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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1169. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 21 March 1806 ⁠* 

Keswick. March 21. 1806.

My very good Friend, but not very good Correspondent,

Your letter has answered one which was setting off the very evening it arrived. To see you only for a day or two in London would be, like the preserved-apricot odour of the gorse blossom, a tantalizing pleasure. I will come to you. It is four years since we have seen the light of each other’s countenance. Life has not many such portions, and heaven knows when we shall be within a day’s journey of each other again, for in the autumn I go to Portugal, and cannot tell when I shall return. [1]  It suits me to set off in ten days, for the sake of Wordsworth’s company on the road, and he cannot delay his departure.

Will it suit you if I should make my appearance on the third or fourth of April? If so, I will cross from the north road. Tell me in your answer, if there be any stage from Norwich to York or Lincoln, either of which places I should like much to make in my way for the sake of the cathedrals.

I think so well of a foreign Annual, [2]  that I hinted it to Longman two or three years ago; and King Arthur once expressed a wish to talk it over with me fully, with a view to arranging a plan. If your scheme should be put in execution, I will furnish you with all in my department, which certainly I will not do for any other person. My seat at the Round Table is resigned, and as they will not send you the books, which would have come to me, this is a dead loss to the Review.

Harry is to go with me to Portugal. He cannot pass a year more advantageously than in visiting another country, and he will see much of Portugal, as I shall make it my first business after the winter is over to go through the northern provinces. Burnett, I suppose, yawns over his selections, expecting a hearty shove from me when I arrive. [3]  Poor fellow! he lives like Elijah by the brook of Kedron, [4]  and one is always in fear that the miracle may stop.

God bless you!

ROBERT SOUTHEY


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from J. W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843)
Previously published: J. W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), II, pp. 119–120. BACK

[1] Southey’s projected visit to Portugal did not take place. BACK

[2] William Nicholson (1753–1815; DNB) commenced in 1806 a new journal, the General Review of British and Foreign Literature. BACK

[3] Southey had encouraged George Burnett to produce an anthology of Specimens of English Prose Writers, from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Seventeenth Century. It was published in three volumes with Longmans in 1807. This compilation formed a companion work to George Ellis’s Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790; 2nd edn 1801; 3rd edn 1803) and Southey’s own Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[4] The biblical prophet Elijah was saved by a divine miracle during a period of drought. 1 Kings: 16–18. BACK

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August 2013