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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 14 March 1803

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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“Bristol, March 14. 1803.
“Dear Coleridge,

“It is nearly a week now since Danvers and I returned from Rownham; and now the burthen will soon fall off my shoulders, and I shall feel as light as old Christian when he had passed the directing post: forty guineas’ worth of reviewing has been hard work. . . . . The very unexpected and extraordinary alarm brought by yesterday’s papers may, in some degree, affect my movements, for it has made Tom write to offer his services; and if the country arm, of course he will be employed. But quid Diabolus is all this about? Stuart writes well upon the subject, yet I think he overlooks some circumstances in Bonaparte’s conduct, which justify some delay in yielding Alexandria and Malta: that report of Sebastiani’s was almost a declaration that France would take Egypt
as soon as we left it. You were a clearer-sighted politician than I. If war there must be, the St. Domingo business will have been the cause, though not the pretext, and that rascal will set the poor negroes cutting English throats instead of French ones. It is true, country is of less consequence than colour there, and these black gentlemen cannot be very wrong if the throat be a white one; but it would be vexatious if the followers of
Toussaint should be made the tools of Bonaparte.

“Meantime, what becomes of your scheme of travelling? If France goes to war, Spain must do the same, even if the loss of Trinidad did not make them inclined to it. You must not think of the Western Islands or the Canaries; they are prisons from whence it is very difficult to escape, and where you would be cut off from all regular intercourse with England: besides, the Canaries will be hostile ports. In the West Indies you ought not to trust your complexion. When the tower of Siloam fell, it did not give all honest people warning to stand from under. How is the climate of Hungary? Your German would carry you there, and help you there till you learnt a Sclavonic language; and you might take home a profitable account of a country and a people little known. If it should be too cold a winter residence, you might pass the summer there, and reach Constantinople or the better parts of Asia Minor in the winter. This looks like a tempting scheme on paper, and will be more tempting if you look at the map; but, for all such schemes, a companion is almost necessary.

Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203

“The Edinburgh Review will not keep its ground. It consists of pamphlets instead of critical accounts. There is the quantity of a three-shilling pamphlet in one article upon the Balance of Power, in which the brimstone-fingered son of oatmeal says that wars now are carried on by the sacrifice of a few useless millions and more useless lives, and by a few sailors fighting harmlessly upon the barren ocean: these are his very words. . . . . He thinks there can be no harm done unless an army were to come and eat up all the sheep’s trotters in Edinburgh. If they buy many books at Gunville*, let them buy the English metrical romancees published by Ritson; it is, indeed, a treasure of true old poetry: the expense of publication is defrayed by Ellis. Ritson is the oddest, but most honest, of all our antiquarians, and he abuses Percy and Pinkerton with less mercy than justice. With somewhat more modesty than Mister Pinkerton, as he calls him, he has mended the spelling of our language, and, without the authority of an act of parliament, changed the name of the very country he lives in into Engleland. The beauty of the common stanza will surprise you.

Cowper’s Life is the most pick-pocket work, for its shape and price, and author and publisher, that ever appeared. It relates very little of the man himself. This sort of delicacy seems quite groundless towards a man who has left no relations or connections who could be hurt by the most explicit biographical detail. His letters are not what one does expect, and yet what one

* The seat of Mr. Wedgewood.

ought to expect, for
Cowper was not a strong-minded man even in his best moments. The very few opinions that he gave upon authors are quite ludicrous; he calls Mr. Park
. . . . ‘that comical spark,
Who wrote to ask me for a Joan of Arc.’
‘One of our best hands in poetry. Poor wretched man! the Methodists among whom he lived made him ten times madder than he could else have been. . . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”