LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Ch. XV. 1809

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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Ætat. 35. Ætat. 35. 201

In the following letter my father refers to one he had lately received from Miss Seward, partly on the subject of Hayley’s edition of Cowper’s Milton. The reader will probably, therefore, not be displeased to see it prefaced by the quotation of her remarks.

“To Mr. Hayley’s quarto, which he calls Cowper’s Milton, I six years past subscribed, and have sedulously perused my copy. Far from proving what its editor expects,—the consummation of Milton’s and
his translator’s glory,—it appears to me utterly incapable of adding to that of either. If Milton’s Latin and Italian compositions are rich in poetic matter, they have met with no justice from
Cowper, in whose dress they strike me as pedantic, tuneless, and spiritless. Of the Damonides Langhorne formed a sweet and touching poem, one of the darlings of my youthful years. Cowper is as hard as iron in comparison, and almost all the pathos vanishes in the stiff and laboured expression; yet Hayley, for his idol, challenges the comparison, alleging also his conviction that, if the spirit of Milton could have directed the choice of a translator from all living men, he would have selected Cowper; and that from the parity in their genius, their style, their character, and their fortunes. To this imaginary choice I am more than sceptical. Rhyme was not Cowper’s forte: nothing which he has written in it, except by sudden gleams, is above mediocrity. He not only wanted ear to form its harmony, but rejected that harmony systematically. The numbers of its great master were displeasing to him. He says in his letters, ‘Pope set his ideas to a tune which any one may catch:’ hence, when Cowper wrote in rhyme, provided he could cram his thoughts into the couplets, he chose rather that they should be rough than harmonious, that they should stumble rather than that they should glide. His blank verse is the sheet anchor of his poetic fame. The Task, and the fragment on Yardley Oak, will be coeval with our language; and, if his other works live, it will be for that they were written by the author of these two
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203
compositions. As for the quarto, seldom did a great book issue from the press whose contents were of less consequence to the literature of the country. The critical remarks which they contain on the
Paradise Lost are few and trivial. T. Warton’s notes, copied from that able writer’s edition of Milton’s lesser poems, are the most valuable part of the work.

Hayley is quite insane upon the subject of imputed similitude between Milton and Cowper as poets and men. He broaches it again and again, to the perfect nausea of all who can understand the writings of either, or who ever made a remark on their characters and destiny. To such it must be evident that only one point of similitude exists,—that the best works of each are in blank verse. Between the Paradise Lost and the Task there is no other shadow of resemblance. The subject of the first, grave, dignified, regular, unbroken, and genuinely epic; that of the other, originally light and comic. Meantime, the poet floats through the pages of his desultory song, without rudder, without compass or anchor; yet he makes a varied and very interesting voyage, pleasing even to the most learned reader, and far more pleasing to the generality of readers than poetry of a higher order, because it presents objects familiar to their observation, and level with their capacity, and in numbers suited to the theme; sufficiently spirited and harmonious, but bearing no likeness to Milton’s rich maze of alternately grand and delicate verse.”

It appears that Mr. Bedford had been urged by Gifford to review this book, which he objected to do
upon the plea of being a “very poor Italian scholar, and not at all read in
Milton, whom,” he continues, “I freely confess I do not understand sufficiently to be in the same raptures with, which our countrymen, in general, think it a national duty to feel.” To this my father replies;—

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Jan. 6. 1809.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“You make a confession respecting Milton which nine hundred and ninety-nine persons out of the thousand would make if they were honest enough; for his main excellencies are like M. Angelo’s, only to be thoroughly appreciated by an artist. This, however, by no means incapacitates you from reviewing Hayley’s book, in which your business lies with Cowper and with his biographer, one of whose works (his Animal Ballads) I once reviewed by quoting from O’Keefe’s song,—Hayley, gaily, gamboraily, higgledy, pigglegy, galloping, draggle-tail, dreary dun. Hayley, as Miss Seward has just remarked to me in a letter, is perfectly insane upon the subject of Cowper’s resemblance to Milton; there is no other resemblance between them than that both wrote in blank verse—but blank verse as different as possible. You may compare Cowper’s translations (which, I suppose are very bad, as many of his lesser pieces are, and as Miss Seward tells me) with Langhorne’s; and you may estimate Cowper himself as a poet, as a man of intellect, and as a translator of Homer, showing that he is not over-valued; but
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 205
that his popularity is owing to his piety, not his poetry, and that that piety was craziness. I like his letters, but think their so great popularity one of the very many proofs of the imbecility of the age. By-the-by, a very pretty piece of familiar verse, by Cowper, appeared, about two years ago, in the
Monthly Magazine.

“Ah, Grosvenor! the very way in which you, admire that passage in Kehama* convinces me that it ought not to be there. Did I not tell you it was clap-trappish? you are clapping as hard as you can to prove the truth of my opinion. That it grew there naturally is certain, but does it suit with the poem? is it of a piece or colour with the whole? Is not the poet speaking in himself, whereas the whole character of the poem requires that he should be out of himself! I know very well that three parts of the public will agree with you in calling it the best thing in the poem; but my poem ought to have no things which do not necessarily belong to it. There will be a great deal to do to it, and a good deal is already done in the preceding parts.

“I have long expected a schism between the Grenvilles and the Foxites. Jeffrey has been trying to unite the Opposition and the Jacobins, as they are called. He hurts the Opposition, and he wrongs the Jacobins; he hurts the former by associating them with a name that is still unpopular, and he wrongs the friends of liberty by supposing that they are not the deadliest enemies of Bonaparte. Walter Scott,

* See Curse of Kehama, Canto x. verse 20. commencing—
“They sin who tell us love can die.”

whom I look upon as as complete an Anti-Jacobin as need be, does not sing out more loudly, ‘Fight on my merry men all!’ than I do.
General Moore must feel himself stronger than we have supposed him to be, or he would not advance into the plains of Castille. If he have 40,000, he will beat twice the number; and, for my own part, superior as he is in cavalry and artillery (ours being the best in the world), I do not see what we have to fear from numbers against him, for nothing can withstand our cavalry in a flat country. You know, Grosvenor, I never felt a fear till it was said he was retreating, and now that he is marching on, all my apprehensions are over. Huzza! it will be Rule Britannia by land as well as by sea.

“I have had a grievous cold, which has prevented me from rising as soon as it is light, and thereby, for awhile, stopped Kehama. This evening I have corrected the fourth sheet of Brazil; the volume will be ready in the spring. I am now busy in filling up some skeleton chapters in the middle of the volume. This will be as true a history, and as industriously and painfully made, as ever yet appeared; yet I cannot say that I expect much present approbation for it. It is deficient in fine circumstances; and as for what is called fine writing, the public will get none of that article from me; sound sense, sound philosophy, and sound English I will give them.

“I was beginning to wonder what was become of Wynn. Can you procure for me a copy of the report of the Court of Inquiry, or will you ask Rickman if he can? I do not write to him till the
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 207
season of franking returns. I shall want it hereafter as one of my documents.
Lord Moira has risen in my estimation; he is the only person who seems to have had anything like a feeling of the moral strength which was on our side, and which we completely gave up by the convention. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Dreadnought.
“Keswick, Jan. 10. 1809.
“My dear Tom,

“I have corrected five sheets of the Brazil; and am now hard at work in transcribing, and filling up skeleton chapters; that in particular which contains everything concerning my friends the Tupinambas that has not inadvertently been said before. I wish you were here to hear it, as it gets on. There is a great pleasure in reading these things to any one who takes an interest in them,—and like our toast at breakfast, they seem the better for coming in fresh and fresh. I made an important discovery relative to De Lery—one of my best printed authorities,—this morning. This author, who though a Frenchman, was a very faithful writer, translated his own French into Latin, and I used the Latin edition in De Boy’s collection,—you remember the book with those hideous prints of the savages at their cannibal feasts;—William Taylor laid hands on the French book, and sent it me; it arrived last Thursday only; and I, in transcribing with my usual scrupulous accuracy, constantly referred to this original, because I
knew that when an author translates his own book, he often alters it, and therefore it was probable that I might sometimes find a difference worthy of notice. Well, I found my own references to the number of the chapter wrong; for the first time it past well enough for a blunder, though I wondered at it a little, being remarkably exact in these things; the second time I thought it very extraordinary; and a third instance made me quite certain that something was wrong, but that the fault was not in me. Upon examination, it appeared that a whole chapter, and that chapter the most important as to the historical part of the volume, had been omitted by De Boy, because he was a Catholic, De Lery a Huguenot, and this chapter exposed the villany of
Villegagnon, who went to Brazil expressly to establish an asylum for the Huguenots; when there, was won over by the Guises, apostatised, and thus ruined a colony, which must else inevitably have made Rio de Janeiro now the capital of a French, instead of a Portuguese empire. The main facts I had collected before, and clearly understood; but the knavery of a Roman Catholic editor had thus nearly deprived me of my best and fullest authority, and of some very material circumstances, for no one has ever yet suspected this collection of being otherwise than faithful, though it is now more than two hundred years old. See here the necessity of tracing every thing to the fountain-head when it is possible.

“What you said about transports I repeated to Bedford: he made inquiry, and understood the objection came from the navy captains, who did not like
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 209
to have their ships encumbered, or to feel as if they were transports. I repeated it to
Coleridge and Wordsworth, and through them it has reached Stuart, and got into the Courier, whether or not with effect time will show; but there is nothing like sending so obvious a truth afloat: it will find its way sooner or later. I see the captains are petitioning for an increase of pay; they will get it to be sure, and then the increase must extend to you also.

