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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 2 May 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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“May 2. 1808.

“I have sent you all that is written of the Curse of Kehama: you offered to print it for me; if ever I finish the poem it will be because of that offer, though without the slightest intention of accepting it. Enough is written to open the story of the poem, and serve as a specimen of its manner, though much of what is to follow would be in a wilder strain.—Tell me if your ear is offended with the rhymes when
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 143
they occur, or if it misses them when they fail. I wish it had never been begun, because I like it too well to throw it behind the fire, and not well enough to complete it without the ‘go on’ of some one whose approbation is worth having.

“My history as an author is not very honourable to the age in which we live. By giving up my whole time to worthless work in reviews, magazines, and newspapers, I could thrive, as by giving up half my time to them, I contrive to live. In the time thus employed every year I could certainly produce such a poem as Thalaba, and if I did I should starve. You have awakened in me projects that had been laid asleep, and recalled hopes which I had dismissed contentedly, and, as I thought, for ever. If you think Kehama deserves to be finished, I will borrow hours from sleep, and finish it by rising two hours before my customary time; and when it is finished I will try whether subscribers can be procured for five hundred copies, by which means I should receive the whole profit to myself. The bookseller’s share is too much like the lion in the fable: 30 or 33 per cent, they first deduct as booksellers, and then half the residue as publishers. I have no reason to complain of mine: they treat me with great respect and great liberality, but I wish to be independent of them; and this, if it could be effected, would make me so.

“The will and the power to produce anything great are not often found together. I wish you would write in English, because it is a better language than Latin, and because the disuse of English as a living and literary language would be the greatest evil that
could befall mankind. It would cost you little labour to write perspicuously, and thus get rid of your only fault. . . . .

“Literary fame is the only fame of which a wise man ought to be ambitious, because it is the only lasting and living fame. Bonaparte will be forgotten before his time in Purgatory is half over, or but just remembered like Nimrod, or other cut-throats of antiquity, who serve us for the commonplaces of declamation. If you made yourself King of Crete, you would differ from a hundred other adventurers only in chronology, and in the course of a millennium or two, nothing more would be known of your conquest than what would be found in the stereotype Gebir prefixed as an account of the author. Pour out your mind in a great poem, and you will exercise authority over the feelings and opinions of mankind as long as the language lasts in which you write. . . . .

“Farewell! I wish you had purchased Loweswater instead of Llantony. I wish you were married, because the proverb about a rolling stone applies to a single heart, and I wish you were as much a Quaker as I am. Christian stoicism is wholesome for all minds; were I your confessor, I should enjoin you to throw aside Rousseau, and make Epictetus your manual. Probatum est.

Yours truly,
Robert Southey.”