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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XI. 1804-1805

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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Ætat. 30. Ætat. 30. 299
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Galatea.
“Greta Hall, July 30. 1804.
“Dear Tom,

“Your three letters have arrived all together this evening, and have relieved me from very considerable anxiety. Mine I find are consigned to the Atlantic without bottles; and three books of Madoc,
Edith copied in them, gone to edify the sharks—gentlemen who will digest them far more easily than the critics. However, there must be yet some other letters on the way, and I trust you will have learnt before this can reach you that I have two Ediths in the family,—the Edithling (who was born on the last of April) continuing to do well, only that I am myself somewhat alarmed at that premature activity of eye and spirits, and those sudden startings, which were in her poor sister the symptoms of a dreadful and deadly disease. However, I am on my guard. . . . . I did not mean to trust my affections again on so frail a foundation,—and yet the young one takes me from my desk and makes me talk nonsense as fluently as you perhaps can imagine.

“Both Edith and I are well; indeed, I have weathered a rude winter, and a ruder spring, bravely. Harry is here, and has been here about three weeks, and will remain till the end of October. He is a very excellent companion, and tempts me out into the air and the water when I should else be sitting at home. We have made our way well in the world, Tom, thus far, and by God’s help we shall yet get on better. Make your fortune, and Joe may yet live to share its comforts, as he stands upon his Majesty’s books in my name, though degraded by the appellation of mongrel. Madoc is in a Scotch press,—Ballantyne’s, who printed the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders,—a book which you may remember I bought at Bristol.

“You ask of Amadis: it has been well reviewed,
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 301
both in the
Annual and Edinburgh, by Walter Scott, who in both has been very civil to me. Of all my later publications, this has been the most successful,—more than 500 of the 1000 having sold within the year, so that there is a fair chance of the 50l. (dependent upon the sale of the whole. Thalaba has been very admirably reviewed in the Critical, by William Taylor; but it does not sell, and will not for some years reach a second edition. Reviewing is coming round again! one parcel arrived! another on the road! a third ready to start! I grudge the time thus to be sold, sorely; but patience! it is, after all, better than pleading in a stinking court of law,—or being called up at midnight to a patient; it is better than being a soldier or a sailor; better than calculating profits and loss on a counter; better, in, short than anything but independence. . . . .

“July is, indeed, a lovely month at the Lakes, and so the Lakers seem to think, for they swarm here. We have been much interrupted by visiters; among others, young Roscoe; and more are yet to come. These are not the only interruptions; we have been, or rather are, manufacturing black currant jam for my uncle, and black currant wine for ourselves,—Harry and I chief workmen,—pounding them in a wooden bowl with a great stone, as the acid acts upon a metal mortar. We have completed a great work in bridging the river Greta at the bottom of the orchard, by piling heaps of stones so as to step from one to another,—many a hard hour’s sport, half knee-deep in the water. Davy has been here—stark mad for angling. This is our history;
—yours has been busier. As for news, the packet which conveys this will convey later intelligence than it is in my power to communicate.
Sir Francis may, and probably will, lose his election; but it is evident he has not lost his popularity. Pitt will go blundering on till every body, by miserable experience, think him what I always did. . . . . Whensoever the great change of ministry, to which we all look on with hope, takes place, I shall have friends in power able to serve me, and shall, in fact, without scruple apply to Fox through one or two good channels: this may be very remote, and yet may be very near. When Madoc is published, I mean to send Fox a copy, with such a note as may be proper for me to address to such a man. . . . .

“God bless you, Tom! it grows late, and I have two proofs to correct for to-night’s post. Once more, God bless you!

R. S.”
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Galatea.
“Keswick, Sept 12. 1804.
“Dear Tom,

“It is a heartless and hopeless thing, to write letter after letter, when there seems so little probability of their ever reaching you. How is it that all your letters seem to find me, and none of mine to find you? I cannot comprehend. I write, and write, and write, always directing Bar-
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 303
badoes or elsewhere, and suppose that, according to direction, they go anywhere elsewhere than to the Galatea.

“My intention is, God willing, to remain here another year, and in the autumn of 1805 to go once more to Lisbon, and there remain one, two, or three years, till my History be well and effectually completed. Meantime these are my employments: to finish the correcting and printing of Madoc; to get through my annual work of reviewing; and bring my History as far onward as possible. In the press I have, 1. Metrical Tales and other Poems; being merely a corrected republication of my best pieces from the Anthology. 2. Specimens of the later English Poets, i. e. of all who have died from 1685 to 1800; this is meant as a supplement to George Ellis’s Specimens of the Early Poets,—a book which you may remember at Bristol; it will fill two vols, in crown octavo, the size of Ritson’s Engleish Romanceès, if you recollect them. 3. Madoc, in quarto, whereof twenty-two sheets are printed; one more finishes the first part.

Harry has been here since the beginning of July, and will yet remain about six weeks longer. We mountaineerify together, and bathe together, and go on the Lake together, and have contrived to pass a delightful summer. I am learning Dutch, and wish you were here to profit by the lessons at the breakfast-table, and to mynheerify with me, as you like the language; my reason for attaining the language is, that as the Dutch conquered, or rather destroyed, the Portuguese empire in Asia, the history of the
downfall of that empire is, of course, more fully related by Dutch than by Portuguese historians.

“You ask for politics. I can tell you little. The idea of invasion still continues the same humbug and bugbear as when it was first bruited abroad, to gull the people on both sides of the water. Bonaparte dares not attempt it—would to God he did!—defeat would be certain, and his ruin inevitable: as it is, he must lose reputation by threatening what he cannot execute; and I believe that the Bourbons will finally be restored. At home, politics look excellently well; the coalition of Fox and the Grenvilles has been equally honourable to all parties, and produced the best possible effects, in rooting out the last remains of that political violence which many years so divided the country. The death of the King, or another fit of madness, which is very probable; or his abdication, which most persons think would be very proper; or the declining health of Pitt, or the actual strength of the Opposition,—are things of which every one is very likely to bring the Coalition into power, and in that case neither you nor I should want friends. So live in hope, as you have good cause to do. Steer clear of the sharks and the land-crabs, and be sure that we shall both of us one day be as well off as we can wish.

“The H——’s are visiting Colonel Peachy, whose wife was also of Bishop Lydiard,—a Miss Charter; both she and her sister knew you well by name. We are getting upon excellently good terms; for they are very pleasant and truly womanly women, which is the best praise that can be bestowed upon a woman. Will you not laugh to hear that I have
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 305
actually been employed all the morning in making arrangements for a subscription ball at Keswick?

—I!—very I!—your brother, R. S.! To what vile purposes may we come! It was started by Harry and Miss Charter at the theatre (for we have a strolling company at an alehouse here), and he and I and General Peche have settled it; and all Cumberland will now envy the gaieties of Keswick. Mrs. General insisted upon my opening the ball with her. I advised her, as she was for performing impossibilities, to begin with turning the wind, before she could hope to turn me: so I shall sip my tea, and talk with the old folks some hour or so, and then steal home to write Madoc, drink my solitary glass of punch, and get to bed at a good Christian-like hour,—as my father, and no doubt his father, did before me. Oh Tom, that you were but here! for in truth we lead as pleasant a life as heart of man could wish. I have not for years taken such constant exercise as this summer. Some friend or acquaintance or other is perpetually making his appearance, and out then I go to lacquey them on the lake, or over the mountains.—I shall get a character for politeness!

“I have so far altered my original plan of the History, as to resolve upon not introducing the life of St. Francisco, and the chapters therewith connected, but to reserve them for a separate history of Monachism, which will make a very interesting and amusing work; a good honest quarto may comprise it. My whole historical labours will then consist of three separate works. 1. Hist, of Portugal,—the European part, 3 vols. 2. Hist. of the Portuguese
Empire In Asia, 2 or 3 toIs. 3. Hist, of Brazil. 4. Hist, of the Jesuits in Japan. 5. Literary History of Spain and Portugal, 2 vols. 6. Hist of Monachism. In all, ten, eleven, or twelve quarto volumes; and you cannot easily imagine with what pleasure I look at all the labour before me. God give me life, health, eyesight, and as much leisure as even now I have, and done it shall be. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Messrs. Longman and Rees.
“Keswick, Nov. 11. 1804.
“Dear Sirs,

“. . . . . I should like to edit the works of Sir Philip Sidney, who is, in my judgment, one of the greatest men of all our countrymen. I would prefix a Life, an Essay on the Arcadia, his greatest work, and another on his Metres. It would make three octavo volumes: to the one there should be his portrait prefixed; to the second, a view of Penshurst, his birthplace, and residence; to the third, the print of his death, from Mortimer’s well-known etching. Perhaps I overrate the extent of the work; for, if I recollect right. Burton’s Anatomy, which is such another folio, was republished in two octavos. His name is so illustrious, that an edition of 500 would certainly sell; the printer might begin in spring. I could write the Essays here; in the autumn I shall most likely be in London, and would then complete
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 307
the Life, and the book might be published by Christmas of 1805. If you approve the scheme, it may be well to announce it, as we may very probably be forestalled, for this is the age of editors. I design my name to appear, for it would be a pleasure and a pride to have my name connected with that of a man whom I so highly reverence.

