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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynn, 21 February 1801

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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“Lisbon, Feb. 21. 1801.
“My dear Wynn,

“Your letter gave me the first detail of the great news. A passage of four days made it as fresh as possible, and we are here cursing winds and water
that we must wait a fortnight before another mail can reach us. What will happen? the breach is made; and this lath and plaster cannot long keep out the weather. Will the old administration be strong enough to force their plans upon the crown? Possibly. Equally so, that the art of alarming, in which they were so proficient, may now be turned successfully against them. Yet, on this point, the whole body of Opposition is with them, and the whole intellect of the country. I rather expect, after more inefficient changes, the establishment of Opposition—and peace. The helm requires a strong hand.

“Decidedly as my own principles lead to toleration, I yet think in the sufferance of converts and proselytism it has been carried too far. You might as well let a fire burn or a pestilence spread, as suffer the propagation of popery. I hate and abhor it from the bottom of my soul, and the only antidote is poison. Voltaire and such writers cut up the wheat with the tares. The monastic establishments in England ought to be dissolved; as for the priests, they will, for the most part, find their way into France; they who remain should not be suffered to recruit, and would soon die away in peace. I half fear a breach of the Union, perhaps another rebellion, in that wretched country.

“I do not purpose returning till the year of my house-rent be complete, and shall then leave Lisbon with regret, in spite of English-house comforts, and the all-in-all happiness of living among old friends and familiar faces. This climate so completely changes my whole animal being, that I would ex-
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 133
change every thing for it. It is not Lisbon;—Italy, or the south of Spain or of France, would, perhaps, offer greater inducements, if the possibility of a foreign settlement existed.

“On my History no labour shall be spared. Now, I only heap marble: the edifice must be erected in England; but I must return again to the quarry. You will find my style plain and short, and of condensed meaning,—plain as a Doric building, and, I trust, of eternal durability. The notes will drain off all quaintness. I have no doubt of making a work by which I shall be honourably remembered. You shall see it, and Elmsly if he will take the trouble, before publication. Of profit I must not be sanguine; yet, if it attain the reputation of Robertson, than whom it will not be worse, or of Roscoe and Gibbon, it will procure me something more substantial than fame. My price for Thalaba was, for 1000 copies, 115l., twelve copies being allowed me; the booksellers would have bargained for a quarto edition also, but it would have been ill-judged to have glutted the public.

“I expect, in the ensuing winter, to be ready with my first volume: to hurry it would be injudicious, and. historic labour will be relieved by employing myself in correcting Madoc. My intention is therefore to journey through North Wales next summer to the Lakes, where Coleridge is settled, and to pass the autumn (their summer) there. For a Welsh map of the roads, and what is to be seen, you must be my director; perhaps, too, you might in another way assist Madoc, by pointing out what manners or
superstition of the Welsh would look well in blank verse. Much may have escaped me, and some necessarily must. Long as this poem (from the age of fourteen) has been in my head, and long as its sketch has now lain by me, I now look on at no very distant date to its publication, after an ample revision and recasting. You will see it and scrutinise it when corrected.

Thalaba is now a whole and unembarrassed story; the introduction of Laila is not an episode, it is so connected with the murder of Hodeirah and the after actions of Thalaba, as to be essentially part of the tale. Thalaba has certainly and inevitably the fault of Samson Agonistes,—its parts might change place; but, in a romance, epic laws may be dispensed with; its faults now are verbal: such as it is, I know no poem which can claim a place between it and the Orlando. Let it be weighed with the Oberon; perhaps, were I to speak out, I should not dread a trial with Ariosto. My proportion of ore to dross is greater: perhaps the Anti-Jacobin criticasters may spare Thalaba; it is so utterly innocent of all good drift; it may pass through the world like Richard Cromwell, notwithstanding the sweet savour of his father’s name. Do you know that they have caricatured me between Fox and Norfolk—worshipping Bonaparte? Poor me—at Lisbon—who have certainly molested nothing but Portuguese spiders! Amen! I am only afraid my company will be ashamed of me; one at least,—he is too good for me; and, upon my soul, I think myself too good for the other.

Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 135

“The Spanish ambassador trundled off for Madrid this morning—he is a bad imitation of a hogshead in make: all is alarm here; and I sweat in dreadfully cold weather for my books, creditors, alas for many a six-and-thirty! We have two allies, more faithful than Austria the honest or Paul the magnanimous,—famine and the yellow fever; but the American gentleman is asleep till summer, and, as for famine, she is as busy in England as here. I rejoice in the eventual effects of scarcity—the cultivation of the wastes; the population bills you probably know to be Rickman’s, for which he has long been soliciting Rose, and the management is his of course and compliment. It is of important utility.

“Of the red wines I spoke in my last. Will you have Bucellas as it can be got? It should be kept rather in a garret than a cellar, a place dry and warm; but ample directions shall be sent with it. You may, perhaps, get old now, when so just an alarm prevails; new is better than none, because it will improve even in ideal value, should Portugal be closed to England; its price will little, if at all, differ from Port or Lisbon; it is your vile taxes that make the expense; and, by the by, I must vent a monstrous oath against the duty upon foreign books. Sixpence per pound weight if bound; it is abominable!

Farewell, and God bless you.
Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”