3435. Robert Southey to Cornelius Neale, 9 February 1820

3435. Robert Southey to Cornelius Neale, 9 February 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 9 Feby. 1820.

My dear Sir

I have had an uneasy doubt upon my mind whether I had written to thank you for your Lyrical Dramas, or not. [1]  For the volume arrived when I was in the hurry of preparing for a journey into the Highlands, & the succession of scenes in which I was for several weeks engaged made me incapable of recollecting what duties of this kind I had performed, & what had been left undone. [2] 

Excuse me, for what was the effect of hurry, not of intentional or conscious neglect.

I read your volume with much pleasure, & those of my family who are old enough to be readers were much pleased with it also. Few volumes contain such specimens of sweet & unaffected versification, – of language easy & natural, of fancy always active where it ought to be, & of feeling which is always right. And no volume could ever convey a more impress upon the reader a more favourable opinion of the author.

The Quarterly Review has a very mischievous effect incidentally upon those books which it does not notice. This ought not to be the case, because its notice is capricious. It sometimes brings forward things which will be left in the shade, & more frequently neglects others that are well deserving of praise.

I have myself for some years found it necessary to resolve against criticizing reviewing any contemporary poetry. On a very few occasions (the present <is> one) I have regretted the necessity of declaring this resolution – But in how many instances has it served me in good stead, & afforded me the only reply which could be made which without inflicting pain, or giving offence!

Remember me to Mr Conder. I have behaved very ill to him, – & if I were to speak of good intentions, he would perhaps remember what such things are said to serve for in the other world. [3]  But I shall see him in the early spring, & he will hear from me – (in print at least) before we meet. I shall endeavour to find you also, if you should then be in town, & assure you in person of that respect & regard with which I remain

My dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey


* Address: To/ Cornelius Neale Esqre/ at J. M. Good’s Esqre/ Caroline Place/ Guildford Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 12 FE 12/ 1820
MS: Massachusetts Historical Society. ALS; 3p. (c).
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Neale’s Lyrical Dramas: With Domestic Hours, A Miscellany of Odes and Songs (1819), no. 2024 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] Southey’s tour of Scotland had lasted from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[3] The proverb, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. BACK

People mentioned

Conder, Josiah (1789–1855) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)