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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. IX. 1802-03

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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So passed the close of the year. The commencement of a new one was saddened by his mother’s last illness. She had joined them in London, and a few weeks only elapsed before very alarming symptoms appeared; the best advice availed not, she sank rapidly, and was released on the 5th of January, 1802, being in the fiftieth year of her age. My father was deeply affected at her death; for though in childhood he had experienced but little of her care and attention, having been so early, as it were, adopted by his aunt, he had had the happiness of adding much to her comfort and support during her later years. “In her whole illness,” he writes to his brother Henry, “she displayed a calmness, a suppression of complaint,
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 179
a tenderness towards those around her, quite accordant with her whole life. It is a heavy loss. I did not know how severe the blow was till it came.”*

The following letter communicates the tidings of her death to his friend Mr. Wynn; and, though presenting a painful picture, is yet one of those which let in so much light upon the character of the writer, that the reader will not wish it to have been withheld.

To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.
“Saturday, Jan. 9. 1802.
“My dear Wynn,

“You will not be surprised to learn that I have lost my mother. Early on Tuesday morning there came on that difficulty of breathing which betokened death: till then all had been easy; for the most part she had slept, and, when waking, underwent no pain but that wretched sense of utter weakness; but then there was the struggle and sound in the throat, and the deadly appearance of the eyes, that had lost all their tranquillity. She asked for laudanum; I dropt some, but with so unsteady a hand, that I knew not how much; she saw the colour of the water,’ and cried, with a stronger voice than I had heard during her illness, ‘That’s nothing, Robert! thirty drops—six and thirty!’

“It relieved her. She would not suffer me to

* Jan. 6. 1802.

remain by her bedside; that fearful kindness towards me had, throughout, distinguished her. ‘Go down, my dear; I shall sleep presently!’ She knew, and I knew, what that sleep would be. However, I bless God the last minutes were as easy as death can be; she breathed without effort,—breath after breath weaker, till all was over. I was not then in the room; but, going up to bring down
Edith, I could not but look at her to see if she was indeed gone; it was against my wish and will, but I did look.

“We had been suffering for twelve hours, and the moment of her release was welcome: like one whose limb has just been amputated, he feels the immediate ceasing of acute suffering;—the pain of the wound soon begins, and the sense of the loss continues through life. I calmed and curbed myself, and forced myself to employment; but, at night, there was no sound of feet in her bedroom, to which I had been used to listen, and in the morning it was not my first business to see her. I had used to carry her her food, for I could persuade her better than any one else to the effort of swallowing it.

“Thank God, it is all over! Elmsley called on me and offered me money if I needed it; it was a kindness that I shall remember. Corry had paid me a second quarter, however.

“I have now lost all the friends of my infancy and childhood. The whole recollections of my first ten years are connected with the dead. There lives no one who can share them with me. It is losing so much of one’s existence. I have not been yielding to, or rather indulging, grief; that would have been
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 181
folly. I have read, written, talked;
Bedford has been often with me, and kindly.

“When I saw her after death, Wynn, the whole appearance was so much that of utter death, that the first feeling was as if there could have been no world for the dead; the feeling was very strong, and it required thought and reasoning to recover my former certainty, that as surely we must live hereafter, as all here is not the creation of folly or of chance.

God bless you!
Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”

The next few months passed by without the occurrence of any circumstance worthy of record; his official “duties,” which appear to. have been more nominal than real, being only varied by a short visit to Mr. William Taylor at Norwich. His spirits had not recovered the shock they received from his mother’s death; and it was plain that, however easy and profitable was the appointment he held, it was not sufficiently suited to him to induce him long to retain it, although it afforded him a large share of time for his literary pursuits. Of the present course of these the following letter will give sufficient information:—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“London, March 30. 1802.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“I had wondered at your silence, which Corry’s servant made longer than it else had been, bringing me your letter only yesterday. . . . . The Southey Gazette is happily barren of intelligence, unless you will hear with interest that I yesterday bought the Scriptores Rerum Hispanicarum, after a long search—that the day before, my boots came home from the cobler’s—that the gold leaf which Carlisle stuft into my tooth is all come out—and that I have torn my best pantaloons. So life is passing on, and the growth of my History satisfies me that it is not passing altogether unprofitably. One acquaintance drops in to-day, another to-morrow; the friends whom I have here look in often, and I have rather too much society than too little. Yet, I am not quite the comfortable man I should wish to be; the lamentable rambling to which I am doomed, for God knows how long, prevents my striking root any where,—and we are the better as well as the happier for local attachment. Now do I look round, and can fix upon no spot which I like better than another, except for its mere natural advantages. ’Tis a res damnabilis, Bedford, to have no family ties that one cares about. And so much for the Azure Fiends, whom I shall now take the liberty of turning out of the room. I am busy
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 183
at the Museum, copying unpublished poems of
Chatterton, the which forthwith go to press. Soon I go with Edith to pass two or three days at Cheshunt; and, by the close of next month, I make my bow and away for my holydays to Bristol, that I may be as near Danvers and his mother as possible: my strongest family-like feeling seems to have grown there.

“. . . . . I wish I were at Bath with you; ’twould do me good all over to have one walk over Combe Down. I have often walked there, before we were both upon the world. . . . . Oh! that I could catch Old Time, and give him warm water, and antimonial powder, and ipecacuanha, till he brought up again the last nine years! Not that I want them all; but I do wish there was a house at Bath wherein I had a home-feeling, and that it were possible ever again to feel as I have felt returning from school along the Bristol road, Eheu fugaces, Posthume, Posthume! The years may go; but I wish so many good things did not go with them, the pleasures, and the feelings, and the ties of youth. Blessings on the Moors, and the Spaniards, and the Portuguese, and the saints! I yet feel an active and lively interest in my pursuits. I have made some progress in what promises to be a good chapter about the Moorish period; and I have finished the first six reigns, and am now more than half way through a noble black letter chronicle of Alonso the XIth, to collate with the seventh. The Life of the Cid will be a fit frame for a picture of the manners of his time, and a curious picture it will be: putting all
that is important in my text, and all that is quaint in my notes, I shall make a good book.

“Ride, Grosvenor, and walk, and bathe, and drink water, and drink wine, and eat, and get well, and grow into good spirits, and write me a letter.

Robert Southey.”

