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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 February 1805

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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“Feb. 16. 1805.
“Dear Rickman,

“The motto* to those Metrical Tales is strictly true; but there is a history belonging to them which will show that I was not trifling when I wrote them. With the single exception of Gualberto (the longest and best), all the others were written expressly for the Morning Post; and this volume-full is a selection from a large heap, by which I earned 149l. 4s., and is now published for the very same reason for which it was originally composed. Besides the necessity for writing such things, there was also a great fitness, inasmuch as, by so doing, a facility and variety of style was acquired, to be converted to better purposes, and I had always better purposes in view.

* I am unable to refer to this edition.


“. . . . . I have been reading the earliest travels in Abyssinia, namely, the History of the Portuguese Embassy in 1520, by Francisco Alvares, the chaplain; a book exceedingly rare,—my copy, which is the Spanish translation, a little 24mo. volume, having cost a moidore. As I cannot bear to lose anything, I shall draw up just such an abstract as if for a review, and throw whatever is not essential to the main narrative among the works of supererogation, which will be enough for a volume. The king, or, to give him his proper title, the Neguz, dwelt like an Arab in his tent. . . . . What every where surprises me in the history of these discoveries is, that so little should be known of the East in Europe, when so many Europeans were to be found in the East, for the Neguz was never without some straggler or other. Still more that in Europe such idle dreams about Ethiopia should prevail, when Abyssinians so often found their way to Rome. The opportunities lost by foolish ministers and foolish kings makes me swear for pure vexation. If Alboquerque had lived, I verily believe he would have expelled the Mamelukes from Egypt, by the help of the African Christians, and have made that country a Christian instead of a Turkish conquest. I should like to give Egypt to the Spaniards; they are good colonists. . . . . . . Do you know that reflecting mirrors of steel were used instead of spectacles for weak or dim-eyed persons to read in? This must have been so troublesome and so expensive that it never can have been common.
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 315
But that it was used, I have found in an odd book, purchased when I was first your guest in London—the 400 questions proposed by the Admiral of Castille and his friends to a certain Friar Minorita; 1550 the date of the book, some thirty years after it had been written. I am in the middle of this most quaint book, and have found, among the most whimsical things that ever delighted the quaintness of my heart, some of more consequence. . . . . The probabilities of my seeing you this year seem to increase. I begin to think that the mountain may come to
Mahomet; in plain English, that, instead of my going to Lisbon, my uncle may come to England, in which case I shall meet him in London. The expedition to Portugal seems given up. Coleridge is confidential secretary to Sir A—— Ball, and has been taking some pains to set the country right as to its Neapolitan politics, in the hope of saving Sicily from the French. He is going with Capt. —— into Greece, and up the Black Sea to purchase com for the government. Odd, but pleasant enough,—if he would but learn to be contented in that state of life into which it has pleased God to call him—a maxim which I have long thought the best in the Catechism. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”