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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1282. Robert Southey to Neville White, 3 March 1807 ⁠* 

March 3. 1807.

My dear Sir,

Your parcel reached me on Sunday evening, and I have perused every line of its contents with deep and painful interest. The letters, and your account (of which I should say much were I writing to any other person), have made me thoroughly acquainted with one of the most amiable and most admirable human beings that ever was ripened upon earth for heaven. Be assured that I will not insert a sentence which can give pain or offence to anyone. There will come a time (and God only knows how soon it may come) when some one will perform that office for me, which I am now performing for your incomparable brother ; and I shall endeavour to show how that office ought to be performed. I will be scrupulously careful; and if, when the papers pass through your hands, you should think I have not been sufficiently so, I beg you will, without hesitation, expunge whatever may appear exceptionable.

.         .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .          .          . When I obeyed the impulse which led me to undertake this task, [1]  it was from a knowledge that Henry White had left behind him an example, which ought not to be lost, of well-directed talents, and that, in performing an act of respect to his memory, I should at the same time hold up the example to others who have the up-hill paths of life to tread. No person can be more thoroughy convinced that goodness is a better thing than genius, and that genius is no excuse for those follies and offences which are called its eccentricities.

The mention made in my last of any difference in religious opinions from your brother was merely incidental; [2]  nor is it by any means my intention to say any more upon the subject than simply to state that those opinions are not mine, lest it should be supposed they were, from the manner in which I speak of him.

I shall now proceed as speedily as I can with the work.

Yours truly, and with much esteem,

Robert Southey


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 66–67 [in part]. BACK

[1] That of compiling Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, 2 vols (1807). BACK

[2] Southey had remarked on Henry Kirke White’s evangelical connections; see Southey to Neville White, 3 February 1807, Letter 1271. BACK

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August 2013