LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Henry Taylor, 26 May 1824

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, May 26. 1824.
“My dear Sir,

“I thank you for your note. Its information is of a kind to make one thoughtful; but the sorrow which I felt was not such as you were disposed to give me credit for.*

“I am sorry Lord Byron is dead, because some harm will arise from his death, and none was to be apprehended while he was living; for all the mischief which he was capable of doing he had done. Had he lived some years longer, he would either have continued in the same course, pandering to the basest passions and proclaiming the most flagitious principles, or he would have seen his errors and sung his palinodia,—perhaps have passed from the extreme of profligacy to some extreme of superstition. In the one case he would have been smothered in his own evil deeds. In the other he might have made some atonement for his offences.

“We shall now hear his praises from all quarters. I dare say he will be held up as a martyr to the cause of liberty, as having sacrificed his life by his exertions in behalf of the Greeks. Upon this score the liberals will beatify him; and even the better part of the public will for some time think it becoming in them to write those evil deeds of his in

* “You will, I do not doubt, consider his death as useful to the world; but do you not feel personal commiseration?”—H. T. to R. S., May 14. 1824.

Ætat. 50. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 179
water, which he himself has written in something more durable than brass. I am sorry for his death therefore, because it comes in aid of a pernicious reputation which was stinking in the snuff.

“With regard to the thought that he has been cut off in his sins, mine is a charitable creed, and the more charitable it is the likelier it is to be true. God is merciful. Where there are the seeds of repentance in the heart, I doubt not but that they quicken in time for the individual, though it be too late for the world to perceive their growth. And if they be not there, length of days can produce no reformation.

“In return for your news I have nothing to communicate except what relates to the operations of the desk. I am going to press with the second volume of the Peninsular War, after waiting till now in hope of obtaining some Spanish accounts of the war in Catalonia, which it is now pretty well ascertained are not to be found in Spain, though how they should have disappeared is altogether inexplicable, unless the whole account of the books and their author, Francesco di Olivares, given by a certain John Mitford, some four or five years ago, in Colburn’s Magazine, is fictitious. I am reviewing Hayley’s Memoirs. Hayley has been worried as schoolboys worry a cat. I am treating him as a man deserves to be treated who was in his time, by popular election, king of the English poets, who was, moreover, a gentleman and a scholar, and a most kind-hearted and generous man, in whose life there is something to blame, more to admire, and most of all
to commiserate. My first introduction to Spanish literature I owe to his notes; I owe him therefore some gratitude. I have written some verses too, and am going on with the
Tale of Paraguay, resolutely to its conclusion.

“Farewell, my dear Sir; and believe me,

Yours with sincere regard,
Robert Southey.”