1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Edward Smedley to H. Hawkins, 22 September 1831; Poems of the late Rev. Edward Smedley (1837) 365.



I read Spenser so very early, and made him so much a part of the furniture of my mind, that, until I had my attention drawn to him afresh, I had utterly forgotten how much he required the pruning-knife, how utterly impossible it is that he should be read aloud; and I cannot but think that, when fitted for general perusal, he will become more attractive by a new coat and waistcoat.... Strange to say, when Southey was asked some time ago whether he would undertake the task, he said, "No I shall print every word of him," and he has done so in a single volume. Can he have daughters? or any who, like my Mary, delight in such portions as they are permitted to open?