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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Margaret Holford Hodson, 14 August 1828

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, Aug. 14. 1828.
“My dear Madam,

“I wish there were but one ten thousand of those persons in England who talk about new books and buy them, whether they read, mark, and inwardly digest them or not, that felt half as much interest in any forthcoming or expected work of mine as you are pleased to express, and as I should be unjust, as well as ungrateful, if I did not give you credit for. Alas! my third volume of the Peninsular War is far from complete, very far. It must be a close and
hard winter’s work that will make it ready for publication in the spring.

“My way to London towards the latter end of May was, I confess, through Ripon, but it was in the mail-coach, for I performed the whole journey without resting on the way. It was anything but a pleasant one. I went to see an uncle (my best friend) for the last time in this world; his continuance, at the age of fourscore, in pain, infirmity, and earthly hopelessness, not being to be desired*, even though his deliverance must be, in a mere worldly view, a great misfortune to his family. He married in his sixtieth year, and has six children. I went also in the secret determination of undergoing a surgical operation, if it should be deemed expedient, for an infirmity which had long afflicted me. Thank God! it has succeeded, and I am once more a sound man, which I had not been for some twelve years.

“If I am now not quite as able to skip over the mountains as I was when first my tent was pitched here, it will be owing only to the gradual effect of time, not to any disablement from a painful and dangerous cause.

“I would not, as I saw thee last,
For a king’s ransom have detained thee here,
Bent, like the antique sculptor’s limbless trunk.
By chronic pain, yet with thine eye unquenched,
The ear undimmed, the mind retentive still,
The heart unchanged, the intellectual lamp
Burning in its corporeal sepulchre.
No; not if human wishes had had power
To have suspended Nature’s constant work.
Would they who loved thee have detained thee thus.
Waiting for death.”

Ætat. 53. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 329

“No publisher I am afraid, in this age, would venture to bring out a translation of Davila. The sale of books is grievously diminished within the last six or eight years (I speak feelingly). To have any success a book must be new—a single season antiquates it; it must come from a fashionable name (nobility is now turned to a marketable account in this way); or it must be personal, if not slanderous; but, if slanderous, then best of all. It is the general diminution of income consequent on the depreciation of agricultural produce, and the experiments in free trade which has affected the booksellers, new books being the first things which persons who feel it necessary they should retrench, find they can do without.

“And who, in this most ignorant age, reads Davila? Most ignorant I call it relative to historical reading; for, if our statesmen, so called by the courtesy of England, read Davila, and such historians as Davila, they could not commit such blunders as they have committed, are committing, and will commit; nor should we at this time have had cause to apprehend changes, and consequent convulsions, from which we must look alone to Providence to preserve us. Were there more of sound knowledge, there would be more of sound principle and of sound feeling. If Davila were published, some two or three of the worthies who dug up and mutilated the remains of Hampden might, perhaps, if they were to know that it was the book which Hampden studied when he was preparing himself and the nation for a rebellion and subversion of the lawful
government, have thought it worth while to peruse it with the same sort of patriotic foresight.

“I am writing some verses describing the whole gallery of my portraits for Allan Cunningham’s annual volume. Such volumes are among the plagues of my life, but Allan Cunningham is a right worthy man, and I owe him something for having carried a remonstrance from me to the editor of the Morning Chronicle, on occasion of some atrocious attacks upon me in that paper.

“I have made an arrangement with Murray concerning John Jones’s rhymes. He will publish them, and give Jones the whole of his subscription copies; they amount to little more than 200 at present, but the list may be increased as much as we can. The verses will go to press as soon as Murray enables me to prepare the introduction by procuring for me the works of certain low and untaught rhymers of whom I wish to speak—Taylor the Water Poet, Stephen Duck, &c.

Believe me,
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”