“Things in Spain look well. Bonaparte’s bulletins prove beyond all doubt that every heart is against him, and his threat of taking the crown himself is the perfect frenzy of anger. Sir John Moore’s movements backward and forwards, have been mere moves at chess to gain time, and wait for a blunder on the part of the adversary,—so Bedford tells me; and his intelligence is good, coming from Herries, who is Perceval’s secretary, and Gifford, who is in Canning’s confidence. Moore is a very able man, and is acting with a boldness which gives everybody confidence that knows him. He will beat twice his own number of Frenchmen; and I do not think greater odds can be brought against him. It looks well, that in this fresh embarkation, the officers are desired not to take more baggage than they can carry themselves. At him, Trojan! We shall beat him, Tom, upon Spanish ground. Let but our men fairly see the faces of the French in battle, and they will soon see their backs too.

“The Grenvilles and Foxites are likely to separate upon the question of peace. Canning hankers after the Grenvilles, and would do much to bring them in
with him, instead of his wretched associates. They are not popular; but if they had courage to make a home charge upon the
Duke of York, and insist upon his removal as a preliminary and sine qua non to their going in, that measure would win them a popularity which would carry them in in spite of every obstacle. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Dreadnought.
“Keswick, Feb. 3. 1809.

“We want a Nelson in the army. Poor Sir John Moore was too cautious a man. He waited in distrust of the Spaniards, to see what course the war would take, instead of being on the spot, to make it take the course he wished. When Hope was at the passes of the Guadarrama mountain, he and the rest of the army should have been at Samosierra, the other key to Madrid. There would have been reinforcements sent, if he had not positively written to have empty transports; and the men were, therefore, disembarked. Had there been twenty thousand fresh troops at Corunna, to have met the French, what a victory should we have obtained; when even with the wreck of an army, foot-sore, broken-hearted, and half starved, we defeated them so completely at the last! One thing results from this action,—the fear of invasion must be at rest for ever. We can beat the French under every possible disadvantage, and
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 211
with two, almost indeed three to one, against us. Come, then,
Bonaparte! the sooner the better.

“Ministers are jarring with each other. It is Canning who stands up for Spain; and I learn from Walter Scott, that they will stand by the Spaniards to the last, cost what it may. But they paralyse one another, and the rest of the Cabinet—by meeting him half way, doing half what he proposes—utterly undoes everything. Still if we had a few such men as Cochrane in the army—men who would have the same faith in British bottom by land as we have at sea; that faith would redeem us. To be upon the defensive in the field is ruin. Men never can win a battle unless they are determined to win it, and expect to win it; and that cannot be the case when they wait to be attacked. 100,000 men in Spain would overthrow and destroy Bonaparte; but we send them in batches to be cut up. We squander the strength of the country, we waste the blood of the country, we sacrifice the honour of the country, and bring upon ourselves a disgrace, which Bonaparte, were he ten times more powerful than he is, could never inflict upon us, were there but true wisdom and right courage in our rulers.

“But though Bonaparte may take the country, he cannot keep it. He would not have done what he has, if the Spaniards had proclaimed a republic; for which, you may remember, I pointed out the peculiar fitness which their separate states afforded.

“The new review is to be called the Quarterly, and will, I suppose soon start. I fancy W. Scott has
taken care of
the Cid there. Of the new edition of Thalaba, nine books are printed. It would be convenient if I could borrow from my Hindoo gods a few of their supernumerary heads and hands, for I find more employment than my present complement can get through.

“Holding that my face will ‘carry off a drab,’ I have a new coat of that complexion just come home from Johnny Cockbains, the king of the tailors.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Mr. Ebenezer Elliott.
“Keswick, Feb. 3. 1809.

“Yesterday I received your note enclosing the specimen of your poems. I have perused that specimen, but my advice cannot be comprised in a few words.

“A literary, as well as a medical opinion, Mr. Elliott, must needs be blindly given, unless the age and circumstances of the person who requires it are known. When I advised Henry White to publish a second volume of poems, it was because he had fixed his heart upon a University education, and this seemed to be a feasible method of raising funds for that end; his particular circumstances rendering that prudent which would otherwise have been very much the reverse. For poetry is not a marketable article unless there be something strange or
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 213
peculiar to give it a fashion; and in his case what money might possibly have been raised, would, in almost every instance, have been considered rather as given to the author than paid for his book. Your poem would not find purchasers except in the circle of your own friends; out of that circle not twenty copies would be sold. I believe not half that number.

“You are probably a young man, Sir, and it is plain from this specimen that you possess more than one of those powers which form the poet, and those in a far more than ordinary degree. Whether your plans of life are such as to promise leisure for that attention (almost it might be said that devotement), without which no man can ever become a great poet, you yourself must know. If they should, you will in a very few years have outgrown this poem, and would then be sorry to see it in print, irrecoverably given to the public, because you would feel it to be an inadequate proof of your own talents. If, on the other hand, you consider poetry as merely an amusement or an ornament of youth, to be laid aside in riper years for the ordinary pursuits of the world, with still less indulgence will you then regard the printed volume, for you will reckon it among the follies of which you are ashamed. In either case it is best not to publish.

“It is far, very far from my wish to discourage or depress you. There is great promise in this specimen; it has all the faults which I should wish to see in the writings of a young poet, as the surest indications that he has that in him which will enable him
to become a good one. But no young man can possibly write a good narrative poem; though I believe he cannot by any other means so effectually improve himself as by making the attempt. I myself published
one at the age of twenty-one: it made a reputation for me,—not so much by its merits, as because it was taken up by one party, and abused by another, almost independently of its merits or demerits, at a time when party-spirit was more violent than it is to be hoped it will ever be again. What has been the consequences of this publication? That the poem from beginning to end was full of incorrect language and errors of every kind; that all the weeding of years could never weed it clean; and that many people at this day rate me, not according to the standard of my present intellect, but by what it was fourteen years ago. Your subject, also, has the same disadvantage with mine, that it is anti-national: and believe me, this is a grievous one; for though we have both been right in our feelings, yet to feel against our own country can only be right upon great and transitory occasions, and none but our contemporaries can feel with us,—none but those who remember the struggle and took part in it. And you are more unfortunate than I was, for America is acting at this time unnaturally against England; and every reader will feel this; and his sense of what the Americans are now, will make him fancy that you paint falsely in describing them as they were then. There is yet another reason—criticism is conducted upon a different plan from what it was when I commenced my career. You live near the
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
Dragon of Wantley’s den; but you will provoke enemies as venemous if you publish; and Heaven knows whether or no you are gifted with armour of proof against them. Nor is it the effect that malicious censure and ridicule might produce upon your own feelings which is of so much importance, as what would be produced upon your friends. They who are so only in name will derive a provoking pleasure from seeing you laughed at and abused; they who love you will feel more pain than you yourself, because you will and must have a higher confidence in yourself, and a stronger conviction of injustice than they can be supposed to possess.

“The sum of my advice is—do not publish this poem; but if you can without grievous imprudence afford to write poetry, continue so to do, because, hereafter, you will write it well. As yet you have only green fruit to offer; wait a season, and there will be a fair and full gathering when it is ripe.

Robert Southey.”
To Walter Savage Landor, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb, 9. 1809.

“You have a bill coming before Parliament. The Speaker’s secretary happens to be one of my very intimate friends, and one of the men in the world for whom I have the highest respect. It may be some convenience to you on this occasion to know him, because he can give you every necessary information respecting Parliamentary business, and thus, perhaps,
spare you some needless trouble; and there needs no other introduction than knocking at his door and sending up your name, with which he is well acquainted.
Rickman is his name; and you will find it over his door, in St. Stephen’s Court, New Palace Yard, next door to the Speaker’s. I will tell you what kind of man he is. His outside has so little polish about it, that once having gone from Christchurch to Pool, in his own boat, he was taken by the press-gang,—his robust figure, hard-working hands, and strong voice all tending to deceive them. A little of this is worn off. He is the strongest and clearest-headed man that I have ever known. ‘Pondere, numero et mensurâ,’ is his motto; but to all things he carries the same reasoning and investigating intellect as to mathematical science, and will find out in Homer and the Bible facts necessarily to be inferred from the text, and which yet have as little been supposed to be there intimated, as the existence of metal was suspected in potash before Davy detected it there. I have often said that I learnt how to see for the purposes of poetry from Gebir, how to read for the purposes of history from Rickman. His manners are stoical; they are like the husk of the cocoa nut, and his inner nature is like the milk within its kernel. When I go to London I am always his guest. He gives me but half his hand when he welcomes me at the door, but I have his whole heart,—and there is not that thing in the world which he thinks would serve or gratify me that he does not do for me, unless it be something which he thinks I can as well do myself. The sub-
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 217
ject which he best understands is political economy. Were there but half a dozen such men in the House of Commons, there would be courage, virtue, and wisdom enough there to save this country from that revolution to which It Is so certainly approaching.

“I should not have written just now, had it not been to mention Rickman; thinking that you may find it useful to know him; for I wished when writing to tell you of Kehama; a good many interruptions have occurred to delay my progress, indispositions of my own, or of the children,—the latter the only things concerning which I am anxious over much. At present my wife i seriously ill, and when I shall be sufficiently at rest to do anything—God knows. Another heat will finish the poem.

Coleridge’s essay* is expected to start in March.

“My uncle, Mr. Hill, is settled at his parsonage, at Staunton-upon-Wye,—in that savage part of the world to which your cedar plantation will give new beauty, and your name new interest when those cedars shall have given place to their offspring: it is probable that you have no other neighbour so well informed within the same distance. Next year, God willing, I shall travel to the South, and halt with him; it is likely I may then find you out, either at Llantony or somewhere in the course of a wide circuit. Meantime I will still hope that some fair breeze of inclination may send you here to talk about Spain, to plan a great poem, and to cruise with me about Derwentwater. God bless you!

R. Southey.”

* The Friend.

To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“Feb. 12. 1809.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“How shall I thank you for the pleasure and delight of your excellent and pretty letter, enclosing the half quarter of my poor mutilated pension? That pension makes me disposed to swear every time it comes.

