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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 30 July 1809

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswck, July 30. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

Wordsworth’s pamphlet will fail of producing any general effect, because the sentences are long and involved; and his friend, De Quincey, who corrected the press, has rendered them more obscure by an unusual system of punctuation. This fault will outweigh all its merits. The public never can like any thing which they feel it difficult to understand. They will affect to like it, as in the case of Burke, if the reputation of the writer be such that not to admire him is a confession of ignorance; but even in Burke’s case, the public admiration was merely affected: his finer beauties were not remarked, and it was only his party politics that were generally understood, while the philosophy which he brought to their aid was heathen Greek to the multitude of his readers. I impute Wordsworth’s want of perspicuity to two causes,—his admiration of Milton’s prose, and his habit of dictating instead of writing: if he were his own scribe his eye would tell him
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 247
where to stop; but, in dictating, his own thoughts are to himself familiarly intelligible, and he goes on, unconscious either of the length of the sentence, or the difficulty a common reader must necessarily find in following its meaning to the end, and unravelling all its involutions.

“A villanous cold, which makes me sleep as late as I possibly can in the morning, because the moment I wake it wakes with me, has prevented me finishing Kehama: it would else, ere this, have been completed. I think of publishing it on my own account, in a pocket volume, of about 350 pages; but this is not yet determined. One of the pleasures which I had promised myself in seeing you was, that of showing you this wildest of all wild poems, believing that you will be one of the few persons who will relish it. The rhymes are as irregular as your own, but in a different key, and I expect to be abused for having given the language the freedom and strength of blank verse, though I pride myself upon the manner in which this is combined with rhyme.

“The Eclogue* which I have sent Ballantyne has—suffered a little by having all its local allusions cut out. This was done lest what was intended as a general character should have been interpreted into individual satire. The thing was suggested by my accidentally crossing such a funeral some years ago at Bristol; and had I been disposed to personal satire, the hero of the procession would have afforded ample scope for it. As soon as he knew his case was des-

* The Alderman’s Funeral.

perate he called together all the persons to whom he was indebted in his mercantile concerns;—‘Gentlemen,’ said he, ‘I am going to die, and my death will be an inconvenience to you, because it will be some time before you can get your accounts settled with my executors; now if you will allow me a handsome discount, I’ll settle them myself at once.’ They came into the proposal, and the old alderman turned his death into nine hundred pounds’ profit.

“If Queen Orraca is not too long for the English Minstrelsy, I will with great pleasure send off a corrected copy for it.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”