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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynne, 25 June 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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“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.”