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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 23 April 1809

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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“April 23. 1809.

“I shall send three sections of Kehama to meet you in London; three more will complete it, and would have so done before this time had all things been going on well with me. I had a daughter born on the 27th last month; a few days after the birth her mother was taken ill, and for some time there was cause of serious alarm. This, God be thanked, is over. The night before last we had another alarm of the worst kind, though happily this also is passing away. My little boy went to bed with some slight indications of a trifling cold. His mother went up as usual to look at him before supper; she thought he coughed in a strange manner, called me, and I instantly recognised the sound of the croup. We have a good apothecary within three minutes’ walk, and luckily he was at home. He immediately confirmed our fears. The child was taken out of bed and bled in the jugular vein, a blister placed on the throat next morning, and by these vigorous and timely remedies we hope and trust the disease is subdued. But what a twelve hours did we pass, knowing the nature of the disease, and only hoping
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 229
the efficacy of the remedy. Even now I am far, very far, from being at ease. There is a love which passeth the love of women, and which is more lightly alarmed than the wakefullest jealousy.

Landor, I am not a stoic at home: I feel as you do about the fall of an old tree; but, O Christ! what a pang it is to look upon the young shoot and think it will be cut down. And this is the thought which almost at all times haunts me; it comes upon me In moments when I know not whether the tears that start are of love or of bitterness. There is an evil, too. In seeing all things like a poet; circumstances which would glide over a healthier mind sink into mine; every thing comes to me with its whole force,—the full meaning of a look, a gesture, a child’s imperfect speech, I can perceive, and cannot help perceiving; and thus am I made to remember what I would give the world to forget.

“Enough, and too much of this. The leaven of anxiety is working in my whole system; I will try to quiet it by forcing myself to some other subject.

“What prevented Gebir from being read by the foolish? I believe the main reason was, that it is too hard for them; more than that, it was too good. That they should understand its merits was not to be expected; but they did not find meaning enough upon the surface to make them fancy they understood it. Why should you not write a poem as good, and more intelligible, and display the same powers upon a happier subject? Yet certain it is, that Gebir excited far more attention than you seem to be aware of. Two manifest imitations have appeared—
Rough’s Play of the Conspiracy of Gowrie, and the first part of Sotheby’s Saul. When Gifford published his Juvenal, one of the most base attacks that ever disgraced a literary journal was made upon it in the Critical Review by some one of the heroes of his Baviad. Gifford wrote an angry reply, in which he brought forward all the offences of the Review for many years back; one of those offences was its praise of Gebir. I laughed when I heard this, guessing pretty well at the nature of Gifford’s feelings; for I had been the reviewer of whose partiality he complained. Gebir came to me with a parcel of other poems, which I was to kill off. I was young in the trade, and reviewed it injudiciously, so that every body supposed it to be done by some friend of the author. For I analysed the story; studded it with as many beautiful extracts as they would allow room for; praised its merits almost up to the height of my feelings, and never thought of telling the reader that if he went to the book itself he would find any more difficulty in comprehending it than he found in that abstract. Thus, instead of serving the poem, I in reality injured it. The world, now-a-days, never believes praise to be sincere; men are so accustomed to hunt for faults, that they will not think any person can honestly express unmingled admiration.

“I once passed an evening with Professor Young at Davy’s. The conversation was wholly scientific, and of course I was a listener. But I have heard the history of Thomas Young, as he is still called by those who knew him when he was a Quaker; and
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 231
believe him to be a very able man; generally speaking, I have little liking for men of science: their pursuits seem to deaden the imagination, and harden the heart; they are so accustomed to analyse and anatomise every thing, to understand, or fancy they understand, whatever comes before them, that they frequently become mere materialists, account for every thing by mechanism and motion, and would put out of the world all that makes the world endurable. I do not undervalue their knowledge, nor the utility of their discoveries; but I do not like the men. My own nature requires something more than they teach; it pants after things unseen; it exists upon the hope of that better futurity which all its aspirations promise and seem to prove.

“God bless you!

R. S.”