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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Henry Southey, 16 February 1815

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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“Feb. 16. 1815.
“My dear Harry,

“I have got scent of the squid-hound, for whom I inquired in the Omniana. Cartwright heard of a sort of cuttle-fish of this enormous size; there is a beast of this family on the coast of Brazil, which twines its suckers round a swimmer and destroys him; and Langsdorff, who relates this, refers with disbelief to a book, which I wish you would examine for me. In the Histoire Naturelle des Mollusques, par Denys Montfort, Paris, An. 10., under the head of Le Poulpe Colossal, there must be an account of a fellow big enough to claw down a large three-masted vessel. Being a modern work of natural history, I dare say the book will be at the Royal Institution, and I pray you to extract the account for me. I shall make use of it in an article about Labrador for the Quarterly. Cartwright says, he is told they grow to a most enormous size, as big as a large whale, and he evidently does not disbelieve it. He was not a credulous man, and knew upon what sort of authority he was speaking. The description of the Kraken accords perfectly with this genus. You know, Doctor, that I can swallow a Kraken. You know, also, that I am a mortal enemy to that sort of incredulity which is founded upon mere ignorance.

“Several weeks have elapsed since this letter was begun; and in the interim, to my no small satisfaction, I have found one of these monsters dead, and
Ætat. 40. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 105
literally floating many a rood. The Frenchman,
De Menonville, met with it between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Domingo (see Pinkerton’s Coll. vol. xiii. p. 873.), and knew not what to make of it.

“I have heard from many quarters of Lord Byron’s praise, and regard it just as much as I did his censure. Nothing can be more absurd than thinking of comparing any of my poems with the Paradise Lost. With Tasso, with Virgil, with Homer, there may be fair grounds of comparison; but my mind is wholly unlike Milton’s, and my poetry has nothing of his imagination and distinguishing character; nor is there any poet who has, except Wordsworth: he possesses it in an equal degree. And it is entirely impossible that any man can understand Milton, and fail to perceive that Wordsworth is a poet of the same class and of equal powers. Whatever my powers may be, they are not of that class. From what I have seen of the minor poems, I suspect that Chiabrera is the writer whom, as a poet, I most resemble in the constitution of my mind. His narrative poems I have never seen.

“The sale of Roderick is what I expected, neither better nor worse. It is also just what I should desire, if profit were a matter of indifference to me; for I am perfectly certain that great immediate popularity can only be obtained by those faults which fall in with the humour of the times, and which are, of course, ultimately fatal to the poems that contain them. God bless you!

R. S.”