In this letter my father speaks of passing his holydays in Bristol. A very short time, however, only elapsed before he emancipated himself altogether from the trammels of his official duties. Mr. Corry, it seems, having little or no employment for him as secretary, wished him to undertake the tuition of his son; but as this was neither “in the bond,” nor at all suited to my father’s habits and inclinations, he resigned his appointment, losing thereby, to use his own words, “a foolish office and a good salary.” I may add, however, that this circumstance only somewhat hastened his resignation, for a situation which was “all pay and no work” was by no means suited either to his taste or his conscience.

He now took up his abode once more in Bristol “Here,” he writes to Mr. Coleridge, “I have meantime a comfortable home, and books enough to employ as much time as I can find for them; my table is covered with folios, and my History advances steadily, and to my own mind well. No other employment pleases me half so much; nevertheless, to other employment I am compelled by the most cogent of all reasons. I have a job in hand for Longman and Rees, which will bring me in 60l., a possibility of 40l., and a chance of a farther 30l.;
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 185
this is an
abridgement of Amadis of Gaul into three duodecimos, with an essay—anonymously and secretly: if it sell, they will probably proceed through the whole library of romance. . . . . In poetry I have, of late, done very little, some fourscore lines the outside; still I feel myself strong enough to open a campaign, and this must probably be done to find beds, chairs, and tables for my house when I get one.”*

But the various works here alluded to, are not the only ones upon which my father had been lately engaged. A native of Bristol himself, he had always taken a strong interest in Chatterton’s writings and history,—
. . . . “The marvellous boy,
That sleepless soul that perished in his pride:Ӡ
so much so, that the neglect of his relatives, who were in distressed circumstances, forms the subject of some indignant stanzas in one of his earliest unpublished poetical compositions; and, during his last residence in Bristol, his sympathies had been especially enlisted by
Mr. Cottle in behalf of Mrs. Newton, Chatterton’s sister.

Some time previously. Sir Herbert Croft had obtained possession from Mrs. Newton of all her brother’s letters and MSS. under promise of speedily returning them; instead of which, some months afterwards, he incorporated and published them in a pamphlet entitled “Love and Madness.” At the use

* July 25. 1802. Wordsworth.

thus surreptitiously made of her brother’s writings, Mrs. Newton more than once remonstrated; but, beyond the sum of 10l., she could obtain no redress.
Mr. Cottle and my father now took the matter up, and the former wrote to Sir H. Croft, pointing out to him Mrs. Newton’s reasonable claim, and urging him, by a timely concession, to prevent that publicity which otherwise would follow. He received no answer; and my father then determined to print by subscription all Chatterton’s works, including those ascribed to Rowley, for the benefit of Mrs. Newton and her daughter. He accordingly sent proposals to the “Monthly Magazine,” in which he detailed the whole case between Mrs. Newton and Sir Herbert Croft, and published their respective letters. The public sympathised rightly on the occasion, for a handsome subscription followed. Sir Herbert Croft was residing in Denmark at the time these proposals were published, and he replied to my father’s statement by a pamphlet full of much personal abuse.

It was now arranged that a new edition of Chatterton’s works should be jointly edited by Mr Cottle and my father; the former undertaking the consideration of the authenticity of Rowley, the latter the general arrangement of the work. It was published, in three vols, octavo, at the latter end of the present year (1802); and the editors had the satisfaction of paying over to Mrs. Newton and her daughter upwards of 300l., a sum which was the means of rescuing them from great poverty in their latter days.

Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 187
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Kingsdown, July 25. 1802.

Grosvenor, I do not like the accounts which reach me of your health. Elmsley says you look ill; your friend Smith tells me the same tale; and I know you are not going the way to amendment. Instead of that office and regular business, you ought to be in the country, with no other business than to amuse yourself: a longer stay at Bath would have benefited you; if the waters were really of use to you, you ought to give them a longer trial. . . . . As for ‘It can’t be,’ and ‘I must be at the office,’ and such-like phrases, when a man is seriously ill they mean nothing.*

Tom is with me, and has been here about a fortnight, and kept me in as wholesome a state of idleness as I wish you to enjoy.

“Since the last semi-letter I wrote, my state affairs have been settled, and my unsecretaryfication completed,—a good sinecure gone; but, instead of thinking the loss unlucky, I only think how lucky it was I ever had it. A light heart and a thin pair of breeches,—you know the song; and it applies, for, breeches being the generic name, pantaloons are included in all their modifications, and I sit at the

* “Have you time to die, sir?” was the home question of a London physician to a patient, a lawyer in full practice, who was making similar excuses for not taking his prescription of rest and freedom from anxious thought; and it admitted but of one reply.

present writing in a pair of loose jean trowsers without lining.

“So many virtues were discovered in me when I was Mr. Secretary, that I suppose nothing short of sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion, will be found possible reasons for my loss of office. The old devil will be said to have entered, having taken with him seven other evil spirits, and the last state of that man (meaning me) will be worse than the first.

“But I hope I am coming to live near London: not in its filth; if John May can find me a good snug house about Richmond, there I will go, and write my History, and work away merrily; and I will drink wine when I can afford it, and when I cannot, strong beer shall be the nectar—nothing like stingo! and if that were to fail too, laudanum is cheap; the Turks have found that out; and while there are poppies, no man need go to bed sober for want of his most gracious Majesty’s picture. And there will be a spare bed at my Domus,—mark you that, Grosvenor Bedford! and Tom’s cot into the bargain; and, from June till October, always a cold pie in the cupboard; and I have already got a kitten and a dog in remainder,—but that is a contingency; and you know there is the contingency of another house-animal, whom I already feel disposed to call whelp and dog, and all those vocables of vituperation by which a man loves to call those he loves best.

“Eblis’s angels sometimes go up to peep at the table of fate, and then get knocked on the head with stars, as we see; only foolish people such as we are mistake them for shooting stars. I should like one
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 189
look at the table, just to see what will happen before the end of the year,—not to the world in general, nor to Europe, nor to
Napoleon, nor to King George, but to the centre to which these great men and these great things are very remote radii,—to my own microcosm;—hang the impudence of that mock-modesty phrase!—’tis a megalocosm, and a megistocosm, and a megistatocosm too to me; and I care more about it than about all the old universe, with Mr. Herschell’s new little planets to boot.

Vale, vale, mi sodales,
R. S.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Bristol, Aug. 4. 1802.

