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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 6 November 1808

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, Nov. 6. 1808.
“My dear Scott,

“I have sometimes thought of publishing translations from the Spanish and Portuguese, with the originals annexed, but there was no prospect of profit to tempt me; and as certainly, if I live, it is my intention to enter fully into the literary history of both countries. That made me lay aside the
thought of any thing on a lesser scale. Another reason, perhaps, may have been this, that it is not more difficult to compose poetry than to translate it, and that, in my own opinion, I can make as good as I can find. Very, very few of the Spanish ballads are good; they are made in general upon one receipt, and that a most inartificial one; they begin by describing the situation of somebody who makes a speech which is the end. Nothing like the wildness—or the character of our ballads is to be found among them. It is curious, and at present inexplicable to me, how their prose should be so exquisitely poetical—as it is in
the Cid, and their poetry so completely prosaical as it is in their narrative poems. Nevertheless, I might be tempted. Some translations I have by me, and many of my books are marked for others. There are some high-toned odes in the Spanish, and a good many beautiful sonnets. Many of their epics would afford good extracts; and I am competent to give critical sketches of biography, formed not at second-hand, but from full perusal of the authors themselves. My name, however, is worth nothing in the market, and the booksellers would not offer me any thing to make it worth my while to interrupt occupations of greater importance. I thank you heartily for your offer of aid, and should the thing be carried into effect, would gladly avail myself of it.

“I am planning something of great importance, a poem upon Pelayo, the first restorer of Spain: it has long been one of my chosen subjects; and those late
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 179
events which have warmed every heart that has right British blood circulating through it, have revived and strengthened old resolutions. It will be in regular blank verse, and the story will naturally take rather a higher tone than

“It gives me great pleasure to hear that you have done with the Edinburgh Review. Of their article respecting Spain, I heard from Coleridge. That subject is a fair touchstone whether a man has any generous sympathies in his nature. There is not in history such another instance of national regeneration and redemption. I have been a true prophet upon this subject, and am not a little proud of the prophecy. Of the eventual issue I have never felt a moment’s doubt. Such a nation, such a spirit, are invincible. But what a cruel business has this convention of Cintra been. Junot clearly expressed his own feelings of our commander-in-chief when he recommended him to take up his quarters at Quintella’s house as he had done: “the man,” he said, “kept a very good table, and he had seldom had reason to find fault with it.” My blood boils to think that there should be an English general to whom this rascal could venture to say this! In one of the Frenchmen’s knapsacks, among other articles of that property which they bargained to take away with them, was a delicate female hand with rings upon the fingers.

“Our ministers do not avail themselves as they might do of their strong cause. They should throw away the scabbard and publish a manifesto, stating why this country never will make peace with Bona-
parte, and on what plain terms it will at any moment make peace with France under any other ruler. I fully believe that it would be possible to overthrow his government by this means at this time.

“A reviewal of my Cid by you will be the best aid that it can possibly receive. Five hundred only were printed, and in spite of the temporary feeling and the wonderful beauty of the book, I dare say they will hang upon hand.

“It will rejoice me to see you here, and show you my treasures, and talk of the days of the shield and the lance. We have a bed at your service, and shall expect you to be our guest. Wordsworth, who left me to-day, desires his remembrances. He is about to write a pamphlet upon this precious convention, which he will place in a more philosophical point of view than any body has yet done. I go to press in a few weeks with my History of Brazil, and have Thalaba at present in Ballantyne’s hands—that poem having just reached the end of its seven years’ apprenticeship. And I have got half way through my Hindoo poem, which, it is to be hoped, will please myself, inasmuch as it is not likely to please anybody else. It is too strange, too much beyond all human sympathies; but I shall go on, and as, in such a case, I have usually little but my labour for my pains, the certainty that it never can be popular will not deter me from gratifying my own fancy.

Mrs. Southey joins me in remembrances to Mrs. Scott.

Believe me.
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”