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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Taylor Coleridge, 8 September 1818

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Sept. 8. 1818.
“My dear Sir,

“I am glad to hear that you have taken your chance for happiness in that state in which alone there is a chance of finding it. Men in your station too frequently let the proper season go by, waiting till they can afford to start with a showy establishment. Among those who have not more than an ordinary share of good principles, this is a very common cause of libertine habits; and they who escape this evil incur another, which is sometimes not less fatal. They look out for a wife when they think themselves rich enough, and this is like going to market for one: the choice on their part is not made from those feelings upon which the foundation of happiness must be laid; and, on the other part, they
are accepted, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of the establishment which they offer. Similarity of disposition is not consulted, and there is generally in such cases a disparity of years, which is not very likely to produce it. You have chosen a better course, and may God bless you in it.

“The most profitable line of composition is reviewing. You have good footing in the Quarterly, and I am glad of it, for heretofore there has been vile criticism in that journal upon poetry, and upon fine literature in general. This connection need not preclude you from writing for the British Review. Translation is of all literary labour the worst paid; that is, of all such labour as is paid at all: and yet there are so many poor hungry brethren and sisters of the grey goose-quill upon the alert, that new books are sent out from France and Germany by the sheet as they pass through the press, lest the translation should be forestalled.

“Anything which is not bargained for with the booksellers is, of course, matter of speculation, and success is so much a matter of accident (that is to say, temporary success) in literature, that the most knowing of them are often as grievously deceived as a young author upon his first essay. Biography, however, is likely to succeed; and, with the London libraries at hand, the research for it would be rather pleasurable than toilsome. History, which is the most delightful of all employments (experto crede), is much less likely to be remunerated. I have not yet received so much for the History of Brazil as for a single article in the Quarterly Review. But there
Ætat. 44. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 313
are many fine subjects which, if well handled, might prove prizes in the lottery. A history of
Charles I. and the Interregnum, or of all the Stuart kings, upon a scale of sufficient extent, and written upon such principles as you would bring to it, would be a valuable addition to the literature of our country,—useful to others, as well as honourable to yourself. Venice offers a rich story, and one which, unhappily, is now complete. Sweden, also, is a country fruitful in splendid and memorable events. For this, indeed, it would be necessary to acquire the Norse languages. Sharon Turner acquired them, and the Welsh to boot, for a similar purpose, without neglecting the duties of his practice. It may almost be asserted that men will find leisure for whatever they seriously desire to do. . . . .

Believe me,
Yours faithfully,
Robert Southey.”