615. Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge [fragment], 16 October 1801 ⁠* 

Dublin, Oct. 16. 1801.

Dear Coleridge,

The map of Ireland is a beautiful map – mountains, and lakes, and rivers; which I hope one day to visit with you. St. Patrick’s Purgatory [1]  and the Giant’s Causeway lie in the same corner. Where ‘Mole, that mountain hoar,’ is, I cannot find, though I have hunted the name in every distortion of possible orthography. [2]  A journey in Ireland has, also, the great advantage of enabling us to study savage life. I shall be able to get letters of introduction, which, as draughts for food and shelter in a country where whiskey-houses are scarce, will be invaluable. This is in the distance: about the present, all I know has been just written to Edith; and the sum of it is, that I am all alone by myself in a great city.

From Lamb’s letter to Rickman I learn that he means to print his play, which is the lukewarm John, [3]  whose plan is as obnoxious to Rickman as it was to you and me; and that he has been writing for the Albion, [4]  and now writes for the Morning Chronicle, where more than two thirds of his materials are superciliously rejected. [5]  Stuart would use him more kindly. Godwin, having had a second tragedy rejected, has filched a story from one of De Foe’s novels for a third, and begged hints of Lamb.  [6]              .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             .             Last evening we talked of Davy. Rickman also fears for him; something he thinks he has (and excusably, surely) been hurt by the attentions of the great: a worse fault is that vice of metaphysicians – that habit of translating right and wrong into a jargon which confounds them; which allows everything, and justifies everything. I am afraid, and it makes me very melancholy when I think of it, that Davy never will be to me the being that he has been. I have a trick of thinking too well of those I love, better than they generally deserve, and better than my cold and containing manners ever let them know: the foibles of a friend always endear him, if they have coexisted with my knowledge of him; but the pain is, to see beauty grow deformed – to trace disease from the first infection. These scientific men are indeed, the victims of science; they sacrifice to it their own feelings, and virtues, and happiness.

Odd and ill-suited moralisings, Coleridge, for a man who has left the lakes and the mountains to come to Dublin with Mr. Worldly Wisdom! [7]  But my moral education, thank God, is pretty well completed. The world and I are only about to be acquainted. I have outgrown the age for forming friendships.             .             .             .             .             .

God bless you!

R. 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), II, pp. 171-173. BACK

[1] An ancient pilgrim site on Station Island in Lough Derg, County Donegal. Southey’s poem, ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’, appeared in the Morning Post, 8 May 1798. The Giant’s Causeway is further east, on the Antrim coast. BACK

[2] Edmund Spenser (1552-1599; DNB), ‘Colin Clout’s Come Home Again’ (1595), line 57. It is not surprising that Southey could not locate this mountain as the name ‘Mole’ was an invention of Spenser’s to describe the Ballyhoura and Galty Hills near his home in county Cork. BACK

[3] Charles Lamb, John Woodvill (1802). BACK

[4] The short-lived London newspaper the Albion and Evening Advertiser, edited by John Fenwick (d. 1820). Lamb claimed to have contributed to its demise by publishing a scurrilous epigram on Charles (‘Citizen’) Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753-1816; DNB); see Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning, [? 22 August 1801], The Collected Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. E.W. Marrs, 3 vols (Ithaca and London, 1975-1978), II, p. 13. BACK

[5] Southey had misremembered. Lamb had told Rickman that ‘More than 3.4ths’ of what he sent to the London newspaper the Morning Chronicle was rejected; see Charles Lamb to John Rickman, 16 September 1801, The Collected Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. E.W. Marrs, 3 vols (Ithaca and London, 1975-1978), II, p. 21. BACK

[6] William Godwin’s play Antonio (1800) had been so badly received that he could not find a producer for his next one, Abbas, King of Persia (1801). His third novel was Fleetwood (1805), but Southey is referring to Godwin’s Faulkener, a Tragedy in Prose (1807), which was based on a story in the second edition of Daniel Defoe (c. 1659-1731; DNB), Roxana (1745). For Lamb’s advice see his letter to Godwin, 16 September 1801, The Collected Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. E.W. Marrs, 3 vols (1975-1978), II, pp. 17-20. BACK

[7] John Bunyan (1628-1688; DNB), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678-84). Mr. Worldly Wiseman, from the City of Carnal Policy, meets Christian as he emerges from the Slough of Despond and directs him to the house of Legality. BACK

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