2562. Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 2 March 1815 *
Keswick. 2. March. 1815.
My dear Cottle
I have delayed longer than I ought to have done, to thank you in Hartleys name & in his mother for your unsolicited kindness toward him,  – & in my own for your poem,  the brief account (too brief) of your excellent parent,  – & the pencil, – to which I affix no common value. The idea which you have expressed in your cancelled preface of the couplet coincides with the practice of our early poets; many, or rather most of whom, wrote it with all the freedom & variety of blank verse.  My judgement upon this point accords with theirs & with yours. I could have wished that the title of your poem had been different: because it unavoidably excites an expectation that the subject will be the New & not the Old Testament history – but I see the difficulty of substituting any other which xxx would embrace the whole of so extensive a plan. Have you ever seen Sylvesters translation of Du Bartas?  The great work  upon which the extraordinary, tho ephemeral, popularity of the French poet was founded, takes the same range of scripture history that you have done, tho’ handled in a very different manner, being full of digressions & desultory matter. Du Bartas comes down to the Captivity. – Two other parts were to have compleated his plan – Messiah, & the Eternal Sabbath, but he did not live to write them. But I am inclined to think that if he had lived, he would have filled up the intervening portion of Jewish history, & probably have made his Judith  a part of this extensive undertaking. You who perhaps are not so tolerant in these matters as I am, would perhaps be disgusted with the conceits of Du Bartas & the quaintnesses of his translator: I can see all their faults & yet admire the powers which both have perverted.
I do not see why you should not enlarge your plan to three parts, & carry on the history in the second thro the whole intermediate period between the Psalmist & the commencement of the New Testament. There are many splendid subjects, & the connection of the whole would appear more clearly than if you pass at once, with so long a skip to the Gospel Dispensation. 
I admire the general flow, & the frequent felicity of your verses. Some of the liberties which you take with language, such as omitting the article, & inserting the & some occasional inversions, I should not have used. But your ear is always good, & one <anyone> who studies the rhymed-couplet would do well to go to school to you.
We are going on well, God be thanked. I am working away at sundry employments, continually accumulating materials for more works than I can possibly live to compleat, – yet it xx this is not loss of time, for it is a continual accumulation of knowledge which is always turning to account, x I have not got thro the introduction to my Tale of Paraguay  yet; – but when the fit takes me my progress will be rapid. At present my main business is the history of Brazil,  a most laborious work which will be most inadequately remunerated. I speak within compass when I say that the same time & labour bestowed upon temporary subjects might have produced ten times more emolument: nevertheless I have chosen well, & shall persevere thro the whole series of my historical labours undertaking.
I recognized your hand on a Bristol newspaper last night.  We knew that Coleridge was with the Morgans  at Calne, & this is all we know. He leaves his family to chance & charity. With good feelings, good principles as far as the understanding is concerned, & an intellect as clear & as powerful as ever was vouchsafed to man, he is the slave of the vilest & most degrading sensuality, & sacrifices every thing to it. The case is equally deplorable & monstrous.
Is it in vain to say how truly we should rejoice if you & your sister would pass your summer holy days here? – I think I could promise you pleasures which would leave a lasting gratification behind them. The mountain-ponies are sure footed, – & xxxx <a> boat would give you air & enjoyment with perfect ease & without exertion.
I beseech you make this your summers arrangement: you & I are of an age to know that what we mean to do should not be unnecessarily delayed, – & I will hope that you mean to see this delightful scenery; & visit one of your oldest & most affectionate friends
God bless you my dear Cottle
* Address: To/ Mr Cottle/ Brunswick Square/ Bristol
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 231 84
MS: Berg Collection, New York Public Library. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 116–117; Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), p. 386 [in part, as the final paragraph of a cut-down version of Southey to Cottle, 27 October 1814, Letter 2493] BACK
 Joshua Sylvester (1562/3–1618; DNB), translator of Bartas his Devine Weekes and Workes (1608). This played a crucial role in disseminating the writings of the French Huguenot epic poet Guilluame de Salluste Du Bartas (1544–1590). BACK