1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Robert Southey to Messrs. Longman and Rees, 11 November 1804; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 2:306-07.



Keswick, Nov. 11. 1804.

Dear Sirs,

I should like to edit the works of Sir Philip Sidney, who is, in my judgment, one of the greatest men of all our countrymen. I would prefix a Life, an Essay on the Arcadia, his greatest work, and another on his Metres. It would make three octavo volumes: to the one there should be his portrait prefixed; to the second, a view of Penshurst, his birthplace, and residence; to the third, the print of his death, from Mortimer's well-known etching. Perhaps I overrate the extent of the work; for, if I recollect right, Burton's Anatomy, which is such another folio, was republished in two octavos. His name is so illustrious, that an edition of 500 would certainly sell; the printer might begin in spring. I could write the Essays here; in the autumn I shall most likely be in London, and would then complete the Life, and the book might be published by Christmas of 1805. If you approve the scheme, it may be well to announce it, as we may very probably be forestalled, for this is the age of editors. I design my name to appear, for it would be a pleasure and a pride to have my name connected with that of a man whom I so highly reverence.

Mr. Longman promised me a visit in September; I have not found him so punctual as he will always find me.

Believe me,

Yours truly,

ROBERT SOUTHEY.