2475. Robert Southey to James Ballantyne, [c. 23 August 1814]

2475. Robert Southey to James Ballantyne, [c. 23 August 1814]⁠* 

Half-title – Roderick the Last of the Goths

A Tragic Poem [1] 


Title – Roderick the Last of the Goths / do only longer types


RS &c



To Grosvenor Charles Bedford

this Poem is inscribed,

in lasting memorial of a long & uninterrupted friendship,

by his old school-fellow

Robert Southey.



The history of the Wisi-Goths for some years before their overthrow is very imperfectly known. It is however apparent that the enmity between the royal families of Chindasuintho & Wamba was one main cause of the destruction of the kingdom, the latter party having assisted in betraying their country to the Moors for the gratification of their own revenge. Theodofred & Favila were younger sons of King Chindasuintho; King Witiza who was of Wambas lin family, put out the eyes of Theodofred, & murdered Favila, at the instigation of his <that Chieftans> wife with whom he lived in adultery. Pelayo the son of Favila, & afterwards the found of the Spanish Monarchy, was driven into exile. Roderick, the son of Theodofred recovered the throne, & put out Witizas eyes in vengeance for his father, but he spared Orpas the brother of the Tyrant, as being a Priest & Ebba & Sisibert the two sons of Witiza by Pelayos mother. It may be convenient that these circumstances of an obscure portion of history should be thus briefly stated. If there be any obscurity in the following poem where it relates to these feats, the author x must have failed in one of the essential requisites of his art: it may however be convenient thus briefly to have premise these circumstances of an obscure portion of history with which few readers can be <supposed to be> familiar; & a list of the principal persons who are introduced <or spoken of,> may as properly be prefixed to a poem as a play.


Witiza, King of the Wisi-Goths, dethroned & blinded by Roderick
Theodofred, son of King Chindasuintho; blinded by King Witiza;
Favila, his brother: put to death by Witiza
The Wife of Favila, Witizas adulterous mistress.
these four persons are dead before the action of the poem commences
Roderick, the last King of the Wisi-Goths: son of Theodofred.
Pelayo, the founder of the Spanish Monarchy: son of Favila.
Gaudiosa, his wife.
Guisla, his sister
Favila his son
son & daughter
Hermasind his daughter
Rusilla, widow of Theodofred, & mother of Roderick
Count Pedro
Count Eudon, powerful Lords in Cantabria.
Alphonso, Count Pedros son.
Urban, Archbishop of Toledo.
Romano, a monk of the Caulian Schools, near Merida.
Abdalaziz, the Moorish Governor of Spain
Egilona formerly the wife of Roderick, now of Abdalaziz.
Magued – Moorish Chiefs
Orpas brother to Witiza, & formerly Archbishop of Seville
now a renegade.
Ebba- sons of Witzia & of Pelayos mother.
Numacian, a renegade. Governor of Gegio.
Count Julian, a powerful Lord among the Wisi Goths – now a renegade.
Florinda his daughter, violated by King Roderick.
x x x x
Adosinda, daughter of the Governor of Auria
Odoar, Abbot of Visonia. St Felix.
Siverian, Rodericks foster-father.
Favinia, Count Pedros wife

The four latter persons are imaginary. All the others are historical characters mentioned named <in> history. I ought however to observe that Romano is a creature of monkish legends; that the name of Pelayos sister has not been preserved; & that that of Rodericks mother Ruscilo, has been altered to Rusilla, for the sake of euphony.


1. Roderick & Romano
2. Roderick in solitude.
3. Adosinda.
4. The Monastery of St Felix
5. Roderick & Siverian.
6. Roderick in times past
7. Pelayo.
8. Alphonso.
9. Florinda
10. Roderick & Florinda
11. Count Pedros Castle
12. The Vow.
13. Count Eudon.
14. The Rescue
15. The Dog.
16. Covadonga.
17. Roderick & Siverian.
18. The Coron Acclamation.
19. Roderick & Rusilla
20. The Moorish Camp
21. The Fountain in the Forest
22. The Moorish Council.
23. The Vale of Covadonga.
24. Roderick & Count Julian.
25. Roderick in battle


I hope the manuscript of the poem has been preserved, as I requested it might be. Please to return it to me when the remaining sheets are sent.



* Address: Mr James Ballantyne/ Printer/ Edinburgh/ Single Sheet/
Stamped: KESWICK
Postmark: AUG/ 23/1814
Endorsement: I beg that all possible haste may be made with this. It is of the utmost moment.
MS: Beinecke Library, GEN MSS 298, Series I, Box 1, folder 58. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The letter contains proofing corrections to the ‘Preface’ and ‘Contents’ of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK