1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Walter Savage Landor

Robert Southey to G. C. Bedford, 26 April 1808; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 3:138.



At Bristol I met the man of all others whom I was most desirous of meeting, — the only man living of whose praise I was ambitious, or whose censure would have humbled me. You will be curious to know who this could be. Savage Landor, the author of Gebir, a poem which, unless you have heard me speak of it, you have probably never heard of at all. I never saw any one more unlike myself in every prominent part of human character, nor any one who so cordially and instinctively agreed with me on so many of the important subjects. I have often said before we met, that I would walk forty miles to see him, and having seen him, I would gladly walk fourscore to see him again. He talked of Thalaba, and I told him of the series of mythological poems which I had planned, — mentioned some of the leading incidents on which they were to have been formed, and also told him for what reason they were laid aside; — in plain English, that I could not afford to write them. Landor's reply was, "Go on with them, and I will pay for printing them, as many as you will write and as many copies as you please." I had reconciled myself to my abdication (if the phrase may be allowable), and am not sure that this princely offer has not done me mischief; for it has awakened in me old dreams and hopes which had been laid aside, and a stinging desire to go on, for the sake of showing him poem after poem, and saying, "I need not accept your offer, but I have done this because you made it." It is something to be praised by one's peers; ordinary praise I regard as little as ordinary abuse.