347. Robert Southey to William Taylor, 5 September 1798 *
I thank you for your remarks on the Eclogue,  & shall profit by them. I am partial to “There was” because it is a nursery tale beginning, but in this case it will be better to preserve a dramatic form throughout. the traveller shall be made modern in his taste – but whether it be well to have any thing like discovery in these short pieces I am doubtful. The following eclogue does not please me so much as the first, but it is seditious & true to nature. it wants something. I had introduced <it> by some descriptive lines but they were useless & now it seems to want description. again I have a traveller, & as I am afraid I shall want another of these peripatetics, this is a reason for making the first the owner of the mansion.
Perhaps you will find many of the expressions provincialisms which are familiar to my ears. I am apprehensive of this fault. for the rest it is I think dramatic, & certainly seasoned as it should be. but something is wanting.
I thank you for your ode.  you have taught me enough of Klopstock  to see that you have caught his manner, your metre is too regular to admit of irregularity I think, & it appears to me improper in blank verse stanzas to break a line. is not the conclusion too Spartan for a modern mother? this Irish business has been almost a counterpart to the death of the Girondists.  ‘yet who would not be content so to die, in order so to have lived?”  am I not quoting you?
Benyowskys adventures were published in two quarto volumes some ten years ago.  I read them at that time with great delight & have never seen them since. he was a compleat adventurer, & the authenticity of his discoveries is I believe questionable.  poor Athanasia met with a harder fate than Kotzebue  has assigned her. the Governor was killed in the insurrection, she accompanied Benyowsky, & died of a broken heart. the attempt to colonize Madagascar was a good one. there was a strange kind of imposture practised on the natives – but it ended, as is supposed in the death of all the settlers. the book will amuse you. poor Benyowsky was lived twenty years too soon. he would have made an admirable revolutionist.
Burnett has given me no hint of his medical mania, nor has Lloyd I believe had any intimation of it, who was at Yarmouth with him. this makes me hope that they are only passing thoughts. some short time after I left him, he told me his intention of taking a small farm near Yarmouth, a plan which if he proceed[MS torn] cautiously in xx, I thought a very good one, & encouraged him in it. this would employ him, & allow him no leisure for his scruples which arise more from indolence than any thing else; & should he at last give up the ministry he would not be thrown upon the world. I do not think it possible that he could succeed as[MS torn] physician, & he is totally unfit to struggle with the world.
I shall look for Fellowes’ book when I reach home.  we have been visiting her[MS torn] for three weeks & in the course of another shall return. your chronological researches I can only wonder at, my studies have never been directed that way. have you seen a volume of Lyrical Ballads &c?  they are by Coleridge & Wordsworth but their names are not affixd. Coleridges ballad of the Auncient Marinere is I think the clumsiest attempt at German sublimity I ever saw. many of the others are very fine, & some I shall re-read, upon the same principle that led me thro Trissino,  whenever I am afraid of writing like a child or an old woman.
I get on with Madoc. the sixth book will soon be finished, & I have the whole plan ready. I have also another plan for an Arabian poem upon <of> the wildest nature.  the title The Destruction of the Dõm Danyel; which, if you ha[MS torn] read the continuation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments,  you will recollect [MS torn] be a seminary for evil magicians under the roots of the sea. it will have [MS torn] all the pomp of Mohammedan fable, relieved by scenes of Arabian life, & the[MS torn] contrasted again by the voluptuousness of Persian scenery & manners. there is not room left to send you the outline – I however shall like to have your remarks while it is yet easy to profit by them.
God bless you.
pray remember me to your mother. & to all who may enquire for me I should particularize your Madame Roland. 
Hereford. Sept. 5. 98.
* Address: To/ Mr William Taylor Jun.r/ Surrey
Street/ Norwich/ Single
Postmark: G/ SE/ 7/ 98
MS: Huntington Library, HM 4817. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: J. W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), I, pp. 221–224 [in part; verses not reproduced]. BACK
 ‘Ode on the death of Messrs. Shears of Dublin’, sent to Southey, 10 August 1798, J.W. Robberds (ed.), A Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Late William Taylor of Norwich, 2 vols (London, 1843), I, pp. 219–220. BACK
 Taylor’s ode commemorated the United Irishmen Henry Sheares (1753–1798) and John Sheares (1756–1798; DNB) who were executed in Dublin on 14 July 1798. The Sheares brothers had been inspired by the French Revolution, and during their visit to France in 1792–1793 had known the Girondin leaders well. In his ode, Taylor had compared their death to that of leading Girondins who were executed by the Jacobins in 1793. BACK
 William Taylor’s description of the execution of the Girondin leaders, from his anonymous review of Antoine-Étienne-Nicolas Fantin des Odoards (1738–1820), Histoire Philosophique de la Revolution de France (1797), Monthly Review, 23 (May–August 1797), Appendix, 563. BACK
 Maurice Benyowksy (1746–1786) was a Hungarian-born international adventurer. His exploits included an attempted conquest of Madagascar in 1774–1776. He was killed by French troops on his return to the island in 1786. In his Memoirs, Benyowsky claimed he was accompanied in his adventures by his lover, ‘Anastasia Nilova’, the daughter of the commander of the Russian prison-fort of Bol’sheretsk, from which Benyowsky escaped in 1771. In fact, ‘Anastasia Nilova’ was one of Benyowsky’s many inventions. BACK
 Southey was a great admirer of the Girondin writer Marie-Jeanne Roland de la Platière (1754–1793), praising her in Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), pp. 94–95; William Taylor had cited these lines in his own review of Antoine-Étienne-Nicolas Fantin des Odoards, Histoire Philosophique de la Revolution de France (1797), Monthly Review, 23 (May–August 1797), Appendix, 563–564. BACK