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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 11 January 1811

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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“Keswick, Jan. 11. 1811.

“I am brooding a poem upon Philip’s War with the New Englanders, which was the decisive struggle between the red and white races in America. Nothing can be more anti-heroic than stiff puritan manners; but these may be kept sufficiently out of sight; and high puritan principles are fine elements to work with. One of my main characters is a
Quaker, an (ideal) son of
Goffe the regicide. A good deal of original conception is floating in my mind, and there is no subject in which my own favourite feelings and opinions could be so fully displayed. It has taken strong hold on me, and if my mind was but made up as to the fittest form of metre, I should probably begin it forthwith, and continue it and Pelayo together, having the one to turn to when the way was not plain before me in the other. Hexameters would not be more difficult than any other metre, but they will not allow of the necessary transition from the narrative to the dramatic style without too great a discrepancy. The manner of Kehama would not do: the narrative is pitched too high, the dialogue too low, for a poem in which the circumstances will be less elevated than the passion. For this very reason rhyme I fear is required.

“You have done wonders with C. Julian. 1200 lines in a week were the quickest run (in sailors’ phrase) that I ever made. But this is nothing to what you have accomplished; and your manner involves so much thought (excess of meaning being its fault), that the same number of lines must cost thrice as much expense of passion and of the reasoning faculty to you than they would to me. I am impatient to see this tragedy. I hear nothing of Kehama except that forty copies have been sold at Edinburgh, and that Scott has reviewed it for the next Quarterly.

“What is the meaning of the monogram in the title-page of your Ode to Gustavus? I never read your Latin without wishing it were English, and
Ætat. 36. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 295
regretting that you were ever taught a language so much inferior to your own.

“Your abhorrence of Spenser is a strange heresy, I admit that he is inferior to Chaucer (who for variety of power has no competitor except Shakspeare), but he is the great master of English versification, incomparably the greatest master in our language. Without being insensible to the defects of the Fairy Queen, I am never weary of reading it. Surely Chaucer is as much a poet as it was possible for him to be when the language was in so rude a state. There seems to be this material point of difference between us,—you think we have little poetry which was good for any thing before Milton; I, that we have little since, except in our own immediate days. I do not say there was much before, but what there was, was sterling verse in sterling English. It had thought and feeling in it. At present, the surest way to become popular is to have as little of either ingredient as possible.

“Have you read Captain Pasley’s book? I take it for my text in the next Quarterly, and would fain make it our political Bible.

“God bless you!

R. S.”