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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynn, 23 July 1800

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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“Cintra, July 23. 1800.
“My dear Wynn,

“You must, long ere this, have received my second letter. I continue in comfortable health, and spirits that cast a sunshine upon every thing. I pray you make peace, that I may return in the spring over
the Pyrenees. The cause would certainly be good, and so would the effects.

Thalaba is finished, and I am correcting it; the concluding books you shall shortly receive. Griantly is not a coinage, it is sterling English of the old mint; I used it to avoid the sameness of sound in the Giant Tyrant as it stood at first. You object to ‘fowls of the air,’ and do not remember the elision. You object likewise to a licence which I claim as lawful, that of making two short syllables stand for one long one. The eighth book explains enough what Azrael had been doing. The previous uncertainty is well. You will, I trust, find the Paradise a rich poetical picture, a proof that I can employ magnificence and luxury of language when I think them in place. The other faults you point out are removed. Thank you for —— letters. I shall enclose one to him when next I write, the only mode of conveyance with which I am acquainted. —— and I, both of us, were sent into the world with feelings little likely to push us forward in it. One overwhelming propensity has formed my destiny, and marred all prospects of rank or wealth; but it has made me happy, and it will make me immortal. ——, when I was his shadow, was almost my counterpart; but his talents and feelings found no centre, and perforce thus have been scattered: he will probably succeed in worldly prospects far better than I shall do, but he will not be so happy a man, and his genius will bring forth no fruits. I love him dearly, and I

* “I had written at first ‘fowls of heaven,’ but heaven occurs a few fines above. But the line is wholly altered this way.”

know he never can lose the instinctive attachment which led to our boyish intimacy. Yet —— shrunk from me in London. I met him at your rooms; he was the same immutable character: I walked home with him at night; our conversation was unreserved, and, in silence and solitude, I rejoiced even with tears that I had found again the friend that was lost. From that time, a hasty visit is all I saw of him: it was his indolence,—I know he esteems me. Our former coolness I remember among my follies; you were with me when I atoned for it by a voluntary letter, and you saw an answer such as I had reason to expect. I wrote again to him, a common young man’s letter; he never answered it: the fact was, I had the disease of epistolising, and he had not. Our future intercourse cannot be much; by the time he returns to London, I trust I shall have retired from it, and pitched my tent near the churchyard in which I shall be buried. Of the East Indies I know not enough to estimate the reason and reasonableness of his dislike. Were I single, it is a country which would tempt me, as offering the shortest and most certain way to wealth, and many curious subjects of literary pursuit. About the language, —— is right; it is a baboon jargon not worth learning; but were I there, I would get the Vedams and get them translated. It is rather disgraceful that the most important acquisition of Oriental learning should have been given us by a Frenchman; but
Anquetil du Perron was certainly a far more useful and meritorious orientalist than Sir Wm. Jones, who disgraced himself by enviously abusing him. Latterly, Sir
William’s works are the dreams of dotage. I have some distant view of manufacturing a
Hindoo romance, wild as Thalaba; and a nearer one of a Persian story, of which see the germ of vitality. I take the system of the Zendavesta for my mythology, and introduce the powers of darkness persecuting a Persian, one of the hundred and fifty sons of the great king; every evil they inflict, becomes the cause of developing. in him some virtue which his prosperity had smothered: an Athenian captive is a prominent character, and the whole warfare of the evil power ends in exalting a Persian prince into a citizen of Athens. I pray you be Greek enough to like that catastrophe, and forget France when you think of Attic republicanism.

“I have written no line of poetry here, except the four books of Thalaba, nor shall I till they are corrected and sent off, and my mind completely delivered of that subject. Some credit may be expected from the poem; and if the booksellers will not give me 100l. for a 4to. edition of 500 copies, or 140l. for a pocket one of 1000, why they shall not have the poem.

“I long to see the face of a friend, and hunger after the bread-and-butter comforts and green fields of England. Yet do I feel so strongly the good effects of climate,—and I am now perspiring in my shirt while I write, in the coolness of Cintra, a darkened room and a wet floor,—that I certainly wish my lot could be cast somewhere in the south of Europe. The spot I am in is the most beautiful I have ever seen or imagined. I ride a jackass, a fine lazy way of travelling; you have even a boy to beat old Dapple
when he is slow. I eat oranges, figs, and delicious pears,—drink Colares wine, a sort of half-way excellence between port and claret,—read all I can lay my hands on,—dream of poem after poem, and play after play,—take a siesta of two hours, and am as happy as if life were but one everlasting to-day, and that to-morrow was not to be provided for.

“Here is a long letter about myself, and not a word about Portugal. My next shall be a brimming sheet of anecdotes.

“I am sorry —— is so disgusted with India, though I cannot wish he were otherwise. From all accounts, an English East-Indian is a very bad animal; they have adopted by force the luxury of the country, and its tyranny and pride by choice. A man who feels and thinks must be in solitude there. Yet the comfort is, that your wages are certain; so many years of toil for such a fortune at last. Is a young man wise who devotes the best years of his life to such a speculation? Alas! if he is, then am I a pitiable blockhead. But to me, the fable of the ant and grasshopper has long appeared a bad one: the ant hoards and hoards for a season in which he is torpid; the grasshopper—there is one singing merrily among the canes—God bless him! I wish you could see one, with his wings and his vermilion legs.

“God bless you! Write often, and let me have a very long letter upon short paper, as postage is by weight. Remember me to Elmsley; and pray pull Bedford’s ears, till I hear him bray: I wish my burro boy could get at him!”