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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Martyn Longmire, 4 November 1812

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, Nov. 4. 1812.

“I am truly sensible. Sir, of the honour you have conferred upon me by your letter of October 29th,
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 351
and shall be still farther gratified by a communication of the sketch which is there mentioned. My aim has been to diffuse through my poems a sense of the beautiful and good (το καλόν καί άγαθόν) rather than to aim at the exemplification of any particular moral precept. It has, however, so happened that both in
Thalaba and Kehama, the nature of the story led me to represent examples of faith. At a very early age, indeed, when I was a schoolboy, my imagination was strongly impressed by the mythological fables of different nations. I can trace this to the effect produced upon me when quite a child, by some prints in the Christian’s Magazine, copied, as I afterwards discovered, from the great work of Picart. I got at Picart when I was about fifteen, and soon became as well acquainted with the gods of Asia and America, as with those of Greece and Rome. This led me to conceive a design of rendering every mythology, which had ever extended itself widely, and powerfully influenced the human mind, the basis of a narrative poem. I began with the religion of the Koran, and consequently founded the interest of the story upon that resignation, which is the only virtue it has produced. Had Thalaba been more successful, my whole design would, by this time, have been effected; for prepared as I was with the whole materials for each, and with a general idea of the story, I should assuredly have produced such a poem every year. For popular praise, quoad praise, I cared nothing; but it was of consequence to me, inasmuch as it affected those emoluments with which my worldly circumstances did not permit me to dispense. The sacrifice, therefore, was made to prudence, and it was
not made without reluctance. Kehama lay by me in an unfinished state for many years, and but for a mere accident, might, perhaps, for ever have remained incomplete.

“Whether the design may ever be accomplished, is now doubtful. The inclination and the power remain, but the time has passed away. My literary engagements are numerous and weighty, beyond those of any other individual; and though, by God’s blessing, I enjoy good health, never-failing cheerfulness, and unwearied perseverance, there seems to be more before me than I shall ever live to get through. . . . .

Believe me. Sir,
Yours, with due respect,
Robert Southey.

“My next mythological poem, should I ever write another, would be founded upon the system of Zoroaster. I should represent the chief personage as persecuted by the evil powers, and make every calamity they brought upon him the means of evolving some virtue, which would never else have been called into action. In the hope that the fables of false religion may be made subservient to the true, by exalting and strengthening Christian feelings.”