Mr. Longman promised me a visit in September; I have not found him so punctual as he will always find me.

Believe me,
Yours truly,
Robert Southey.”
To G. C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Dec. 1. 1804.
“Dear Grosvenor,

Sir Roger L’Estrange is said, in Cibber’s Lives, to have written a great number of poetical works, which are highly praised in an extract from Winstanley. Ubi sunt? God knows, among all the titles to his works I do not see one which looks as if it belonged to a poem; perhaps Hill or Heber may help you out: but the sure store-house in all desperate cases will be the Museum. He has the credit of having written the famous song ‘Cease rude Boreas’ when in prison; this, however, is only a tradition, and wants evidence sufficient for our purpose. There, sir, is a pussagorical answer to your pussechism. . . . . .
If you are in the habit of calling on
Vincent, you may do me a service by inquiring whether a MS. of Giraldus Cambrensis, designated by Cave, in his Historia Litteraria, as the Codex Westmonast, be in the Dean and Chapter Library; for this MS. contains a map of Wales as subsisting in his time, and that being the time in which Madoc lived, such a map would form a very fit and very singular addition to the book; and if it be there, I would wish you to make a formal application on my part for permission to have it copied and engraved. These bodies corporate are never very accommodating; but Vincent is bound to be civil on such an occasion, if he can, lest his refusal should seem to proceed from personal dislike, towards one whom he must be conscious that he has used unhandsomely, and to the utmost of his power attempted to injure. God knows I forgive him—ex imo corde. I am too well satisfied with my own lot, with my present pursuits, and the new and certain hopes which they present, not to feel thankful, to all those who have in any way contributed to make me what I am. If he and I had been upon friendly terms, it might have interested him, who has touched upon Portuguese history himself, to hear of my progress, and my knowledge might possibly have been of some assistance to him. I have no kindly feelings towards him; he made a merit of never having struck me, whereas that merit was mine for never having given him occasion so to do. It is my nature to be sufficiently susceptible of kindness, and I remember none from him. Here is a long rigmarole about nothing; the remembrance
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 309
old times always makes me garrulous, and the failing is common to most men. . . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”
To Lieut. Southey, Barbadoes.
“Keswick, Dec 26. 1804,
“Dear Tom,

“I have made some use of your letters in the third Annual Review. M’Kinnan has published a Tour through the British West Indies; a decent book, but dull. In reviewing it, I eked out his account with yours, and contrasted his words upon the slave trade with a passage from your letters. In doing this, I could not help thinking what materials for a book you might bring home if you would take the trouble: as thus,—describe the appearance of all the islands you touch at, from the sea,—their towns, how situated, how built,—what public buildings, what sort of houses,—the inside of the houses, how furnished,—what the mode of life of the townspeople, of the planter, in different ranks, and of the different European settlers,—in short, all you see and all you hear, looking about the more earnestly and asking questions. Many anecdotes of this, and the last war, you have opportunities of collecting, particularly of Victor Hughes; something also of St. Domingo, or Hayti, as it must now be called, which I find means asperosa in Spanish, rugged. If you would bring home matter for a picture of the islands as they now are, I could delineate what they
were from the old Spaniards, and there would be a very curious book between us

Hamilton is broke, whereby I shall lose from 20l. to 30l. which he owes me for critical work, and which I shall never get;—rather hard upon one whose brains and eyesight have quite enough to do by choice, and are never overpaid for what they do by necessity. For meaner matter,—my little girl is not pretty; but she is a sweet child, so excellently good-tempered; as joyous as a sky-lark in a fine morning, and so quick of eye, of action, and of intellect, that I have a sad feeling about me of the little chance there is of rearing her; so don’t think too much about her.

“Whether this war with Spain will involve one with Portugal is what we are all speculating about at present. I think it very likely that Bonaparte will oblige the Portuguese to turn the English out—a great evil to me in particular; though should my uncle be driven to England, my settling will the sooner take place. At present I am as unsettled as ever, at a distance from my books, perpetually in want of them, wishing and wanting to be permanently fixed, and still prevented by the old cause. Make a capital prize, Tom, and lend me a couple of hundreds, and you shall see what a noble appearance my books will make. N.B.—I have a good many that wait for your worship to letter them. This Spanish war may throw something in your way; but I don’t like the war, and think it is unjust and ungenerous to quarrel with an oppressed people because they have not strength to resist the French.
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 311
You know I greatly esteem the Spaniards. As for France, I am willing to pay half my last guinea to support a contest for national honour against him; but it began foolishly, and well will it be if we do not end it even more foolishly than we began.

“God bless you!

R. S.”

My father, as the reader is well aware, had long been desirous of again visiting Spain and Portugal, chiefly for the sake of obtaining still further materials for the two great historical works he was engaged upon,—the History of Portugal and the History of Brazil. It seems that Mr. Bedford, through some of his friends, had, at this time, an opportunity of furthering these views, and had inquired of my father what situation he felt himself equal to undertake. His reply explains the rest sufficiently, and the next letter shows that the scheme soon fell to the ground.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq,
“Keswick, Jan. 20. 1805.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“. . . . . There is a civil office for the inspection of accounts, and I am adequate to be inspector; so, if you cannot learn that there be anything more proper, let that be the thing asked: “but consult Rickman. I have only proceeded on newspaper authority; and, if the expedition be not
going to Portugal, would not take the best office any where else. Actual work I expect, and have seen enough of the last army at Lisbon to know that commissaries and inspectors have plenty of leisure. Thus much
General Moore must know, whether we are to send forces to Portugal or not; for it depends upon his report, if the papers lie not. If we do, the place where all the civil operations are carried on is Lisbon; there the commissaries, &c. remain if the army takes the field; there I want to go, you know for what purpose. To say that I do not wish to make money would be talking nonsense; but the mere object of making money would not take me from home. I can inspect accounts, I can make contracts (for beef and oats are soon understood), and, doing these, can yet have leisure for my own pursuits. What efforts I make are more because the thing is prudent than agreeable.

Madoc is provokingly delayed. Job once wished that his enemy had written a book; if he himself had printed one, it would have tried his patience. I am every day expecting the Great Snake* in a frank from Duppa. My emblem of the cross, prefixed to the poem, with the In hoc signo, and what I have said in the poem of the Virgin Mary, is more liable to misconstruction than could be wished. In what light I consider these things, may be seen in the reviews of the Missions to Bengal and Otaheite. I have just finished another article for the year upon the South African Missions. The great use of reviewing is, that it obliges me to think upon subjects

* An engraving of one of the incidents in Madoc.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 313
on which I had been before content to have very vague opinions, because there had never been any occasion for examining them; and this is a very important one.

“It will do me a world of good to see the first proof-sheet under favour, of the Grand Parleur; I shall begin to think seriously of the preface. You will find it worth while to go to Longman, for the sake of seeing the new publications, which all lie on his table; a good way of knowing what is going on in the world of typography.

God bless you!
R. S.”
To John Rickman, Esq,
“Feb. 16. 1805.
“Dear Rickman,

“The motto* to those Metrical Tales is strictly true; but there is a history belonging to them which will show that I was not trifling when I wrote them. With the single exception of Gualberto (the longest and best), all the others were written expressly for the Morning Post; and this volume-full is a selection from a large heap, by which I earned 149l. 4s., and is now published for the very same reason for which it was originally composed. Besides the necessity for writing such things, there was also a great fitness, inasmuch as, by so doing, a facility and variety of style was acquired, to be converted to better purposes, and I had always better purposes in view.

* I am unable to refer to this edition.


“. . . . . I have been reading the earliest travels in Abyssinia, namely, the History of the Portuguese Embassy in 1520, by Francisco Alvares, the chaplain; a book exceedingly rare,—my copy, which is the Spanish translation, a little 24mo. volume, having cost a moidore. As I cannot bear to lose anything, I shall draw up just such an abstract as if for a review, and throw whatever is not essential to the main narrative among the works of supererogation, which will be enough for a volume. The king, or, to give him his proper title, the Neguz, dwelt like an Arab in his tent. . . . . What every where surprises me in the history of these discoveries is, that so little should be known of the East in Europe, when so many Europeans were to be found in the East, for the Neguz was never without some straggler or other. Still more that in Europe such idle dreams about Ethiopia should prevail, when Abyssinians so often found their way to Rome. The opportunities lost by foolish ministers and foolish kings makes me swear for pure vexation. If Alboquerque had lived, I verily believe he would have expelled the Mamelukes from Egypt, by the help of the African Christians, and have made that country a Christian instead of a Turkish conquest. I should like to give Egypt to the Spaniards; they are good colonists. . . . . . . Do you know that reflecting mirrors of steel were used instead of spectacles for weak or dim-eyed persons to read in? This must have been so troublesome and so expensive that it never can have been common.
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 315
But that it was used, I have found in an odd book, purchased when I was first your guest in London—the 400 questions proposed by the Admiral of Castille and his friends to a certain Friar Minorita; 1550 the date of the book, some thirty years after it had been written. I am in the middle of this most quaint book, and have found, among the most whimsical things that ever delighted the quaintness of my heart, some of more consequence. . . . . The probabilities of my seeing you this year seem to increase. I begin to think that the mountain may come to
Mahomet; in plain English, that, instead of my going to Lisbon, my uncle may come to England, in which case I shall meet him in London. The expedition to Portugal seems given up. Coleridge is confidential secretary to Sir A—— Ball, and has been taking some pains to set the country right as to its Neapolitan politics, in the hope of saving Sicily from the French. He is going with Capt. —— into Greece, and up the Black Sea to purchase com for the government. Odd, but pleasant enough,—if he would but learn to be contented in that state of life into which it has pleased God to call him—a maxim which I have long thought the best in the Catechism. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynne, Esq.
“March 5. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

