179. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, [c. October 1796]

179. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, [c. October 1796] ⁠* 


GLOVER was on a visit at Stowe, when he wrote his celebrated ballad of Admiral Hosier’s Ghost, [1]  perhaps, the most spirited of all his productions. The idea occurred to him during the night; he rose early, and went into the garden to compose. In the heat of composition, he got into the tulip bed: unfortunately, he had a stick in his hand, and, with a true poetical furor, hewed down the tulips. Lady Temple [2]  was particularly fond of tulips; and some of the company, who had seen Glover slashing around him, and suspected how his mind was occupied, asked him, at breakfast, how he could think of destroying Lady Temple’s favourite flowers? The poet, perfectly unconscious of what he had done, pleaded not guilty. There were, however, witnesses enough to convict him. He acknowledged that he had been composing in the garden, and excused himself by repeating the ballad.

Glover was partial to the Athenaïd; [3]  it was the child of his age. He used to say, it was better than Leonidas; [4]  and sometimes would boast that it was longer than the Iliad.



* MS: MS has not survived
Previously published: Monthly Magazine, 2 (October 1796), 696 [from where the text is taken] under pseudonym ‘S.’. For conjectural attribution to Southey, see Kenneth Curry, ‘Southey’s contributions to The Monthly Magazine and The Athenaeum’, The Wordsworth Circle, 11 (1980), 215. BACK

[1] Richard Glover (1712–1785; DNB) wrote the ballad ‘Admiral Hosier’s Ghost’ in 1740. BACK

[2] Anne (d. 1760), wife of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham (1675–1749; DNB). BACK

[3] Richard Glover, Athenaid, published posthumously in 1787. BACK

[4] Richard Glover, Leonidas, A Poem (1737). BACK