“In reply to your letter there are so many things to be said that I know not where to begin. First and foremost, then, about Keswick, and the pros and cons for domesticating there. To live cheap,—to save the crushing expense of furnishing a house;—sound, good, mercantile motives! Then come the ghosts of old Skiddaw and Great Robinson;—the whole eye-wantonness of lakes and mountains,—and a host of other feelings, which eight years have modified and moulded, but which have rooted like oaks, the stronger for their shaking. But then your horrid latitude! and incessant rains! . . . . and I myself one of your greenhouse plants, pining for want of sun. For Edith, her mind’s eyes are
squinting about it; she wants to go, and she is afraid for my health. . . . . Some time hence I must return to Portugal, to complete and correct my materials and outlines: whenever that may be, there will be a hindrance and a loss in disposing of furniture, supposing I had it. Now, I am supposing that this I should find at Keswick, and this preponderance would fall like a ton weight in the scale. . . . . As to your Essays, &c. &c., you spawn plans like a herring; I only wish as many of the seed were to vivify in proportion. . . . . Your Essays on Contemporaries I am not much afraid of the imprudence of, because I have no expectation that they will ever be written; but if you were to write, the scheme projected upon the old poets would be a better scheme, because more certain of sale, and in the execution nothing invidious. Besides, your sentence would fall with greater weight upon the dead: however impartial you may be, those who do not read your books will think your opinion the result of your personal attachments, and that very belief will prevent numbers from reading it. Again, there are some of these living poets to whom you could not fail of giving serious pain;
Hayley, in particular,—and everything about that man is good except his poetry. Bloomfield I saw in London, and an interesting man he is—even more than you would expect. I have reviewed his Poems with the express object of serving him; because if his fame keeps up
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 191
to another volume, he will have made money enough to support him comfortably in the country: but in a work of criticism how could you bring him to the touchstone? and to lessen his reputation is to mar his fortune.

“We shall probably agree altogether some day upon Wordsworth’s Lyrical Poems. Does he not associate more feeling with particular phrases, and you also with him, than those phrases can convey to any one else? This I suspect. Who would part with a ring of a dead friend’s hair? and yet a jeweller will give for it only the value of the gold: and so must words pass for their current value.

“. . . . . I saw a number of notorious people after you left London. Mrs. Inchbald,—an odd woman, but I like her. Campbell . . . . who spoke of old Scotch ballads with contempt! Fuseli . . . . Flaxman, whose touch is better than his feeling, Bowles . . . . Walter Whiter, who wanted to convert me to believe in Rowley. Perkins, the Tractorist*, a demure-looking rogue. Dr. Busby,—oh! what a Dr. Busby!—the great musician! the greater than Handel! who is to be the husband of St. Cecilia in his seraph state, . . . . and he set at me with a dead compliment! Lastly, Barry, the painter: poor fellow! he is too mad and too miserable to laugh at.

“. . . . . Heber sent certain volumes of Thomas Aquinas to your London lodgings, where peradventure they

* This alludes to Perkins’s magnetic Tractors.

still remain. I have one volume of the old Jockey, containing quaint things about angels; and one of
Scotus Erigena; but if there be any pearls in those dunghills, you must be the cock to scratch them out,—that is not my dunghill. What think you of thirteen folios of Franciscan history? I am grown a great Jesuitophilist, and begin to think that they were the most enlightened personages that ever condescended to look after this ‘little snug farm of the earth.’ Loyola himself was a mere friar . . . . . but the missionaries were made of admirable stuff. There are some important questions arising out of this subject. The Jesuits have not only succeeded in preaching Christianity where our Methodists, &c., fail, but where all the other orders of their own church have failed also; they had the same success every where, in Japan as in Brazil. . . . . My love to Sara, if so it must be . . . . however, as it is the casting out of a Spiritus Asper—which is an evil spirit—for the omen’s sake. Amen! Tell me some more, as Moses says, about Keswick, for I am in a humour to be persuaded,—and if I may keep a jackass there for Edith! I have a wolfskin great-coat, so hot, that it is impossible to wear it here. Now, is not that a reason for going where it may be useful?

R. S.”

The following month, September, was marked by the birth of his first child, a daughter, named after her paternal grandmother, Margaret; and, ardently
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 193
as he had always wished for children, the blessing was most joyfully and thankfully welcomed. But the hopes thus raised were doomed in this case to be soon blasted.

My father was now becoming weary of being a wanderer upon the face of the earth, and having now a nursery as well as a library to remove, a permanent residence was becoming almost a matter of necessity. His thoughts, as we have seen, had at one time turned towards settling at Richmond, and latterly more strongly towards Cumberland: but for a while he gave up this scheme, attracted by the greater conveniences of Wales; and he now entered into treaty for a house in Glamorganshire, in the Vale of Neath, “one of the loveliest spots,” he thought it, in Great Britain. “There,” he says, “I mean to remain and work steadily at my History till it be necessary for me to go to Portugal, to correct what I shall have done, and hunt out new materials. This will be two years hence; and if the place answer my wishes, I shall not forsake it then, but return there as to a permanent residence. One of the motives for fixing there is the facility afforded of acquiring the Welsh language.”*

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Nov. 28. 1802.
“Dear Grosvenor,

“I thought you would know from Wynn that I trespass on my eyes only for short letters; or from

* To William Taylor, Esq., Nov. 21. 1802.

Rickman, to whom my friend Danvers will have carried the latest news of me this day, if those unhappy eyes had been well you would ere this have received Kehama. They have been better, and are again worse, in spite of lapis calaminaris, goulard, cayenne pepper, and the surgeon’s lance; but they will soon be well, so I believe and trust. You have seen my Cid, and have not seen what I wrote to Wynn about its manner. Everywhere possible the story is told in the very phrase of the original chronicles, which are almost the oldest works in the Castilian language. The language, in itself poetical, becomes more poetical by necessary compression; if it smack of romance, so does the story: in the notes, the certain will be distinguished from the doubtful passages quoted, and references to author and page uniformly given. Thus much of this, which is no specimen of my historical style: indeed, I do not think uniformity of style desirable; it should rise and fall with the subject, and adapt itself to the matter. Moreover, in my own judgment, a little peculiarity of style is desirable, because it nails down the matter to the memory. You remember the facts of Livy; but you remember the very phrases of Tacitus and Sallust, and the phrase reminds you of the matter when it would else have been forgotten. This may be pushed, like every thing, too far, and become ridiculous; but the principle is true.

“As a different specimen, I wish you could see a life of St. Francisco, a section upon Mohammedanism, and a chapter upon the Moorish period. Oh, these eyes! these eyes! to have my brain in labour,
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 195
and this spell to prevent delivery like a cross-legged Juno! Farewell till to-morrow; I must sleep, and laze, and play whist, till bedtime.

