3391. Robert Southey to Caroline Bowles, 20 [November] 1819*
Keswick. 20 Novr 1819.
Yesterday evening a friend  brought me your manuscript,  which had so long been lying in Queen Anne Street. I read it this morning, & will rather dispatch a hasty letter than let a post elapse without telling you of its arrival, & exhorting you, by all means to proceed with the poem. It is in a very sweet strain, go on with it, & you will produce something which may hold a permanent place in English literature. – As you go on you will feel what passages are feeble, & require to be shortened or expunged, – there is very little that stands in need of this. The flow of the verse is natural & the language unconstrained – both as they should be. Everybody will recognize the truth of the feeling which pervades it, – & there is a charm in the pictures, – the imagery & the expression which cannot fail to be felt.
I made a long tour in Scotland of seven weeks.  I saw a great deal that was <is> fine & a great deal that is in xxx a high degree beautiful, – but the general character of the Highlands is severe & mournful, & the impression upon me when I returned was that these Lakes gain as much by a comparison with the Scotch, as they lose when compared with the Swiss & Italian.
I intend to be in London as soon as my life of Wesley  is finished which will be in the beginning of February. Shall I keep your poem, till I can carry it so far on its way? – I am too busy at present to say more – Only, understand these hurried lines as encouraging you in the strongest & most unequivocal manner to proceed.
Yrs very truly
* Address: To/ Miss Bowles/ Buckland/ Lymington/
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: No 18 To Miss Caroline Bowles
MS: British Library, Add MS 47889. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Edward Dowden (ed.), The Correspondence of Robert Southey with Caroline Bowles (Dublin and London, 1881), pp. 16–17. BACK