcome for presenting his cheerful mind and happy countenance, without his clogs and incumbrances.
It is impossible to deny that the grave and fatal fault of Southey's character was want of reflection. It is painful to note the countless evidences of the failing. Never has there been so clear a proof given of the worthlessness of inordinate labour unaccompanied by the constant exercise of superintending judgment. Southey gave so much time to the minds of other men that he seems never to have had a moment to look into his own. Nothing thoroughly distinct and perspicuous can be ascertained of either his political or religious convictions, and solely because neither the one set of views nor the other was based upon well matured principles, or resulted from a severe, though absolutely essential, process of thought. Southey retreated from hard mental discipline. His likes and his dislikes depended upon no fixed rules, but partook of the nature of his own mixed temperament. He is not, it is true, all things to all men, but all men and all things before finding acceptance with him must adapt themselves to his HIS DISLIKE OF SCIENTIFIC MEN. 207 prejudices and prepossessions. Hence at different times of his life, we find him a freethinker, a Unitarian, an orthodox believer, and a heterodox churchman; a socialist, a republican, a determined opponent of Roman Catholic claims, a stickler for the rights of conscience, a party man, a Tory, and a merciless castigator of the powers that were. Is it not extraordinary that, possessing an astounding memory from his childhood and no ordinary powers of perception, he could by no ingenuity grasp the principles of law and was forced to give up the study in disgust ? It would be inexplicable but for the acknowledgment, made over and over again in these volumes, that Southey hated science and scientific men, and therefore shrunk from a pursuit that brought him continually in contact with the objects of his dislike." I once passed an evening," he writes, “with Professor Young at Davy's. The conversation was 'wholly scientific. ... Generally speaking I have little liking for men of science. Their pursuits seem to deaden the imagination and harden the heart." Again, in a letter to Mr. Townsend :—“As a geologist you will enjoy one more pleasure than I do, who am ignorant of every branch of science. Mineralogy and botany are the only branches which I wish I had possessed. ... These two sciences add to our out-door enjoy. ments and have no injurious effects. Chymical and physical studies seem, on the contrary, to draw on very prejudicial consequences. Their utility is not to be doubted; but it appears as if man could not devote himself to these pursuits without blunting his finer faculties.” Once more, with reference to the great Sir Humphry Davy—“These scientific men are, indeed, the victims of science; they sacrifice to it their own feelings and virtues and happiness." Can any conclusions be more monstrous, or indicate more certainly utter want of reflection upon the part of the man bold enough to utter them ?
The prophecies of a sworn hater of science do not stand much chance of fulfilment, and those of Southey have had no better fate than might have been expected. He began to prophesy in 1803, when he announced that “the Edinburgh Review would not keep its ground.” Half a century has elapsed, and the Review still flourishes. About the same time he proclaims that “ The Protestant dissenters will die away. Destroy the test and you kill them.” In 1851 the race is not extinct. No old lady looked for the destruction of the world by an earthquake with half the dread that Southey throughout his life contemplated the overthrow of Monarchy in his native land. He is for ever crying “ Wolf, but the beast never comes. “The more I see, the more I read, and the more I reflect,” he writes in 1813, “the more reason there appears to me to fear that our turn of revolution is hastening on.” Two years afterwards the prospect is blacker still. “The foundations of Government are undermined. The props may last during your lifetime and mine, but I cannot conceal from myself a conviction that at no very distant day the whole fabric must fall.” What scientific man, however “hardhearted," would have ventured to propose the remedy against revolution which suggested itself to the poet in 1816 ? “ The only remedy," he writes to Mr. Rickman, “(if even that be not too late), is to check the press. ... My measures would be to make
HIS POLITICAL PREJUDICES.
transportation the punishment for sedition, and to suspend the habeas corpus, and thus I would either have the anarchists under way for Botany Bay or in prison within a month after the meeting of Parliament.” It is nothing to Robert Southey that revolution does not come. The longer it tarries the more he raves. “There is an infernal spirit abroad,” he writes in 1820, “and crushed it must be. The question is; whether it will be cut short in its course or suffered to spend itself like a fever. In the latter case we shall go on, through a bloodier revolution than that of France, to an Iron military Government—the only possible termination of Jacobinism.” In 1823 the vision becomes more distinct and gloomy. The clairvoyant is in a state of ecstacy, and thus proceeds :-" The repeal of the Test Act will be demanded, and must be granted. The dissenters will get into the corporations. Church property will be attacked in Parliament. Reform in Parliament will be carried; and then—FAREWELL, A LONG FAREWELL, TO ALL OUR GREATNESS." Southey once lit his fire with Euclid. Had he spared that inoffensive volume he might have found reward in the perusal of its calm and elementary truths. He was 55 years old when the Catholic Relief Bill passed. During its discussion he prophesied some of its results :-" The Protestant flag will be struck, the enemy will march in with flying colours, the Irish Church will be despoiled, the Irish Protestants will lose heart, and great numbers will emigrate flying while they can from the wrath to come. These are my speculations,” he says, adding with singular naïveté, "partaking perhaps of the sunshine of a hopeful and cheerful
disposition.” 1829 came and went ; 1832 arrived, but still Robert Southey would not be comforted. “The direct consequence of Parliamentary reform must be a new disposal of church property, and an equitable adjustment with the fundholders—terms which in both cases mean spoliation;" therefore Southey is not indisposed to pray that “The cholera morbus may be sent us as a lighter plague than that which we have chosen for ourselves.” The King threatens to make Peers! “Nothing, then, remains for us but to await the course of revolution. I shall not live to see what sort of edifice will be constructed out of the ruins, but I shall go to rest in the sure confidence that God will provide as is best for his church and people.” It was well said, but Southey did not go to rest yet. A year later and he is prophesying away more lugubriously than ever. “I am not without strong apprehensions,” he writes on the 6th of March, 1838, “that before this year passes away London will have its Three days !" Oh, had he but lived till 1848 and seen his London enjoying its one day—on the 10th of April !
Had Southey been less a hater of science he would have done greater justice to his own honest and thoroughly humane disposition. Had he conceived less loftily of his own unassisted and undisciplined powers, he would have been answerable for fewer errors of judgment, for which his heart was in no way responsible. By his extreme and almost fanatical views of society and government, put forth in the Quarterly Review and in other works, Southey evoked a spirit of dislike in the nation which his honest intention and true regard for the interests of his