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

2432. Robert Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 30 May 1814 ⁠* 

May 30, 1814.

What you have sent me promises well; [1]  and you may be assured that it will give me great pleasure to see it in its progress, and comment upon it as far as any remarks are likely to be of use, or can be made without a knowledge of the plan.

I think I know whom you mean, a Marie somewhat, whose name and history I will look for. It would be very desirable that you should see her lays; the writing is likely not to be difficult, as it probably was written in an age when scrawling was not common; but I dare say that George Dyer would lend you his eyes, if your own should be puzzled. Go with him some day and reconnoitre them. If they are not very numerous, you will insure an antiquarian value in your book by inserting them. Why have you not noticed the most important part of my last note, that wherein Edith asked when we might expect you? You must come and make rhyme sketches from nature for your poem.

Love from all, great and small,

Yours most truly,


Who was that lady who came with you to Smith the sculptor’s, [2]  and wanted to hear more of ‘Roderick’ [3]  than I had time to read? I like her face well enough to ask to whom it belongs, for I did not catch her name.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from M. Betham-Edwards, ‘Letters of Coleridge, Southey and Lamb to Matilda Betham’, Fraser’s Magazine, 18 (July 1878)
Previously published: M. Betham-Edwards, ‘Letters of Coleridge, Southey and Lamb to Matilda Betham’, Fraser’s Magazine, 18 (July 1878), 82; Ernest Betham, A House of Letters (Norwich, 1905), pp. 147–148. BACK

[1] Probably material relating to Betham’s Lay of Marie, A Poem (1816), a fictionalised tale of the medieval poet Marie de France (fl 12th century), whose own poems were included, at Southey’s suggestion, in the appendices. BACK

[2] The lady is unidentified. James Smith (1775–1815) had sculpted a bust of Southey in October 1813. BACK

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

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Published @ RC

August 2013