“I have been busy in using borrowed books, which were to be returned with great speed, and which were like woodcocks, all trail. They cost me three weeks’ incessant application,—that is, all the application I could command. I waited to begin a new article for the Quarterly till the first number was published; and as that is so near at hand, will begin to-morrow. But if Gifford likes my pattern-work, he should send me more cloth to cut; he should send me Travels, which I review better than anything else. I am impatient to see the first number. Young lady never felt more desirous to see herself in a new ball-dress, than I do to see my own performance in print, often as that gratification falls to my lot. The reason is, that in the multiplicity of my employments, I forget the form and manner of everything as soon as it is out of sight, and they come to me like pleasant recollections of what I wish to remember. Besides, the thing looks differently in print. In short, Mr. Bedford, there are a great many philosophical reasons for this fancy of mine, and one of the best of all reasons is, that I hold it good to make everything a pleasure which it is possible to make so. And these sort of Claude’s
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 219
spectacles are very convenient things for a man who lives in a land of rain and clouds; they make an artificial sunshine for what some people would call gloomy weather. . . . .

“God bless you! In a few days I will create leisure for another number of Kehama. I have not written a line of it these last two months: first, I was indisposed myself; then the children were; lastly, my wife. Anxiety unfits me for anything that requires feeling as well as thought. I can labour, I can think,—thought and labour will not produce poetry.

In haste,
Robert Southey.”
To John May, Esq.
“Keswick, Feb. 16. 1809.
“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . What is your Lisbon news? Notwithstanding the Duke of York and Mrs. Clarke, I think of those countries; and notwithstanding the disasters which our gross misconduct could not fail to bring on, my confidence in the ultimate success of a good cause remains undiminished. I could have wished, indeed, that the work of reformation, which Joseph Bonaparte is beginning, had been begun by the junta; that they had called the principle of liberty as well as of loyalty to their aid, and made freedom their watchword as well as the Virgin Mary, for she may
be on both sides. Certainly it was not easy to do this; and I have always suspected that those leaders such as
Palafox, who might have wished to do it, bore in mind the first great struggle of the Portuguese against Castille, when the infante Don João, a prisoner, and in chains, served as João the First’s stalking-horse, and was painted upon his banner, till he found he could safely assume the crown himself. The convenience of such a name as Ferdinand, and the stain which France has brought upon the very name of republicanism, were causes which might well induce a timid, and therefore a feeble, line of conduct. . . . . Why is Bonaparte gone to Paris at such a time? If any change in the north should call him into Germany, with only part of his army, the tide will roll back, and King Joseph be forced a second time to decamp. Meantime I expect a desperate resistance about the southern coast, wherever our ships can be of use. Is it possible we can leave Elvas without seeing it well garrisoned? the place is absolutely impregnable. Moore would have done wisely had he fallen back upon the frontier, where there was a double line of fortified towns, into which he might have thrown his troops whenever he felt it necessary to leave the mountains; and against those fortresses the French would have wasted, and must have divided their force, allowing us time to send out another army. Regular armies in such wars as this must always be successful in the field, but they have always met their chief disasters before fortified towns; tactics are nothing there, individual courage everything; and women and children fight by the
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 221
side of their husbands or their fathers, from the window, on the housetops, or on the walls.

“Have you seen William Taylor’s Defence of the Slave Trade in Bolinbroke’s Voyage to the Demerary? It is truly William Taylorish; thoroughly ingenious, as usual, but not ingenuous; he weakens the effect of his own arguments by keeping the weak side of his cause altogether out of sight. In defending the slave trade, as respects the duty of man towards man, he has utterly failed; he has succeeded in what you and I shall think of more consequence,—in showing what the probable end is for which wise Providence has so long permitted the existence of so great an evil. . . . .

Believe me,
Yours very affectionately,
Robert Southey.”
To W. Gifford, Esq.
“Keswick, March 6. 1809.

“Your letter, and its enclosed draft, reached me this afternoon. I have to acknowledge the one, and thank you for the other. It gratifies me that you approve my defence of the missionaries, because I am desirous of such approbation; and it will gratify me if it should be generally approved, because I wrote from a deep and strong conviction of the importance of the subject. With respect to any alterations in this or any future communication, I am
perfectly sensible that absolute authority must always be vested in the editor. The printer has done some mischief by misplacing a paragraph in p. 225., which ought to have followed the quotation in the preceding page. The beginning of the last paragraph is made unintelligible by this dislocation; and indeed you have omitted the sarcasm, which it was designed to justify. I could have wished that this
Review had less resembled the Edinburgh in the tone and temper of its criticisms. That book of Miss Owenson’s is, I dare say, very bad both in manners and morals; yet, had it fallen into my hands, I think I could have told her so in such a spirit, that she herself would have believed me, and might have profited by the censure. The same quantity of rain which would clear a flower of its blights, will, if it falls heavier and harder, wash the roots bare, and beat the blossoms to the ground. I have been in the habit of reviewing more than eleven years, for the lucre of gain, and not, God knows, from any liking to the occupation; and of all my literary misdeeds, the only ones of which I have repented have been those reviewals which were written with undue asperity, so as to give unnecessary pain. I propose to continue the subject of the Missions through two other articles, neither of which will probably be half so long as the first; one respecting the South Sea Islands, the other South Africa. Lord Valentia’s book I shall be glad to receive, and any others which you may think proper to entrust to me. Two things I can promise,—perfect sincerity in what I write without the slightest assumption of knowledge which
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 223
I do not possess; and a punctuality not to be exceeded by that of
Mr. Murray’s opposite neighbours at St. Dunstan’s.

I am, Sir,
Yours very respectfully,
Robert Southey.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Dreadnought.
“Keswick, March 14. 1809.
“My dear Tom,

“Yesterday I returned from a visit to Henry and his bride. . . . . He lives in a street called by the unaccountable name of Old Elvet. A lucky opening on the opposite side of the way leaves him a good view of the cathedral on the hill, and the river is within a stone’s throw of his back-door. Durham stands upon a peninsula,—that is to say, the main part of it,—a high bank, on which is the cathedral, and the castle, and the best houses; and there are delightful walks below, such as no other city can boast, through fine old trees on the river’s bank, from whence you look to the noble building on the opposite side, and see one bridge through the other. Harry is well off there, getting rapidly into practice, and living among all sorts of people,—prebends and Roman Catholics, fox- hunters and old women, with all of whom he seems to accord equally well. . . . It is a place where any person might live contentedly. Among all these thousand and one
acquaintances there are some whom one might soon learn to love, and a great many with whom to be amused, and none that are insufferable. One day I dined with
Dr. Zouch, who wrote the Life of Sir P. Sidney. I never saw a gentler-minded man; the few sentences of bigotry which he has written must have cost him strange efforts to bring forth, for I do not think a harsh expression ever could pass his lips, nor a harsh feeling ever enter his heart. In spite of his deafness, I contrived to have a good deal of talk with him. Dr. Bell was there, the original transplanter of that Hindoo system of teaching which Lancaster has adopted. He is a great friend of Coleridge’s; a man pleasant enough, certes a great benefactor to his country, but a little given to flattery, and knowing less about India than a man ought to know who has lived there. Another day I dined with Dr. Fenwick, the ex-physician of the place. There we drank the Arch-duke Charles’s health in Tokay, a wine which I had never before tasted. This is the first victory by which I ever got anything. The Tokay proved prolific. Harry’s next door neighbour was one of the party, and fancied some unknown wine which had been presented to him might be the same as this; and he proposed, as we walked home, to bring in a bottle and sup with us. I, however, recognised it for Old Sack,—itself no bad thing.

“On Monday last, after a week’s visit, I took coach where I had appointed, to pass a day with James Losh, whom you know I have always
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 225
mentioned as coming nearer the ideal of a perfect man than any other person whom it has ever been my good fortune to know; so gentle, so pious, so zealous in all good things, so equal-minded, so manly, so without speck or stain in his whole habits of life. I slept at his house, which is two miles from Newcastle, and the next day took the mail to Carlisle. It is an interesting road, frequently in sight of the Tyne before you reach Hexham, and then as frequently along the Eden. We reached Carlisle at ten o’clock. Yesterday I rose at five, and walked to Hesket to breakfast, fourteen miles; a mile lost on the way made it fifteen. There was many a gentle growl within for the last five miles. From thence another stage of fourteen brought me home by half after two,—a good march, performed with less fatigue than any other of equal length in the whole course of my pedestrian campaigns.

“I found all well at home, God be praised! Your letter was waiting for me, and one from Gifford, containing 16l. 8s. for my article in the second Quarterly, with quant. suff. of praise, which I put down to the account of due desert. He has a reviewal of Holmes’s American Annals in his hands for the third number. I am about the Polynesian Mission, and am to have Lord Valencia’s Travels as soon as they appear. He requested me to choose any subjects I pleased. I have named Barlow’s Columbiad, Elton’s Hesiod, and Whitaker’s Life of St. Neots; and I have solicited the office of justifying Frere against Sir John Moore’s friends. . . . . Send for Words-
pamphlet*: the more you read it the higher will be your admiration

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Richard Duppa, Esq.
“March 31. 1809.
“My dear Duppa,

“I am sorry for your loss,—a heavy one under any circumstances, and particularly so to one who, being single at your time of life, will now feel more entirely what it is to have no person who intimately loves him. It is not in the order of nature that there should ever be a void in the heart of man,—the old leaves should not fall from the tree till the young ones are expanding to supply their place.

“I have now three girls living, and as delightful a playfellow in the shape of a boy as ever man was blest with. Very often, when I look at them, I think what a fit thing it would be that Malthus should be hanged.

“You may have known that I have some dealings, in the way of trade, with your bookseller, Murray. One article of mine is in his first Quarterly, and he has bespoken more. Whenever I shall have the satisfaction of seeing you once more under this roof, it will amuse you to see how dextrously Gifford

* On the Convention of Cintra.

Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 227
emasculated this article of mine of its most forcible parts. I amused myself one morning with putting them all in again, and restoring vigour, consistency, and connection to the whole. It is certainly true that his Majesty gives me a pension of 200l. a-year, out of which his Majesty deducts 60l. and a few shillings; but, if his Majesty trebled or decupled the pension, and remitted the whole taxation, it would be the same thing. The treasury should never bribe, nor his judges deter me from delivering a full and free opinion upon any subject which seems to me to call for it. If I hate
Bonaparte, and maintain that this country never ought to accept of any peace while that man is Emperor of France, it is precisely upon the same principle that I formerly disliked Pitt, and maintained that we never ought to have gone to war.

“I am glad you have been interested by the Cid; it is certainly the most curious chronicle in existence. In the course of the summer,—I hope early in it,—you will see the first volume of my History of Brazil, of which nine-and-twenty sheets are printed. This book has cost me infinite labour. The Cid was an easy task; of that no other copy was made than what went to the press; of this every part has been twice written, many parts three times, and all with my own hand. For this I expect to get a sufficient quantity of abuse, and little else; money is only to be got by such productions as are worth nothing more than what they fetch per sheet. I could get my thousand a-year, if I would but do my best en-
deavours to be dull, and aim at nothing higher than Reviews and Magazines.

“God bless you!

Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”
To Walter Savage Landor, Esq.
“April 23. 1809.

“I shall send three sections of Kehama to meet you in London; three more will complete it, and would have so done before this time had all things been going on well with me. I had a daughter born on the 27th last month; a few days after the birth her mother was taken ill, and for some time there was cause of serious alarm. This, God be thanked, is over. The night before last we had another alarm of the worst kind, though happily this also is passing away. My little boy went to bed with some slight indications of a trifling cold. His mother went up as usual to look at him before supper; she thought he coughed in a strange manner, called me, and I instantly recognised the sound of the croup. We have a good apothecary within three minutes’ walk, and luckily he was at home. He immediately confirmed our fears. The child was taken out of bed and bled in the jugular vein, a blister placed on the throat next morning, and by these vigorous and timely remedies we hope and trust the disease is subdued. But what a twelve hours did we pass, knowing the nature of the disease, and only hoping
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 229
the efficacy of the remedy. Even now I am far, very far, from being at ease. There is a love which passeth the love of women, and which is more lightly alarmed than the wakefullest jealousy.

Landor, I am not a stoic at home: I feel as you do about the fall of an old tree; but, O Christ! what a pang it is to look upon the young shoot and think it will be cut down. And this is the thought which almost at all times haunts me; it comes upon me In moments when I know not whether the tears that start are of love or of bitterness. There is an evil, too. In seeing all things like a poet; circumstances which would glide over a healthier mind sink into mine; every thing comes to me with its whole force,—the full meaning of a look, a gesture, a child’s imperfect speech, I can perceive, and cannot help perceiving; and thus am I made to remember what I would give the world to forget.

“Enough, and too much of this. The leaven of anxiety is working in my whole system; I will try to quiet it by forcing myself to some other subject.

“What prevented Gebir from being read by the foolish? I believe the main reason was, that it is too hard for them; more than that, it was too good. That they should understand its merits was not to be expected; but they did not find meaning enough upon the surface to make them fancy they understood it. Why should you not write a poem as good, and more intelligible, and display the same powers upon a happier subject? Yet certain it is, that Gebir excited far more attention than you seem to be aware of. Two manifest imitations have appeared—
Rough’s Play of the Conspiracy of Gowrie, and the first part of Sotheby’s Saul. When Gifford published his Juvenal, one of the most base attacks that ever disgraced a literary journal was made upon it in the Critical Review by some one of the heroes of his Baviad. Gifford wrote an angry reply, in which he brought forward all the offences of the Review for many years back; one of those offences was its praise of Gebir. I laughed when I heard this, guessing pretty well at the nature of Gifford’s feelings; for I had been the reviewer of whose partiality he complained. Gebir came to me with a parcel of other poems, which I was to kill off. I was young in the trade, and reviewed it injudiciously, so that every body supposed it to be done by some friend of the author. For I analysed the story; studded it with as many beautiful extracts as they would allow room for; praised its merits almost up to the height of my feelings, and never thought of telling the reader that if he went to the book itself he would find any more difficulty in comprehending it than he found in that abstract. Thus, instead of serving the poem, I in reality injured it. The world, now-a-days, never believes praise to be sincere; men are so accustomed to hunt for faults, that they will not think any person can honestly express unmingled admiration.

“I once passed an evening with Professor Young at Davy’s. The conversation was wholly scientific, and of course I was a listener. But I have heard the history of Thomas Young, as he is still called by those who knew him when he was a Quaker; and
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 231
believe him to be a very able man; generally speaking, I have little liking for men of science: their pursuits seem to deaden the imagination, and harden the heart; they are so accustomed to analyse and anatomise every thing, to understand, or fancy they understand, whatever comes before them, that they frequently become mere materialists, account for every thing by mechanism and motion, and would put out of the world all that makes the world endurable. I do not undervalue their knowledge, nor the utility of their discoveries; but I do not like the men. My own nature requires something more than they teach; it pants after things unseen; it exists upon the hope of that better futurity which all its aspirations promise and seem to prove.

“God bless you!

R. S.”
To Grosvenor C. Bedford, Esq.
“April 30. 1809.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“It would not be easy to tell you all I have suffered since Tuesday night, when Herbert was seized with the croup. God be praised! the disease seems to be subdued; but he is still in a state to make us very anxious: pale with loss of blood, his neck blistered, and fevered by the fretfulness the blister occasions. The poor child has been so used to have me for his play-fellow, that he will have me for his nurse, and you may imagine with what feelings I
endeavour to amuse him. But, thank God! he is living, and likely to live.

“Almost the only wish I ever give utterance to is, that the next hundred years were over. It is not that the uses of this world seem to me weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,—God knows far otherwise! No man can be better contented with his lot. My paths are paths of pleasantness. I am living happily, and to the best of my belief fulfilling, as far as I am able, the purposes for which I was created. Still the instability of human happiness is ever before my eyes; I long for the certain and the permanent; and, perhaps, my happiest moments are those when I am looking on to another state of being, in which there shall be no other change than that of progressing in knowledge, and thereby in power and enjoyment.

“I have suffered some sorrow in my time, and expect to suffer much more; but looking into my own heart, I do not believe that a single pang could have been spared. My Herbert says to me, ‘O you are very naughty,’ when I hold his hands while his neck is dressed. I have as deep a conviction that whatever affliction I have ever endured, or yet have to endure, is dispensed to me in mercy and in love, as he will have for my motives for inflicting pain upon him now—if it should please God that he should ever live to understand them.

“It is three months before the third Quarterly will appear, and by that time present topics will have become stale; but I wish you would let Gifford know, that if the subject is not out of time, and it be thought fit to notice it, I will right zealously and
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 233
fearlessly undertake a justification of Frere’s conduct, which we in this part of the country do entirely approve. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Dreadnought.
“Keswick, Monday, May 22. 1809.
“My dear Tom,

“My last letter told you of Herbert’s danger, and his recovery. You will be a little shocked at the intelligence in this. We lost Emma yesterday night. Five days ago she was in finer health than we had ever seen her, and I repeatedly remarked it. For a day or two she had been ailing; on Saturday night breathed shortly, and was evidently ill. Edmondson repeatedly saw her, thought her better at ten o’clock, and assured us he saw no danger. In half an hour she literally fell asleep without a struggle. Edith is as well as should be expected, and I, perhaps, better. You know how I take tooth-ache and tooth drawings, and I have almost learnt to bear moral pain, not, indeed, with the same levity, but with as few outward and visible signs. In fact, God be thanked for it, there never was a man who had more entirely set his heart upon things permanent and eternal than I have done; the transitoriness of everything here is always present to my feeling as well as my understanding. Were I to speak as sincerely of my family as Wordsworth’s little girl, my story—that I have five children; three of them at home, and two under
my mother’s care in heaven.——No more of this; and, to convince you that I am not more unhappy than I profess, I will fill up the sheet, instead of sending you a mere annotation of this loss. It is well you left her such an infant, for you are thus spared some sorrow.

Ballantyne has just sent me a present of Campbell’s new poem, and enclosed the last Edinburgh Review in the parcel. They have taken occasion there, under cover of a methodist’s book, to attempt an answer to my Missionary Defence. I hear from all quarters that this article of mine has excited much notice, and produced considerable effect. I had the great advantage of being in earnest, as well as thoroughly understanding the subject. The Edinburgh reviewer knew nothing of Hindoo history except what newspapers and pamphlets had taught him. . . . No wonder, therefore, that I should have the upper hand of such a man in the argument.

Campbell’s poem has disappointed his friends, Ballantyne tells me. It is, however, better than I expected, except in story, which is meagre. This gentleman, also, who is one of Wordsworth’s abusers, has been nibbling at imitation, and palpably borrowed from the two poems of Ruth and The Brothers. ’Tis amusing envy! to see how the race of borrowers upon all occasions abuse us who do not borrow. The main topic against me is, that I do not imitate Virgil in my story. Pope in my language, &c. &c.

Scott is still detained in London, and this will prevent me from going with him to Edinburgh. Indeed, if engagements had not existed, I could not
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 235
have left home now, for
Edith will find it melancholy enough for some time to come with me, and without me it would be worse. Herbert, thank God, seems well; seems is all one dares say: of all precarious things there is nothing so precarious as life. You would have been delighted with your eldest niece if you could have seen the sorrow she was in this morning, for fear her mother should die for grief: and then she said she should die too, and then her papa would die for grief about her. Just now, Tom, it might have been happier for you and me if we had gone to bed as early as John and Eliza; a hundred years hence the advantage will be on our side. . . . . My notions about life are much the same as they are about travelling,—there is a good deal of amusement on the road, but, after all, one wants to be at rest. Evils of this kind—if they may be called evils—soon cure themselves; the wound smarts, in a little while it heals, and, if the scar did not sometimes renew the recollection of the smart, it would, perhaps, be forgotten.

