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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, July 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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“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. . . . .”