Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.
Powered by Campus Explorer
All Rights Reserved.
Site last updated
26 June, 2013
Outlines of English and American Literature|
by Long, William J.
|In contrast with the irresolution of Coleridge is the
steadfastness of Southey (1774-1843), a man of strong character, of
enormous industry. For fifty years he worked steadily, day and half the
night, turning out lyrics, ballads, epics, histories, biographies,
translations, reviews,--an immense amount of stuff, filling endless
volumes. Kind nature made up for Southey's small talent by giving him a
great opinion of it, and he believed firmly that his work was as immortal
as the Iliad.
With the exception of a few short poems, such as the "Battle of Blenheim,"
"Lodore," "The Inchcape Rock" and "Father William" (parodied in the
nonsense of Alice in Wonderland), the mass of Southey's work is
already forgotten. Deserving of mention, however, are his Peninsular
War and his Life of Nelson, both written in a straightforward
style, portraying patriotism without the usual sham, and a first-class
fighting man without brag or bluster. Curious readers may also be attracted
by the epics of Southey (such as Madoc, the story of a Welsh prince
who anticipated Columbus), which contain plenty of the marvelous adventures
that give interest to the romances of Jules Verne and the yarns of Rider
It as Southey's habit to work by the clock, turning out chapters as another
man might dig potatoes. One day, as he plodded along, a fairy must have
whispered in his ear; for he suddenly produced a little story, a gem, a
treasure of a story, and hid it away in a jungle of chapters in a book
called The Doctor. Somebody soon discovered the treasure; indeed,
one might as well try to conceal a lighted candle as to hide a good story;
and now it is the most famous work to be found in Southey's hundred volumes
of prose and verse. Few professors could give you any information
concerning The Doctor, but almost any child will tell you all about
"The Three Bears." The happy fate of this little nursery tale might
indicate that the final judges of literature are not always or often the