“. . . . . I have read Scott’s poem* this evening, and like it much. It has the fault of mixed language which you mentioned, and which I expected; and it has the same obscurity, or, to speak more accurately, the same want of perspicuousness, as his Glenfinlas. I suspect that Scott did not write poetry enough when a boy†, for he has little command of language. His vocabulary of the obsolete is ample; but in general his words march up stiffly, like half-trained recruits,—neither a natural walk, nor a measured march which practice has made natural. But I like his poem, for it is poetry, and in a company of strangers I would not mention that it had any faults. The beginning of the story is too like Coleridge’s Christobell, which he had seen; the very line, ‘Jesu Maria, shield her well!’ is caught from it. When you see the Christobell, you will not doubt that Scott has imitated it; I do not think designedly, but the echo was in his ear, not for emulation, but propter amorem. This only refers to the beginning, which you will perceive attributes more of magic to the lady than seems in character with the rest of the story.

* The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

† This would seem, from Sir W. Scott’s Life, to be true. He mentions, in his Autobiography, having been a great reader of poetry, especially old ballads; but does not speak of having written much, if any, in boyhood.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 317

“If the sale of Madoc should prove that I can afford to write poetry, Kehama will not lie long unfinished. After lying fallow since the end of October, I feel prolific propensities that way.

“My book ought to be delivered before this, upon the slowest calculation. I pray you compare the conscientious type of my notes with that of Scott’s; and look in his title-page*, at the cruelty with which he has actually split Paternoster Row.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To John Rickman, Esq.
“Keswick, March 22. 1805.

“I never learnt the Memoria Technica, but if ever I have a son he shall. Where is the earliest mention of the mariner’s compass? I have no better reference than a chronological table at the end of a worn-out dictionary, which says, invented or improved by Gioia of Naples, A.D. 1302. Now, I have just found it mentioned in the Laws of Alonso the Wise, which Laws were begun a.d. 1251, and finished in seven years; and it is not mentioned as anything new, but made use of as an illustration. You can understand the Spanish:

“‘Assi como les marineros sequian en le nocte, escura por el aguja que les es mediamera entre la piedra e la estrella, e les muestra por lo vayar.’

* My father used to pride himself upon his title-pages, and upon his knowledge of typography in general; being, as one of his printers said, the only person he ever knew who could tell how a page would look before it was set up.


“I suspect that this implies a belief in some specific virtue in the north star, as if the magnetic influence flowed from it. This, however, is matter for more inquiry, and I will one day look into it in Raymond Lully and Albertus Magnus,—likely authors. The passage certainly carries the use of the needle half a century further back than the poor chronology; but whether I have made what antiquarians call a discovery, is more than I can tell. Robertson ought to have found it; for to write his Introduction to Charles V., without reading these Laws, is one of the thousand and one omissions for which he ought to be called rogue, as long as his volumes last.

“These Partidas, as they are called, are very amusing; I am about a quarter through them some way, as they fill three folios by help of a commentary. They are divided into seven parts, for about seven times seven such reasons as would have delighted Dr. Slop; and King Alfonzo has ingeniously settled the orthography of his name, by beginning each of the seven parts with one of the seven letters which compose it, in succession. His Majesty gives directions that no young princes should dip their fingers into the dish in an unmannerly way, so as to grease themselves; and expatiates on the advantages to be derived from reading and writing,—if they are able to learn those arts. He was himself an extraordinary man; too fond of study to be a good king in a barbarous age,—but therefore not only a more interesting character to posterity, but a more useful one in the long run.

“You will see in the Madociana a story, how
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 319
Alexander went down in a diving-bell to see what was going on among the fishes;—remarkable, because it is found in Spanish, German, and Welsh romances of the middle ages. I have since found a similar story of somebody else among the Malays, who certainly did not get it from Europe, or Alexander (Iscander) would have been their hero also. The number of good stories of all kinds which are common to the Orientals and Europeans, are more likely to have been brought home by peaceable travellers, than by the Crusaders. I suspect the Jew pedlars were the great go-betweens. They always went everywhere. All the world over you found Jew merchants and Jew physicians; wherever there is anything to be got, no danger deters a Jew from venturing. I myself saw two fellows at Evora, under the very nose of the Inquisition, who, if they had any noses, could not have mistaken their game. I knew the cut of their jibs at once; and, upon inquiring what they had for sale, was told—green spectacles. A History of the Jews since their dispersion, in the shape of a Chronological Bibliotheca, would be a very valuable work. I want an Academy established to bespeak such works, and reward them well, according to the diligence with which they shall be executed.

“The abuses, or main abuses, of printing, spring from one evil,—it almost immediately makes authorship a trade. Per-sheeting was in use as early as Martin Luther’s time, who mentions the price—a curious fact. The Reformation did one great mischief; in destroying the monastic orders, it deprived us of the only bodies of men who could not possibly
be injured by the change which literature had undergone. They could have no peculium; they laboured hard for amusement; the society had funds to spare for printing, and felt a pride in thus disposing of them for the reputation of their orders. We laugh at the ignorance of these orders, but the most worthless and most ignorant of them produced more work& of erudition than all the English and all the Scotch universities since the Reformation; and it is my firm belief, that a man will at this day find better society in a Benedictine monastery than be could at Cambridge; certainly better than he could at Oxford.

“You know I am no friend to Popery or to Monochism; but if the Irish Catholics are to be emancipated, I would let them found convents, only restricting them from taking the vows till after a certain age, as Catherine did in Russia; though perhaps it may be as well to encourage anything to diminish the true Patric-ian breed. The good would be, that they would get the country cultivated, and serve as good inns, and gradually civilise it. As the island unluckily is theirs, and there is no getting the Devil to remove it anywhere else, we had better employ the Pope to set it to rights.

“. . . . . William Taylor has forsaken the Critical, because it has fallen into the hands of ——, an orthodox, conceited, preferment-hunting, Cambridge fellow; such is the character he gives of him. My book will suffer by the change. The Annual is probably delayed by the insurrection among the printers. Authors
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 321
are the only journeymen who cannot combine,—too poor to hold out, and too useless to be bought in.

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M.P.
“April 3. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

“I have been grievously shocked this evening by the loss of the Abergavenny*, of which Wordsworth’s brother was captain. Of course the news came flying up to us from all quarters, and it has disordered me from head to foot. At such circumstances I believe we feel as much for others as for ourselves; just as a violent blow occasions the same pain as a wound, and he who breaks his shin feels as acutely at the moment as the man whose leg is shot off. In fact, I am writing to you merely because this dreadful shipwreck has left me utterly unable to do anything else. It is the heaviest calamity Wordsworth has ever experienced, and in all probability I shall have to communicate it to him, as he will very likely be here before the tidings can reach him. What renders any near loss of the kind so peculiarly distressing is, that the recollection is perpetually freshened when any like event occurs, by the mere mention of shipwreck, or the sound of the wind. Of all deaths it is the most dreadful, from the circumstances of terror which accompany it.

* An allusion to this shipwreck is made in a published letter of an earlier date: which of the two dates is correct, I cannot at this time ascertain.


“I have to write the history of two shipwrecks,—that of Sepulveda and his wife, which is mentioned by Camoens, and that of D. Paulo de Lina, one of the last Portuguese who distinguished himself favourably in India. Both these, but especially the first, are so dreadfully distressful, that I look on to the task of dwelling upon all the circumstances, and calling them up before my own sight, and fixing them in my own memory, as I needs must do, with very great reluctance. Fifteen years ago, the more melancholy a tale was the better it pleased me, just as we all like tragedy better than comedy when we are young. But now I as unwillingly encounter this sort of mental pain as I would any bodily suffering. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M.P.
“April 6. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

“I am startled at the price of Madoc, not that it is dear compared with other books, but it is too much money; and I vehemently suspect that in consequence, the sale will be just sufficient for the publisher not to lose anything, and for me not to gain anything. What will be its critical reception I cannot anticipate. There is neither metre nor politics to offend any body, and it may pass free for any matter that it contains, unless, indeed, some wiseacre should suspect me of favouring the Roman Catholic religion.

“And this catch-word leads me to the great po-
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 323
etical question. A Catholic establishment would be the best, perhaps the only, means of civilising Ireland. Jesuits and Benedictines, though they would not enlighten the savages, would humanise them, and bring the country into cultivation, A petition that asked for this, saying plainly we are Papists, and will be so, and this is the best thing that can be done for us, and for you too,—such a petition I could support, considering what the present condition of Ireland is, how wretchedly it has always been governed, and how hopeless the prospect is.