“. . . . . Snakes have been pets in England; is it not Cowley who has a poem upon one?—
‘Take heed, fair Eve, you do not make
Another tempter of the snake.’
They ought to be tamed and taken into our service, for snakes eat mice and can get into their holes after them; and, in our country, the venomous species is so rare, that we should think them beautiful animals were it not for the recollection of the Old Serpent. When I am housed and homed (as I shall be, or hope to be, in the next spring; not that the negotiation is over yet, but I expect it will end well, and that I shall have a house in the loveliest part of South Wales, in a vale between high mountains; and an onymous house too,
Grosvenor, and one that is down in the map of Glamorganshire, and its name is Maes Gwyn; and so much for that, and there’s an end of my parenthesis), then do I purpose to enter into a grand confederacy with certain of the animal world: every body has a dog, and most people have a cat; but I will have, moreover, an otter, and teach him to fish, for there is salmon in the river Neath (and I should like a hawk, but that is only a vain hope, and a gull or an osprey to fish in the sea), and I will have a snake if Edith will let me, and I will have a toad to catch flies, and it shall be made murder to kill a spider in my domains: then,
Grosvenor, when you come to visit me,—N.B., you will arrive per mail between five and six in the morning at Neath; ergo, you will find me at breakfast about seven,—you will see puss on the one side, and the otter on the other, both looking for bread and milk, and
Margery in her little great chair, and the toad upon the tea-table, and the snake twisting up the leg of the table to look for his share. These two pages make a letter of decent length, from such a poor blind Cupid as

Robert Southey.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq. MP.
“Dec. 22. 1802.

Vidi the Review of Edinburgh. The first part is designed evidently as an answer to Wordsworth’s Preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads; and, however relevant to me, quoad Robert Southey, is certainly utterly irrelevant to Thalaba. In their account of the story they make some blunders of negligence: they ask how Thalaba knew that he was to be the Destroyer, forgetting that the Spirit told him so in the text; they say that the inscription of the locust’s forehead teaches him to read the ring, which is not the case; and that Mohareb tries to kill him at last, though his own life would be destroyed at the same time,—without noticing that that very ‘though’ enters into the passage, and the reason why is given. I added all the notes for the cause
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 197
which they suspect: they would have accused me of plagiarism where they could have remembered the original hint; but they affirm that all is thus borrowed,—without examining, when all that belongs to another is subtracted, what quantity of capital remains. This is dishonest, for there is no hint to be found elsewhere for the best parts of the poem, and the most striking incidents of the story.

“The general question concerning my system and taste is one point at issue; the metre, another. These gentlemen who say that the metre of the Greek choruses is difficult to understand at a first reading, have, perhaps, made it out at last, else I should plead the choruses as precedent, and the odes of Stolberg in German, and the Ossian of Cesarotti in Italian; but this has been done in the M. Magazine’s review of Thalaba. For the question of taste, I shall enter into it when I preface Madoc. I believe we are both classics in our taste; but mine is of the Greek, theirs of the Latin school. I am for the plainness of Hesiod and Homer, they for the richness and ornaments of Virgil. They want periwigs placed upon bald ideas, a narrative poem must have its connecting parts; it cannot be all interest and incident, no more than a picture all light, a tragedy all pathos. . . . . The review altogether is a good one, and will be better than any London one, because London reviewers always know something of the authors who appear before them, and this inevitably affects the judgment. I, myself, get the worthless poems of some good-natured person whom I know; I am aware of what review-
phrases go for, and contrive to give that person no pain, and deal out such milk-and-water praise as will do no harm: to speak of smooth versification and moral tendency, &c. &c., will take in some to buy the book, while it serves as an emollient mixture for the patient. I have rarely scratched without giving a plaister for it; except, indeed, where a fellow puts a string of titles to his name, or such an offender as
—— appears, and then my inquisitorship, instead of actually burning him, only ties a few crackers to his tail.

“But when any Scotchman’s book shall come to be reviewed, then see what the Edinburgh critics will say. . . . . Their philosophy appears in their belief in Hindoo chronology! and when they abuse Parr’s style, it is rather a knock at the dead lion, old Johnson. A first number has great advantages; the reviewers say their say upon all subjects, and lay down the law: that contains the Institutes; by and by they can only comment.

God bless you!
R. S.”

In the meantime my father’s pleasant anticipations of living in Wales were suddenly all frustrated; for, just as the treaty was on the point of being concluded, it occurred to him that some small additions were wanting in the kitchen department, and this request the landlord so stoutly resisted, that the negotiation was altogether broken off in consequence.

Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 199

Upon this slight occurrence, he used to say, hinged many of the outward circumstances of his future life; and, much and deeply as he afterwards became attached to the lakes and mountains of Cumberland, he would often speak with something like regret of Maes Gwyn and the Vale of Neath.

Meanwhile his literary labours were proceeding much in their usual course, notwithstanding the complaint in his eyes. “I am reviewing for Longman,” he says at this time; “reviewing for Hamilton; translating, perhaps about again to versify for the Morning Post: drudge—drudge—drudge. Do you know Quarles’s emblem of the soul that tries to fly, but is chained by the leg to earth? For myself I could do easily, but not easily for others, and there are more claims than one upon me.”*

From some cause or other, his correspondence seems somewhat to have diminished at this time; the few letters, however, that I am able to select relating to this period are not devoid of interest.

To John Rickman, Esq.
“Jan. 30. 1803.
“My dear Rickman,

“. . . . . I am rich in books, considered as plain and poor Robert Southey, and in foreign books considered as

* To William Taylor, Esq., January 23. 1803.

an Englishman; but, for my glutton appetite and healthy digestion, my stock is but small, and the historian feels daily and hourly the want of materials. I believe I must visit London for the sake of the Museum, but not till the spring be far advanced, and warm enough to write with tolerable comfort in their reading-room. My History of Monachism cannot be complete without the
Benedictine History of Mabillon. There is another book in the Museum, which must be noticed literally, or put in a note,—the Book of the Conformities of St. Francis and Jesus Christ! I have thirteen folios of Franciscan history in the house, and yet want the main one. Wadding’s Seraphic Annual, which contains the original bulls.

“Of the Beguines I have, as yet, found neither traces nor tidings, except that I have seen the name certainly among the heretic list; but my monastic knowledge is very far from complete. I know only the outline for the two centuries between Francisco and Luther, and nothing but Jesuit history from that period.

“Do not suspect me of querulousness; labour is my amusement, and nothing makes me growl, but that the kind of labour cannot be wholly my own choice;—that I must lay aside old chronicles, and review modern poems; instead of composing from a full head, that I must write like a school-boy upon some idle theme. on which nothing can be said or ought to be said. I believe the best thing will be as you hope, for, if I live and do well, my History shall be done, and that will be a fortune to a man
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 201
economical from habit, and moderate in his wants and wishes from feeling and principle.

