LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Walter Scott, 15 July 1811

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Keswick, Sept. 8. 1811.
“My dear Scott,

“You will have thought me very remiss in not thanking you sooner for the Vision, if you did not remember that I had been travelling from Dan to Beersheba, and take into consideration how little opportunity can be found for the use of pen and ink in the course of a series of runaway visits, during a journey of nine hundred miles. It was given me at the Admiralty the very day that it arrived there. I opened it on the spot, discovered that a letter to Polwhele had been inclosed to me, in time for Croker to rectify the mistake by making a fair exchange, and thus saving mine from a journey to the Land’s End. If, however, I have not written to you about D.
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 315
Roderick, I have been talking to every body about him. The want of plan and unity is a defect inherent in the very nature of your subject, and it would be just as absurd to censure the Vision for such a defect, as it is to condemn
Kehama because all the agents are not human personages. The execution is a triumphant answer to those persons who have supposed that you could not move with ease in a metre less loose than that of your great poems. To me it appears, on the whole, better written than those greater works, for this very reason—you have taken fewer licences of language, and have united with the majesty of that fine stanza (the most perfect that ever was constructed) an ease which is a perfect contrast to the stiffness of Gertrude of Wyoming.

“It is remarkable that three poets should at once have been employed upon Roderick. I have a tragedy of Landor’s in my desk, of which Count Julian is the hero: it contains some of the finest touches, both of passion and poetry, that I have ever seen. Roderick is also the pre-eminent personage of my own Pelayo, as far as it has yet proceeded. Differing so totally as we do in the complexion and management of the two poems, I was pleased to find one point of curious comparison, in which we have both represented Roderick in the act of confession, and both finished the picture highly. Our representations are so totally different, as to form a perfect contrast; yet each so fitted to the temper in which the confession is made, that it might be sworn, if you had chosen my point of time, you could have written as I have done, and that if I had written of the unrepentant king, I should have conceived of him
exactly like yourself. I copy my own lines, because I think you will be gratified at seeing a parallel passage, which never can be produced except to the honour of both:—

“‘Then Roderick knelt
Before the holy man, and strove to speak:
“Thou see’st,” he cried; “thou see’st”—but memory
And suffocating thoughts represt the word,
And shudderings, like an ague fit, from head
To foot convulsed him. Till at length subduing
His nature to the effort, he exclaimed,
Spreading his hands, and lifting up his face,
As if resolved in penitence to bear
A human eye upon his shame,—“Thou see’st
Roderick the Goth.” That name would have sufficed
To tell its whole abhorred history.
He not the less pursued—“the ravisher!
The cause of all this ruin!” Having said,
In the same posture motionless he knelt,
Arms straightened down, and hands dispread, and eyes
Rais’d to the monk, like one who from his voice
Expected life or death.’”

“I saw but little of Gifford in town, because he was on the point of taking wing for the Isle of Wight when I arrived. The Review seems to have shaken the credit of the Edinburgh, and might shake it still more. The way to attack the enemy with most effect is to take up those very subjects which he has handled the most unfairly, and so to treat them as to force a comparison which must end in our favour. I am about to do this upon the question of Bell and Lancaster—a question on which —— has grossly committed himself.

“You may well suppose that three months’ idleness has brought upon me a heavy accumulation of business. Meantime good materials for the third year’s Register have reached me from Cadiz, and I have collected others respecting Sicily and the Ionian Islands. I saw the last volume on my road, and
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 317
there I could trace your hand in a powerful, but too lenient essay, upon
Jeffrey’s journal.

Believe me,
Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”