“You will laugh at me, but I believe there is more need to check Popery in England than to encourage it in Ireland. It was highly proper to let the immigrant monastics associate together here, and live in their old customs; but it is not proper to let them continue their establishments, nor proper that the children of Protestant parents should be inveigled into nunneries. You will tell me their vows are not binding in England; but they are binding in foro conscientiæ; and, believe me, whatever romances have related of the artifices of the Romish priesthood, does not and cannot exceed the truth. This, by God’s blessing, I will one day prove irrefragably to the world. The Protestant Dissenters will die away. Destroy the Test Act and you kill them. They affect to appeal wholly to reason, and bewilder themselves in the miserable snare of materialism. Besides, their creed is not reasonable; it is a vile mingle mangle which a Catholic may well laugh at. But Catholicism having survived the first flood of reformation, will stand, perhaps, to the end of all things. It would yield either to a general
spread of knowledge (which would require a totally new order of things), or to the unrestrained attacks of infidelity,—which would be casting out devils by Beelzebub the Prince of the Devils. But if it be tolerated here, if the old laws of prevention be suffered to sleep, it will gain ground, perhaps to a dangerous extent. You do not know what the zeal is, and what the power of an army of priests, having no interest whatever but that of their order. . . . . You will not carry the question now; what you will do in the next reign, Heaven knows!. . . . .

Coleridge is coming home full of Mediterranean politics. Oh, for a vigorous administration! but that wish implies so much, that Algernon Sidney suffered for less direct high treason. If I were not otherwise employed, almost I should like to write upon the duty and policy of introducing Christianity into our East Indian possessions, only that it can be done better at the close of the Asiatic part of my History. Unless that policy be adopted, I prophesy that by the year 2000 there will be more remains of the Portuguese than of the English Empire in the East. . . . .

“We go on badly in the East, and badly in the West. You will see in the Review that I have been crying out for the Cape. We want a port in the Mediterranean just now; for if Gibraltar is to be besieged, certainly Lisbon will be shut against us. Perhaps Tangiers could be recovered; that coast of Africa is again becoming of importance: but above all things Egypt, Egypt. This country is strong enough to conquer, and populous enough to colonise;
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 325
conquest would make the war popular, and colonisation secure the future prosperity of the country, and the eventual triumph of the English language over all others. It would amuse you to hear how ambitious of the honour of England and of the spread of her power I am become. If we had a king as ambitious as
Napoleon, he could not possibly find a privy-counsellor more after his own heart. Heaven send us another minister——! How long is the present one to fool away the resources of the country? If I were superstitious, I could believe that Providence meant to destroy us because it has infatuated us.

“God bless you!

R. S.”

In later life my father held very different opinions, respecting the effect likely to be produced by the establishment of Popery in Ireland, to those which he expresses in the foregoing letter. Increased knowledge of the past history of that country, and of its present condition, dispossessed him altogether of the idea that the Roman Catholic Church, set up in her full power, would be the most effective means of civilising and humanising the people. He affirms, indeed (Colloquies with Sir Thomas More, vol. i. pp. 289.), after quoting Bishop Berkeley’s admirable exhortation to the Romish priests, that “had they listened to it, and exerted themselves for improving the condition of the people, with half the zeal that they display in keeping up an inflammatory excitement among them, the state of Ireland would have been very unlike what it now is, and they themselves
would appear in a very different light before God and man.” “They might,” he continues, “have wrought as great a change in Ireland as the Jesuits effected among the tribes of Paraguay and California;” and this “without opposition, without difficulty, in the strict line of their duty, in the proper discharge of their sacerdotal functions . . . . to the immediate advancement of their own interests, and so greatly to the furtherance of those ambitious views which the ministers of the Romish Church must ever entertain, that I know not how their claims, if supported by such services, could have been resisted.” . . . . . “I would not dissemble the merits of the Romish clergy,” he continues, “nor withhold praise from them when it is their due; they attend sedulously to the poor, and administer relief and consolation to them in sickness and death with exemplary and heroic devotion. Many among them undoubtedly there are whose error is in opinion only, and whose frame of mind is truly Christian, and who, according to the light which they possess, labour faithfully in the service of the Lord. But the condition of Ireland affords full evidence for condemning them as a body. In no other country is their influence so great, and in no other country are so many enormities committed.” . . . .

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“April 13. 1805.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“There is a translation of Sallust by Gordon. I have never seen it, but having read his Tacitus, do
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 327
not think it likely that any new version would surpass his, for he was a man of great powers. It is not likely that
Longus Homo, or any other Homo would pay for such a translation,—because the speculation is not promising, every person who wishes to read Sallust, being able to read the original. . . . . There are some Greek authors which we want in English, Diodorus Siculus in particular; but why not chuse for yourself, and venture upon original composition? In my conscience I do not think any man living has more of Rabelais in his nature than you have. A grotesque satire à la Gargantua would set all the kingdom staring, and place you in the very first rank of reputation. . . . . You ask if I shall come to town this summer? Certainly not, unless some very material accident were to render it necessary. I do not want to go, I should not like to go, and I can’t afford to go; solid reasons, Mr. Bedford, as I take it, for not going. This is an inconvenient residence for many reasons, and I shall move southward as soon as I have the means, either to the neighbourhood of London or Bath. When that may be, Heaven knows; for I have not yet found out the art of making more money than goes as fast as it comes, in bread and cheese, which these ministers make dearer and dearer every day, and I am one of that class which feels every addition. However, I am well off as it is, and perfectly contented, and ten times happier than half those boobies who walk into that chapel there in your neighbourhood, and when they are asked if I shall give sixteen pence for tenpenny-worth of salt, say yes,—for which the Devil scarify
them with wire whips, and then put them in brine, say I.

“. . . . . I shall endeavour to account for the decline of poetry after the age of Shakspeare and Spenser, in spite of the great exceptions during the Commonwealth, and to trace the effect produced by the restorers of a better taste, of whom Thomson and Gilbert West are to be esteemed as the chiefs before the Wartons, with this difference, that what he did was the effect of his own genius, what they, by a feeling of the genius of others. This reign will rank very high in poetical history. Goldsmith, Cowper, Burns, are all original, and all unequalled in their way. Falconer is another whose works will last for ever. . . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M.P.
“April 16. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

Madoc has reached Keswick. I am sorry to see Snowdon uniformly mis-spelt, by what unaccountable blunder I know not. It is a beautiful book, but I repent having printed it in quarto. By its high price, one half the edition is condemned to be furniture in expensive libraries, and the other to collect cobwebs in the publishers’ warehouses. I foresee that I shall get no solid pudding by it; the loss on the first edition will eat up the profits of the second, if the publishers, as I suppose they will, should print a second while the quarto hangs upon hand. How-
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 329
ever, after sixteen years it is pleasant, as well as something melancholy, to see it, as I do now for the first time, in the shape of a book. Many persons will read it with pleasure, probably no one with more than you; for whatever worth it may have, you will feel, that had it not been for you, it could never possibly have existed. It is easy to quit the pursuit of fortune for fame; but had I been obliged to work for the necessary comforts instead of the superfluities of life, I must have sunk as others have done before me. Interrupted just when I did not wish it, for it is twilight—just light enough to see that the pen travel, straight,—and I am tired with a walk from Grasmere, and was in a mood for letter-writing;—but here is a gentleman from Malta with letters from
Coleridge. God bless you!

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M.P.
“June 25. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

Madoc is doing well; rather more than half the edition is sold, which is much for so heavy a volume; the sale, of course, will flag now, till the world shall have settled what they please to think of the poem, and if the reviews favour it, the remainder will be in a fair way.* In fact, books are now so dear, that

* “I think Southey does himself injustice in supposing the Edinburgh Review, or any other, could have hurt Madoc, even for a time. But the size and price of the work, joined to the frivolity of an age which must be treated as nurses humour children, are sufficient reasons

they are becoming rather articles of fashionable furniture than anything else; they who buy them do not read them, and they who read them do not buy them. I have seen a Wiltshire clothier, who gives his bookseller no other instructions, than the dimensions of his shelves; and have just heard of a Liverpool merchant who is fitting up a library, and has told his bibliopole to send him
Shakspeare, and Milton, and Pope, and if any of those fellows should publish any thing new, to let him have it immediately. If Madoc obtain any celebrity, its size and cost will recommend it among these gentry—libros cansumere nati—born to buy quartos and help the revenue. . . . . You were right in your suspicious dislike of the introductory lines. The ille ego is thought arrogant, as my self-accusing preface would have been thought mock modesty. For this I care little: it is saying no more, in fact, than if I had said, Author of so-and-so in the title-page; and, moreover, it is not amiss that critics who will find fault with something, should have these straws to catch at. I learn from Sharpe very favourable reports of its general effect, which is, he says, far greater than I could have supposed.

