2396. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 23 March 1814 *
Keswick. March 23. 1814
My dear Rickman
Your letter operated well. Like a good boy I began my task immediately after its arrival, & have now compleated one part, & begun the second of a poem which is to consist of three. Can you give me a better title than Carmen Maritale?  I distrust my own Latinity, which has long been disused & never was very good. The poem is in six lined stanzas, – first a Proem, so called rather than Introduction, that the antiquated word may put the reader in tune for what follows. the It is a poets egotism, making the best of the laurel, & passing to the present subject by professing <at first> an unfitness for it. the second part will be a vision wherein allegorical personages give good advice, – & the concluding part a justification of the serious strain which has been chosen, – something about the King,  & a fair winding up with x a wish that it may be long before the Princess be called upon to exercise the duties of which she has been here reminded. The whole from 3 to 400 lines, – on which when they are compleated I will request you to bestow half an hours reading with a pencil in your hand.
The ground ice you have explained so clearly that I am half ashamed of not having thought upon the thing before I asked a question about it. 
In George Gascoignes poem there are many things about the Dutch, showing that the English despised them & despaired of their cause, – just as in our days happened to the Spaniards –
I dearly love a piece of historical poetry like this, which shows how men felt & thought, when history only tells us how they acted.
I open the newspaper every day in fear of seeing that the preliminaries are signed. Austria seems to be me to be playing false. 
* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS/ 23 March 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 222. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 64–65 [in part]. BACK
 Southey’s proposed poem on the marriage of Princess Charlotte. The poem became The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), though it celebrated the Princess’s marriage to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (1790–1865; DNB) and not the Hereditary Prince of Orange, William (1792–1849; King of the Netherlands 1840–1849), whose engagement to Princess Charlotte was broken off in June 1814. BACK
 The Army of Silesia, a joint Prussian and Russian force, was defeated by Napoleon at Champaubert (10 February 1814), Montmirail (11 February 1814) and Vauchamps (14 February 1814), but still managed to win a decisive victory at Laon (9–10 March 1814). Meanwhile, the Austrian Army of Bohemia was notably inactive. Negotiations with France continued at Chaumont throughout February-March 1814. Nevertheless, the allies entered Paris on 30 March 1814. BACK