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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 22 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. 22. 1808.
“My dear Tom,

“I am not quite sure which deserves the severest cart’s tailing, you or your admiral; you for what you say of Frere’s translation, he for what he says of mine. A translation is good precisely in proportion as it faithfully represents the matter, manner, and

* The title of a Chinese novel.

Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 193
spirit of its original: this is equally well done in his verse and my prose, and I will venture to say never has been, and never will be, better done elsewhere. You do not like it at all! With what notion have you been reading it? Not, I am sure, with the recollection that it is part of the oldest poem extant in any modern language, being of the time of our
William the Conqueror, the manner and the metre of which have been represented as accurately as possible. In fact, his translation had long been the admiration of all who had seen it, and I had heard wonders of it from Walter Scott, Harry, Heber, and the Hollands, before I saw it. Your phrase of ‘eking out’ is cart’s-tailable without benefit of clergy. Instead of wanting materials, I suppressed half a drawer full of notes, besides my own King Ramiro and Garci Ferrandez.

“Now to the Admiral’s criticism. He seems to suppose that a book ought always to be rendered into English of the newest fashion; and, if not, that it then should be given in the English of its own age,—a book of the fifteenth century (sixteenth he means) in that of the fifteenth. He did not recollect that in the thirteenth century there was no such thing as English, which is, I think, answer enough. But the fact is, that both in this Chronicle and in Amadis, I have not formed a style, but followed one. The original, when represented as literally as possible, ran into that phraseology, and all I had to do was to avoid words, and forms of words, of modern creation, and also such as were unintelligibly obsolete. There is, as you must have heard Wordsworth point out, a lan-
guage of pure intelligible English, which was spoken in
Chaucer’s time, and is spoken in ours; equally understood then and now; and of which the Bible is the written and permanent standard, as it has undoubtedly been the great means of preserving it. To that beautiful manner of narration which characterises the best Chronicles this language is peculiarly adapted; and, in fact, it is appropriated to such narration by our books of chivalry, and, I might almost say, consecrated to it by the historical parts of Scripture. It so happens that, of all the things which I have ever done, the only one for which all the Reviews with one accord commended me, was for the manner In which I had rendered Amadis. I wish he may steer as clear of all mischief as I shall of them upon this occasion. The fault which he finds is, that I have translated the Chronicle of the Cid instead of writing his History.

“The new Review is to appear in April. Among the persons who are calculated upon to write in it there are Frere; G. Ellis; your admiral’s brother, a man of more than common talents, and well to be liked; Heber; Coplestone, the Oxford Poetry Professor (a great admirer of Madoc); Miss Baillie; Sharon Turner; and Captain Burney. A good many of these persons I know have the same thorough conviction of the destructive folly it would be to make peace that I and Walter Scott have; for, to do Scott justice, all his best and bravest feelings are alike upon that subject. I think we shall do good, and will do my part with a hearty good-will. What I said to Bedford was, that as long as this govern-
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 195
ment caravan was travelling my road I was content to travel with it; and that, though all my opinions hang together, all the hanging which they imply does not immediately appear. One good thing is, that I shall be pretty sure of civil treatment here, and the Review will carry great weight with it.

“—— has not written to me. There will be such a tremendous campaign that the chances are much against any individual, especially one who will seek the hottest service, as he will do. In the field he is but one, and as obnoxious to a ball as the merest machine of a soldier; but, should he be in a besieged town, such a man is worth a whole regiment there.

“God protect him, wherever he be!

“God bless you!

R. S.”