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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 1 January 1806

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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“Jan. 1. 1806.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“You use Godwin’s name as if he had maliciously reviewed Madoc, which I do not by any means suspect or believe, though he has all the will in the world to make me feel his power. The Monthly was rather more dull than he would have made it. I should well like to know who the writer is; for, by the Living Jingo,—a deity whom D. Manuel* conceives to have been worshipped by the Celts,—I would contrive to give him a most righteous clapper-clawing in return.

Thalaba is faulty in its language. Madoc is not. I am become what they call a Puritan in Portugal, with respect to language, and I dare assert, that there is not a single instance of illegitimate English in the whole poem. The faults are in the management of the story and the conclusion, where the interest is injudiciously transferred from Madoc to Yuhidthiton; it is also another fault, to have rendered accidents subservient to the catastrophe. You will see this very accurately stated in the Annual Review: the remark is new, and of exceeding great value. I acknowledge no fault in the execution of any magnitude, except the struggle of the women with Amalahta, which is all clumsily done, and must be rewritten. Those faults which are inherent in and inseparable from the story, as they could not be

* The fictitious name of the writer of “Espriella’s Letters.”

helped, so are they to be considered as defects or wants rather than faults. I mean the division of the poem into two separate stories and scenes, and the inferior interest of the voyage, though a thing of such consequence. But as for unwarrantable liberties of language—there is not a solitary sin of the kind in the whole 9,000 lines. Let me be understood: I call it an unwarrantable liberty to use a verb deponent, for instance, actively, or to form any compound contrary to the strict analogy of the language—such as tameless in Thalaba, applied to the tigress. I do not recollect any coinage in Madoc except the word deicide; and that such a word exists I have no doubt, though I cannot lay my finger upon an authority, for depend upon it the Jews have been called so a thousand times. That word is unobjectionable. It is in strict analogy—its meaning is immediately obvious, and no other word could have expressed the same meaning. Archaisms are faulty if they are too obsolete. Thewes is the only one I recollect; that also has a peculiar meaning, for which there is no equivalent word. But, in short, so very laboriously was Madoc rewritten and corrected, time after time, that I will pledge myself, if you ask me in any instance why one word stands in the place of another which you, perhaps, may think the better one, to give you a reason, (most probably, euphoniæ gratiâ,) which will convince you that I had previously weighed both in the balance. Sir, the language and versification of that poem are as full of profound mysteries as the Butler; and he, I take it, was as full of profundity as the great deep itself.


“I do not know any one who has understood the main merit of the poem so nearly as I wished it to be understood as yourself: the true and intrinsic greatness of Madoc, the real talents of his enemies, and (which I consider as the main work of skill) the feeling of respect for them;—of love even for the individuals, yet with an abhorrence of the national cruelties that perfectly reconcile you to their dreadful overthrow. You have very well expressed this.

“. . . . . I have written this at two days,—many sittings,—under the influence of influenza and antimony. I am mending, but very weak, and sufficiently uncomfortable.

R S.
“Jan. 1. Multos et felices.”