Coleridge is with me at present; he talks of going abroad, for, poor fellow, he suffers terribly from this climate. You bid me come with the swallows to London! I wish I could go with the swallows in their winterly migration. . . . .

Yours affectionately,
R. S.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Bristol, March 14. 1803.
“Dear Coleridge,

“It is nearly a week now since Danvers and I returned from Rownham; and now the burthen will soon fall off my shoulders, and I shall feel as light as old Christian when he had passed the directing post: forty guineas’ worth of reviewing has been hard work. . . . . The very unexpected and extraordinary alarm brought by yesterday’s papers may, in some degree, affect my movements, for it has made Tom write to offer his services; and if the country arm, of course he will be employed. But quid Diabolus is all this about? Stuart writes well upon the subject, yet I think he overlooks some circumstances in Bonaparte’s conduct, which justify some delay in yielding Alexandria and Malta: that report of Sebastiani’s was almost a declaration that France would take Egypt
as soon as we left it. You were a clearer-sighted politician than I. If war there must be, the St. Domingo business will have been the cause, though not the pretext, and that rascal will set the poor negroes cutting English throats instead of French ones. It is true, country is of less consequence than colour there, and these black gentlemen cannot be very wrong if the throat be a white one; but it would be vexatious if the followers of
Toussaint should be made the tools of Bonaparte.

“Meantime, what becomes of your scheme of travelling? If France goes to war, Spain must do the same, even if the loss of Trinidad did not make them inclined to it. You must not think of the Western Islands or the Canaries; they are prisons from whence it is very difficult to escape, and where you would be cut off from all regular intercourse with England: besides, the Canaries will be hostile ports. In the West Indies you ought not to trust your complexion. When the tower of Siloam fell, it did not give all honest people warning to stand from under. How is the climate of Hungary? Your German would carry you there, and help you there till you learnt a Sclavonic language; and you might take home a profitable account of a country and a people little known. If it should be too cold a winter residence, you might pass the summer there, and reach Constantinople or the better parts of Asia Minor in the winter. This looks like a tempting scheme on paper, and will be more tempting if you look at the map; but, for all such schemes, a companion is almost necessary.

Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203

“The Edinburgh Review will not keep its ground. It consists of pamphlets instead of critical accounts. There is the quantity of a three-shilling pamphlet in one article upon the Balance of Power, in which the brimstone-fingered son of oatmeal says that wars now are carried on by the sacrifice of a few useless millions and more useless lives, and by a few sailors fighting harmlessly upon the barren ocean: these are his very words. . . . . He thinks there can be no harm done unless an army were to come and eat up all the sheep’s trotters in Edinburgh. If they buy many books at Gunville*, let them buy the English metrical romancees published by Ritson; it is, indeed, a treasure of true old poetry: the expense of publication is defrayed by Ellis. Ritson is the oddest, but most honest, of all our antiquarians, and he abuses Percy and Pinkerton with less mercy than justice. With somewhat more modesty than Mister Pinkerton, as he calls him, he has mended the spelling of our language, and, without the authority of an act of parliament, changed the name of the very country he lives in into Engleland. The beauty of the common stanza will surprise you.

Cowper’s Life is the most pick-pocket work, for its shape and price, and author and publisher, that ever appeared. It relates very little of the man himself. This sort of delicacy seems quite groundless towards a man who has left no relations or connections who could be hurt by the most explicit biographical detail. His letters are not what one does expect, and yet what one

* The seat of Mr. Wedgewood.

ought to expect, for
Cowper was not a strong-minded man even in his best moments. The very few opinions that he gave upon authors are quite ludicrous; he calls Mr. Park
. . . . ‘that comical spark,
Who wrote to ask me for a Joan of Arc.’
‘One of our best hands in poetry. Poor wretched man! the Methodists among whom he lived made him ten times madder than he could else have been. . . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Bristol, April 3. 1803.

“I have been thinking of Brixton, Grosvenor, for these many days past, when more painful thoughts would give me leave. An old lady, whom I loved greatly, and have for the last eight years regarded with something like a filial veneration, has been carried off by this influenza. She was mother to Danvers, with whom I have so long been on terms of the closest intimacy. . . . . Your ejection from Brixton has very long been in my head as one of the evil things to happen in 1803, though it was not predicted in Moore’s Almanack. However, I am glad to hear you have got a house, . . . . and still more, that it is an old house.
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 205
I love old houses best, for the sake of the odd closets and cupboards and good thick walls that don’t let the wind blow in, and little out-of-the-way polyangular rooms with great beams running across the ceiling,—old heart of oak, that has outlasted half a score generations; and chimney pieces with the date of the year carved above them, and huge fire-places that warmed the shins of Englishmen before the house of Hanover came over. The most delightful associations that ever made me feel, and think, and fall a-dreaming, are excited by old buildings—not absolute ruins, but in a state of decline. Even the clipt yews interest me; and if I found one in any garden that should become mine, in the shape of a peacock, I should be as proud to keep his tail well spread as the man who first carved him. In truth, I am more disposed to connect myself by sympathy with the ages which are past, and by hope with those that are to come, than to vex and irritate myself by any lively interest about the existing generation.

“Your letter was unusually interesting, and dwells upon my mind. I could, and perhaps will some day, write an eclogue upon leaving an old place of residence. What you say of yourself impresses upon me still more deeply the conviction, that the want of a favourite pursuit is your greatest source of discomfort and discontent. It is the pleasure of pursuit that makes every man happy; whether the merchant, or the sportsman, or the collector, the philobibl, or the reader-o-bibl, and maker-o-bibl, like me,—pursuit at once supplies employment and hope. This is what I have often preached to you, but perhaps I never told
you what benefit I myself have derived from resolute employment. When
Joan of Arc was in the press, I had as many legitimate causes for unhappiness as any man need have,—uncertainty for the future, and immediate want, in the literal and plain meaning of the word. I often walked the streets at dinner time for want of a dinner, when I had not eighteen-pence for the ordinary, nor bread and cheese at my lodgings. But do not suppose that I thought of my dinner when I was walking—my head was full of what I was composing: when I lay down at night I was planning my poem; and when I rose up in the morning the poem was the first thought to which I was awake. The scanty profits of that poem I was then anticipating in my lodging-house bills for tea, bread and butter, and those little &cs. which amount to a formidable sum when a man has no resources; but that poem, faulty as it is, has given me a Baxter’s shove into my right place in the world.

