1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Thomas Noon Talfourd, in Letters of Charles Lamb (1837) 1:92-93.



Lamb was introduced by Coleridge to Southey as early as the year 1795; but no intimacy ensued until he accompanied Lloyd in the summer of 1797 to the little village of Burton, near Christchurch, in Hampshire, where Southey was then residing, and where they spent a fortnight as the poet's guests. After Coleridge's departure for Germany, in 1798, a correspondence began between Lamb and Southey, which continued through that and part of the following year; — Southey communicates to Lamb his Eclogues, which he was then preparing for the press, and Lamb repaying the confidence by submitting the products of his own leisure hours to his genial critic. If Southey did not, in all respects, compensate Lamb for the absence of his earlier friend, he excited in him a more entire and active intellectual sympathy; as the character of Southey's mind bore more resemblance to his own than that of Coleridge. In purity of thought; in the love of the minutest vestige of antiquity; in a certain primness of style bounding the rich humour which threatened to overflow it; they were nearly akin; both alike reverenced childhood, and both had preserved its best attributes unspotted from the world. If Lamb bowed to the genius of Coleridge with a fonder reverence, he felt more at home with Southey; and although he did not pour out the inmost secrets of his soul in his letters to him as to Coleridge, he gave more scope to the "first sprightly runnings" of his humorous fancy.