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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 2 October 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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“Keswick, Oct. 2. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

“Before I had leisure to thank you for your own letter and for Ellis’s, and for all that there is therein, a new game of puss-catch-corner has been commenced at Westminster, and Canning has done the most foolish thing he ever did in his life. He should have remembered that Lord Castlereagh was an Irishman, and that, as the Union abolished the Irish parliament, so ought the ill customs of that parliament—duelling
being one—to have been abolished with it; that, holding his rank and station in the country, it was as much a breach of decency in him to accept a challenge as it would have been in an archbishop; and that he might have done more by his example towards checking a mischievous and absurd practice than has ever been done yet. He got much credit by replying to the Russian manifesto, and he would have got more by a proper reply to Castlereagh. A single combat had some sense in it; there you relied upon your own heart and hand: there was Bsme pleasure in hewing and thrusting, and the bravest came off best; but as for our duels, all that has been said against villanous gunpowder holds true against them.

“I wish to see Marquis Wellesley in power, because we want an enterprising Minister,—one who would make the enemy feel the mighty power of Great Britain, and not waste our force so pitifully as it has always hitherto been wasted. I wish to see him in power, because he has not been tried, and all the other performers upon the Westminster stage have. But I confess there is but little hope in my wishes. It appears to me that the very constitution of our cabinet necessarily produces indecision, half-measures, and imbecility; it seems to me that a government so constituted is just like an army, all whose operations are guided by a council of war instead of a general. I am for ministerial dictatorships.

“Your views about the Morte d’ Arthur are wiser ones than mine. I do most formally and willingly
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 255
resign it into your hands. My intent was, that the book should be read; but people are not disposed to read such things generally, or
the Cid would not hang upon hand. Now a very limited edition is sure to find purchasers, and nothing need be sacrificed to ensure success. I was not, by-the-by, aware that he book had been reformed by the godly critics whose worthy descendants have lately set forth a Family Shakspeare, and will, it is to be hoped, in due time present us with an Edition Expurgate of the Bible, upon the plan by Matthew Lewis. I have a bill of indictment against those Eclectics and Vice-Society men, whenever Murray will send me the needful documents; for, be it known unto you, that, in one of the Eclectic Reviews, there is a grand passage, describing the soul of Shakspeare in hell. If I do not put some of those Pharisees into purgatory for this, for the edification of our Quarterly readers, then may my right hand forget its cunning.

“I have not seen the last Review, which makes me suppose that Murray is still on his journey. These Quarterly Reviews lose much by giving up all those minor publications, which served to play shuttlecock with, and were put to death with a pun, or served up in the sauce of their own humorous absurdity. Hence, too, they are less valuable as materials for the history of literature. The old Annual’s was the best plan, if it had not been starved by scanty pay, and, moreover, choked with divinity.

“My next Missionary Article, when I have time to write it, will be singularly curious: it will relate
to South Africa; and I shall obtain from my
uncle a manuscript of D’Anville’s concerning the Portuguese possessions there, and his plan for establishing a communication by land between them.

“I want to hear that you have planned another poem, and commenced it. For myself, I shall begin with Pelayo, the Spaniard, as soon as I can make up my mind in what metre to write it. That of Kehama, though in rhyme, is almost as much my own as Thalaba, and will, I dare say, excite as much censure.

Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”