3541. Robert Southey to William Lisle Bowles [fragment], [before 22 October 1820]

3541. Robert Southey to William Lisle Bowles [fragment], [before 22 October 1820]⁠* 

“I was so much hurt & affected by the Manner in which you are treated in the last Q.R. that my first impulse was to write to you & express my indignation. [1] 

You will be right to answer the Reviewer but you will not be right if you suffer yourself to be vexed by an unhandsome and unfair attack. Its futility must be perceived by all who understand the subject & the manner of which must displease all who know you!”


* MS: Bodleian Library, Oxford, Dep. Hughenden, 243/2. TR; 1p.
Note on MS: The text survives only as a transcript in William Lisle Bowles’s hand that was included in a letter written by him on 22 October 1820. The subject matter suggests that Southey’s original possibly formed part of the letter he had sent to Bowles on 16 October 1820; see Letter 3540. BACK

[1] Isaac D’Israeli had reviewed a series of books and pamphlets in Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 400–434, published 5 October 1820, including Bowles’s The Invariable Principles of Poetry, in a Letter Addressed to Thomas Campbell Esq. Occasioned by Some Critical Observations in his Specimens of the British Poets, Particularly Relating to the Poetical Character of Pope (1819). D’Israeli had vigorously defended the poetical reputation of Alexander Pope (1688–1744; DNB) and condemned Bowles’s criticisms of Pope as ‘the sly insinuation, the obscure hint, the damning fact anxiously recorded, (but – excess of candour! – with a faint admission that it may not be true,)’ (424). D’Israeli accused Bowles of ‘the very black art of Criticism’ for constantly doubting Pope’s motives and professed feelings and opinions (413). BACK