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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 6 August 1809

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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“August 6. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

“The Quest is over; I believe the stewardship would have been promised to me had I been fit for it. All, therefore, that I have to regret is, having relied so implicitly upon Sharp’s information, as to apply for the post, before I had thoroughly ascertained my own competency for it. This was only one blunder. Another was in supposing there was no English Historiographer,—old Dutens has had the office, with a salary of 400l., for many years—upon what plea, they who gave it him can best tell. My aim must now be to succeed him, whenever he pleases to move off; obtaining, if possible, an increase of
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 249
salary, so as to make it equivalent to what it originally was; and towards this I hope some way is gained by what has already been done. I go to
Lowther this day week, and according as I feel my footing, will contrive to have my views and wishes explained.

“There came last night a letter from Ellis, communicating the result of his conversation with Canning: I have thanked him for his friendly interference, and told him how things stand.

“I will do my best for Ballantyne*; and going to work with clear views of the subject, and a thorough knowledge of the Spanish and Portuguese character, I shall come to it with great advantages. That lamentable ground over which poor Sir J. Moore retreated (as one of his own officers expresses it) ‘faster than flesh and blood could follow him,’ I paced on foot, loitering along that my foot-pace might not outstrip a lazy coach and six, and my recollection of passes where five hundred Englishmen could have stopt an army, is as vivid as if I had just seen them. Bonaparte owes more to the blunders of his enemies than to his own abilities; and he has no surer allies than those writers who prepare our very generals to fear him, by constantly representing him as not to be conquered. Oh, for Peterborough! Oh, for a ‘single hour of Dundee!’ Sir John Moore was as brave a man as ever died in battle, but he had that fear upon him,—his imagination was cowed and intimidated though his heart was not. And now, be-

* See the beginning of the next chapter.

cause the Galicians did not turn out and expose themselves to certain destruction by attempting to protect an army whom he would not suffer to protect themselves, a party in this country are labouring to prove that we ought to abandon the Spaniards! Assuredly if I am to write the history of his campaign, not a syllable shall be set down in malice, but by Heaven I will nothing extenuate; the retreat shall be painted in its true colours of shame and horror, accurately to the very life, or rather the very death, for death it was, not only to the wretched women and children, who never should have been permitted to enter Spain, but to man and beast,—both marched till flesh and blood failed them, and the men broken-hearted to think that their lives were thus ignominiously wasted.

“If I thought you repeated the Retainer’s wish in sober earnest, I could not in conscience wish your old Man of the Sea were off your shoulders; but I believe whenever he is laid down, doing what you please will be doing much, and that we shall have more Marmions and Williams of Deloraines. Lord Byron’s waggery was new to me, and I cannot help wishing you may some day have an opportunity of giving him the retort as neatly as you have given it to Cumberland.

“I have fixed myself here by a lease of one and twenty years, which, after many weary procrastinations, was executed a few days ago.

“I had nearly forgotten to say something concerning Morte d’ Arthur. It is now more than a year that I have been playing the dog in the manger to-
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 251
wards you; but the fault is not in me.
Longman has been to blame in adjourning the printing the work sine die. I will in my next letter state to him that he is making me use you ill, and that if there be any further delay, I shall feel myself bound to throw up the business.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”