“My History gets on; the proof before me reaches to page 336.: I look at it with great pleasure. Whether I may live to complete the series of works which I have projected, and, in good part, executed, God only knows; be that as it may, in what is done I shall, to the best of my power, have on all occasions enforced good opinions upon those subjects which are of most importance to mankind.

“God bless you! It is long since I have heard from you; what can you be cruising after? Things
go on well in Spain, and will go on better when the
Wellesleys get there. Once more, God bless you!

R. S.”

In the preceding letter my father refers to an intention of accompanying Sir Walter Scott to Edinburgh; which could not be carried into effect, owing to the latter having been detained in London. While there, with characteristic friendliness, he had been using his influence in my father’s behalf with his friends connected with the Government, and he now thus communicates to him his expectations of success, expressing his hope that they would still be able to travel in company to Scotland.

“I have much to say to you about the Quarterly Review, Rhadamanthus*, &c. I do not apprehend that there is any great risk of our politics differing when there are so many strings in unison, but it may doubtless happen. Meanwhile, every one is grateful for your curious and invaluable article: and this leads me to a subject which I would rather have spoken than written upon, but the doubt of seeing you obliges me to touch upon it. George Ellis and I have both seen a strong desire in Mr. Canning to be of service to you in any way within his power that could be pointed out, and this without any reference to political opinions. An official situation in his own department was vacant, and, I believe, still is so; but it occurred to George

* This refers to a scheme of my father’s (which Ballantyne was at one time anxious to engage in) for a Review “to exclude all contemporary publications, and to select its subjects from all others.” The plan, however, was never matured.

Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 237
Ellis and me that the salary—300l. a-year—was inadequate for an office occupying much time, and requiring constant attendance. But there are professors’ chairs both in England and Scotland frequently vacant; and there is hardly one, except such as are absolutely professional, for which you are not either fitted already, or capable of making yourself so on a short notice. There are also diplomatic and other situations, should you prefer them to the groves of Academus. . . . Mr. Canning’s opportunities to serve you will soon be numerous, or they will be gone altogether, for he is of a different mould from the rest of his colleagues, and a decided foe to those half measures which I know you detest as much as I do. It is not his fault that the cause of Spain is not at this moment triumphant. This I know, and there will come a time when the world will know it too. . . . . Think over the thing in your own mind, and let it, if possible, determine you on your northern journey. What would I not give to secure you a chair in our northern metropolis! . . . . I ought in conscience to have made ten thousand pretty detours about all this, and paid some glowing compliments both to the minister and the bard; but they may all be summed up by saying, in one sober word, that Mr. C. could not have entertained a thought more honourable to himself, and, knowing him as I do, I must add, more honourable and flattering to your genius and learning.”*

My father’s reply was as follows:—

* London, June 14. 1809.

To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswick, June 16. 1809,
“Dear Scott,

“My friends leave Bristol on Monday next, on their way hither; you thus perceive how impossible it is that I can now accompany you to Edinburgh, as I should else willingly have done.

“The latter part of your letter requires a confidential answer. I once wished to reside in Portugal, because the great object of my literary life related to that country: I loved the country, and had then an uncle settled there. Before Fox came into power this was told him by Charles Wynn, and, when he was in power, he was asked by Wynn to send me there. It so happened that John Allen wanted something which was in Lord Grenville’s gift, and this was given him on condition that Fox, in return, provided for me. There were two things in Portugal which I could hold—the consulship, or the secretaryship of legation. The former was twice given away, but that Fox said was too good a thing for me; the latter he promised if an opportunity occurred of promoting Lord Strangford, and that never took place. Grey was reminded of his predecessor’s engagement, and expressed no disinclination to fulfil it. The party got turned out; and one of the last things Lord Grenville did was to give me a pension of 200l. Till that time, I had received one of 160l. from Charles W. Wynn, my oldest surviving friend. The exchange leaves me something the poorer, as
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 239
the Exchequer deducts above sixty pounds. This is all I have. Half my time I sell to the booksellers; the other half is reserved for works which will never pay for the paper on which they are written, but on which I rest my future fame. I am, of course, straitened in circumstances; a little more would make me easy. My chance of inheritance is gone by: my father’s
elder brother was worth 40,000l., but he cut me off without the slightest cause of offence.

“You will see by this that I would willingly be served, but it is not easy to serve me. Lisbon is too insecure a place to remove to with a family, and nothing could repay me for going without them. I have neither the habits nor talents for an official situation; nor, if I had, could I live in London,—that is, I should soon die there. I have said to Wynn that one thing would make me at ease for life,—create for me the title of Royal Historiographer for England (there is one for Scotland), with a salary of 400l.: the reduction would leave a net income of 278l.; with that I should be sure of all the decent comforts of life, and, for everything beyond them, it would then be easy to supply myself. Of course, my present pension would cease. Whether Mr. Canning can do this, I know not; but, if this could be done, it would be adequate to all I want, and beyond that my wishes have never extended. I am sorry we are not to meet, but it would be unreasonable to expect it now; and, at some more convenient season, I will find my way to you and to the Advocate’s Library. You will hear from Bal-
lantyne what my plan is for Rhadamanthus, concerning which I shall think nothing more till I hear from him upon the subject. Since last you heard from me, I have lost one of my children; the rest, thank God! are well.
Edith desires to be remembered to you and Mrs. Scott.

Believe me,
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswick, July 6. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

“I have just been informed that the stewardship for the Derwentwater estates (belonging to Greenwich Hospital), now held by a Mr. Walton, is expected soon to be vacated by his death. It is a situation which would give me a respectable income, perfectly suit my present place of abode, and not impose upon me more business than I could properly perform with comfort to myself. Mr. Sharp tells me this, and from him I learn that Mr. Long is one of the Directors. Could this be obtained for me I should be well provided for, and in a pleasant way; so I have thought it right to mention it, in consequence of your last letter, and having so done shall dismiss the subject from my thoughts. Pelle timorem, spemque fugato, is a lesson which I learnt early in life from Boethius, and have been a good deal the happier for practising.

Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 241

“The second Quarterly is better than the first. The affairs of Austria are treated with great power, great spirit, and clear views. I expected the utter overthrow of the House of Austria, and my fears have happily been disappointed. They have profited by experience, and though everything is now upon the balance, and one cannot open the newspaper without great anxiety and many doubts, still it does appear that the chances are in our favour. One defeat will not destroy the Emperor, if he is only true to himself, but one defeat would destroy Bonaparte. His authority, out of France, is maintained wholly by force; in France by the opinion of his good fortune and the splendour of his successes. One thorough defeat will dissolve the spell. His colossal power then falls to pieces, like the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. I am afraid our expedition will be too late to turn the scale. If it were now in Germany it might do wonders; but we are always slow in our measures, and game so timorously that we are sure to lose. Why not twice forty thousand men? It has been proved that we can always beat the French with equal numbers, or at any time when we are not previously out-numbered. Why then send a force that can so easily be doubled or trebled by the enemy? For allied armies cannot act together, and whatever battle we have to fight must be fought alone. Marlborough was the only general who could wield a confederacy.

“I have made offer of my services to Gifford to undertake Frere’s justification against the friends of Sir John Moore, if it be thought advisable. I have
offered also to provide for the fourth Number a paper upon Methodism,—which would be in all things unlike
Sidney Smith’s, except in having as much dread of its progress. I should examine the causes of its progress, the principles in human nature to which it appeals, and by which it succeeds; its good and its evil; the means of preventing the one, and of obtaining the other at less risk; and instead of offending the whole religious public, as they call themselves, by indiscriminate ridicule, I should endeavour to show of what different parties that public is composed, how some of them may be conciliated and made useful, and others suppressed,—for there are limits which common sense must appoint to toleration.

“I have finished an English Eclogue, which is at Ballantyne’s service, either for his Annual Register or his Minstrelsy, and which shall be transcribed and sent him forthwith. I have never yet thanked you for Lord Somers, a very acceptable addition to my library,—a very valuable collection, and made far more so by your arrangement and additions. I am sorry my life of D. Luisa de Carvajal is printed, or I would have offered it you, as worthy of being inserted among the Tracts of James I. time. Believe me.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 243
To C. W. W. Wynn, Esq., M.P.
“Keswick, July 8. 1809.
“My dear Wynn,

“You will be a little surprised to hear that Canning has expressed a wish to serve me, and that in consequence Walter Scott has been asked to communicate this to me, and find out in what manner it can be done conformably to my own inclinations. There was a situation of 300l. a year in his own department, which he would have offered; but that was rightly judged by himself, Scott, and Ellis to be inadequate to the expense of time and attendance which it required. So Scott wrote to mention to me professorships at the Universities, diplomatic situations, or any other thing which could be pointed out.

“Professorships in England are fenced about with subscription, and therefore unattainable by me. In Scotland I would accept one, if nothing more suitable could be found. The secretaryship in Portugal is now no longer desirable. My uncle has left that country, and the salary would not support me there. I am too old to begin the pursuit of fortune in that line, and nothing but the desire of becoming independent ever made me desirous of a situation for which I know myself in many points to be exceedingly unfit. The truth is, that I have found my way in the world, and am in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call me, and for which it has pleased him to qualify me. At the same time my means are certainly so straitened that I should very gladly
obtain an addition to them, if it could be obtained without changing the main stream of my pursuits.

