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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 13 March 1797

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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“London, March 13. 1797.

“. . . . . Perhaps you will be surprised to hear that, of all the lions or literati that I have seen here there is not one whose countenance has not some unpleasant trait. Mary Imlay’s* is the best, infinitely the best: the only fault in it is an expression somewhat similar to what the prints of Horne Tooke display—an expression indicating superiority; not haughtiness, not sarcasm in Mary Imlay, but still it is unpleasant. Her eyes are light brown, and, though the lid of one of them is affected by a little paralysis, they are the most meaning I ever saw.

“When I was with George Dyer one morning last week, Mary Hayes and Miss Christal entered, and the ceremony of introduction followed. Mary Hayes writes in the ‘Monthly Magazine’ under the signature of M. H., and sometimes writes nonsense there about Helvetius, She has lately published a novel—‘Emma Courtenay’; a book much praised and much abused. I have not seen it myself, but the severe censures passed on it by persons of narrow mind have made me curious, and convinced me that it is at least an uncommon book. Mary Hayes is an agreeable woman, and a Godwinite. Now, if you will read Godwin’s book with attention, we will consider between us in what light to consider that sectarian title. As for Godwin himself he has large

* The daughter of Mary Wollstonecroft.

noble eyes, and a nose—oh, most abominable nose! Language is not vituperations enough to describe the effect of its downward elongation.* He loves London, literary society, and talks nonsense about the collision of mind; and Mary Hayes echoes him. But Miss Christal,—have you seen her poems?—a fine,artless, sensible girl! Now,
Cottle, that word sensible must not be construed here in its dictionary acceptation. Ask a Frenchman what it means, and he will understand it, though, perhaps, he can by no circumlocution explain its French meaning. Her heart is alive, she loves poetry, she loves retirement, she loves the country: her verses are very incorrect, and the literary circles say she has no genius; but she has genius, Joseph Cottle, or there is no truth in physiognomy. Gilbert Wakefield came in while I was disputing with Mary Hayes upon the moral effects of towns. He has a most critic-like voice, as if he had snarled himself hoarse. You see I like the women better than the men. Indeed, they are better animals in general, perhaps because more is left to nature in their education. Nature is very good, but God knows there is very little of it left.

“I wish you were within a morning’s walk, but I am always persecuted by time and space. Robert

* Godwin’s nose came in for no small share of condemnation. In another letter he says—“We dine with Mary Wollstonecroft (now Godwin) to-morrow. Oh, he has a foul nose, and I never see it without longing to cut it off. By the bye, Dr. —— told me that I had exactly Lavater’s nose; to my no small satisfaction, for I did not know what to make of that protuberance or promontory of mine. I could not compliment him. He has a very red, drinking face; and little good-humoured eyes, like cunning and short-sightedness united.”—To Joseph Cottle, May, 1797.

Ætat. 23. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 307
Southey and Law and Poetry make up an odd kind of triunion. We jog on easily together, and I advance with sufficient rapidity in Blackstone and Madoc, I hope to finish my poem and to begin my practice in about two years. God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”