1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Wilson

Robert Southey to G. C. Bedford, 27 February 1819; Selection from the Letters (1856) 3:124.



I have seen Wilson's German account of me in the newspapers. Can we wonder at the blunders and exaggerations with which biography is filled? Much personal opportunity of knowing me he has not had, for I could not tolerate his manner of life enough to accept the advances which he made towards an intimacy; but he must have heard enough of me from those who knew me and my habits well; and yet in all that he says about my allotment of time, there is no other foundation of truth, than that when I could not afford to write poetry at any other time, I wrote it before breakfast, and counted it as so much gained from sleep. You will easily suppose that neither flattery nor obloquy have much effect upon one who has been so much accustomed to both. I am only sorry that he has spoken in such absurd terms of my library, which is only extraordinarily good in relation to the circumstances of its possessor. The letter is Germanish enough, in all conscience; but he forgets his assumed character when he represents me as making puns to a foreigner, which would be throwing pearls before swine.