“So much for the practical effects of Epictetus, to whom I hold myself indebted for much amendment of character. Now,—when I am not comparatively, but positively, a happy man, wishing little, and wanting nothing,—my delight is the certainty that, while I have health and eyesight, I can never want a pursuit to interest. Subject after subject is chalked out. In hand I have Kehama, Madoc, and a voluminous history; and I have planned more poems and more histories; so that whenever I am removed to another state of existence, there will be some valde lacrymabile hiatus in some of my posthumous works.

“We have all been ill with La Gripe. But the
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 207
death of my excellent old friend is a real grief, and one that will long be felt: the pain of amputation is nothing,—it is the loss of the limb that is the evil. She influenced my every-day thought, and one of my pleasures was to afford her any of the little amusements, which age and infirmities can enjoy. . . . . When do I go to London? If I can avoid it, not so soon as I had thought. The journey, and some unavoidable weariness in tramping over that overgrown metropolis, half terrifies me;—and then the thought of certain pleasures, such as seeing
Rickman, and Duppa, and Wynn, and Grosvenor Bedford, and going to the old book-shops, half tempts me. I am working very hard to fetch up my lee-way; that is, I am making up for time lost during my ophthalmia. Fifty-four more pages of Amadis, and a preface—no more to do—huzza! land! land! . . . .

“God bless you!
R. S.”
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Galatea.
“Bristol, April 22. 1803.
“My dear Tom,

“Huzza! huzza! huzza! The bottle is a good post, and the Atlantic delivers letters according to direction.


“Yours of May 23. 1802 Lat 33 . 46 N. Lon. 64 . 27 W. was found by Messrs. Calmer and Seymour, of St Salvador’s, Dec 18, 1802, on the N.W. of that island, Lat. 23 . 30 N. Lon. 73 . 30 W. very civilly enclosed by some Mr. Aley Pratt, Feb, 10., sent per Betsey Cains, Capt. Wilmott, and has this day reached me from Ramsgate, to my very great surprise and satisfaction. You had sealed it so clumsily, that some of the writing was torn, and the salt water had got at it, so that the letter is in a ruinous state; but it shall be preserved as the greatest curiosity in my collection. I shall send the account to Stuart.

“I did heartily regret that you were not here; we would have drawn a cork in honour of Messrs. Calmer and Seymour, and Aley Pratt, who, by keeping the letter two months, really seem to have been sensible that the letter was of value. When I consider the quadrillion of chances against such a circumstance, it seems like a dream,—the middle of the Atlantic, thrown in there! cast on a corner of St. Salvador’s, and now here, at No. 12, St. James’s Place, Kingsdown, Bristol; hunting me through the ocean to the Bahamas, and then to this very individual spot. Oh, that the bottle had kept a log-book! If the Bottle-conjurer had been in it, now!

“I think this letter decisive of a current; chance winds would never have carried it 600 miles in less than seven months: and, if I recollect right, by theory there ought to be a current in that direction. Supposing the bottle to have been found the very day it
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 209
landed, it must have sailed at the rate of three knots in a day and night; it was picked up 209 days after the post set off. More letters should be thrown overboard about the same latitude; and then, when we have charts of all the currents, some dozen centuries hence, that particular one shall be called Southey’s Current. . . . . The news is all pacific, and I fully expect you will be paid off ere long. All goes on as usual here.
Margaret screams as loud as the parrot, that talent she inherited. . . . .

“God bless you!
R. Southey.”
To Lieutenant Southey, H.M.S. Galatea.
“Bristol, May 30. 1803.

“Why, Tom! you must be mad, stark staring mad, jumping mad, horn mad, to be lying in port all this time! For plain or stark madness I should prescribe a simple strait-waistcoat;—staring madness maybe alleviated by the use of green spectacles;—for jumping madness I have found a remedy in a custom used by the Siamese: when they take prisoners, they burn their feet to prevent them from running away;—horn madness is, indeed, beyond my skill: for that Doctor’s Commons is the place. I am vexed and provoked for you to see prizes brought in under your nose. . . . . My books have had an increase since you left. I have
bought a huge lot of
Cody, tempted by the price; books of voyages and travels, and the Asiatic Researches. The Annual Review is not yet published. Amadis still goes on slowly, but draws near an end. . . . . Do you see—and if you have seen the Morning Post, you will have seen—that a poem upon Amadis is advertised? This is curious enough. It seems by the advertisement that it only takes in the first book. If the author have either any civility or any brains, he will send me a copy; the which I am not so desirous of as I should be, as it will cost me twenty shillings to send him one in return. However, I shall like to see his book; it may make a beautiful poem, and it looks well that he has stopt at the first book, and avoided the length of story: but, unless he be a very good poet indeed, I should prefer the plain dress of romance.

“I have been very hard at history, and have almost finished, since your departure, that thick folio chronicle which you may remember I was about skindeep in, and which has supplied me with matter for half a volume. This war terrifies and puzzles me about Portugal. I think of going over alone this next winter, while I can. I have fifteen quartos on the way from Lisbon; and, zounds! if they should be taken! . . . . Next month I shall go to London. The hard exercise of walking the streets will do me good. My picture in the Exhibition* pleases everybody, I hear; I wish you had seen it.

“. . . . . Remember my advice about all Dutch captains in

* This picture was by Opie, and is the one engraved in this work.

Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 211
your cruise: go always to the bottom in your examination; tin cases will sound if they be kicked, and paper will rustle; to you it may be the winning a prize: the loss is but a kick, and that the Dutchman gains. Do you know that I actually must learn Dutch! that I cannot complete the East Indian part of my history without it. Good bye.

R. S.”
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq.
“June 9. 1803.

“I have just gone through the Scottish Border Ballads. Walter Scott himself is a man of great talent and genius; but wherever he patches an old poem, it is always with new bricks. Of the modern ballads, his own fragment is the only good one, and that is very good. I am sorry to see Leyden’s good for so little. Sir Agrethorn is flat, foolish, Matthewish, Gregoryish, Lewisish. I have been obliged to coin vituperative adjectives on purpose, the language not having terms enough of adequate abuse. I suppose the word Flodden-Field entitles it to a place here, but the scene might as well have been laid in El-dorado, or Tothill Fields, or the country of Prester John, for anything like costume which it possesses. It is odd enough that almost every passage which Scott has quoted from Froissart should be among the extracts which I had made.

