2591. Robert Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 26 April [1815]

2591. Robert Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 26 April [1815] ⁠* 

26 April, 1814  [1] 

I like your poem [2]  very much, & this is the best criticism that can be offered upon it. The plan can not be judged of from a part only, but the execution is what I expected & hoped it would be. The little specimen of this kind in your printed volume [3]  made me expect something as good as this. I have usually heard vagaries pronounced with the accent in the middle. You lay it upon the beginning of the word. Are you sure that you are right? I am not sure that you are wrong. When shall we see you here? I am shortly forthcoming with my series of Inscriptions upon the Spanish war. [4]  I write to Longman by the next post & shall desire him to send you a copy of the portable Roderick [5]  now that I have your direction.

Love from all.

God bless you.



* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Ernest Betham, A House of Letters (Norwich, 1905)
Previously published: Ernest Betham, A House of Letters (Norwich, 1905), pp. 145–146.
Dating note: although it is dated ‘26 April, 1814’ in A House of Letters, the content suggests this letter is from 1815. BACK

[1] Misdated; the letter was written in 1815. BACK

[2] Probably Betham’s Lay of Marie, A Poem (1816), a fictionalised tale of the medieval poet Marie de France (fl 12th century). BACK

[3] Betham’s Poems (London, 1808), did not include an extract from the Lay of Marie; but the ‘Fragment’, pp. 31–36, was in a similar vein. BACK

[4] Southey’s ‘Inscriptions Triumphal and Sepulchral, recording the acts of the British army in the Peninsula’ had been recently advertised as ‘nearly ready for publication’ (e.g. in European Magazine, 65 (January 1814), 77). However, the promised volume did not appear and only 18 of the proposed 30 inscriptions were written. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). The first edition was a quarto; the ‘portable’ edition was probably the two volume duodecimo second edition of 1815. Southey’s letter to Longman does not appear to have survived. BACK

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