174. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, 3 September 1796 *
YOUR correspondent, who has with such very superior merit translated the Leonora of BÜRGER,  is mistaken when he calls that ballad wholly original.  He has observed that many of the ballads of the gloomy German are translated with improvements from English originals.− Perhaps the story of Leonora was suggested by a ballad entitled, “The Suffolk Miracle, or a relation of a Young Man, who a month after his death appeared to his sweetheart, and carried her on horseback behind him for forty miles, in two hours, and was never seen after but in his grave.” It is in a collection of ballads, printed 1723.  The collection extended to three volumes, each published separately, and is now very rare.  In this tale the Spirit comes at midnight, and the maiden departs with him.
As Bürger is well versed in this branch of English poetry, it is not improbable that this rude but striking tale may have occasioned the sublime ballad of Leonora. However this may be, it certainly contradicts a remark that has not unaptly been made upon that Poem, that the difference between a German ghost and an English one is, that the German rides on horseback, and the English one goes on foot. 
The imitation of the following lines from “William’s Ghost”, is, I think manifest. There are the lines of Leonora:
Compare them with these of the English ballad:
Leonora is in parts equal to any composition I have ever read. The moral however is very exceptionable, and they who may abhor the vindictive justice of God, will think the punishment of Leonora exceeds her offence. The other ballad of the Parson’s Daughter  is, in my opinion, superior. The abruptness of the beginning, and the recurrence to it at the end are unequalled.
Sept. 3, 1796.
* MS: MS has not survived
Previously published: Monthly Magazine, 2 (September 1796), p. 1 [from where the text is taken] under pseudonym ‘B.’. New attribution to Southey; it repeats information found in his letter to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 July [–2 August] 1796 (Letter 168). BACK
 ‘Sweet William’s Ghost. A Scottish Ballad’; see Thomas Percy (1729–1811: DNB), Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 3 vols (London, 1765), III, p. 130. Southey had quoted the two final stanzas in a letter to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 July [–2 August] 1796 (Letter 168). BACK