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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 14 March 1804

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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“Greta Hall, March 14. 1804.

“Your departure hangs upon me with something the same effect that the heavy atmosphere presses upon you—an unpleasant thought, that works like yeast, and makes me feel the animal functions going on. As for the manner of your going, you will be on the whole better off than in a king’s ship. Now you are your own master; there you would have been a guest, and, of course, compelled to tolerate the worst of all possible society, except that of soldier-officers.

“I had hopes of seeing you in London; for almost as soon as Edith is safe in bed, if safe she be (for my life has been so made up of sudden changes, that I
never even mentally look to what is to happen without that if, and the optative utinam),—as soon, I say, as that takes place, I shall hurry to town, principally to put to press this book of
Specimens, which can only be finished there, for you will stare at the catalogue of dead authors whom I shall have to resurrectionise. This will be a very curious and useful book of mine; how much the worse it will be for your voyage to Malta, few but myself will feel. If it sells, I shall probably make a supplementary volume to Ellis’s to include the good pieces which he has overlooked, for he has not selected well, and, perhaps, to analyse the epics and didactics, which nobody reads. Had I conceived that you would think of transcribing any part of Madoc, you should have been spared the trouble; but, in writing to you, it has always appeared to me better to write than to copy, the mere babble having the recommendation that it is exclusively your own, and created for you, and in this the feeling of exclusive property goes for something. The poem shall be sent out to you, if there be a chance of its reaching you; but will you not have left Malta by the time a book to be published about New Year’s Day can arrive there?

“Had you been with me, I should have talked with you about a preface; as it is, it will be best simply to state, and as briefly as possible, what I have aimed at in my style, and wherein, in my own judgment, I have succeeded or failed. Longman has announced it, in his Cyclopædic List, under the title of an epic poem, which I assuredly shall not affix to it myself; the name, of which I was once over-fond,
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 275
has nauseated me, and, moreover, should seem to render me amenable to certain laws which I do not acknowledge.

“If I were at Malta, the siege of that illustrious island should have a poem, and a good one too; and you ought to think about it, for of all sieges that ever has been, or ever will be, it was the most glorious, and called forth the noblest heroism. Look after some modern Greek books, in particular the poem from which the Teseide of Boccaccio and the Knight’s Tale are derived; if, indeed, it be not a translation from the Italian. Could you lay hand on some of these old books, and on old Italian poetry, by selling them at Leigh and Sotheby’s you might almost pay your travels.

“More manuscripts of Davis come down to-day. I have run through his Life of Chatterton, which is flimsy and worthless. I shall not advise Longman to print it, and shall warn the writer to expunge an insult to you and to myself, which is not to be paid for by his praise. We formed a just estimate of the man’s moral stamina, most certainly, and as for man-mending, I have no hopes of it. The proverb of the silk purse and the sow’s ear, comprises my philosophy upon that subject.

“I write rapidly and unthinkingly, to be in time for the post. Why have you not made Lamb declare war upon Mrs. Bare-bald? He should singe her flaxen wig with squibs, and tie crackers to her petticoats till she leapt about like a parched pea for very torture. There is not a man in the world who could so well revenge himself. The Annual Review
(that is, the first vol.) came down in my parcel today. My articles are wickedly misprinted, and, in many instances, made completely nonsensical. If I could write Latin evn as I could once, perhaps I should talk to
Longman of publishing a collection of the best modern Latin poets; they were dulli canes many of them, but a poor fellow who has spent years and years in doing his best to be remembered, does deserve well enough of posterity to be reprinted once in every millenium, and, in fact, there are enough good ones to form a collection of some extent.

God bless you! prays your
Old friend and brother,
R. Southey.”