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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 13 November 1793

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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“College Green, Bristol, Nov. 13. 1793.

“. . . . . I lay down Leonidas to go on with your letter. It has ever been a favourite poem with me; I have read it, perhaps more frequently than any other composition, and always with renewed pleasure: it possesses not the “thoughts that breathe and words that burn,” but there is a something very different from those strong efforts of imagination, that please the judgment and feed the fancy without moving the heart. The interest I feel in the poem is, perhaps, chiefly owing to the subject, certainly the noblest ever undertaken. It needs no argument to prove this assertion.

Milton is above comparison, and stands alone as much from the singularity of the subject as the excellence of the diction: there remain Homer, Virgil, Lucan, Statius, S. Italicus, and V. Flaccus, among the ancients. I recollect no others, and amongst

* Nov. 3. 1793.

their subjects you will find none so interesting as the self-devoted

“Among the moderns we know Ariosto, Tasso, Camoens, Voltaire, and our own immortal Spenser; the other Italian authors in this line, and the Spanish ones, I know not. Indeed, that period of history upon which Glover’s epics are founded is the grandest ever yet displayed. A constellation of such men never honoured mankind at any other time, or at least, never were called into the energy of action. Leonidas and his immortal band,—Æschylus, Themistocles, and Aristides the perfect republican,—even the satellites of Xerxes were dignified by Artemisia and the injured Spartan, Demaratus. To look back into the page of history—to be present at Thermopylæ, at Salamis, Platæa—to hear the songs of Æschylus and the lessons of Aristides—and then behold what Greece is—how fallen even below contempt—is one of the most miserable reflections the classic mind can endure. What a republic! What a province!

“If this world did but contain ten thousand people of both sexes, visionary as myself, how delightfully would we repeople Greece, and turn out the Moslem. I would turn crusader and make a pilgrimage to Parnassus at the head of my republicans (N.B. only lawful head), and there reinstate the Muses in their original splendour. We would build a temple to Eleutherian Jove from the quarries of Paros—replant the grove of Academus; aye, and the garden of Epicurus, where your brother and I would commence teachers; yes, your brother, for if he would
Ætat. 19. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 193
not comb out the powder and fling away the poultice to embark in such an expedition, he deserves to be made a German elector or a West India planter.
Charles Collins should occupy the chair of Plato, and hold forth to the Societas scientium literariorum Studiosorum, (not unaptly styled the ‘Society of knowing ones’); and we would actually send for —— to represent Euclid. Now could I lay down my whole plan—build my house in the prettiest Doric style—plant out the garden like Wolmer’s, and imagine just such a family to walk in it,—when here comes a rascal by crying ‘Hare skins and rabbit skins,’ and my poor house, which was built in the air, falls to pieces, and leaves me, like most visionary projectors, staring on disappointment. . . . . When we meet at Oxford, which I hope we shall in January, there are a hundred things better communicated in conversation than by correspondence. I have no object of pursuit in life but to fill the passing hour, and fit myself for death; beyond these views I have nothing. To be of service to my friends would be serving myself most essentially; and there are few enterprises, however hazardous and however romantic, in which I would not willingly engage.

“It was the favourite intention of Cowley to retire with books to a cottage in America, and seek that happiness in solitude which he could not find in society. My asylum there would be sought for different reasons, (and no prospect in life gives me half the pleasure this visionary one affords); I should
be pleased to reside in a country where men’s abilities would ensure respect; where society was upon a proper footing, and man was considered as more valuable than money; and where I could till the earth, and provide by honest industry the meat which my wife would dress with pleasing care—redeunt spectacula mane—reason comes with the end of the paper.

Yours most sincerely,
R. Southey.”