chapter  26
3 Pages

Robert Southey on Don Juan and the Satanic School of Poetry

1820–1

Extract from letter of 20 February 1820, from Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor: 'A fashion of poetry has been imported which has had a great run, and is in a fair way of being worn out'. The publication of a lascivious book is one of the worst offences which can be committed against the well-being of society. It is a sin, to the consequences of which no limits can be assigned, and those consequences no after repentance in the writer can counteract. Whatever remorse of conscience he may feel when his hour comes will be of no avail. The poignancy of a death-bed repentance cannot cancel one copy of the thousands which are sent abroad; and as long as it continues to be read, so long is he the pander of posterity, and so long is he heaping up guilt upon his soul in perpetual accumulation.