“In all these modern ballads there is a modernism
of thought and language-turns, to me very perceptible and very unpleasant, the more so for its mixture with antique words—polished steel and rusty iron! This is the case in all
Scott’s ballads. His Eve of St. John’s is a better ballad in story than any of mine, but it has this fault. Elmsley once asked me to versify that on the Glenfinlas—to try the difference of style; but I declined it, as waste labour and an invidious task. Matthew G. Lewis, Esq., M.P., sins more grievously in this way; he is not enough versed in old English to avoid it: Scott and Leyden are, and ought to have written more purely. I think if you will look at Q. Orraca you will perceive that, without being a canto from our old ballads, it has quite the ballad character of language.

Scott, it seems, adopts the same system of metre with me, and varies his tune in the same stanza from iambic to anapæstic ad libitum. In spite of all the trouble that has been taken to torture Chaucer into heroic metre, I have no doubt whatever that he wrote upon this system, common to all the ballad writers. Coleridge agrees with me upon this. The proof is, that, read him thus, and he becomes everywhere harmonious; but expletive syllables, en’s and y’s and e’s, only make him halt upon ten lame toes. I am now daily drinking at that pure well of English undefiled, to get historical manners, and to learn English and poetry.

“His volume of the Border Songs is more amusing for its prefaces and notes than its poetry: the ballads themselves were written in a very unfavourable age and country; the costume less picturesque than chi-
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 213
valry, the manners more barbarous. I shall be very glad to see the
Sir Tristram which Scott is editing: the old Cornish knight has been one of my favourite heroes for fifteen years. Those Romances that Ritson published are fine studies for a poet. This I am afraid will have more Scotch in it than will be pleasant; I never read Scotch poetry without rejoicing that we have not Welsh-English into the bargain, and a written brogue.

“. . . . . Rickman tells me there will be no army sent to Portugal; that it is understood the French may overrun it at pleasure, and that then we lay open Brazil and Spanish America. If, indeed, the Prince of Brazil could be persuaded to go over there, and fix the seat of his government in a colony fifty times as large, and five hundred fold more valuable, than the mother country, England would have a trade opened to it far more than equivalent to the loss of the Portuguese and Spanish ports. But if he remains under the protection of France, and is compelled to take a part against England, any expedition to Brazil must be for mere plunder. Conquest is quite impossible.

“Most likely I shall go up to town in about a week or ten days. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“June 12. 1803.

“Why, Grosvenor, that is an idle squeamishness of yours, that asking a previous leave to speak. Where my conscience becomes second to your challenge, the offence shall be amended; where we differ, mine is the voice potential. But, in truth, I will tell you that I am out of humour with Kehama, for half a hundred reasons: historical composition is a source of greater, and quieter, and more continuous pleasure; and that poem sometimes comes into my head with a—shall I sit down to it? and this is so easily turned out again, that the want of inclination would make me half suspect a growing want of power, if some rhymes and poemets did not now and then come out and convince me to the contrary. . . . . Abuse away ad libitum.

“If Cumberland must have a Greek name, there is but one that fits him—Aristophanes—and that for the worst part of his character. If his plays had any honest principle in them, instead of that eternal substitution of honour for honesty, of a shadow for a substance—if his novels were not more profligate in their tendency than Matthew Lewis’s unhappy book—if the perusal of his Calvary were not a cross heavy enough for any man to bear who has ever read ten lines of Milton—if the man were innocent of all these things, he ought never to be forgiven for his
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
attempt to blast the character of
Socrates. Right or wrong, no matter, the name had been canonised, and, God knows, wisdom and virtue have not so many saints that they can spare an altar to his clumsy pickaxe. I am no blind bigot to the Greeks, but I will take the words of Plato and greater Xenophon against Richard Cumberland, Esq.

“. . . . . The Grenvilles are in the right, but they got right by sticking in the wrong: they turned their faces westward in the morning, and swore the sun was there; and they have stood still and sworn on, till, sure enough, there the sun is. But they stand upon the strong ground now, and have the argument all hollow; yet what is to come of it, and what do they want—their country asks that question. War? They have it; every man in the country says Amen, and they whose politics are most democratic say Amen most loudly and most sincerely. In spite of their speeches, I cannot wish them in; and, when change of ministry is talked of, cannot but feel with Fox, that, little as I may like them, ten to one I shall like their successors worse, and sure I am that worse war ministers than the last cannot curse this country. . . . . These men behaved so well upon Despard’s business, and have shown such a respect to the liberties and feelings of this country, that they have fully won my good will. I believe they will make a sad piecemeal patchwork administration. . . . . It does seem that, by some fatality, the best talents of the
kingdom are for ever to be excluded from its government. Fox has not done well, not what I could have wished; but yet I reverence that man so truly, that whenever he appears to me to have erred, I more than half suspect my own judgment

“I am promised access to the King’s library, by Heber; and, indeed, it is a matter of considerable consequence that I should obtain it. Morning, noon, and night, I do nothing but read chronicles, and collect from them; and I have travelled at a great rate since the burthen of translating and reviewing has been got rid of: but this will not last long; I must think by and by of some other job-work, and turn to labour again, that I may earn another holyday.

“I call Margaret, by way of avoiding all commonplace phraseology of endearment, a worthy child and a most excellent character. She loves me better than any one except her mother; her eyes are as quick as thought, she is all life and spirit, and as happy as the day is long: but that little brain of hers is never at rest, and it is painful to see how dreams disturb her. A Dios!

R. S.”

Soon after the date of the letter, my father paid a short visit to London, the chief purpose of which was to negotiate with Messrs. Longman and Rees respecting the management of a Bibliotheca Britannica upon a very extensive scale, to be arranged chronologically, and made a readable book by biography, criticism, and connecting chapters, to be published like the Cyclopædia in parts, each volume
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 217
800 quarto pages.” “The full and absolute choice of all associates, and the distribution of the whole,” to be in his hands. And, in order to be near the publisher, as well as for the convenience of communicating with the majority of those whom he hoped to associate with him in the work,—of whom the chief were
Mr. Sharon Turner, Mr. Rickman, Captain Burney, Mr. Carlisle*, Mr. William Taylor, Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Duppa, and Mr. Owen,—he purposed removing very shortly to Richmond, where, indeed, be had already obtained the refusal of a house.

Upon concluding his agreement with Messrs. Longman and Rees, he seems to have communicated at once with Mr. Coleridge, whose letter in reply the reader will not be displeased to have laid before him, containing, as it does, the magnificent plan of a work almost too vast to have been conceived by any other person. Alas! that the plans of such a mind should have been but splendid dreams.