“Now Sharp has told me that the Stewardship to Greenwich Hospital for the Derwentwater estates is expected soon to be vacated by the death of a Mr. Walton, and has advised me to apply for it. I have therefore written to Scott to tell him this; and I now write to you, well knowing that if you can be of use to me in this application, you will. What the value of this appointment is I do not know; Sharp fancies from 600l. to 800l. a year. If this be thought ‘too good a thing for me,’ as I dare say it will, the Cumberland estates might be divided from the Northumberland ones. Certes I should rather have the whole than half,—but better half a loaf than no bread. And now I have done all that is in my power to do; having thus found out a specific thing, asked for it, and written to you for your assistance, if you can give me any. Having done this, I dismiss the subject altogether from my thoughts. In this respect I have been truly a philosopher, that no hopes or fears, with respect to worldly fortune, have ever given me an hour’s anxiety. God bless you!

R. S.”

My father was the more desirous of obtaining this office, because the property included a large portion of country in the immediate vicinity of Keswick; and “it would give him the care of the woods, and the power of planting and beautifying.” He accordingly did not cease his efforts with the foregoing letter,
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 245
but through several other friends secured still further interest, and all appeared to be in a fair train for ultimate success, when a further inquiry into the nature and extent of the duties required at once put a stop to the matter. Indeed, a more practical man would at once have perceived, that literary tastes and pursuits were hardly compatible with the management of a large and widely scattered property. The following pleasant account of the nature of the office from his friend,
Mr. Bedford, seems almost ludicrous from the Protean qualities required.

“The present possessor, with all his knowledge, assiduity, and rapidity in the mode of transacting business, has always been employed for seventeen or eighteen hours out of twenty-four, together with his first clerk. The salary is about 700l. a year. The place of residence varies over a tract of country of about eighty miles. The Steward must be a perfect agriculturist, surveyor, mineralogist, and the best lawyer that, competently with these other characters, can be found; and lest his various duties should leave him any time for frivolous pursuits, it is in contemplation to raise up to him the seeds of controversy and quarrel, by associating with him some other person, who, under the pretence of sharing his labours, shall differ with him in all his opinions, without, perhaps, relieving him in any degree from the responsibility attached to the management of a revenue of 40,000l. per annum. Would you, if you might have it on demand, accept a place with all these circumstances attached to it? For my own part, I would rather live in a hollow tree all the sum-
mer, and die when the cold weather should set in, than undertake such an employment.”

This, as might be expected, was a complete damper to my father’s wishes, and, with one exception, here ended his attempts to obtain official employment.

To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswck, July 30. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

Wordsworth’s pamphlet will fail of producing any general effect, because the sentences are long and involved; and his friend, De Quincey, who corrected the press, has rendered them more obscure by an unusual system of punctuation. This fault will outweigh all its merits. The public never can like any thing which they feel it difficult to understand. They will affect to like it, as in the case of Burke, if the reputation of the writer be such that not to admire him is a confession of ignorance; but even in Burke’s case, the public admiration was merely affected: his finer beauties were not remarked, and it was only his party politics that were generally understood, while the philosophy which he brought to their aid was heathen Greek to the multitude of his readers. I impute Wordsworth’s want of perspicuity to two causes,—his admiration of Milton’s prose, and his habit of dictating instead of writing: if he were his own scribe his eye would tell him
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 247
where to stop; but, in dictating, his own thoughts are to himself familiarly intelligible, and he goes on, unconscious either of the length of the sentence, or the difficulty a common reader must necessarily find in following its meaning to the end, and unravelling all its involutions.

“A villanous cold, which makes me sleep as late as I possibly can in the morning, because the moment I wake it wakes with me, has prevented me finishing Kehama: it would else, ere this, have been completed. I think of publishing it on my own account, in a pocket volume, of about 350 pages; but this is not yet determined. One of the pleasures which I had promised myself in seeing you was, that of showing you this wildest of all wild poems, believing that you will be one of the few persons who will relish it. The rhymes are as irregular as your own, but in a different key, and I expect to be abused for having given the language the freedom and strength of blank verse, though I pride myself upon the manner in which this is combined with rhyme.

“The Eclogue* which I have sent Ballantyne has—suffered a little by having all its local allusions cut out. This was done lest what was intended as a general character should have been interpreted into individual satire. The thing was suggested by my accidentally crossing such a funeral some years ago at Bristol; and had I been disposed to personal satire, the hero of the procession would have afforded ample scope for it. As soon as he knew his case was des-

* The Alderman’s Funeral.

perate he called together all the persons to whom he was indebted in his mercantile concerns;—‘Gentlemen,’ said he, ‘I am going to die, and my death will be an inconvenience to you, because it will be some time before you can get your accounts settled with my executors; now if you will allow me a handsome discount, I’ll settle them myself at once.’ They came into the proposal, and the old alderman turned his death into nine hundred pounds’ profit.

“If Queen Orraca is not too long for the English Minstrelsy, I will with great pleasure send off a corrected copy for it.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“August 6. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

“The Quest is over; I believe the stewardship would have been promised to me had I been fit for it. All, therefore, that I have to regret is, having relied so implicitly upon Sharp’s information, as to apply for the post, before I had thoroughly ascertained my own competency for it. This was only one blunder. Another was in supposing there was no English Historiographer,—old Dutens has had the office, with a salary of 400l., for many years—upon what plea, they who gave it him can best tell. My aim must now be to succeed him, whenever he pleases to move off; obtaining, if possible, an increase of
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 249
salary, so as to make it equivalent to what it originally was; and towards this I hope some way is gained by what has already been done. I go to
Lowther this day week, and according as I feel my footing, will contrive to have my views and wishes explained.

“There came last night a letter from Ellis, communicating the result of his conversation with Canning: I have thanked him for his friendly interference, and told him how things stand.

“I will do my best for Ballantyne*; and going to work with clear views of the subject, and a thorough knowledge of the Spanish and Portuguese character, I shall come to it with great advantages. That lamentable ground over which poor Sir J. Moore retreated (as one of his own officers expresses it) ‘faster than flesh and blood could follow him,’ I paced on foot, loitering along that my foot-pace might not outstrip a lazy coach and six, and my recollection of passes where five hundred Englishmen could have stopt an army, is as vivid as if I had just seen them. Bonaparte owes more to the blunders of his enemies than to his own abilities; and he has no surer allies than those writers who prepare our very generals to fear him, by constantly representing him as not to be conquered. Oh, for Peterborough! Oh, for a ‘single hour of Dundee!’ Sir John Moore was as brave a man as ever died in battle, but he had that fear upon him,—his imagination was cowed and intimidated though his heart was not. And now, be-

* See the beginning of the next chapter.

cause the Galicians did not turn out and expose themselves to certain destruction by attempting to protect an army whom he would not suffer to protect themselves, a party in this country are labouring to prove that we ought to abandon the Spaniards! Assuredly if I am to write the history of his campaign, not a syllable shall be set down in malice, but by Heaven I will nothing extenuate; the retreat shall be painted in its true colours of shame and horror, accurately to the very life, or rather the very death, for death it was, not only to the wretched women and children, who never should have been permitted to enter Spain, but to man and beast,—both marched till flesh and blood failed them, and the men broken-hearted to think that their lives were thus ignominiously wasted.

“If I thought you repeated the Retainer’s wish in sober earnest, I could not in conscience wish your old Man of the Sea were off your shoulders; but I believe whenever he is laid down, doing what you please will be doing much, and that we shall have more Marmions and Williams of Deloraines. Lord Byron’s waggery was new to me, and I cannot help wishing you may some day have an opportunity of giving him the retort as neatly as you have given it to Cumberland.

“I have fixed myself here by a lease of one and twenty years, which, after many weary procrastinations, was executed a few days ago.

“I had nearly forgotten to say something concerning Morte d’ Arthur. It is now more than a year that I have been playing the dog in the manger to-
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 251
wards you; but the fault is not in me.
Longman has been to blame in adjourning the printing the work sine die. I will in my next letter state to him that he is making me use you ill, and that if there be any further delay, I shall feel myself bound to throw up the business.

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”
To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Dreadnought.
“Sept. 19. 1809.
“My dear Tom,

“Poor Jackson is gone at last, after a cruel illness. I followed him to the grave to-day. A good man, to whom the town of Keswick and many of its inhabitants are greatly beholden. He has left Hartley 50l. to be paid when he comes of age. Had he thought of bequeathing him his books it would have been a more suitable remembrance. Never had man a more faithful, anxious, and indefatigable nurse than he has had in Mrs. Wilson,—always ready, always watchful, always willing, never uttering a complaint, never sparing herself; with the most disinterested affection; acting so entirely from the feelings of a good heart, that I do not believe even the thought of duty ever entered it. The night after his death we made her take a little spirit and water; it was not a tea-cupfull, but upon her it acted as medicine; and she told me the next day that, for the first time during two years, she had slept through the night.
He never turned in his bed during that whole time that she did not hear, nor did he make the slightest unusual sound or motion that she was not up to know what could be done for him. As you will readily suppose, I have long since told her never to think of quitting the place, but to remain here as long as she lives with people to whom she is attached (she doats upon
Edith and Herbert), and who can understand her worth.

“Busy as it is usually my fortune to be, I was never so busy as now. Three mornings more will finish my transcribing task for the first volume of my History of Brazil, including a long chapter, which, I fear, can hardly be got into the volume, though I much wish to insert it. Then come the notes,—supplementary,—which might, with great pleasure to myself and profit to my reader, be extended to another volume as large; but I shall not allow them much more than fifty pages. The book, as a whole, is more amusing than was to be expected. About a fortnight’s morning work will complete my work for it: 448 pages are printed; the whole will not be less than 660.

“Last night we had a prodigious flood, higher in some places than can be remembered; I say in some places, because the lake was previously low, and the force of the waters was spent before they found their way to it. Do you know the little bridge over what is usually a dry ditch at the beginning of the Church Lane? The water was over it, and three feet deep in the lane. Half Slacks Bridge is gone, a chaise-driver and horses lost between this place and Wigton,
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and the corn washed away to a heavy amount. It was a tremendous night.

