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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, 21 January 1820

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, Jan. 21. 1820.
“Dear Sir,

“You propose a question* to me, which I can no more answer with any grounds for an opinion, than if you were to ask me whether a lottery ticket should be drawn blank or prize, or if a ship should make a prosperous voyage to the East Indies. If I recollect rightly, poor Scott, of Amwell, was disturbed in his last illness by some hard-hearted and sour-blooded bigots, who wanted him to repent of his poetry as of a sin. The Quakers are much altered since that time. I know one, a man deservedly respected by all who know him (Charles Lloyd the elder, of Birmingham), who has amused his old age by translating Horace and Homer. He is looked up to in the Society, and would not have printed these translations if he had thought it likely to give offence.

“Judging, however, from the spirit of the age, as affecting your Society, like every thing else, I should think they would be gratified by the appearance of a poet among them, who confines himself within the limits of their general principles. They have been reproached with being the most illiterate sect that has ever arisen in the Christian world, and they ought to be thankful to any of their members who should assist in vindicating them from that opprobrium. There is nothing in their principles which

* The question was, whether the Society of Friends were likely to be offended at his publishing a volume of poems.

should prevent them from giving you their sanction; and I will even hope that there are not many persons who will impute it to you as a sin, if you should call some of the months by their heathen names.* I know of no other offence that you are in danger of committing. They will not like virtuous feelings and religious principles the worse for being conveyed in good verse. If poetry in itself were unlawful, the Bible must be a prohibited book.

“I shall be glad to receive your volume, and you have my best good wishes for its success. The means of promoting it are not within my power; for though I bear a part in the Quarterly Review (and endure a large portion of the grossest abuse and calumny for opinions which I do not hold, and articles which I have not written), I have long since found it necessary, for reasons which you may easily apprehend, to form a resolution of reviewing no poems whatever. My principles of criticism, indeed, are altogether opposite to those of the age. I would treat everything with indulgence, except what was mischievous; and most heartily do I disapprove of the prevailing fashion of criticism, the direct tendency of which is to call bad passions into full play.

“Heartily hoping that you may succeed to your utmost wishes in this meritorious undertaking,

I remain, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully,
Robert Southey.”