“. . . . . This London Institution is likely to supply the place of an Academy. Sharpe has had most to do with the establishment, and perhaps

why a poem, on so chaste a model, should not have taken immediately. We know the similar fate of Milton’s immortal work in the witty age of Charles II., at a time when poetry was much more fashionable than at present.”—Letter from Sir W. Scott to Miss Seward, Life, vol iii. p. 21.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 331
remotely I may have had something, having conversed last year with him, upon the necessity of some association for publishing such extensive national works as booksellers will not undertake, and individuals cannot;—such as the Scriptores Rerum Britan., Saxon Archaiologies, &c. &c. Application will be made to
Coleridge to lecture on Belles Lettres. Some such application will perhaps be made to me one day or other; indeed, a hint to that effect was given me from the Royal Institution last year. My mind is made up to reject any such invitation, because I have neither the acquirements nor the wish to be a public orator. . . . .

“Your letter has got the start of mine. I believe I told you that both Lord and Lady Holland had left invitations for me with my uncle to Holland House, and that he had offered me the use of his Spanish collection. Did Fox mention to you that I had sent him a copy of Madoc? I did so because Sharpe desired me to do so, who knows Fox; and I prefaced it with a note, as short as could be, and as respectful as ought to be. I am much gratified by what you tell me of the poem’s reception; there was a strong and long fit of dejection upon me about the time of its coming out. I suspected a want of interest in the first part, and a want everywhere of such ornament as the public have been taught to admire. And still I cannot help feeling that the poem looks like the work of an older man—that all its lights are evening sunshine. This would be ominous if it did not proceed from the nature of the story, and the key in which it is pitched, which
was done many years since, before
Thalaba was written or thought of. . . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M. P.
“July 5. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

Fox has written me a very civil letter of thanks; saying, however, that he had not yet had time to read the poem, so his praise can of course only have been of detached parts.

“They tell me the duty upon foreign works is not worth collecting, and that it might be repealed if any member thought it worth his while to take up the matter. If this be the case, I pray you take into consideration the case of your petitioner; there is now a roomful of books lying for me at Lisbon, all of use to me, and yet literally and truly such the major part, that were they to be sold in England, they would not yield the expense of the duty. I cannot smuggle them all in, to my sorrow, being obliged to get over only a box at a time, of such a smuggleable size that a man can easily carry it, and this I cannot do at London, where I wish to have them. What my uncle has sent over, and fairly paid for, has cost about a hundred pounds freight and duty—the freight far the smaller part. Now, if this barbarous tax can be repealed, whoever effects its repeal certainly deserves to be esteemed a benefactor to literature, and it may also be taken into the account that you would save me from the sin of
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 333
smuggling, which else, assuredly, I have not virtue enough to resist. Seriously, if the thing could be done, it would be some pride to me, as well as some profit, that you should be the man to do it. . . . . I have just received a good and valuable book from Lisbon, the
Barbarorum Leges Antiquæ, well and laboriously edited by a monk at Venice, in five folios, the last published in 1792. An excellent work it appears to me, upon the slight inspection I have yet given it,—one that by its painful and patient labour reminds one of old times; such a book as monasteries do sometimes produce, but universities never. My books here are few but weighty, and every day I meet with something or other so interesting to me, that a wish arises for some friend to drop in, to whom and with whom I could talk over the facts which have appeared, and the speculations growing out of them. What profit the History may ultimately produce. Heaven knows; but I would not for anything that rank or fortune could give, forego the pleasure of the pursuit.

“The story of Pelayo, the restorer of the Gothic or founder of the Spanish monarchy, has been for some time in my thoughts as good for a poem. I would rather it were a Portuguese than a Spanish story; that, however, cannot be helped. The historical facts are few and striking, just what they should be; and I could fitly give to the main character, the strong feelings and passions which give life and soul to poetry, and in which I feel that Madoc is deficient. There is yet half an hour’s daylight, enough to show you what my ideas are upon the
subject, in their crude state. Pelayo revolted because his sister was made by force the concubine of a Moorish governor, or by consent; and because his own life was attempted by that governor, in fear of his resentment, he retreated to the mountains, where a cavern was his stronghold; and from that cavern miraculously defeated an army of unbelievers: the end is that he won the city or castle of Gijon, and was chosen king. There are for characters, Pelayo himself; the young Alphonso, who married his daughter, and succeeded to his throne; Orpas, the renegade archbishop, killed in the battle of the Cave; Count Julian; his daughter Florinda, the innocent cause of all the evil, who killed herself in consequence; and, lastly. King Rodrigo himself, who certainly escaped from the battle, and lived as a hermit for the remainder of his days. If I venture upon machinery, of all subjects here is the most tempting one. What a scene would the famous Cave of Toledo furnish, and what might not be done with the ruined monasteries, with the relics and images which the fugitives were hiding in the woods and mountains! I forgot to mention among the historical characters the wife of Rodrigo, who married one of the Moorish governors. Monks and nuns (the latter not yet cloistered in communities), persecuted Arians, and Jews, and slaves, would furnish fictitious and incidental characters in abundance. You see the raw materials; if English history could supply me as good a subject, it would on every account be better, but I can find none. That of
Edmund Ironside is the best, which William Taylor
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 335
threw out to me as a lure in the
Annual Review; but when an historical story is taken, the issue ought to be of permanent importance.

“I have never thought so long at one time about Pelayo as while thus talking to you about him; but Madoc does not fully satisfy me, and I should like to produce something better—something pitched in a higher key. A Spanish subject has one advantage, that it will cost me no additional labour of research; only, indeed, were I to chuse Pelayo, I would see his cave, which is fitted up as a chapel, has a stream gliding from it, and must be one of the finest things in Spain. God bless you!

R. S.”

The following letter requires some explanation. The Butler, and his man William, to whom allusion will from this time occasionally be found in the letters to Mr. Bedford, were mythological personages, the grotesque creation of his fertile imagination. The idea, which was a standing jest among the intimate friends of the originator, was of a hero possessing the most extraordinary powers; with something like the combined qualities of Merlin, Garagantua, and Kehama, to be biographised in a style compounded of those of Rabelais, Swift, Sterne, and Baron Munchausen.

Mr. Bedford, however, was not to be induced by all his friend’s entreaties to immortalise the Butler, and no relic of him consequently remains, except the occasional allusions in these letters, which, although they can afford amusement to but few persons, are
inserted here as showing the extreme elasticity of my father’s mind, which delighted to recreate itself in pure unmitigated nonsense,—a property shared in common with many wise men.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Greta Hall, July 6. 1805.

“. . . . . Butler denotes the sensual principle, which is subject or subordinate to the intellectual part of the internal man; because every thing which serves for drinking or which is drunk (as wine, milk, water), hath relation to truth, which is of the intellectual part, thus it hath relation to the intellectual part: and whereas the external sensual principle, or that of the body, is what subministers, therefore by Butler is signified that subministering sensual principle, or that which subministers of things sensual.

“Read that paragraph again, Grosvenor. Don’t you understand it? Read it a third time. Try it backwards.

“See if you can make any thing of it diagonally. Turn it upside down.

“Philosophers have discovered that you may turn a polypus inside out, and it will live just as well one way as the other. It is not to be supposed that Nature ever intended any of its creatures to be thus inverted, but so the thing happens. As you can make nothing of this Butler any other way, follow the hint and turn the paragraph inside out. That’s a poozzle.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 337

“Now, then, I will tell you what it is in plain English. It is Swedenborgianism, and I have copied the passage verbatim from a Swedenborgian Dictionary. Allow, at least, that it would make an excellent chapter in your book, if thou hadst enough grace in thee ever to let such a book come forth. Nonsense, sublime nonsense, is what this book ought to be,—such nonsense as requires more wit, more sense, more reading, more knowledge, more learning, than go to the composition of half the wise ones in the world. I do beseech you do not lightly or indolently abandon the idea, for if you will but Butlerise in duodecimo, if you fail of making such a reputation as you would wish, then will I pledge myself to give one of my ears to you, which you may, by the hands of Harry, present to the British Museum. The book ought only to have glimpses of meaning in it, that those who catch them may impute meaning to all the rest by virtue of faith.

“God bless you! I wish you could come to the Lakes, that we might talk nonsense and eat gooseberry pie together, for which I am as famous as ever.

R. S.”

Madoc having now been published some months, the opinions of his various friends began to reach him; that of Mr. Rickman was a somewhat unfavourable one, and, as may be well supposed, he had no false delicacy in expressing it, my father being well used to this sort of masculine freedom, ready to use it himself to others, and wholly in-
capable of taking any umbrage at it himself. His defence of his poetical offspring will be the better understood by the quotation here of his friend’s remarks:—“About Madoc I am very glad to hear that the world admires it and buys it, though in reading it, I confess, I cannot discover that it is in any degree so good as your two former poems, which I have read lately by way of comparison. The result has been, that I like them the more, and Madoc the less. The Virgilian preface, very oddly (as I think), sets forth the planting of Christianity in America. It is the licence of poetry to vary circumstances and to invent incidents; but, surely, not to predicate a result notoriously false. Thus
Virgil embellishes the origin of the Roman empire; but he does not tell you that Judaism was established in it, or that in his own time republican Rome remained unfettered by emperors. Historically speaking, the Spaniards introduced Christianity into America. Besides this, I much dislike the sort of nameless division you have adopted, and the want of numbering the lines. How is the poem to be referred to? Neither do I like the metaphysical kind of preachings produced by your Welshman for the instruction of savages. . . . . I am very glad the public admire Madoc so much more than I do, and also that many persons knowing so much more of poetry do so too. No doubt I am wrong, but it would not be honest to conceal my error.”*

* June 27. 1805.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 339
To John Rickman, Esq,
“July, 1805.
“Dear Rickman,

“. . . . Your objections to the exordial lines are not valid. I say there of what the subject is to treat, not affirming that it is historically true. Just as I might have said, in an introduction to Thalaba, that he destroyed the Dom Daniel, and so put an end to all sorcery. The want of numerals is a fault I confess, not so the namelessness of the divisions; nor, indeed, are they nameless, for in the notes they are regarded as sections; and that each has not its specific name from its subject-matter affixed to it, is, you know, the effect of your own advice. However, call them sections, cantos, canticles, chapters, what you will, and then consider in what way is this mode of division objectionable.

