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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 11 June 1804

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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“June 11. 1804, Keswick.
“Dear Coleridge,

“The first news of you was from Lamb’s letter, which arrived when I was in London. I saw, also, your letter to Stuart, and heard of one to Tobin, before I returned and found my own. Ere this you are at Malta. What an infectious thing is irregularity! Merely because it was uncertain when a letter could set off, I have always yielded to the immediate pressure of other employment; whereas, had there been a day fixed for the mail, to have written would then have been a fixed business, and performed like an engagement.

“All are well—Sara and Sariola, Moses and Justiculus, Edith and the Edithling. Mary is better.

* Sharon Turner, Esq.

Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 291

“I was worn to the very bone by fatigue in London,—more walking in one day than I usually take in a month; more waste of breath in talking than serves for three months’ consumption in the country; add to this a most abominable cold, affecting chesty bead, eyes, and nose. It was impossible to see half the persons whom I wished to see, and ought to have seen, without prolonging my stay to an inconvenient time, and an unreasonable length of absence from home. I called upon Sir George* unsuccessfully, and received a note that evening, saying he would be at home the following morning; then I saw him, and his lady, and his pictures, and afterwards met him the same day at dinner at Davy’s. As he immediately left town, this was all our intercourse; and, as it is not likely that he will visit the Lakes this year, probably will be all.

“I went into the Exhibition merely to see your picture, which perfectly provoked me. Hazlitt’s does look as if you were on your trial, and certainly had stolen the horse; but then you did it cleverly,—it had been a deep, well-laid scheme, and it was no fault of yours that you had been detected. But this portrait by Northcote looks like a grinning idiot; and the worst is, that it is just like enough to pass for a good likeness, with those who only know your features imperfectly. Dance’s drawing has that merit at least, that nobody would ever suspect you of having been the original. Poole’s business will last yet some weeks. As the Abstract is printed, I can give

* Sir George Beaumont.

you the very important result: one in eight throughout Great Britain receives permanent parish pay*;—what is still more extraordinary, and far more extraordinary, one in nine is engaged in some benefit society,—a prodigious proportion, if you remember that, in this computation, few women enter, and no children.

“I dined with Sotheby, and met there Henley, a man every way to my taste. Sotheby was very civil, and as his civility has not that smoothness so common among the vagabonds of fashion, I took it in good part. He is what I should call a clever man. Other lions were Price, the picturesque man, and Davies Giddy, whose face ought to be perpetuated in marble for the honour of mathematics. Such a forehead I never saw. I also met Dr. —— at dinner; who, after a long silence, broke out into a discourse upon the properties of the conjunction Quam, Except his quamical knowledge, which is as profound as you will imagine, he knows nothing but bibliography, or the science of title-pages, impresses, and dates. It was a relief to leave him, and find his brother, the captain, at Rickman’s, smoking after supper, and letting out puffs at the one comer of his mouth and puns at the other. The captain hath a son,—begotten, according to Lamb, upon a mermaid; and thus far is certain, that he is the queerest fish out of water. A paralytic affection in childhood has kept one side of his face stationary, while the other has continued to grow, and the two sides form the most ridiculous whole you

* This seems almost incredible.

Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 293
can imagine; the boy, however, is a sharp lad, the inside not having suffered.

William Owen lent me three parts of the Mabinogion, most delightfully translated into so Welsh an idiom and syntax, that such a translation is as instructive (except for etymology) as an original. I was, and am, still utterly at a loss to devise by what possible means, fictions so perfectly like the Arabian Tales in character, and yet so indisputably of Cimbric growth, should have grown up in Wales, Instead of throwing light upon the origin of romance, as had been surmised, they offer a new problem, of almost impossible solution. Bard Williams communicated to me some fine arcana of bardic mythology, quite new to me and to the world, which you will find in Madoc. I have ventured to lend Turner your German Romances, which will be very useful to him, and which will be replaced on your shelves before your return, and used, not abused*, during your absence. I also sent him the Indian Bible, because I found him at the Indian grammar, for he is led into etymological researches. That is a right worthy and good man; and, what rarely happens, I like his wife as well as I do him. Sir, all the literary journals of England will not bring you more news than this poor sheet of Miss Crosthwaite’s letter-paper. I have proposed to Longman to publish a collection of the scarcer and better old poets, beginning with Pierce Ploughman, and to print a few only

* This was a gentle hint to Mr. Coleridge, who valued books nonetheless for being somewhat ragged and dirty, and did not take the same scrupulous care as my father to prevent their becoming so.

at a high price, that they may sell as rarities. This he will determine upon in the autumn. If it be done, my name must stand to the prospectus, and
Lamb shall take the job and the emolument, for whom, in fact, I invented it being a fit thing to be done, and he the fit man to do it.

“The Annual Review succeeds beyond expectation; a second edition of the first volume is called for. Certain articles respecting the Methodists and Malthus are said to hare contributed much to its reputation. By the by, that fellow has had the impudence to marry, after writing upon the miseries of population. In the third volume I shall fall upon the Society for the Suppression of Vice.

“Thus far had I proceeded yesterday, designing to send off the full sheet by that night’s post, when Wordsworth arrived, and occasioned one day’s delay. I have left him talking to Moses, and mounted to my own room to finish. What news, you will wish to ask, of Keswick? The house remains in statu quo, except that the little parlour is painted, and papered with cartridge-paper. Workmen to plaster this room could not be procured when Jackson sent for them, and so unplastered it is likely to remain another winter. A great improvement has been made by thinning the trees before the parlour window,—just enough of the lake can be seen through such a framework, and such a fretted canopy of foliage as to produce a most delightful scene, and utterly unlike any other view of the same subject. The Lakers begin to make their appearance, though none have, as yet, reached us. But Sharpe has announced his approach
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 295
in a letter to W. We are in hourly expectation of
Harry; and in the course of the year I expect Duppa to be my guest, and probably Elmsley.

“God bless you!

R. S.”