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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 22 April 1808

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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“Keswick, April 22. 1808.
“My dear Scott,

“Your letter followed me to London. The hope which it held out that we might meet here, and the endless round of occupations in which I was involved during the whole nine weeks of my absence, prevented me from thanking you for Marmion so soon as I ought, and should otherwise have done.

“Half the poem I had read at Heber’s before my own copy arrived. I went punctually to breakfast with him, and he was long enough dressing to let me devour so much of it. The story is made of better materials than the Lay, yet they are not so well fitted together. As a whole it has not pleased me so much; in parts it has pleased me more. There is
nothing so finely conceived in your former poem as the death of Marmion; there is nothing finer in its conception any where.

“The introductory epistles I did not wish away, because as poems they gave me great pleasure, but I wished them at the end of the volume or at the beginning,—any where except where they were. My taste is perhaps peculiar in disliking all interruptions in narrative poetry. When the poet lets his story sleep, and talks in his own person, it is to me the same sort of unpleasant effect that is produced at the end of an act; you are alive to know what follows, and lo—down comes the curtain, and the fiddlers begin with their abominations. The general opinion, however, is with me in this particular instance.

“I am highly gratified by the manner in which you speak of Kirke White’s Remains. That book has been received to my heart’s desire. The edition (750) sold in less than three months, and there is every probability that it will obtain a steady sale, so as to produce something considerable to his mother and sisters.

“I saw Frere in London, and he has promised to let me print his translations from the Poema del Cid. They are admirably done,—indeed, I never saw any thing so difficult to do, and done so excellently, except your supplement to Sir Tristrem. I do not believe that many men have a greater command of language and versification than myself, and yet this task of giving a specimen of that wonderful poem I shrunk from, fearing the difficulty. At present I
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 141
am putting together the materials of my introduction, which, with the supplementary notes, will take about three months in printing; at least, it will be as long before the book can be published. The price of paper stops all my other press-work for the present.

“So much of my life passes in this blessed retirement, that when I go to London the effect is a little like what Nourjahad used to find after one of his long naps. I find a woful difference of political opinion between myself and most of those persons who have hitherto held the same feelings with me; and yet it should seem that they have been sleeping over the great events of these latter years, not I. There is a base and cowardly feeling abroad, which would humble this country at the feet of France. This feeling I have everywhere been combating with vehemence; but at the same time I have execrated with equal vehemence the business of Copenhagen: Ishmael-like, my hand has been against everybody, and everybody’s hand against me. Wordsworth is the only man who agrees with me on both points. I require, however, no other sanction to convince me that I am right. Coleridge justifies the attack on Denmark, but he justifies it upon individual testimony of hostile intentions on the part of that court, and that testimony by no means amounts to proof in my judgment. But what is done is done; and the endless debates upon the subject, which have no other meaning and can have no other end than that of harassing the ministry, disgust me, as they do every one who has the honour of England at heart. Such a system makes the publicity of
debate a nuisance, and will terminate in putting a stop to it.

“Is there any hope of seeing you this year at the Lakes? I should much like to show you Kehama. During my circuit I fell in with Savage Landor, the author of Gebir, to whom I spoke of my projected series of mythological poems, and said also for what reason the project had been laid aside. He besought me to go on with them, and said he would print them at his expense. Without the least thought of accepting this princely offer, it has stung me to the very core; and as the bite of the tarantula has no cure but dancing, so will there be none but singing for this. Great poets have no envy; little ones are full of it. I doubt whether any man ever criticised a good poem maliciously, unless he had written a bad one himself.

Yours truly,
R. Southey.”