“I am not surprised at your little liking the poem; on the contrary, I am more surprised at those who like it, because what merit it has is almost wholly of execution, which is infinitely better than the subject. Now every body can feel if a story be interesting or flat, whereas there are very few who can judge of the worth of the language and versification. I have said to somebody, perhaps it was to you, that had this been written since Thalaba (for, as you know, the plan was formed, and the key pitched, before Thalaba was begun or dreamt of), I should have thought it ominous of declining powers, it is in so sober a tone, its colouring so autumnal, its light every where that of an evening gun; but as only the last finish of language, the
polishing part, is of later labour, the fair inference is, that instead of the poet’s imagination having grown weaker, he has improved in the mechanism of his art. A fair inference it is, for I am no self-flatterer, heaven knows. Having confessed thus much, I ought to add, that the poem is better than you think it. . . . . Compare it with the
Odyssey, not the Iliad; with King John or Coriolanus, not Macbeth or the Tempest, The story wants unity, and has perhaps too Greek, too stoical, a want of passion; but, as far as I can see, with the same eyes wherewith I read Homer and Shakespeare and Milton*, it is a good poem and must live. You will like it better if ever you read it again. . . . .”

To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, August 5. 1805.
“My dear Friend,

“I am much gratified with your praises of Madoc, and disposed to acquiesce in some of your censure.

* I may here not inappropriately quote Sir Walter Scott’s opinion of Madoc, as corroborating what my father himself here allows, that the execution is better than the subject; and also that the poem will well bear one of the surest tests of merit of all kinds—an intimate knowledge:—“As I don’t much admire compliments, you may believe me sincere when I tell you, that I have read Madoc three times since my first cursory perusal, and each time with an increased admiration of the poetry. But a poem, whose merits are of that higher tone, does not immediately take with the public at large. It is even possible that during your own life—and may it be as long as every real lover of literature can wish—you must be contented with the applause of the few whom nature has gifted with the rare taste for discriminating in poetry; but the mere readers of verse must one day come in, and then Madoc will assume his real place at the feet of Milton. Now this opinion of mine was not that (to speak frankly) which I formed on reading the poem at first, though I then felt much of its merit.”—W. S. to R. S., Oct. 1. 1807.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 341
. . . . . It pleased me that you had selected for praise the quieter passages, those in an under key, with which the feeling has the most, and the fancy the least, to do. . . . .

“My History would go to press this winter if my uncle were in England, and probably will not till he and I have met, either in that country or in this. Believe me it is an act of forbearance to keep back what has cost me so many hours of labour; the day when I receive the first proof-sheet will be one of the happiest of my life. The work may or may not succeed; it may make me comfortably independent, or obtain no credit till I am in a world where its credit will be of no effect: but that it will be a good book, and one which, sooner or later, shall justify me in having chosen literature for my life pursuit, I have a sure and certain faith. If I complained of anything, it would be of the necessity of working at employments so worthless in comparison with this great subject. However, the reputation which I am making, and which, thank God, strengthens every year, will secure a sale for these volumes whenever they appear. Roscoe’s Leo is on the table—sub judice. One great advantage in my subject is, that it excites no expectations; the reader will be surprised to find in me a splendour of story which he will be surprised not to find in the miserable politics of Italian princelings.

“I cannot answer your question concerning the contemporary English historians; Bishop Nicholson will be your best guide. Of English history we have little that is good;—I speak of modern com-
pilers, being ignorant, for the most part, of the monkish annalists.
Turner’s Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons ought to be upon your shelves . . . . so much new information was probably never laid before the public in any one historical publication; Lord Lyttleton’s Henry II. is a learned and honest book. Having particularised these two, the ‘only faithful found,’ it may safely be said, that of all the others those which are the oldest are probably the best. What Milton and Bacon have left, have, of course, peculiar and first-rate excellence.

“I beg of you to thank young Walpole for his book. . . . . I wish he were to travel anywhere rather than in Greece, there is too much hazard and too little reward; nor do I think much can be gleaned after the excellent Chandler. Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, are the countries for an able and inquisitive traveller. I should, for myself, prefer a town in Ireland to a town in Greece, as productive of more novelty.

“I should be much obliged if you could borrow for me Beausobre’s Histoire du Manicheisme, which, for want of catalogues, I cannot get at by any other channel. The book is said to be of sterling value, and the subject so connected with Christian and Oriental superstition, that my knowledge of both is very imperfect till I have read it. Besides, I think I have discovered that one of the great Oriental mythologies was borrowed from Christianity, that of Budda, the Fo of the Chinese; if so, what becomes of their chronology?

God bless you!
R. S.”
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 343
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Amelia.
“Keswick, August 22. 1805,
“My dear Tom,

“I wrote to you as soon as the letter, by favour of old Neptune, arrived; as both seem to have taken the same course, it will now be desirable to have others thrown over in that track, and if half a dozen should in half a century follow one another, it would prove the existence of a current.

“Our neighbour General Peachy invited us lately to meet Lord Somerville at dinner. . . . . From hence he went into Scotland, and there saw ——, who was on the point of coming here to visit Wordsworth and me. To —— he spoke of the relationship with us; he said of me and Wordsworth that, however we might have got into good company, he might depend upon it we were still Jacobins at heart, and that he believed he had been instrumental in having us looked after in Somersetshire. This refers to a spy who was sent down to Stowey to look after Coleridge and Wordsworth; the fellow, after trying to tempt the country people to tell lies, could collect nothing more than that the gentlemen used to walk a good deal upon the coast, and that they were what they called poets. He got drunk at the inn, and told his whole errand and history, but we did not till now know who was the main mover. . . . .

“Continue, I beseech you, to write your remarks upon all you see and all you hear; but do not trust them to letters, lest they should be lost Keep
minutes of what you write. Such letters as your last would make a very interesting and very valuable volume. Little is known here of the W. Indies, except commercially; the moral and physical picture would have all the effect of novelty. In particular, look to the state of the slaves. If you were now in England it is very possible that your evidence might have considerable weight before the House of Lords, now that the question of abolition is again coming on. Keep your eye upon every thing; describe the appearance of the places you visit, as seen from the ship,—your walks on shore,—in short, make drawings in writing; nothing is so easy as to say what you see, if you will but disregard how you say it, and think of nothing but explaining yourself fully. Write me the history of a planter’s day—what are his meals—at what hours—what his dress—what his amusements—what the employments, pleasures, education, &c., of his children and family. Collect any anecdotes connected with the French expeditions—with the present or the last war,—and depend upon it, that by merely amusing yourself thus you may bring home excellent and ample materials, to which I will add a number of curious historical facts, gleaned from the Spanish historians and travellers.

“The seas are clear for you once more, and I hope by this time you have picked up some more prizes. Your climate, too, is now getting comfortable: I envy you as much in winter as you can envy me in summer. . . . .

“God bless you!”

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 345
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.
“My dear Wynn,

“Whenever the encouragement of literature is talked of again in the House, I should think a motion for letting proof-sheets pass as franks would not be opposed; they cannot produce 100l. a year to the post-office, probably not half the sum, but it is a tax of some weight on the few individuals whom it affects, and a good deal of inconvenience is occasioned to the printers by waiting for franks, while their presses stand still. Few persons have greater facility for getting franks than myself, yet the proofs which come without them, and those which are over-weight from being damp, or which are misdated, do not cost me less than 30s. a year. The proofs of Madoc cost me 50s.—rather too much out of five-and-twenty pounds profit.

“I have by me Bishop Lavington’s Tracts concerning the Moravians; and as I can in great part vouch for the accuracy of his Catholic references, there seems no reason to suspect him in the others. At first these Tracts left upon my mind the same impression which has been made upon yours; nor have I now any doubt that Zinzendorff was altogether a designing man, and that the absurdities and obscenities charged upon them in their outset are in the main true. But it is so in the beginning of all sects, and it seems to be a regular part of the process of fanaticism. Devotion borrows its language from
carnal love. This is natural enough; and the consequences are natural enough also, when one who is more knave than enthusiast begins to talk out of Solomon’s Song to a sister in the spirit. But this sort of leaven soon purges off, the fermentation ceases, and the liquor first becomes fine, then vapid, and at last you come to the dregs. Moravianism is in its second stage; its few proselytes fall silently in, led by solitary thought and conviction, not hurried on by contagious feelings, and the main body of its members have been born within the pale of the society. They do not live up to the rigour of their institutions in England; even here, however, it is certain that they are a respectable and respected people; and as missionaries they are meritorious beyond all others. No people but the Quakers understand how to communicate Christianity so well, and the Quakers are only beginning, whereas the Moravians have for half a century been labouring in the vineyard.
Krantz’s History of what they have done in Greenland is a most valuable book; there is also a History of their American Missions which I want to get. Among the Hottentots they are doing much good. The best account of the society, as it exists here, is to be found, I believe, in a novel called Wanley Penson. A great deal concerning their early history is to be found in Wesley’s Journals. He was at one time closely connected with them, but, as there could not be two popes, a separation unluckily took place;—I say unluckily, because Methodism is far the worst system of the two.

