1200. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 8 July 1806 

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1200. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 8 July 1806 ⁠* 

Keswick, July 8, 1806.

[extract from ‘Kehama’, with the following conclusion.]

About as much remains to be re-versified as will fill another sheet, and I shall perhaps reversify it the sooner for the sake of sending it to you, because it expounds ‘the mystery of this wonderful history,’ [1]  and opens the story more skilfully than is done in any of my former poems. Fra Paolino’s book, [2]  when it arrives, will spur me on.

The ode from Oldham is too late for the specimens, unluckily; for what we could find of him was good for little: I shall be glad if you will lay it by, to take its place in the second edition. [3]  Stevens’s direct to Bedford, Exchequer, and inclose under cover to C. W. Williams Wynn, Whitehall, writing private in the corner. [4]  Drayton is not included in the series, which begins with James II. [5]  I like his ‘Nymphopedia’ much, but do not think it his only good poem, though it is, as a whole, his best. [6] 

My articles are certainly something long, but it is well-beloved cousin’s theology, and our wretched topography and antiquities, which swell the book beyond its projected size.  [7]  Do you notice Mrs. Barbauld’s hand in the introduction to the poetical articles? Rather than speak in tune with your reviewal of ‘Madoc,’ [8]  she has chosen not to mention any article at all, and writes about it and about it in what my poor mother would have called a presbyterian way.

I am sorry you rejected Phillips’s offer about the Synonyms, because the price is a good one which he offered: [9]  he is the best publisher, and, I verily believe, would sell two copies of a book where Longman sells one. I beseech you remember what I said about your statistics: throw them into shape, and be sure they must make their fortune and do some good in the world speedily.

God bless you!

Robert Southey


* 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. 140–142. BACK

[1] From Southey’s own ‘A True Ballad of St. Antidius, the Pope, and the Devil’, first published as ‘A True Ballad of a Pope’ in the Morning Post, 4 February 1803. Amended, the poem appeared in Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838). See Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), V, p. 517. BACK

[2] In his letter to William Taylor, dated 10 December 1805, Southey had asked him to ‘procure for me from Germany’, Johan Philipp Werdin’s (dates unknown), Systema Brahmanicum Liturgicum Mythologicum Civile ex Monumentis Indicis Musei Borgiani Velitris Dissertationibus Historice-criticis illustr. fr. Paullinus a s. Bartholomaeo (1791). BACK

[3] Southey is discussing entries for his jointly edited project with Grosvenor Charles Bedford, published as Specimens of the Later English Poets in 1807. The poet John Oldham (1653–1683; DNB), is not included. There was no second edition. BACK

[4] William Bagshaw Stevens (1756–1800; DNB), poet and diarist, who published Poems, Consisting of Indian Odes and Miscellaneous Pieces in 1775, and a second volume of Poems in 1782. Southey had asked William Taylor to send him some extracts from Stevens’ poetry in his letter dated 27 May 1806, but his poems are not included in Specimens of the Later English Poets. BACK

[5] The poetry of Michael Drayton (1563–1631; DNB) is not included in Specimens of the Later English Poets. James II and VII (1633–1701; DNB), reigned as King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1685–1701. BACK

[6] Drayton’s ‘Nimphidia, the Courte of Fayrie’, a mock-heroic poem, was published in a volume of his miscellaneous works, entitled The Battaile of Agincourt (1627). BACK

[7] A comment on the Annual Review. Charles Wellbeloved (1769–1858; DNB), Unitarian minister and theology tutor, who reviewed religious and metaphysical works for the Annual Review. BACK

[8] Taylor reviewed Southey’s poem, Madoc (1805) in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806), 604–613. BACK

[9] In Taylor’s letter to Southey dated 3 June 1806, he reported that Phillips ‘has made me an offer of twelve guineas the magazine-sheet for a volume of Synonymy … I have rejected the proposal’. See J. W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), II, p. 139. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013