469. Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor
Coleridge [fragment], 27
Dec. 27. 1799.
Geese were made to grow feathers, and
farmers’ wives to pluck them. I suspect booksellers and
authors were made with something of the like first cause.
With Thalaba  I must make
sure work and speedy, for abroad I must
go. Complaints of immediate danger I have none, but
increased and increasing nervous affections threaten much
remote. I have rushes of feeling nightly, like fainting or
death, and induced, I believe, wholly by the dread of them.
Even by day they menace me, and an effort of mind is
required to dispel them. . . . . So I must go, and I will go. Now,
then, the sooner the better. Some progress is made in the
sixth book of Thalaba; my notes are ready for the whole, at
least there is only the trouble of arranging and seasoning
them. If the bargain were made, it would be time to think of
beginning to print, for the preliminaries are usually full
of delays, and time with me is of importance. I must have
the summer to travel in, and ought to be in Germany by the
beginning of June. Treat, therefore, with Longman, or any
man, for me.
 are at Clifton: if they saw the
probable advantages of a journey to Italy, – of the possible
reach to Constantinople, the Greek Islands, and Egypt, – in
a light as strong as I do, they would, I think, wish to
delay the new birth of Lessing: 
but this is, on your part, a matter of feeling; and when I
spoke of your joining us, it was with the conviction that it
was a vain wish, but it is a very earnest one. Together we
might do so much; and we could leave the women for
excursions – now into Hungary, now into Poland, and see the
Turks. Zounds! who knows but, like Sir John Maundeville, we
might have gone where the Devil’s head is always above
ground!  Go I must, but it would be a great
satisfaction to have a companion. . . . .
But Lessing’s life – and I half wish he had
never lived – how long after the first of April (an ominous
day) will that confine you? Or if you come here to do it,
cannot I raise mortar and carry bricks to the edifice? . . .
. For Stuart I
must make out another quarter. I
have huge drains, like the Pontic marshes  – a leech hanging on every limb. . .
God bless you.
* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from
Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and
Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols
Previously published: Charles
Cuthbert Southey (ed.) Life and Correspondence of
Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850),
II, pp. 35–37 [in part]. BACK
Thalaba the Destroyer was completed
during, not before, Southey’s second visit to Portugal
in 1800–1801, and published in 1801. BACK
 Coleridge was planning a ‘Life’ of the
German poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781). BACK
 Sir John
Mandeville, The Voiage and Travails of Sir John
Maundeville (London, 1727), pp.
 Marshes south east of Rome;
attempts had been made to drain them since the 4th
century BC. BACK