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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, October 1800

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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“October, 1800.
“My dear Rickman,

“At last the opportunity is arrived of sending my important parcel.* My private instructions must be vague,—to make the best bargain you can, and on no terms to sell the copyright. . . . . Longman will probably offer to advance the expense of publishing, and share the profits: this is not fair, as brains ought to bear a higher interest than money. If you are not satisfied with his terms, offer it to Arch, in Gracechurch Street, or to Philips of the Monthly Magazine, a man who can afford to pay a good price, because he can advertize and puff his own property every month. The sale of the book is not doubtful; my name would carry it through an edition though it were worthless. . . . .

“In literature, as in the playthings of schoolboys and the frippery of women, there are the ins and outs of fashion. Sonnets and satires and essays have their day,—and my Joan of Arc has revived the epomania that Boileau cured the French of 120 years ago; but it is not every one who can shoot with the bow

* The MSS. of Thalaba.

of Ulysses, and the gentlemen who think they can bend the bow because I made the string twang, will find themselves somewhat disappointed. Whenever that poem requires a new edition, I think not of correcting it; the ore deserves not to be new cast; but of prefixing a fair estimate of its merits and defects. . . . .

“Foreign Jews are tolerated in Lisbon,—that is, they are in no danger from the Inquisition, though forbidden to exercise the ceremonials of their faith; the intercourse with Barbary brings a few Moors here, so that the devout Portuguese are accustomed to the sight of Jews, Turks, and heretics. You remember Davy’s story of the Cornishman’s remark when his master said, ‘Now, John, we are in Devonshire,’ ‘I don’t see but the pigs have got tails the same as along o’ we;’ if the natives here have sense enough to make a similar inference, they will be one degree wiser than their forefathers. Lisbon grows; many a cornfield in which I have walked five years ago, is now covered with houses: this is a short-lived increase of population—a fine February day—for the English tenant these habitations—and when the army shall be recalled, the houses will be desolate: but the city exhibits an unequivocal sign of recovering industry and opulence; the gaps in the new streets that have stood vacant since the disgrace of Portal, are now filled up, or filling; these are not nests for passage-birds, but large and magnificent houses for the merchants.

“But commerce will for a long, long while be, as in America, a sordid, selfish, money-getting drudgery,
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 123
encouraging no art, and ignorant of every science. It is not genius that is wanted in Portugal, genius exists everywhere; but encouragement, or the hope of encouragement, must waken it to action; and here no ambition can exist, except the desire of place and court pageantry: a man of letters, a philosopher, would starve here,—a fine singer and a female dancer are followed as in London. . . . . The Italian Opera is, in my mind, only high treason against common sense: nothing is attended to but the music, the drama is simply a substratum for the tune, and the mind lies fallow while the sensual ear is gratified. The encouragement of a national theatre may call up talents, that shall confer honour upon the nation.

“My first publication will probably be the literary part of the History, which is too important to be treated of in an appendix, or in separate and interrupting chapters. Lisbon is rich in the books which suit my purpose; but I, alas I am not rich, and endure somewhat of the tortures of Tantalus. The public library is, indeed, more accessible than our Museum, &c. in England; but the books are under wire cases, and the freedom of research is miserably shackled by the necessity of asking the librarian for every volume you wish to consult: to hunt a subject through a series of authors, is thus rendered almost impossible. The Academy, however, have much facilitated my labour by publishing many of their old chronicles in a buyable shape; and also the old laws of Portugal. There is a Frenchman here busy upon the history of Brazil;—his materials are excellent, and he is in-
defatigable: but I am apprehensive for his papers, even if his person should escape: the ministry know what he is about, and you need not be told with what an absurd secrecy they hide from the world all information respecting that country: the population of Brazil is said to double that of the mother, and now dependent, country. So heavy a branch cannot long remain upon so rotten a trunk. God bless you.

Yours truly,
R. Southey.”