2164. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 26 October 1812 

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2164. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 26 October 1812 ⁠* 

Oct 26. 1812. Keswick.

Will this find you in the vale of Ewias, or have you taken wing for Bath, which in spite of thirty years labour toward spoiling it, still remains the pleasantest city in the kingdom? I remember it when it ended at the crescent, & there was not a house on Bath-wick side of the river. The longest walk in which I was ever indulged was to a cottage – the cottage we called it, in a little orchard, a sweet sequesterd spot at that time, – my ne plus ultra [1]  then, beyond which all was Terra incognita. [2]  No doubt it is now overgrown with streets, on ei But the only alteration which I cannot forgive is the abominable one of converting the South Parade into one side of a square, & thus destroying the finest thing of its kind, – perhaps the only thing in the world. I have often walked upon that terrace by moonlight, after the play, my head full of the heroics which I had been imbibing, – & perhaps I am at this day the better for those moonlight walks.

I shall soon have two more books [3]  to send you – when I have fitted in two passages which must be interpolated in the earlier part of the poem. The way is opening before me & now the farther I get, the more rapidly I shall proceed, for the sake of getting to the conclusion, – which will be full of fine things. The Spaniards will never forgive me for making their Virgin Mary at Covadonga [4]  into Adosinda, & performing the miracle by human means.

Will Buonaparte leave his army as he did in Egypt, or stay with them & keep his Christmas at Moscow? [5]  A Lenten sort of Xmas it will prove. The Russians, like the Turks, are in a very unsubduable sort of state; – their beards, & their idolatry are in their favour, – & it is of prodigious consequence that they do’nt understand parlez-vou-ing, & it will take a Frenchman, poppinjays as they all are, a long while before th he can gabble in Russian – Huzza! fight on my merry xx {men} all, must be our tune, & as long as we can keep out the White-livered Foxites [6]  at home, the cause of Europe will never be to be despaired of. Should they get the ascendancy it would then indeed be time to turn Turk in despair

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Walter Savage Landor Esqr/ Lanthony/ Abergavenny./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Art Library, London, MS Forster 48 G.31 2/14–15
Previously published: John Forster, Walter Savage Landor. A Biography, 2 vols (London, 1869), I, pp. 370–371 [in part]. BACK

[1] ‘Perfect point/ state’. BACK

[2] ‘Unknown ground’. BACK

[3] Of what became Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[4] The shrine to Our Lady of Covadonga. Its fame spread after a statue of the Virgin Mary was believed to have aided the Christian victory over the Moors at the battle of Covadonga, 722. Southey did not implement the role he outlines here for Adosinda. BACK

[5] France invaded Russia on 23 June 1812, but despite capturing Moscow on 14 September, the French Army was unable to decisively defeat the Russians. On 19 October the French began to retreat. BACK

[6] The Whigs, whose leader had been Charles James Fox. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013