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months provided for, and the opportunity of acquiring a fund of literary capital for future use. But Southey had formed a tie, (a bow only, but one) which he did not care to leave unknotted while he crossed the seas. On the 14th of November, 1795, having borrowed the money for the purchase of the ring and the licence, of Cottle, the Bristol publisher, he privately married, at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, Edith Fricker of that town, whose sister Sara, on the 4th of the preceding month, had been wedded at the same altar to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and another of whose sisters was already the wife of Robert Lovell. Bidding farewell to his newly-made wife at the door of the church immediately after the ceremony, he started for Lisbon in company with his uncle, then chaplain of the British factory there, while Edith resumed her maiden name, and took up her residence with the Cottles. Returning from Lisbon in 1796, Southey entered himself at Gray's Inn for the study of the law, a profession which proved as unsuited to his nature as were the others he had abandoned. He was far too honest a man to shirk his duty because it was unpleasant, and with much sacrifice of inclination he applied himself laboriously to his studies. “I commit wilful murder on my own intellect,” he wrote, “by drudging at the law.” And again, “I am not indolent, I loathe indolence, but, indeed, reading law is laborious indolence- it is thrashing straw.” And later, “I was once afraid that I should have a deadly deal of law to forget whenever I had done with it; but my brains, God bless them, never received any, and I am as ignorant as heart could wish. The tares would not grow.” In April, 1800, Southey paid
another visit to Spain and Portugal, remaining abroad some nine or ten months, collecting materials for future work, and finishing “Thalaba the Destroyer,” his first great poem, which was published during his absence from England. On his return home in 1801 he visited Coleridge at Greta Hall, near Keswick, where he was destined to spend so many years of his later life, and later in the same year went to Ireland in the capacity of private secretary to Mr. Corry, the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, a post which he only held for a few months.
“Thalaba” was the firstfruits of one of Southey's earliest ambitions, for he tells us himself that even in his school days he had formed the design of writing a great poem on each of the more important mythologies. “Thalaba” is based upon the Mahometan, and is written in an irregular form of blank verse. This form, of which an example will be found on pp. 21-24 is one of great power and flexibility-less powerful, as the poet admitted, than decasyllabic blank verse; but involving less restraint, and giving larger scope for spontaneity. Southey describes it as “the Arabesque ornament of an Arabian tale,” and as such it is perhaps the fitting garb of an Oriental fiction-a lawless measure for a lawless song. The poem recounts the adventures and triumphs of an Arabian hero at war with the powers of evil, but though often characterized by beauty of expression and grandeur of scene, lacks the human interest which attaches only to the record of the thoughts, feelings, and actions of men and women moving within the limits of natural law, and the sphere of human sympathy.
In 1803, Southey, having definitely determined to follow the profession of literature, took up his resi-! dence at Greta Hall, sharing the building with the Coleridges, and with Mrs. Lovell, who had become a widow, and who found asylum here. In 1805 he published “Madoc,” an epic which describes the supposed discovery and conquest of Mexico by a Welsh prince of the twelfth century. “ Madoc,” which was thought by Southey at the time to be the greatest poem he should ever write, though admired by Landor, and read and re-read by Scott with increasing interest, was the least successful of his longer poems. The subject was too remote in point of time and place to have any vital interest for the busy world of the new century.
"The Curse of Kehama,” published in 1810, is founded on the Hindoo mythology, and though, as Sir Henry Taylor points out, it travels farther than “Thalaba” beyond the region of human sympathies, it has the advantage, from the reader's point of view, of being written in rhyme, and to this its greater success was probably due. Some of its scenes are described with great power, and invested with wild splendour, but its characters are a strange mingling of the human and the divine, and as such are powerless to awaken any strong measure of sympathy either in gods or men.
In 1813 Southey was appointed poet-laureate, and in the following year 1814 published “Roderick, the Last of the Goths,” together with a volume of odes. "Roderick” was the last of his great poems, and is in many respects the best. It is a noble work, combining moral grandeur, tragic interest, and pathetic incident, and it has the advantage
of being based on the traditions of a fascinating period of European history. It is full of vivid pictures and powerful situations. The story of the flight of Roderick from the field of battle, upon which Count Julian, aided by the Moors, avenged the outrage of his daughter Florinda, and overthrew the Christian power in Spain; and of his subsequent wanderings and experiences in exile, are told with a power worthy of the theme, and a pathos and dignity which sustain interest and enkindle sympathy; and the scenes in which under cover of his priestly disguise, he confesses Florinda,-interviews his mother,-and administers extreme unction to Count Julian and then reveals himself, rise to a power which would seem almost sufficient to preserve the poem from neglect.
During this year (1813) Southey, while in London, was introduced by Rogers to Byron, who was much impressed by the appearance, manners, and conversation of the laureate. He described him as of “epic appearance” and declared that to have had his head and shoulders he would have almost written his sapphics. Southey's talents," wrote Byron, in his diary, are of the first order. His prose is perfect,” Again : “He has probably written too much of poetry for the present generation; posterity will probably select; but he has passages equal to anything.” “ Roderick” he spoke of as “the first poem of the time.”
Southey's next poetical publication was a collection of minor poems, followed by his “Carmen Triumphale;” “The Poet's Pilgrimage to Waterloo;" and, the “Lay of the Laureate.” In 1821 he published his “Vision of Judgment,” a work which
would have fallen quietly into oblivion, but for the merciless satire of Byron, who ridiculed it in another poem under the same name.
Of Southey's occasional pieces, his “ Ode written during the negotiations with Buonaparte in January 1814” (p. 63), and his “ Funeral Song for the Princess Charlotte of Wales” (p. 68), are fine examples on the one hand of power and passion, and on the other of grace and beauty of expression. The poet regarded Napoleon as “a mean tyrant," who ought to have been put “under the ban of human nature,” many of whose actions history might call public and political, but truth declared to be private and personal, for which he ought to have been held answerable as a criminal before the law. While full of this feeling, this powerful ode was written, and here, at east, passion, which, as a rule, played too small a part in Southey's poetry, is dominant and extreme.
Southey's shorter poems are far too numerous to mention, and it is said that between the age of twenty and thirty he burned more verse than he published during his whole lifetime. He had a facile pen and a power of rhyming that cost him no effort, and, as in his time there was a market in the columns of the daily papers, such as the Morning Post, for trifles such as he threw off with ease, he accepted the opportunity as one of which he had no need to be ashamed, for aiding the resources of his all too slender purse.
These include ballads humorous and pathetic, some of which became favourites, and have retained their popularity to the present time. Of these “ The Battle of Blenheim " (p. 11), and “Lord William ” (p. 15), are examples,