1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Ellis

Robert Southey to William Taylor of Norwich, 27 May 1806; J. W. Robberds, Memoir of the Life and Writings of William Taylor (1843) 2:131-32.



George Ellis dined at Longman's to meet me for the first time. I liked him less than I expected, and yet my expectation was not very high; a little too much of the air of high life, a little too much of the conversationalist, eyes too small, a face too long, and something in his manners which showed, or seemed to show, that it was a condescension in him to be a man of letters. This opinion may be uncharitably formed, and it is very likely that, with my inside full of fog and phlegm, as it then was, I may have seen him unfairly though a misty atmosphere; but there is certainly that something about him which would always make me greet a man with a distant bend of the body, and a smile that lay no deeper than the muscles which fashioned it, instead of a glad eye and a ready shake of the hand. You are right in what you say about the preference of talents to integrity; but there must be a certain quality of right thinking and good feeling about a man, and manifestly about him, to make his society desirable.