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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1218. Robert Southey to James Webbe Tobin, 22 September 1806 ⁠* 

Dear T

If it were necessary to offer you an excuse for not furnishing you with an Epilogue, [1]  I could find a very valid one in the quantity of business which presses upon me, – which, if you knew all, you would think sufficient for any two men, how indefatigable soever. In spite of this I would do what you desire me if it were in my power; – but I could no more write an epilogue than I could dance a minuet, or caper upon the slack wire. It is utterly out of my power, – nor can the strong wish I feel to do any thing which so slight a service for you, remove the feeling of inability.

I am sorry that Coleridge designs to Lecture [2]  – because it will detain him from his other work which is of more immediate importance, & because I fear he will be delay getting ready in time, always be behind hand, always hurried, & become thoroughly disgusted with what he has undertaken, & fret himself into his old state of debility. That this will be the consequence I am so certain, that, if it be not too late, I shall use my best endeavours to dissuade him from the scheme.

The poem which you sent me is curious. Baetas friend has learnt something from him. The words azote & gas appear (for the first time I suppose) in Portugeuze verse, & the Ode concludes with a prayer to be delivered from Ignorance who is the mother of all evil. I am glad Baeta [3]  is desirous of keeping up his English acquaintance, & shall send him over some of my own books in exchange.

Success to your comedy play. [4]  Your brother is a real loss to the stage – he would have restored the genuine language of xxx comedy.

Remember me to all friends

Yrs truly

Robert Southey.

Keswick. Sept. 22. 1806


Notes

* Address: To/ J. W. Tobin Esqr/ Mr White’s/ 3. Verulam Buildings/ Grays Inn/ London./Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ SEP25/ 1806
Endorsement: R. Southey/ 1806
MS: Morgan Library, New York, Misc English, MA 4578
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Tobin had asked Southey to write an epilogue, probably to The Curfew: a Play (1807), the posthumously-published work of Tobin’s brother John Tobin (1770–1804; DNB), a London solicitor and playwright whose comedy The Honey Moon had been a success in 1805. BACK

[2] According to a letter to Charles Danvers, Coleridge was to lecture ‘at the Royal Institution upon the Principles common to the Fine Arts’; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 18 October 1806, Letter 1229. He did not in fact lecture there until 1808, on the subjects of the Principles of Poetry, Shakespeare and Milton. BACK

[3] Francisco Xavier Baeta was a Portugueze physician with whom Southey had become acquainted; see Southey to John May, 7 July 1807, Letter 1342. BACK

[4] See note 1. BACK

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August 2013