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Robert Southey
by [?]

A weaker nature than mine might here succumb to temptation and play pleasant philological pranks concerning the poet Pye, but I am above all that. Pye was a good man, and if I could remember any of the lines he wrote, I would here introduce them; but this is doubtless unnecessary, for the gentle reader can recall to suit.

White Pigeon claimed that Pye was greater than Southey, and she further said that Tennyson’s reputation suffered by consenting to act as successor to this line of men in whom felicity and insight were the exception. The tierce of Canary was no pay for acting as successor to Pye, but Southey jumped at the Canary and slipped his last vestige of radicalism quickly.

“Oh, what a funny little church,” exclaimed Myrtle; “can’t we stop and go in?”

It is a curious little building–that church at Wythburn.

It looks like a little girl’s playhouse, that might have belonged to her great-great-grandmother.

Opposite this lovely little church is a tavern, where a lovely barmaid in white apron and lovely collar and cuffs stood in the doorway, ready to serve the thirsty. The red-coated driver pulled in on the tavern side, and men in neckerchiefs, hobnailed shoes, blue woolen stockings and knee-breeches made fussy haste to water the horses. Old Brick-Dusty climbed down to see a man in the tavern, and the Michigan contingent and Colonel Littlejourneys slid down the other side and went into Wythburn Church. There isn’t another church in England so peculiar and so interesting. A pew is marked sacred to Wordsworth, and one also to Harriet Martineau, who I did not know before ever went to church. The silver service was the gift of Southey, and is inscribed with his name and crest. Southey was a vestryman of Wythburn Church for many years, and sometimes read the service there. I stood in the pulpit where Southey stood, and so did White Pigeon, and I reminded her that she would never be allowed there on Sunday, for Deity is most easily approached and influenced by men, as all theologians know and have ever stoutly held. One of the busy hostlers came in, pulling his forelock, and apologizing, in a voice full of cobwebs, said that the coach was ready to start. We did the proper thing, and also as much for the red-coated driver, who, in spite of great dignity, we saw was open to reward for well-doing. It was a great mistake, though, to “cross his palm,” for he began a lecture on the Cumberland Kings, that lasted until we got to Thirlmere, where he stopped at the Pumping-Station, and told us how the city of Manchester got its water-supply from here. To him all things were equally interesting. He was still deep in the fight between Manchester aldermen and the ‘Ouse of Commons when we reached Castle Rigg. The Vale of Keswick opened before us. We implored the well-informed driver to stop, and then we got down and begged him to go on without us.

Seated there on the bankside we viewed the beautiful scene of lake, valley and village stretching out so peacefully before us, all framed in the dark towering hills. Even Grace forgot to say, “How lovely!” but sat there, chin in hand, rapt and speechless.

Down in that valley, just a little to one side of the village, Southey lived for over forty years, and all the visitors he really liked he took to Castle Rigg, to show them as he said, “the kingdoms of the earth.” It was a view of which he never tired. Coleridge came up this way first, and took lodgings with a Mr. Johnson, who owned Greta Hall. It is not on record that Coleridge paid any rent, but he was so charmed with the location that he induced Southey to come and visit him. Southey came and liked it so well that he remained. He performed here a life-task that staggers one to contemplate: fifty volumes or more of closely set type are shown you at the Keswick Museum, duly labeled, “The Works of Southey,” Charles Lamb’s “Works” were the East India ledgers, but he wrote one little book of Essays that are still sweet and fresh as wood-violets–essays written hot from the heart, often in tears; written because he could not help it, or to please Mary–he did not know which.