1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Anonymous, "Anticipations of Public Opinion in the Year 2300, on the English Poets: Robert Southey" The Minerva [New York] 1 (22 February 1823) 364.



ROBERT SOUTHEY, poet, biographer, and historian. The author produced an infinite number of stupendous poems, some of which, it is said, were to be seen in the libraries of the curious about a century ago, but are now obsolete and forgotten. He published proposals for nine hundred epic poems, to be produced in as many successive weeks; but, after writing six months without sleep, he was seized with an unaccountable drowsiness, from which he never recovered; and it was ever afterwards remarked, that his works had sympathetically imbibed the power of producing similar torpid sensations in others. He died in a fit of blank verse, having accomplished little more than half his proposed task. A malicious story is told of this writing being, at one time, the King's Jester, or Court Buffoon, with the singular title of Poet Laureate — a name, as is now generally supposed, given in derision to those contemptible creatures who wrote bombastic verses in praise of the king and court. But this is a mere traditionary rumour, and, in all probability, far from being founded on truth.