2181. Robert Southey to John Martyn Longmire, 21 November 1812 

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

2181. Robert Southey to John Martyn Longmire, 21 November 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov 21. 1812

I have to thank you, Sir, for the moralized sketch [1]  which you have had the goodness to send me, & to thank you also for the gratification which it has afforded. It is indeed gratifying to perceive that a poem, written xxxxxx to exemplify a Christian virtue tho in Mohammedan dress (but with no such specific applications as you have drawn from it) should be capable throughout, & with so little violence, of such being thus applied.

The poem upon which I am employed at present, has to represent historical characters, – consequently of a more mixed nature. [2]  They are delineated as far as {is} in my power, with dramatic truth, – not as ideals to exemplify any virtue or combination of virtues, but as individuals acting under the influence {sway} of strong feelings. The effect of this will be that no specific lesson is inculated; but that if the Reader is affected as the Author hopes to affect him, he will have his mind elevated by the general strain of the poem; & that line of thought & feeling will be produced, which ennobles us while it continues, & leaves some traces of good even when its immediate influence has past away.

Believe me my dear Sir

yours with much esteem

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ The Reverend J. M. Longmire/ Hargrave/ Kimbolton
Seal: Red wax, with ‘S’, ‘In Labore Quies’ motto below
MS: Cornell University
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Longmire had read Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) as an allegory of the powers and virtues of Faith, and drawn parallels between events and characters in Southey’s poem and the bible. BACK

[2] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013