1840. Robert Southey to Charles Lloyd, Senior, [fragment], 14 December 1810
1840. Robert Southey to Charles Lloyd, Senior, [fragment], 14 December 1810 *
Keswick, December 14, 1810.
I ought long ago to have thanked you for your little volume.  Without comparing the versification to Pope’s  in point of high finishing, I can truly say that I think it a versification of a better kind – flowing more naturally, less monotonous and therefore less wearying. Charles I perceive has marked several passages in my copy as imperfect rhymes, – I cannot consider them as blemishes; it is from the French that our critics have learnt to condemn them, and a comparison of their theory of verse with that of other countries would prove that the objection proceeds rather from obtuseness of ear than from delicacy. The only thing I should object to in your lines is when you occasionally pronounce what use has made a mute syllable, for instance:
There is a license which of late years I have never allowed myself.
I hope you will find leisure to complete what you have begun.  The Odyssey is a delightful poem, and the most delightful parts of it are yet to come. And tho’ there is a richness and fulness in the Greek hexameter which no English metre can imitate (and least of all the couplet, which I hold to be the very worst possible metre for narration) yet your version represents Homer more faithfully than either Pope or Cowper:  the stiffness of the latter is as unlike the original, as the finery of the former. . . .
Believe me Sir,
Yrs. with true respect,
* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from
E. V. Lucas, Charles Lamb and the Lloyds (1898)
Previously published: E. V. Lucas, Charles Lamb and the Lloyds (London, 1898), pp. 220–221 [in part]. BACK
 Charles Lloyd [Senior], A Translation of the First Seven Books of the Odyssey of Homer (1810). BACK
 Alexander Pope’s (1688–1744; DNB) influential verse translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey; Southey owned a seven-volume edition of 1794, no. 1355 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK