510. To Robert Southey Address: Mr Southey | St James's Parade | Kingsdown | Bristol -- MS. Lord Latymer. Pub. with omis. Letters, i. 427. Postmark: 1 <0> August < 1803.> Stamped: Keswick. Sunday, Keswick -- / [ 7 August 1803] Read the last Lines first. -- I send this Letter merely to shew you, how anxious I have been about your Work. -- My dear Southey The last 3 days I have been fighting up against a restless wish to -960- write to you. I am afraid, lest I should infect you with my fears rather than furnish you with any new arguments -- give you impulses rather than motives -- and prick you with spurs, that had been dipt in the vaccine matter of my own cowardliness--. While I wrote that last sentence, I had a vivid recollection -- indeed an ocular Spectrum -- of our room in College Street -- / a curious instance of association / you remember how incessantly in that room I used to be compounding these half-verbal, half-visual metaphors. It argues, I am persuaded, a particular state of general feeling -- & I hold, that association depends in a much greater degree on the recurrence of resembling states of Feeling, than on Trains of Idea / that the recollection of early childhood in latest old age depends on, & is explicable by this -- & if this be true, Hartley's System totters. -- If I were asked, how it is that very old People remember visually only the events of early childhood -- & remember the intervening Spaces either not at all, or only verbally -- I should think it a perfectly philosophical answer / that old age remembers childhood by becoming 'a second childhood.' This explanation will derive some additional value if you would look into Hartley's solution of the phaenomena / how flat, how wretched! -- Believe me, Southey! a metaphysical Solution, that does not instantly tell for something in the Heart, is grievously to be suspected as apocry[p]hal. I almost think, that Ideas never recall Ideas, as far as they are Ideas -- any more than Leaves in a forest create each other's motion -- The Breeze it is that runs thro' them / it is the Soul, the state of Feeling --. If I had said, no one Idea ever recalls another, I am confident that I could support the assertion.-----And this is a Digression. -- My dear Southey, again & again I say, that whatever your Plan be, I will continue to work for you with equal zeal if not with equal pleasure / -- But the arguments against your plan weigh upon me the more heavily, the more I reflect -- & it could not be otherwise than that I should feel a confirmation of them from Wordsworth's compleat coincidence -- I having requested his deliberate opinion without having communicated an Iota of my own. -- You seem to me, dear friend! to hold the dearness of a scarce work for a proof, that the work would have a general Sale -- if not scarce. -- Nothing can be more fallacious than this. Burton's anatomy used to sell for a guinea to two guineas -- it was republished / has it payed the expence of reprinting? Scarcely. -- Literary History informs us, that most of those great continental Bibliographies &c were published by the munificence of princes, or nobles, or great monasteries. -- A Book from having had little or no sale, except among great Libraries, may become so scarce, that the number of competitors for it, tho' few, may be proportionally very great. I have -961- observed, that great works are now a days bought -- not for curiosity, or the amor proprius -- but under the notion that they contain all the knowlege, a man may ever want / and if he has it on his Shelf, why there it is, as snug as if it were in his Brain. This has carried off the Encyclopaedia, -- & will continue to do so /. I have weighed most patiently what you have said respecting the persons, & classes likely to purchase a Catalogue of all British Books -- I have endeavored to make some rude calculation of their numbers according to your own numeration table -- & it falls very short of an adequate number --. Your scheme appears to be, in short, faulty -- 1. because every where the generally uninteresting -- the catalogue part, will overlay the interesting parts / -- 2. because the first Volume will have nothing in it tempting or deeply valuable -- for there is not time or room for it. -- 3. because it is impossible, that any one of the volumes can be executed as well as they would otherwise be, from the to & fro, now here now there, motion of the mind & employment of the Industry -- O how I wish to be talking, not writing -for my mind is so full, that my thoughts stifle & jam each other / & I have presented them as shapeless Jellies / so that I am ashamed of what I have written, it so imperfectly expresses what I meant to have said. -- My advice certainly would be -- that at all events / you should make some Classification / Let all the Law Books form a catalogue per se / & so forth / otherwise it is not a book of reference / without an Index half as large as the work itself. -- I see no wellfounded Objection to the plan, which I first sent / the two main advantages are, that stop where you will, you are in Harbouryou sail in an Archipelago so thickly clustered -- at each Island you take in a compleatly new Cargo / & the former cargo is in safe Housage: & 2ndly, that each Labourer working by the Piece, & not by the Day, can give an undivided attention, in some instances for 3 or four years -- & bring to the work the whole weight of his Interest & Reputation. / One half, or at least one third, of every volume would be exactly what you have so well described / a delightful miscellany of noticeable Books, briefly characterized, & when they are worthy of it, & have not been anticipated in the former part of the volume, analyzed -- striking the Line wherever you clause -- & going on to another with no other bond of connection than that of time/ -- & differing from your plan only in this -- that it will be all interesting -- all readable -- / & the two last Volumes will be bought of necessity -- & be truly valuable / all the books treated of in the preceding eight Volumes being here printed in small Capitals, the vol. & page mentioned in which they are treated of --. An encyclopaedia appears to me a worthless monster. What Surgeon, or Physician, professed Student of pure or mixed Mathe- -962- matics, what Chemist, or Architect, would go to an Encyclopaedia, for his Books ? -- If valuable Treatises exist on these subjects in an Encycl., they are out of their place -- an equal hardship on the general Reader, who pays for whole volumes which he cannot read, and on the professed Student of that particular Subject, who must buy a great work which he does not want in order to possess a valuable Treatise, which he might otherwise have had for six or seven Shillings. You omit those things only from your Encyclop. which are excrescences -- each volume will set up the reader, give him at once connected trains of thought & facts, & a delightful miscellany for lownge-reading --. Your Treatises will be long in exact proportion to their general Interest. -- Think what a strange confusion it will make, if you speak of each book, according to it's Date, passing from an Epic Poem to a Treatise on the Treatment of Sore Legs? No body can become an enthusiast in favor of the work /. I feel myself -- but that is nothing -- I have heard from more, than I remember ever to have heard any one observation / what wearisome & unrememberable Reading Reviews are. Considering how much Talent has been employed in Reviews, it is astonishing -- till you perceive the cause of it -- how little of one's knowlege one can distinctly trace back to these books -- whereas Hayley's Notes on his Epic Poems & Historical Works almost every literary man speaks of with pleasure & gratitude. -- In short, do what you will -- only put together all the books, palpably of the same Class -- & let the absolutely uninstructive (-- tho' curious & useful as a Catalogue to be referred to) come all together, at the bottom of the Pottle. -- When I know your final & total Plan, I will within a few weeks inform you in detail what articles I will attempt to furnish you with -- & at what time. -- A great change of weather has come on / heavy rains & wind / & I have been very ill -- & still I am in uncomfortable restless Health / I am not even certain whether I shall not be forced to put off my Scotch Tour / -- but if I go, I go on Tuesday -- I shall not send off this Letter, till this is decided. -- God bless you & S. T. C. -- Sunday Night. I have this moment received your Letter. I have nothing to say. God grant that it may not put both you & Longman into ill-humour with each other -- all I have to observe for myself is -- that if all the Schoolmen, nay, if all the Centuries from Alfred to Edward 6th are to be crowded into one volume, it is not in my nature to do any thing in that volume /. However I will write to you, stating what I will do -- & what space I must have. I can rely with the most heartfelt confidence, that you will not suffer me to hurt the work, or the work to hurt me / both which would take place, if my Quota were heterogeneous, & out of the Plan of the -963- Work at large. -- Your Letter has answered some of my objections -- yet I cannot for my Life see the advantage of having something of each in each volume -- instead of putting down the whole of each subject at once. -- My Health is an insuperable Objection to my plan, I admit -- & one insuper. Ob. is enough. Else the Plan [is] feasible -- & equally adapted to you, as to me. -- God bless you & your affect. S. T. [C.]