229.1 Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge [fragment], [late June 1797?]
229.1 Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge [fragment], [late June 1797?] *
Christ Church [No date]
. . . . . . . . I went to the Chapter Coffee-house Club.  A man read an essay upon the comparative evils of savage and civilised society; and he preferred the first because it had not the curses of government and religion!  He had never read Rousseau. What amused me was to find him mistaken in every fact he adduced respecting savage manners. I was going to attack him, but perceived that a visitor was expected to be silent. They elected me a member of one of these meetings, which I declined.
. . . A friend of Wordsworth’s has been uncommonly kind to me – Basil Montague. He offered me his assistance as a special pleader,  and said, if he could save me 100 guineas, it would give him more than 100 guineas’ worth of pleasure. I did thank him, which was no easy matter; but I have been told that I never thank anybody for a civility, and there are very few in this world who can understand silence. However, I do not expect to use his offer: his papers which he offered me to copy will be of high service. Tell Wordsworth this.
I commit wilful murder on my own intellect by drudging at law; but trust the guilt is partly expiated by the candle-light hours allotted to Madoc.  That poem advances very slowly. I am convinced that the best way of writing is, to write rapidly, and correct at leisure. Madoc would be a better poem if written in six months, than if six years were devoted to it. However, I am satisfied with what is done, and my outline for the whole is good. . . . .
God bless you.
* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life
and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 29–30.
Dating note: the letter was probably written in late June 1797, shortly after Southey left London for Hampshire on 22 June. BACK
 Chapter Coffee-house in Paternoster Row, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. As Paternoster Row was the site of many publishers and booksellers, the Coffee-house became a meeting place for writers and all those involved in the book trade. Visitors could make use of the wide collection of books and newspapers held at the Coffee-house for a small subscription. A small Club was meeting in the Coffee-house at this time to discuss literary and scientific topics. George Dyer was a prominent member. Southey accompanied Thomas William Carr (1770–1829), solicitor to the Board of Excise, and the Nonconformist Minister, Rochemont Barbauld (1749–1808), there on 9 February 1797; see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 39. BACK
 The man was Morgan (otherwise unidentified) and his story was intended ‘to prove that the old age of the American savage is not destitute and miserable’, Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 39. BACK
 A lawyer who specialised in drafting statements of case, rather than appearing in court or giving legal opinions. BACK