“If you have not read Collins’s book on Bantry Bay, I recommend you to get it before the business
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 347
comes on in parliament. It is unique in its kind; the minute history of a colony during the first years of difficulty and distress. There was one man in power there precisely fit for his situation—
Governor King, and if it had been possible to induce him to stay there, governor he ought to have been for life, with discretionary powers. One thing is plain respecting this colony, and that is, that no more convicts ought to be sent to the establishments already made. Send them to new settlements, and let the old ones purify; at present the stock of vice is perpetually renewed. Instead of doing this, the fresh convicts should be sent at once to new points along the coast; for new settlements must necessarily consume men, and these are the men who are fit to be consumed.

“Are you right in thinking that Sallust has the advantage in subject over Tacitus? To me it appears that the histories which Sallust relates excite no good feeling, treating only of bad men in bad times; but that the sufferings of good men in evil days form the most interesting and improving part of human history. I prefer Tacitus to all other historians—infinitely prefer him, because no other historian inculcates so deep and holy a hatred of tyranny. It is from him that I learnt my admiration of the Stoics. God bless you!

R. S.”

The autumn of this year was varied by a short excursion to Scotland, accompanied by his friend the Rev. Peter Elmsley (afterwards Principal of St. Alban Hall, Oxford). Edinburgh was their destina-
tion; and a few days were passed in a visit to
Sir Walter Scott, at Ashestiel. The following letter, written during this absence from home, is too characteristic to be omitted. Mr. Thomas Moore, indeed, in his Life of Lord Byron, seems very desirous of proving the incompatibility of genius with any comfortable habits or domestic tastes; declares that immortality has never thus been struggled for or won*; and appears to think that true poets must necessarily be as untamed as Mazeppa’s steed. But, nevertheless, I am in nowise afraid that the possession of more amiable qualities will deprive my father of his claim to be remembered hereafter.

To Mrs. Southey.
“October 14. 1805.

“I need not tell you, my own dear Edith, not to read my letters aloud till you have first of all seen what is written only for yourself. What I have now to say to you is, that having been eight days from home, with as little discomfort, and as little reason for discomfort, as a man can reasonably expect, I have yet felt so little comfortable, so great sense of solitariness, and so many homeward yearnings, that certainly I will not go to Lisbon without you; a resolution which, if your feelings be at all like mine, will not displease you. If, on mature consideration, you think the inconvenience of a voyage more than you ought to submit to, I must be content to stay in England, as on my part it certainly is not worth

* Life and Works of Lord Byron, vol. iii. p. 129.

Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 349
while to sacrifice a year’s happiness; for, though not unhappy (my mind is too active and too well disciplined to yield to any such criminal weakness), still without you I am not happy. But for your sake as well as my own, and for little
Edith’s sake, I will not consent to any separation; the growth of a year’s love between her and me, if it please God that she should live, is a thing too delightful in itself and too valuable in its consequences, both to her and me, to be given up for any light inconveniences either on your part or mine. An absence of a year would make her effectually forget me. . . . . But of these things we will talk at leisure; only, dear dear Edith, we must not part. . . . . Last night we saw the young Roscius in Douglas; this was lucky and unexpected. He disappointed me. I could tell you precisely how, and how he pleased me on the other hand, but that this would take time*, and the same sort of thought as in reviewing; and in letter-writing I love to do nothing more than just say what is uppermost. This evening I meet Jeffrey and Brougham at Thomson’s rooms. I know not if Harry knows him; he is the person who reviewed Miss Seward, and is skilful in manuscripts. Among the books I have bought is a little work of Boccaccio, for which my uncle has been looking many years in vain, so extremely rare is it. Its value here was not known, and it cost me only three shillings; being, I conceive, worth as many guineas. I have likewise found the old translation of Camoens.

* In another letter he says:—“Though a little disappointed, still I must say he is incomparably the best actor I have ever seen.”


“. . . . . The third sitting will finish the letter. Thomson brought with him the review of Madoc (which will be published in about ten days), sent to me by Jeffrey, who did not like to meet me till I had seen it. There was some sort of gentlemanlike decency in this, as the review is very unfair and very uncivil, though mixed up with plenty of compliments, and calculated to serve the book in the best way, by calling attention to it and making it of consequence. Of course I shall meet him with perfect courtesy, just giving him to understand that I have as little respect for his opinions as he has for mine; thank him for sending me the sheets, and then turn to other subjects. . . . . Since breakfast we have been walking to Calton Hill and to the Castle, from which heights I have seen the city and the neighbouring country to advantage. I am far more struck by Edinburgh itself than I expected, far less by the scenery around it. . . . .

“God bless you, my own dear Edith.

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Keswick, Nov. 13. 1805.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“Here has been as great a gap in our correspondence as I have seen in the seat of my brother Sir Dominie’s pantaloons, after he has been sliding down Latrigg. Sir, I shall be very happy to give you a slide down Latrigg also, if you will have the goodness to
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 351
put it in my power to do so,—and then you will understand the whole merits of the simile.

“Will you Butlerise, Mr. Bedford? By the core of William’s heart, which I take to be the hardest of all oaths, and therefore the most impossible to break, I will never cease persecuting you with that question and that advice, till you actually set that good ship afloat, in which you are to make as fair a voyage to the port of Fame as ever Englishman accomplished. Mr. Bedford, it appears to me that Englishmen accomplish that said expedition better by sea than by land,—and that, therefore, the metaphor is a good one, and a sea-horse better than Pegasus. Do, do begin: and begin by writing letters to me, which may be your first crude thoughts; and I will unpack my memory of all its out-of-the-way oddities, and give them to you for cargo and ballast.

Elmsley will have told you of our adventures in Scotland, if the non-adventures of a journey in Great Britain at this age of the world can deserve that name. I am returned with much pleasant matter of remembrance; well pleased with Walter Scott, with Johnny Armstrong’s Castle on the Esk, with pleasant Tiviotdale, with the Tweed and the Yarrow: astonished at Edinburgh, delighted with Melrose, sick of Presbyterianism, and, above all things, thankful that I am an Englishman and not a Scotchman. The Edinburgh Reviewers I like well as companions, and think little of as anything else. Elmsley has more knowledge and a sounder mind than any or all of them. I could learn more from him in a day than they could all teach me in a year. Therefore I saw
them to disadvantage, inasmuch as I had better company at home. And, in plain English, living as I have done, and, by God’s blessing, still continue to do, in habits of intimate intercourse with such men as
Rickman, Wm. Taylor, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, the Scotchmen did certainly appear to me very pigmies,—literatuli.

“I go to Portugal next year, if politics permit me, and expect to take Edith and the Edithling with me, for at least a two years’ residence. Bating the voyage and the trouble of removal, this is a pleasant prospect. I love the country, and go well prepared to look for everything that I can want. My winter will be fully employed, and hardly. I am at my reviewing, of which this year I take my leave for ever. It is an irksome employment, over which I lose time, because it does not interest me. A good exercise certainly it is, and such I have found it; but it is to be hoped that the positive immorality of serving a literary apprenticeship, in censuring the works of others, will not be imputed wholly to me. In the winter of 1797, when I was only twenty-three and a half, I was first applied to to undertake the office of a public critic! Precious criticism! And thus it is that these things are done. I have acquired some knowledge, and much practice in prose, at this work, which I can safely say I have ever executed with as much honesty as possible; but on the whole I do and must regard it as an immoral occupation, unless the reviewer has actually as much knowledge at least of the given subject, as the author upon whom he undertakes to sit in judgment.

“When will your worship call upon me for my
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 353
preface? May I inform you that Patres nostri frequently remind me that we are losing time, thereby hinting that loss of time is loss of money.

“What a death is Nelson’s! It seems to me one of the characteristics of the sublime that its whole force is never perceived at once. The more it is contemplated, the deeper is its effect. When this war began, I began an Ode, which almost I feel now disposed to complete;—take the only stanza:—
“O dear, dear England! O my mother isle!
There was a time when, woe the while!
In thy proud triumphs I could take no part;
And even the tale of thy defeat
In those unhappy days was doom’d to meet
Unnatural welcome in an English heart:
For thou wert leagued in an accursed cause,
O dear, dear England! and thy holiest laws
Were trampled underfoot by insolent power.
Dear as my own heart’s blood wert thou to me,
But even Thou less dear than Liberty!
I never ventured on more, for fear lest what followed should fall flat in comparison. Almost I could now venture, and try at a funeral hymn for Nelson.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Lieutenant Southey.
“Nov. 15. 1805.
“My dear Tom,

“You will have heard of Nelson’s most glorious death. The feeling it occasioned is highly honourable to the country. He leaves a name above all former admirals, with, perhaps, the single exception of Blake, a man who possessed the same genius upon great occasions. We ought to name the two best ships in the navy from these men.


“My trip to Edinburgh was pleasant. I went to accompany Elmsley. We staid three days with Walter Scott, at Ashestiel, the name of his house on the banks of the Tweed. I saw all the scenery of his Lay of the Last Minstrel, a poem which you will read with great pleasure when you come to England. And I went salmon-spearing on the Tweed, in which, though I struck at no fish, I bore my part, and managed one end of the boat with a long spear. Having had neither new coat nor hat since the Edithling was born, you may suppose I was in want of both—so at Edinburgh I was to rig myself, and, moreover, lay in new boots and pantaloons. Howbeit, on considering the really respectable appearance which my old ones made for a traveller,—and considering, moreover, that as learning was better than house or land, it certainly must be much better than fine clothes,—I laid out my money in books, and came home to wear out my old wardrobe in the winter. My library has had many additions since you left me, and many gentlemen in parchment remain with anonymous backs till you come and bedeck them.

“From your last letter, I am not without hopes that you may have taken some steps towards getting to Europe, and in that case it is not absolutely impossible that you may yet reach this place before we quit it,—and that you may make the circumnavigation of the Lakes in my company. I am an experienced boatman, and, what is better, recline in the boat sometimes, like a bashaw, while the women row me. Edith is an excellent hand at the oar.—Her love. God bless you!

R. S.”
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 355
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Dec. 6. 1805.

“William’s iron-grey had his advantages and disadvantages. He never required shoeing, for as the hoof is harder than the flesh, so in just proportion to his metallic muscles he had hoofs of adamant: but then, he was hard-mouthed. There was no expense in feeding him; but he required scouring, lest he should grow rusty. Instead of spurs, William had a contrivance for touching him with aquafortis. It was a fine thing to hear the rain hiss upon him as he galloped. . . . . The Butler wears a chest of drawers—sometimes a bureau.

Bedford, I will break off all acquaintance with you if you do not publish the Butler. Who would keep a Phœnix with a spaniel’s ear, a pig’s tail, C——’s nose, and W——’s wig, all naturally belonging to him, in a cage only for his own amusement, when he might show it for five shillings a-piece, and be known all over the world as the man who hatched it himself?

“. . . . . By the 1st of January, send me the first chapter, being the Mythology of the Butler,—or else——I will, for evermore, call you Sir when I speak to you, and Mr. Bedford when I speak of you; and, moreover, will always pull off my hat when I meet you in the streets.

“I perceive that the reviewals of Madoc have in a certain degree influenced you, which they will not do, if you will look at them when they are three months old, or if you recollect that a review is the
opinion of one man upon the work of another, and that it is not very likely, that any man who reviews a poem of mine, should know quite as much of the mechanism of poetry, or should have thought quite so much upon the nature of poetry as I have done. The
Monthly is mere malice, and is beneath all notice; but look at the Edinburgh, and you will see that Jeffrey himself does not know what he is about. He talks of Virgil, and Pope, and Racine, to what I have set up against. I told him Pope was a model for satire. That, he said, was a great concession. ‘No,’ said I, ‘if his style be a model for satire, how can it be for serious narrative?’ And he did not attempt to hold up his Homer for imitation, but fairly and unequivocally declared he did not like it. And yet Jeffrey attacks me for not writing in Madoc like Pope! The passages which he has quoted, for praise or for censure, may just as well change places; they are culled capriciously, not with my sense of selection. The real faults of Madoc have never been pointed out. Wm. Taylor has criticised it for the Annual, very favourably and very ably; there are remarks in Ms critiques to set one thinking and considering;—but W. Taylor is a man who fertilises every subject he touches upon.

Don Manuel; how could you not understand it was a secret? Do you not remember how covertly I inquired of you the text in Field’s Bible? . . . . . The use of secrecy is to excite curiosity, and, perhaps, to pass through the reviews under cover; Rickman particularly recommended the foreign cast of remarks through the whole of the journey. Thus do doctors differ. As for the queerities, let them
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 357
stay: it is only they who know me pretty nearly, know what a queer fish I am; others conceive me to be a very grave sort of person. Besides, I have not the least intention of keeping the thing concealed after the purpose of secrecy has answered.

“That wretch Mack has very likely spoilt my voyage to Lisbon. If there be not peace, Bonaparte will show himself master of the Continent and turn us out of Portugal, if only to show that he is more powerful in that peninsula than Charlemagne was. I am afraid of France, and wish for single-handed war carried on steadily and systematically. We ought to have Egypt, Sicily, and the Cape; if we do not, France will. But nothing good ever will be done while that wretched minister is at the head of affairs. . . . .

Tui favoris studiosissimus,
R. S.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Amelia.
“Keswick, Dec 7. 1805.
“Dear Tom,

“I was preparing last night to write to you, but the newspaper came, and, seeing therein that a mail was arrived, I waited till this evening for a letter, and have not been disappointed. Thank you for the turtle, and thank heaven it has never reached me: in bodily fear lest it should, I wrote off immediately to Wynn, and if he had not been in town, should have given it to any body who would have been kind enough to have eased me of so inconvenient a visitor. How, Tom, could you think of sending me a turtle! When, indeed, I come to be Lord
Mayor, it may be a suitable present; but now! its carriage down would not have been less than forty shillings. Nobody would have known how to kill it, how to cut it up, or how to dress it;—there would have been nobody here to help us to eat it, nobody to whom we could have given it. Whether Wynn has got it I cannot tell, but most likely it has been eaten upon the way.

“Your extracts are very interesting, but several have miscarried;—the Devil seems to be Postmaster-General on that station. Go on as you have begun, and you will soon collect more, and more valuable, materials than you are aware of. Describe a West Indian tavern,—its difference from ours. Go to church one Sunday, to describe church and congregation. Inquire at every town if there be any schools there,—any Dissenters;—how the Methodists get on;—collect some Jamaica newspapers,—and, if you can, the Magazine which is printed there. Your Tortola-letter is a very delightful one. Put down all the stories you hear. When you go ashore, take notice of the insects that you see, the birds, &c.—‘all make parts of the picture.’ Lose nothing that a Creole, or any man acquainted with the islands, tells you concerning them. Send me all the stories about Pompey—he must be a curious character; ask him his history. What sort of church-yards have they? any epitaphs? Where do they bury the negroes? Is there any funeral service for them?

“You talk of invasion: depend upon it it never will and never can be attempted while our fleet is what it is; and poor Nelson has left its name higher than ever. What a blaze of glory has he departed in!
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 359
The Spaniards, you will see, behaved most honourably to the men who were wrecked, and who fell into their hands,—and about our wounded; and the French very ill. Continental politics are too much in the dark for me to say anything. It is by no means clear that Prussia will take part against France—though highly probable, and now highly politic. If she should, I think
Bonaparte’s victories may prove his destruction.

“No further news of the sale of Madoc. The reviews will probably hurt it for a time; that is in their power, and that is all they can do. Unquestionably the poem will stand and flourish. I am perfectly satisfied with the execution,—now eight months after its publication, in my cool judgment. Wm. Taylor has said it is the best English poem that has left the press since the Paradise Lost;—indeed this is not exaggerated praise, for unfortunately there is no competition.

“I want you grievously to tell Espriella stories about the navy, and give him a good idea of its present state, which of course I cannot venture to do except very slightly, and very cautiously, fully aware of my own incompetence. Some of your own stories you will recognise. The book will be very amusing, and promises more profit than any of my former works. Most praise I have had for Amadis, for the obvious reason that it excited no envy;—they who were aiming at distinction as poets, &c., without success, had no objection to allow that I could translate from the Spanish. But praise and fame are two very distinct things. Nobody thinks the higher of me for that translation, or feels a wish
to see me for it, as they do for
Joan of Arc and Thalaba. Poor Thalaba got abused in every review except the Critical;—and yet there has not any poem of the age excited half the attention, or won half the admiration, that that kind has. I am fairly up the hill.

Little Edith looks at the picture of the ships in the Cyclopedia, and listens to the story how she has an uncle who lives in a ship, and loves her dearly, and sends her a kiss in a letter. Poor Cupid* has been hung at last for robbing a hen-roost! Your three half-crown sticks, you see, were bestowed upon him in vain. He is the first of all my friends who ever came to the gallows; and I am very sorry for him;—poor fellow! I was his god-father. Of Joe the last accounts were good. Thus have I turned my memory inside out, to rummage out all the news for you, and little enough it is. We live here in the winter as much out of the way of all society as if we were cruising at sea. From November till June not a soul do we see,—except, perhaps, Wordsworth, once or twice during the time. Of course it is my working season, and I get through a great deal. Edith’s love. God bless you, Tom.

R. S.”

* Cupid was a dog, of what kind does not appear, belonging to Mr. Danvers.

Spottiswoodes and Shaw,