“I must not wish you to be paid off unless you could be sure of a better appointment than you have at present, or of not being appointed at all. As for peace, I see no hope of it,—no fear of it would be the better phrase. The Junta have mismanaged, and so have we; I know not whose mismanagement has been the worst. The army which has been wasted at Flushing would have recovered Spain: the Spaniards will now be left to do it their own way, by detail. What these changes at home will produce one cannot guess till it is known who is going out and who coming in. If Marquis Wellesley comes in, we may expect something. If Canning goes out, the candle will be taken out of the dark lantern. God bless you!

R. S.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Keswick, Oct. 2. 1809.
“My dear Scott,

“Before I had leisure to thank you for your own letter and for Ellis’s, and for all that there is therein, a new game of puss-catch-corner has been commenced at Westminster, and Canning has done the most foolish thing he ever did in his life. He should have remembered that Lord Castlereagh was an Irishman, and that, as the Union abolished the Irish parliament, so ought the ill customs of that parliament—duelling
being one—to have been abolished with it; that, holding his rank and station in the country, it was as much a breach of decency in him to accept a challenge as it would have been in an archbishop; and that he might have done more by his example towards checking a mischievous and absurd practice than has ever been done yet. He got much credit by replying to the Russian manifesto, and he would have got more by a proper reply to Castlereagh. A single combat had some sense in it; there you relied upon your own heart and hand: there was Bsme pleasure in hewing and thrusting, and the bravest came off best; but as for our duels, all that has been said against villanous gunpowder holds true against them.

“I wish to see Marquis Wellesley in power, because we want an enterprising Minister,—one who would make the enemy feel the mighty power of Great Britain, and not waste our force so pitifully as it has always hitherto been wasted. I wish to see him in power, because he has not been tried, and all the other performers upon the Westminster stage have. But I confess there is but little hope in my wishes. It appears to me that the very constitution of our cabinet necessarily produces indecision, half-measures, and imbecility; it seems to me that a government so constituted is just like an army, all whose operations are guided by a council of war instead of a general. I am for ministerial dictatorships.

“Your views about the Morte d’ Arthur are wiser ones than mine. I do most formally and willingly
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resign it into your hands. My intent was, that the book should be read; but people are not disposed to read such things generally, or
the Cid would not hang upon hand. Now a very limited edition is sure to find purchasers, and nothing need be sacrificed to ensure success. I was not, by-the-by, aware that he book had been reformed by the godly critics whose worthy descendants have lately set forth a Family Shakspeare, and will, it is to be hoped, in due time present us with an Edition Expurgate of the Bible, upon the plan by Matthew Lewis. I have a bill of indictment against those Eclectics and Vice-Society men, whenever Murray will send me the needful documents; for, be it known unto you, that, in one of the Eclectic Reviews, there is a grand passage, describing the soul of Shakspeare in hell. If I do not put some of those Pharisees into purgatory for this, for the edification of our Quarterly readers, then may my right hand forget its cunning.

“I have not seen the last Review, which makes me suppose that Murray is still on his journey. These Quarterly Reviews lose much by giving up all those minor publications, which served to play shuttlecock with, and were put to death with a pun, or served up in the sauce of their own humorous absurdity. Hence, too, they are less valuable as materials for the history of literature. The old Annual’s was the best plan, if it had not been starved by scanty pay, and, moreover, choked with divinity.

“My next Missionary Article, when I have time to write it, will be singularly curious: it will relate
to South Africa; and I shall obtain from my
uncle a manuscript of D’Anville’s concerning the Portuguese possessions there, and his plan for establishing a communication by land between them.

“I want to hear that you have planned another poem, and commenced it. For myself, I shall begin with Pelayo, the Spaniard, as soon as I can make up my mind in what metre to write it. That of Kehama, though in rhyme, is almost as much my own as Thalaba, and will, I dare say, excite as much censure.

Yours very truly,
R. Southey.”
To Mr. Neville White.
“Keswick, October 10. 1809.
“My dear Neville,

“Thank you for the books; they arrived yesterday, and I have gone through about three-fourths of Dr. Collyer’s lectures. I have more respect for the Independents than for any other body of Christians, the Quakers excepted. . . . . Their English history is without a blot. Their American has, unhappily, some bloody ones, which you will see noticed in the next number of the Quarterly, if my reviewal of Holmes’s American Annals should appear there in an unmutilated state. Dr. Collyer’s is, certainly, an able book; yet he is better calculated to produce effect from the pulpit than in the study. Those parts of his Lectures which are most ornamental
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 257
and, doubtless, the most popular in delivery, are usually extraneous to the main subject in hand. All his congregations would fairly say ‘What a fine discourse!’ to every sermon; but, when the whole are read collectively, they do not exhibit that clear and connected view of prophecy which is what he should have aimed at. There is, perhaps, hardly any subject which requires so much erudition, and so constant an exertion of sound judgment. The Doctor’s learning is not extensive; he quotes from books of little authority, and never refers to those which are of most importance. Indeed, he does not appear to know what the Germans have done in Biblical criticism.

“. . . . . It has occurred to me that it would add to the interest of the Remains, if the name under the portrait were made a fac-simile of Henry’s handwriting. Since I wrote to you, I fell in with Dr. Milner, the Dean of Carlisle, who talked to me about Henry; how little he had known of him, and how much he regretted that he should not have known him more. I told him what you were doing with James, expressing a hope that he might find friends at Cambridge, for his brother’s sake as well as his own, which he thought would certainly be the case. . . . .

“We thank you for Miss Smith’s book, a very, very interesting one. There are better translations of some of Klopstock’s odes in the Monthly Magazine, where, also, is to be found a full account of the Messiah, with extracts translated by my very able
and excellent friend,
William Taylor, of Norwich. Coleridge and Wordsworth visited Klopstock in the year 1797: he wore a great wig. Klopstock in a wig, they said, was something like Mr. Milton. His Life will always retain its interest; his fame as a poet will not be lasting. . . . . In Germany, his day of reputation is already passing away. There is no other country where the principle of criticism is so well understood. But one loves Klopstock as well as if he had been really the poet that his admirers believe him to be; and his wife was as much an angel as she could be while on earth. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”

Mr. Coleridge, who was at this time residing at Grasmere, had lately commenced the publication of The Friend, which came out in weekly numbers; and, becoming apprehensive that it was not altogether well calculated to find favour with the class of readers likely to take in a periodical work, he now wrote to my father, requesting him to address such a letter to him in his Friendly character as might afford him a good plea for justifying the form and style of the paper in question.

Both the request and the reply to it will be interesting to the reader, especially as the Friend, however unattractive to the popular mind as a periodical, has, like the Spectator and the Rambler, taken a permanent place among the works of its author and the literature of the nation.

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S. T. Coleridge to R. Southey.
“October 20. 1809.
“My dear Southey,

“. . . . . What really makes me despond is the daily confirmation I receive of my original apprehension, that the plan and execution of The Friend is so utterly unsuitable to the public taste as to preclude all rational hopes of its success. Much, certainly, might have been done to have made the former numbers less so, by the interposition of others written more expressly for general interest; and, if I could attribute it wholly to any removable error of my own, I should be less dejected. I will do my best, will frequently interpose tales and whole numbers of amusement, will make the periods lighter and shorter; and the work itself, proceeding according to its plan, will become more interesting when the foundations have been laid. Massiveness is the merit of a foundation; the gilding, ornaments, stucco-work, conveniences, sunshine, and sunny prospects will come with the superstructure. Yet still I feel the deepest conviction that no efforts of mine, compatible with the hope of effecting any good purpose, or with the duty I owe to my permanent reputation, will remove the complaint. No real information can be conveyed, no important errors radically extracted, without demanding an effort of thought on the part of the reader; but the obstinate, and now contemptuous, aversion to all energy of thinking is the mother evil, the cause of all the evils in politics, morals, and lite-
rature, which it is my object to wage war against; so that I am like a physician who, for a patient paralytic in both arms, prescribes, as the only possible cure, the use of the dumb-bells. Whatever I publish, and in whatever form, this obstacle will be felt.
The Rambler, which, altogether, has sold a hundred copies for one of the Connoisseur, yet, during its periodical appearance, did not sell one for fifty, and was dropped by reader after reader for its dreary gravity and massiveness of manner. Now, what I wish you to do for me—if, amid your many labours, you can find or make a leisure hour—is, to look over the eight numbers, and to write a letter to The Friend in a lively style, chiefly urging, in a humorous manner, my Don Quixotism in expecting that the public will ever pretend to understand my lucubrations, or feel any interest in subjects of such sad and unkempt antiquity, and contrasting my style with the cementless periods of the modern Anglo-Gallican style, which not only are understood beforehand, but, being free from all connections of logic, all the hooks and eyes of intellectual memory, never oppress the mind by any after recollections, but, like civil visitors, stay a few moments, and leave the room quite free and open for the next comers. Something of this kind, I mean, that I may be able to answer it so as, in the answer, to state my own convictions at full on the nature of obscurity, &c. . . . .

“God bless you!

