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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 November 1801

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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“London, Nov. 20. 1801.

“The chancellor and the scribe go on in the same way. The scribe has made out a catalogue of all books published since the commencement of ’97 upon finance and scarcity; he hath also copied a paper written by J. R., containing some Irish alderman’s hints about oak bark; and nothing more hath the scribe done in his vocation. Duly he calls at the chancellor’s door;

* Nov. 11, 1801.

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 175
sometimes he is admitted to immediate audience; sometimes kicketh his heels in the antechamber (once he kicked them for cold, but now there is a fire); sometimes a gracious message emancipates him for the day. Secrecy hath been enjoined him as to these state proceedings. On three subjects he is directed to read and research—corn-laws, finance, tythes, according to their written order. Alas! they are heathen Greek to the scribe! He hath, indeed, in days of old, read
Adam Smith, and remembereth the general principle established; he presupposeth that about corn, as about everything else, the fewer laws the better: of finance he is even more ignorant: concerning the tythes, something knoweth he of the Levitical law, somewhat approveth he of a commutation for land, something suspecteth he why they are to be altered; gladly would the people buy off the burthen, gladly would the government receive the purchase money,—the scribe seeth objections thereunto. Meantime, sundry are the paragraphs that have been imprinted respecting the chancellor and the scribe; they have been compared (in defiance of the Butleraboo statute) to Empson and Dudley; and Peter Porcupine hath civilly expressed a hope that the poet will make no false numbers in his new work: sometimes the poet is called a Jacobin; at others it is said that his opinions are revolutionised: the chancellor asked him if he would enter a reply in that independent paper whose lying name is the True Briton, a paper over which the chancellor implied he had some influence; the poet replied ‘No, that those flea-bites itched only if they were scratched:’ the scribe hath been
courteously treated, and introduced to a
Mr. Ormsby; and this is all he knoweth of the home politics. . . . .
Ευρηκα.   Ευρηκα.   Ευρηκα.
You remember your heretical proposition de Cambro-Britannis—that the Principality had never produced, and never could produce, a great man; that I opposed
Owen Glendower and Sir Henry Morgan to the assertion in vain. But I have found the great man, and not merely the great man, but the maximus homo, the μεγιστος άνθρωπος the μεγιστοτατος—we must create a super-superlative to reach the idea of his magnitude. I found him in the Strand, in a shopwindow, laudably therein exhibited by a Cambro-Briton; the engraver represents him sitting in a room, that seems to be a cottage, or, at best, a farm, pen in hand, eyes uplifted, and underneath is inscribed—
‘The Cambrian Shakespear.’
But woe is me for my ignorance! the motto that followed surpassed my skill in language, though it doubtless was a delectable morsel from that great Welshman’s poems. You must, however, allow the justice of the name for him, for all his writings are in Welsh; and the Welshmen say that he is as great a man as
Shakspeare, and they must know, because they can understand him. I inquired what might be the trivial name of this light and lustre of our dark age, but it hath escaped me; but that it meant, being
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 177
interpreted, either Thomas Denbigh, or some such every-day baptismal denomination. And now am I no prophet if you have not, before you have arrived thus far, uttered a three-worded sentence of malediction. . . . . To-day I dine with
Lord Holland; Wynn is intimate with him, and my invitation is for the sake of Thalaba. The sale of Thalaba is slow—about 300 only gone. . . . .

Yours truly,
R. Southey.”