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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 15 March 1806

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“March 15. 1806.
“My dear Rickman,

“My last week has been somewnat desultorily employed in going through Beausobre’s History of Manicheism, and in sketching the life of D. Luisa de Carvajal, an extraordinary woman of high rank, who came over to London in James the First’s time, to make proselytes to the Catholic religion, under the protection of the Spanish ambassador. It is a very curious story, and ought to be related in the history of that wretched king, who beheaded Raleigh to please the Spaniards.

Beausobre’s book is one of the most valuable that I have ever seen; it is a complete Thesaurus of early opinions, philosophical and theological. It is not the least remarkable circumstance of the Catholic religion, that it has silently imbibed the most absurd parts of most of the heresies which it opposed and persecuted. I do not conceive Manes to have been a fanatic: there is too much philosophy in the whole of his system,
even in the mythology, for that. His object seems to have been to unite the superstitions of the East and West; unluckily, both priests and magi united against the grand scheme,—the Persians flayed him alive, and the Catholics roasted his disciples whenever they could catch them. Beausobre, as I expected, has perceived the similarity between Buddas and the Indian impostor; but he supposes that he came from the East. I am inclined to think otherwise, because I have found elsewhere that the Adam whose footstep is shown in Ceylon, was a Manichaean travelling disciple, though both Moors and Portuguese very naturally attributed this story to their old acquaintance. A proof this that the immediate disciples of Manes were successful; besides, the Asiatic fables are full of resemblances to Christianity. . . . .

“If there be any one thing in which the world has decidedly degenerated, it is in the breed of Heresiarchs: they were really great men in former times, devoting great knowledge and powerful talents to great purposes. In our days they are either arrant madmen or half rogues. . . . . I am about to be the St. Epiphanius of Richard Brothers and Joanna Southcote; what say you to paying these worthies a visit some morning? the former is sure to be at home, and we might get his opinion of Joanna. I know some of his witnesses, and could enter into the depths of his system with him. As for Joanna, though tolerably well versed in the history of human credulity, I have never seen anything so disgraceful to common sense as her precious publications. . . . .

“Metaphysicians have become less mischievous, but
a good deal more troublesome. There was some excuse for them when they believed their opinions necessary to salvation; and it was certainly better for plain people like you and I that they should write by the folio than talk by the hour. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”