S. T. Coleridge.”
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 261
To S. T. Coleridge, Esq.
[Without date.]

“I know not whether your subscribers have expected too much from you, but it appears to me that you expect too much from your subscribers; and that, however accurately you may understand the diseases of the age, you have certainly mistaken its temper. In the first place. Sir, your essays are too long. ‘Brevity,’ says a contemporary journalist, ‘is the humour of the times; a tragedy must not exceed fifteen hundred lines, a fashionable preacher must not trespass above fifteen minutes upon his congregation. We have short waistcoats and short campaigns; everything must be short—except lawsuits, speeches in Parliament, and tax-tables.’ It is expressly stated, in the prospectus of a collection of extracts, called the Beauties of Sentiment, that the extracts shall always be complete sense, and not very long. Secondly, Sir, though your essays appear in so tempting a shape to a lounger, the very fiends themselves were not more deceived by the apples, when
‘They, fondly thinking to allay
Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit
Chew’d bitter ashes,’
than the reader is who takes up one of your papers from breakfast table, parlour-window, sofa, or ottoman, thinking to amuse himself with a few minutes’
light reading. We are informed, upon the authority of no less a man than
Sir Richard Phillips, how ‘it has long been a subject of just complaint among the lovers of English literature, that our language has been deficient in lounging or parlour-window books;’ and to remove the opprobrium from the language, Sir Richard advertises a list, mostly ending in ana, under the general title of ‘Lounging Books or Light Reading.’ I am afraid, Mr. Friend, that your predecessors would never have obtained their popularity unless their essays had been of the description Ο΄ μοιον όμοίω ϕίλον,—and this is a light age.

“You have yourself observed that few converts were made by Burke; but the cause which you have assigned does not sufficiently explain why a man of such powerful talents and so authoritative a reputation should have produced so little an effect upon the minds of the people. Was it not because he neither was nor could be generally understood? Because, instead of endeavouring to make difficult things easy of comprehension, he made things which were easy in themselves, difficult to be comprehended by the manner in which he presented them, evolving their causes and involving their consequences, till the reader whose mind was not habituated to metaphysical discussions, neither knew in what his arguments began nor in what they ended? You have told me that the straightest line must be the shortest; but do not you yourself sometimes nose out your way, hound-like, in pursuit of truth, turning and winding, and doubling and running when the same object might be reached in a tenth part of the time
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 263
by darting straightforward like a greyhound to the mark? Burke failed of effect upon the people for this reason,—there was the difficulty of mathematics without the precision in his writings. You looked through the process without arriving at the proof. It was the fashion to read him because of his rank as a political partizan; otherwise he would not have been read. Even in the House of Commons he was admired more than he was listened to; not a sentence came from him which was not pregnant with seeds of thought, if it had fallen upon good ground; yet his speeches convinced nobody, while the mellifluous orations of
Mr. Pitt persuaded his majorities of whatever he wished to persuade them; because they were easily understood, what mattered it to him that they were as easily forgotten?

“The reader, Sir, must think before he can understand you; is it not a little unreasonable to require from him an effort which you have yourself described as so very painful a one? and is not this effort not merely difficult but in many cases impossible? All brains, Sir, were not made for thinking: modern philosophy has taught us that they are galvanic machines, and thinking is only an accident belonging to them. Intellect is not essential to the functions of life; in the ordinary course of society it is very commonly dispensed with; and we have lived, Mr. Friend, to witness experiments for carrying on government without it. This is surely a proof that it is a rare commodity; and yet you expect it in all your subscribers!


“Give us your moral medicines in a more ‘elegant preparation.’ The Reverend J. Gentle administers his physic in the form of tea; Dr. Solomon prefers the medium of a cordial; Mr. Ching exhibits his in gingerbread nuts; Dr. Barton in wine; but you, Mr. Friend, come with a tonic bolus, bitter in the mouth, difficult to swallow, and hard of digestion.

“My dear Coleridge,

“All this, were it not for the Sir and the Mr. Friend, is like a real letter from me to you: I fell into the strain without intending it, and would not send it were it not to show you that I have attempted to do something. From jest I got into earnest, and, trying to pass from earnest to jest failed. It was against the grain, and would not do. I had re-read the eight last numbers, and the truth is, they left me no heart for jesting or for irony. In time they will do their work; it is the form of publication only that is unlucky, and that cannot now be remedied. But this evil is merely temporary. Give two or three amusing numbers, and you will hear of admiration from every side. Insert a few more poems,—any that you have, except Christabel, for that is of too much value. There is scarcely anything you could do which would excite so much notice as if you were now to write the character of Bonaparte, announced in former times for ‘tomorrow,’ and to-morrow and to-morrow; and I think it would do good by counteracting that base spirit of condescension towards him, which I am
Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 265
afraid is gaining ground; and by showing the people what grounds they have for hope.

“God bless you!
R. S.”
To Mr. Ebenezer Elliott.
“Keswick, Nov. 22. 1809.
“My dear Sir,

“I have had your poem little more than a week: yesterday I carefully perused it (not having had leisure before), and should this evening have written to you, even if your letter had not arrived.

“There are in this poem (which appears to me an alteration of that whereof you formerly sent me an extract) unquestionable marks both of genius and the power of expressing it. I have no doubt that you will succeed in attaining the fame after which you aspire; but you have yet to learn how to plan a poem; when you acquire this, I am sure you will be able to execute it.

“This is my advice to you. Lay this poem aside as one whose defects are incurable. Plan another, and be especially careful in planning it. See that your circumstances naturally produce each other, and that there be nothing in the story which could be taken away without dislocating the whole fabric. Ask yourself the question, is this incident of any use? does it result from what goes before? does it influence what is to follow? is it a fruit or an excrescence? Satisfy yourself completely with the plan
before you begin to execute it. I do not mean to say that the detail must be filled up, only make the skeleton perfect. There is no danger of your getting into the fault of common-place authors, otherwise I would recommend you to read some of the bad epic writers, for the sake of learning what to avoid in the composition of a story.

“In your execution you are too exuberant in ornament, and resemble the French engravers, who take off the attention from the subject of their prints by the flowers and trappings of the foreground. This makes you indistinct; but distinctness is the great charm of narrative poetry: see how beautifully it is exemplified in Spencer, our great English master of narrative, whom you cannot study too much, nor love too dearly. Your first book reminded me of an old pastoral poet—William Brown: he has the same fault of burying his story in flowers; it is one of those faults which are to be wished for in the writings of all young poets. I am satisfied that your turn of thought and feeling is for the higher branch of the art, and not for lighter subjects. Your language would well suit the drama: have your thoughts ever been turned to it? . . . .

“If, when you have planned another poem, you think proper to send me the plan, I will comment upon it, while it may be of use to point out its defects. It would give me great pleasure to be of any service to a man of genius, and such I believe you to be. If business ever brings you this way, let me see you. Should I ever travel through Rotherham, I
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will find you out. I have spoken so plainly and freely of your defects, that you can have no doubt of my sincerity when I conclude by saying go on and you will prosper.

“Yours respectfully, and with the best wishes,

R. Southey.

“One thing more: forget this poem while you are planning another, lest you spoil that for the sake of appropriating materials from this.”

To Lieut. Southey, H.M.S. Lyra.
“Nov. 25. 1809.
“My dear Tom,

“I write to you for two reasons. . . . . ; the other, a more interesting one, is to tell you that I have this day finished Kehama, having written two hundred lines since yesterday morning. Huzza, Aballiboozobanganorribo!* It is not often in his lifetime a man finishes a long poem, and as I have nobody to give me joy, I must give myself joy. 24 sections, 4844 lines; 200 or 300 more will probably be added in course of correction and transcription; all has been done before breakfast (since its resumption) except about 170 lines of the conclusion. Huzza! better than lying a-bed, Tom; and though I am not quite ready to begin another, I will rise as usual to-morrow, and work at the plans of Pelayo and Robin Hood. And now I am a little impatient that you should see the whole, and shall feel another job off

* See The Doctor, &c.

my hands when your copy is completed. By beginning earlier with the next poem, I shall be able to keep pace with it, and send it to you as fast as it proceeds. . . . .

“Very very few persons will like Kehama; everybody will wonder at it; it will increase my reputation without increasing my popularity: a general remark will be, what a pity that I have wasted so much power. I care little about this, having in the main pleased myself, and all along amused myself; every generation will afford me some half dozen admirers of it, and the everlasting column of Dante’s fame does not stand upon a wider base. There will be a good many minor ornaments to insert, the metre will in many places be enriched, and the story perhaps sometimes be rendered more perspicuous. Now that the whole is before me, I can see where to add and alter. If it receives half the improvements which Thalaba did, I shall be well content.

Pelayo is to be in blank verse: where the whole interest is to be derived from human character and the inherent dignity of the story, I will not run the hazard of enfeebling the finer parts for the sake of embellishing the weaker ones. I shall pitch Robin Hood in a different key,—such as the name would lead one to expect,—a wild pastoral movement, in the same sort of plastic metre as Garci Ferrandez.* I shall aim it at about 2000 lines, and endeavour not to exceed 3000.

“The state of home politics is perfectly hopeless. Bonaparte seems thoroughly to despise all we can do; all that we have done he is certainly entitled to

* Poems, p. 441.

Ætat. 35. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 269
despise; but if we had
Marlborough or Peterborough alive again, six months would close his career for ever even now. It remains to be seen whether he despises the Spaniards enough to let things go on in their present course, or if he will enter Spain again and overrun the open country. In that case there is a line of large towns between Barcelona and Cadiz, along the coast, some of which may be expected to hold out like Zaragoza and Gerona, which we could assist by sea, and which would afford opportunities for such men as Cochrane or Sir S. Smith grievously to annoy the besiegers,—indeed to cut them off if they had a good force. There ought to be four flying squadrons of 5000 men, each ready to land wherever they were wanted; under Cochrane they would keep five times their number of French in continual alarm. The only possible hope from the Marquis Wellesley is, that he may insist on a vigorous effort; what we are doing now is just worse than nothing. Our men drink themselves to death; our officers learn to despise the Spaniards and Portuguese, because they do not dress, eat, and drink like themselves; and their opinions pass current here in England; and the consequence is, that never were a people so cruelly and basely calumniated as this nation, which has done more against the powers of France, and under every possible disadvantage, than all the rest of Europe conjointly. What a different story Sir Robert Wilson would tell, who has kept the field with his legion of Portuguese, through all the perilous season! . . . . .

“God bless you!
R. S.”