300. To Robert Southey MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 312. Keswick, Sunday Nov. 10 [ 1799] My dear Southey I am anxious lest so long silence should seem unaffectionate / or I would not, having so little to say, write to you from such a distant corner of the Kingdom. I was called up to the North by alarming accounts of Wordsworth's Health / which, thank God! are but little more than alarms -- Since, I have visited the Lakes / & in a pecuniary way have made the Trip answer to me. -- From hence I go to London / having had (by accident here) a sort of offer made to me of a pleasant kind, 1 which, if it turn out well, will enable me & Sara to reside in London for the next four or five months -- a thing I wish extremely on many & important accounts. So much for myself. -- In my last letter I said I would give you my reasons for thinking Christabel, were it finished & finished as spiritedly as it commences, yet still an improper opening Poem. My reason is -- it cannot be expected to please all / Those who dislike it will deem it extravagant Ravings, & go on thro' the rest of the Collection with the feeling of Disgust -- & it is not impossible that were it liked by any, it would still not harmonize with the real-life Poems that follow. -- It ought I think to be the last. -The first ought, me judice, to be a poem in couplets, didactic or satirical -- such a one as the lovers of genuine poetry would call sensible and entertaining, such as the Ignoramuses & Popeadmirers would deem genuine Poetry. -- I had planned such a one; & but for the absolute necessity of scribbling prose I should have written it. -- The great & master fault of the last anthology was the want of arrangement / it is called a Collection, & meant to be continued annually; yet was distinguished in nothing from any other single volume of poems, equally good. -- Your's ought to have been a cabinet with proper compartments, & papers in them. ____________________ 1 Daniel Stuart had offered Coleridge regular employment on the Morning Post. -545- Whereas it was only the Papers. -- Some such arrangement as this should have been adopted / First, Satirical & Didactic. 2. Lyrical. 8. Narrative. 4. Levities ----- Sic positi quoniam suaves miscetis odores. 1 -- . -- Neve inter vites corylum sere, 2 is, I am convinced, excellent advice of Master Virgil's. -- N.B. A Good Motto -- 'tis from Virgil's seventh Eclogue, 61 Line -- Populus Alcidae gratissima, vitis Iaccho, Formosae myrtus Veneri, sua laurea Phoebo; Phyllis amat corylos. But still, my dear Southey! it goes grievously against the Grain with me, that you should be editing anthologies. I would to Heaven, that you could afford to write nothing, or at least, to publish nothing till the completion & publication of the Madoc. 3 I feel as certain, as my mind dare feel on any subject, that it would lift you with a spring into a reputation that would give immediate sale to your after Compositions, & a license of writing more at ease. -- Whereas Thalaba 4 would gain you (for a time at least) more ridiculers than admirers -- & the Madoc might in consequence be welcomed with an Ecce iterum. -- Of course, I mean the verse & metres of Thalaba. ----- Do, do, my dear Southeyl publish the Madoc quam citissime -- not hastily, but yet speedily. -- I will instantly publish an Essay on Epic Poetry in reference to it -- / I have been reading the Æneid -- & there you will be all victorious, excepting the importance of Æneas, & his connection with events existing in Virgil's Time. -- This cannot be said of Madoc / there are other faults in the construction of your poem, but nothing compared to those in the Æneid -- / Homer I shall read too -- that is -if I can / for the good old . . . [remainder of manuscript missing.]