2903. Robert Southey to Francis Douce, 21 January 1817*
Keswick. 21 Jany. 1817
You are so much accustomed to be consulted concerning literary questions, & so liberal in communicating your knowledge, that I trust you will excuse the liberty I am taking, & allow me to profit by those stores which have been so freely communicated to others.
I am preparing an introduction to the Morte Arthur, -  but I have not been able to obtain all the works from which it is compiled. Four of the most important I have carefully & thoroughly perused, – the Merlin, with the volume of Prophecies, Tristan, Lancelot, & the S Greal.  I am now reading Perceval, & being nearly half thro it, have not as yet traced a single incident to it.  My round-table knowledge (as far as relates to prose romances) extends only to two other works Meliadus & Giron,  – it is some years since I read these, – & one chapter from the latter is I believe all that has been incorporated in the M. Arthur. May I request you to inform me (which I believe no other person can do so well) from what works the remainder of the book is made up, – & to favour me with such an account of those works xxx as you may have leisure & inclination to communicate. Tho’ far from being as well informed as I could wish to be upon this particular subject, – (or as I would have been if the task had been originally my own) upon the general subject of chivalry I have read extensively, & have collected a considerable number of curious notes.
Requesting that you will excuse the liberty of this address I beg leave to subscribe myself
with much respect
yr obedient humble servant
 Le Compte de la Vie de Merlin et des ses Faiz, et Compte de ses Prophecies (n.d.); Histoire du Tres-Vaillant, Noble et Excellent Chevalier Tristan (n.d), a version of the thirteenth century Prose Tristan; Le Roman du Vaillant Lancelot du Lac, Chevalier de la Table Ronde (1494), a version of the thirteenth century Prose Lancelot; and L’hystoire du Sainct Greaal (1514). BACK