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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynn, 9 January 1799

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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”Jan. 9. 1799.
“My dear Wynn,

“As for the verses upon Mr. Pitt, I never wrote any. Possibly Lewis may have seen a poem by Coleridge, which I have heard of, but have never seen—a dialogue between Blood, Fire, and Famine, or some such interlocutors.* Strangers are perpetually confounding us.

“My Eclogues, varying in subject, are yet too monotonous, in being all rather upon melancholy subjects.

“I have some play plots maturing in my head, but none ripe. My wish is to make something better than love the mainspring; and I have one or two sketches, but all my plots seem rather calculated to produce one or two great scenes, rather than a general effect. My mind has been turned too much to the epic, which admits a longer action, and passes over the uninteresting parts.

“The escape of the Pythoness with a young Thesealian seems to afford most spectacle. If you have Diodorus Siculus at hand, and will refer to lib. 16.

* “Fire, Famine, Slaughter,” was the title of this poem.

p. 428., you may find all the story, for I know no more than the fact.

Pedro the Just pleases me best. This is my outline—You know one of Inez’ murderers escaped—Pacheco. This man has, by lightning or in battle, lost his sight, and labours under the agony of remorse. The priest, to whom he has confessed, enjoins him to say certain prayers where he committed the murder. Thus disfigured, he ran little danger of discovery; what he did run, enhanced their merits. A high reward has been offered for Pacheco, and the confessor sends somebody to inform against him and receive it.

“Leonora, his daughter, comes to Coimbra to demand justice. Her mother’s little property has been seized by a neighbouring noble, who trusts to the hatred Pedro bears the family, and their depressed state, for impunity. This, too, may partly proceed from Leonora having refused to be his mistress. A good scene may be made when she sees the king, and he thinks she is going to intreat for her father; but Pedro was inflexibly just, and he summons the nobleman.

“Pacheco is thrown into prison. The nobleman, irritated at the king, is still attached to Leonora. He is not a bad man, though a violent one. He offers to force the prison, deliver Pacheco, and retire into Castille, if she will be his. The king’s confessor intercedes for Pacheco, but his execution is fixed for the day when Inez is to be crowned. At the decisive moment, Leonora brings the children of Inez to intercede, and is successful. She refuses to marry the
noble, and expresses her intention of entering a nunnery after her mother’s death.

“This is a half plot—you see capable of powerful scenes—but defective in general interest, I fear.

“I have thought of a domestic story, founded on the persecution under Queen Mary. To this my objection is, that I cannot well conclude it without either burning my hero, or making the queen die very à propos—which is cutting the knot, and not letting the catastrophe necessarily arise from previous circumstances. However, the story pleases me, because I have a fine Catholic woman and her confessor in it.

“For feudal times, something may be made, perhaps, of a feif with a wicked lord, or of the wardship oppressions; but what will young Colman’s play be? It may forestall me.

“Then I have thought of Sparta, of the Crypteia, and a Helot hero; but this would be interpreted into sedition. Of Florida, and the customary sacrifice of the first-born male: in this case to have a European father, and an escape. Sebastian comes into my thoughts; and Beatrix of Milan, accused by Orombello on the rack, and executed. A Welsh or English story would be better; but, fix where I will, I will be well acquainted with country, manners, &c. God bless you. You have these views as they float before me, and will be as little satisfied with any as myself. Help me if you can.

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”