S. T. Coleridge to R. Southey.
“Keswick, July, 1803.
“My dear Southey,

“. . . . . I write now to propose a scheme, or rather a rude outline of a scheme, of your grand work. What harm can a proposal do? If it be no pain to you to reject it, it will be none to me to have it rejected. I would have the work entitled Bibliotheca Britannica,

Afterwards Sir Anthony Carlisle.

or an History of British Literature, bibliographical, biographical, and critical. The two last volumes I would have to be a chronological catalogue of all noticeable or extant books; the others, be the number six or eight, to consist entirely of separate treatises, each giving a critical biblio-biographical history of some one subject. I will, with great pleasure, join you in learning Welsh and Erse: and you, I,
Turner, and Owen, might dedicate ourselves for the first half year to a complete history of all Welsh, Saxon, and Erse books that are not translations, that are the native growth of Britain. If the Spanish neutrality continues, I will go in October or November to Biscay, and throw light on the Basque.

“Let the next volume contain the history of English poetry and poets, in which I would include all prose truly poetical. The first half of the second volume should be dedicated to great single names, Chaucer and Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton and Taylor, Dryden and Pope; the poetry of witty logic,—Swift, Fielding, Richardson, Sterne: I write par hazard, but I mean to say all great names as have either formed epochs in our taste, or such, at least, as are representative; and the great object to be in each instance to determine, first, the true merits and demerits of the books; secondly, what of these belong to the age—what to the author quasi peculium. The second half of the second volume should be a history of poetry and romances, everywhere interspersed with biography, but more flowing, more consecutive, more bibliographical, chronological, and complete. The third volume I would have
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 219
dedicated to English prose, considered as to style, as to eloquence, as to general impressiveness; a history of styles and manners, their causes, their birth-places and parentage, their analysis. . . . .

“These three volumes would be so generally interesting, so exceedingly entertaining, that you might bid fair for a sale of the work at large. Then let the fourth volume take up the history of metaphysics, theology, medicine, alchemy, common, canon, and Roman law, from Alfred to Henry VII.; in other words, a history of the dark ages in Great Britain. The fifth volume—carry on metaphysics and ethics to the present day in the first half; the second half, comprise the theology of all the reformers. In the fourth volume there would be a grand article on the philosophy of the theology of the Roman Catholic religion. In this (fifth volume), under different names,—Hooker, Baxter, Biddle, and Fox,—the spirit of the theology of all the other parts of Christianity. The sixth and seventh volumes must comprise all the articles you can get, on all the separate arts and sciences that have been treated of in books since the Reformation; and, by this time, the book, if it answered at all, would have gained so high a reputation, that you need not fear having whom you liked to write the different articles —medicine, surgery, chemistry, &c. &c., navigation, travellers, voyagers, &c. &c. If I go into Scotland, shall I engage Walter Scott to write the history of Scottish poets? Tell me, however, what you think of the plan. It would have one prodigious advantage: whatever accident stopped the work, would only prevent the future good, not
mar the past; each volume would be a great and valuable work per se. Then each volume would awaken a new interest, a new set of readers, who would buy the past volumes of course; then it would allow you ample time and opportunities for the slavery of the catalogue volumes, which should be at the same time an index to the work, which would be, in very truth, a pandect of knowledge, alive and swarming with human life, feeling, incident. By the by, what a strange abuse has been made of the word encyclopædia! It signifies, properly, grammar, logic, rhetoric, and ethics and metaphysics, which last, explaining the ultimate principles of grammar—log., rhet., and eth.—formed a circle of knowledge. . . . . To call a huge unconnected miscellany of the omne scibile, in an arrangement determined by the accident of initial letters, an encyclopaedia, is the impudent ignorance of your Presbyterian bookmakers. Good night!

God bless you!
S. T. C.”
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
“Bristol, Aug. 3. 1803.
“Dear Coleridge,

“I meant to have written sooner; but those little units of interruption and preventions, which sum up to as ugly an aggregate as the items in a lawyer’s bill, have come in the way. . . . .
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 221
Your plan is too good, too gigantic, quite beyond my powers. If you had my tolerable state of health, and that love of steady and productive employment which is now grown into a necessary habit with me, if you were to execute and would execute it, it would be, beyond all doubt, the most valuable work of any age or any country; but I cannot fill up such an outline. No man can better feel where he fails than I do; and to rely upon you for whole quartos! Dear
Coleridge, the smile that comes with that thought is a very melancholy one; and if Edith saw me now, she would think my eyes were weak again, when, in truth, the humour that covers them springs from another cause.

“For my own comfort, and credit, and peace of mind, I must have a plan which I know myself strong enough to execute. I can take author by author as they come in their series, and give his life and an account of his works quite as well as ever it has yet been done. I can write connecting paragraphs and chapters shortly and pertinently, in my way; and in this way the labour of all my associates can be more easily arranged. . . . . And, after all, this is really nearer the actual design of what I purport by a bibliotheca than yours would be,—a book of reference, a work in which it may be seen what has been written upon every subject in the British language: this has elsewhere been done in the dictionary form; whatever we get better than that form—ponemus lucro.

“The Welsh part, however, should be kept com-
pletely distinct, and form a volume, or half a volume, by itself; and this must be delayed till the last in publication, whatever it be in order, because it cannot be done till the whole of the Archæology is printed, and by that time I will learn the language, and so, perhaps, will you.
George Ellis is about it; I think that, with the help of Turner and Owen, and poor Williams, we could then do everything that ought to be done.

“The first part, then, to be published is the Saxon; this Turner will execute, and to this you and William Taylor may probably both be able to add something from your stores of northern knowledge. The Saxon books all come in sequence chronologically; then the mode of arrangement should be by centuries, and the writers classed as poets, historians, &c., by centuries, or by reigns, which is better. . . . . Upon this plan the Schoolmen will come in the first volume.

“The historical part of the theology, and the bibliographical, I shall probably execute myself, and you will do the philosophy. By the by, I have lately found the book of John Perrott the Quaker, who went to convert the Pope, containing all his epistles to the Romans, &c., written in the Inquisition at Rome; for they allowed him the privilege of writing, most likely because his stark madness amused them. This fellow (who turned rogue at last, wore a sword, and persecuted the Quakers in America to make them swear) made a schism in the society against
Ætat. 28. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 223
George Fox, insisting that hats should be kept on in meeting during speaking, (has not this prevailed?) and that the Friends should not shave. His book is the most frantic I ever saw, quite Gilbertish; and the man acted up to it. . . .

God bless you!
R. S.”