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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Henry Taylor, 10 July 1830

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, July 10. 1830.
“My dear Henry Taylor,

“I dare say it will generally be felt that Mrs. Heber’s book does not support the pretensions which its title, and still more its appearance, seems to hold forth. The materials would have appeared to more advantage in a different arrangement.

“There is certainly an air of book-making about the publication; which is not lessened by the funebrial verses that it contains. Mine might have accompanied the portrait, in which case they would have seemed to be appropriately introduced; in fact, they were composed with that design. But this book ought not to detract from his reputation, the estimate of which must be taken from those things which he prepared for the press, and from his exertions in India. He was a man of great reading, and in his Bampton Lectures has treated a most important part
Ætat. 56. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 109
of the Christian faith with great learning and ability. His other published sermons are such, that I am not surprised my brother
Henry should think him the most impressive preacher he ever heard.

“As a poet he could not have supported the reputation which his Palestine obtained; for it was greatly above its deserts, and the character of the poem, moreover, was not hopeful; it was too nicely fitted to the taste of the age. Poetry should have its lights and shades, like painting; like music, its sink and swell, its relief and its repose. So far as the piece was intended for success in a competition for a prize, and for effect in public recitation, it was certainly judiciously done to make every line tell upon the ear. But to all such poetry the motto under one of Quarles’s Emblems may be applied, ‘tinnit, inane est.

“He had a hurried, nervous manner in private society, which covered much more ardour and feeling than you would have supposed him to possess. This I believe entirely disappeared when he was performing his functions; at which time, I have been assured, he seemed totally regardless of everything but the duty wherein he was engaged.

“Few persons took so much interest in my writings, which may partly have arisen from the almost entire coincidence in our opinions and ways of thinking upon all momentous subjects; the Catholic question alone excepted. Mrs. Heber told me that I had had no little influence in directing his thoughts and desires towards India: and I have no doubt that some lines in Joan of Arc set him upon the scheme
of his
poem on the death of King Arthur. My personal acquaintance with him was but little; but we knew a great deal of each other through Charles Wynn. . . . .

“I am fond of irregular rhymeless lyrics, a measure wherein I have had few to approve and still fewer to imitate me. The proof of the poetry, however, is not like that of the pudding, in the taste of those who partake it. Thalaba might very probably have been popular had it been in rhyme. None of my lyrical pieces could have been so; and methinks it makes little difference whether there be three or four to admire them, or five or six.

“There are friendships of chance and friendships of choice; and it was of the former which I meant to speak; they are the more numerous, and probably the more lasting, because generally beginning earlier, they have time to strike root in us, and partake of the nature of a habit, as the latter may be said to do, in some degree, of a passion. For the same reason you are not so likely to be deceived in them. One whom you have known from early boyhood may disappoint your hopes and expectations; but you will seldom be deceived in your moral estimate of him; if he was ingenuous and kind-hearted he will continue so through life. A good apple tree may be blighted, or cankered in its growth, but it will never produce crabs.

“Ministers will delay the meeting of Parliament as long as they can; just as schoolboys would prolong their holidays if they could. But they may be
Ætat. 56. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 111
flattered or frightened into anything, good, bad, or indifferent: no persons who ever filled that station before have been politically so weak, and most pitiably conscious they are of their weakness. A promise to convoke it without delay may probably be extorted from them. ‘Gentlemen’ have other business than that of the nation to attend to in the month of September; and I do not expect them to meet till they have had a campaign against the pheasants as well as the partridges. So I look to be in town somewhere in October. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”