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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Ebenezer Elliott, 7 February 1811

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, Feb. 7. 1811.

“I will willingly find fault with your play when you can find means of sending it me; that is, I will gladly, if it be in my power, point out in what manner it may be fitted for representation should it require alteration and appear capable of being so altered. Of managers and greenrooms I know nothing. Old Cumberland once said to me in his characteristic way, ‘Whatever you do, Sir, never write a play! the torments of the damned are nothing to it.’ I myself suspect that if a man suffers any thing like purgatory in a greenroom it must be his own fault. I would send my play there, and if it was accepted they might mutilate it as they pleased, because the actors, generally speaking, must be the best judges of what will tell on the stage, and because the author can always restore the piece to its original state when he prints it.

“I am sorry you should have suspected anything like a reproach upon ‘single blessedness ‘in women in what is said of Lorrinite.* Nothing could be farther from my thoughts. The passage has nothing beyond an individual reference to the witch herself,

* Curse of Kehama, canto XI. verse 3.

therein described as a ‘cankered rose.’ You may find abundant proof in my writings, and would require none if you knew me, that no man can be more innocent of such opinions as you seem to have suspected. So far am I from not regarding continence as a virtue.

“Those unaccountable clicks as you call them in the middle of the lines, are, as you must have seen, too frequent to be accidental. I went upon the system of rhyming to the ear regardless of the eye, and have throughout availed myself of the power which this gave me. The verse was no bondage to me. If I do not greatly deceive myself, it unites the advantages of rhyme with the strength and freedom of blank verse in a manner peculiar to itself. As far as I can judge (which is of course and must be from very imperfect and partial means) the story seems not to have shocked people as much as I expected, but that it should become popular is impossible. Many years must elapse before the opinion of the few can become the law of the many.

“I have fallen in love with the American subject which did not strike your fancy, and have half mounted it into a story of which a primitive Quaker is the hero; a curious character you will say for heroic poetry,—certainly an original one.

“If ever you think upon political subjects, I beseech you read Capt. Pasley’s Essay on Military Policy,—a book which ought to be not only in the hands but in the heart of every Englishman. Farewell!

Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”