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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 October 1816

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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“Keswick, Oct. 2. 1816.
“My dear R.,

“I have received no further communication from Bedford, which is very well, as I must finish some few things, and rid my hands of them, before I set seriously to work in the good cause. Meantime the subject occupies my mind in all intervals of employment. . . . . I shall take a wide range; and I feel just now as if it were in my power to produce a work which, whatever might be its immediate effect, should be referred to hereafter as a faithful estimate of these times.

Davy was here last week, and told me a valuable fact. A friend of his who, applying philosophical knowledge to practical purposes, has turned manufacturer at Clitheroe, went abroad immediately after the peace, not to seek for orders, but to examine with his own eyes the state of the manufacturers on the Continent. He returned with a conviction that it was necessary to draw in; reduced his produce in time, and in consequence is doing well, while his neighbours are breaking all around. Certain it is that manufactures depending upon machinery advanced very rapidly during the last war. No prohibition or penalties, however severe, can prevent machinery and workmen from finding their way abroad; to this we must make up our mind, and it is better that it should be so. A little time sets these things to rights.


“I incline to think there will come a time when public opinion will no more tolerate the extreme of poverty in a large class of the community, than it now tolerates slavery in Europe. Meantime it is perfectly clear that the more we can improve the condition of the lower classes, the greater number of customers we procure for the home market; and that if we can make people pay taxes instead of claiming poor-rates, the wealth as well as security of the State is increased. The poor-rates are a momentous subject, and I have long believed you were the only man who could grapple with it. I see, or think I see, palliatives and alteratives, in providing the labourers with garden and grass land, in establishing saving banks, in national education, and in affording all possible facilities and encouragement for emigration, and in colonising at home upon our waste lands.

“The state of the Church is another important question, assailed as it is on all sides. I think it would be possible to take in the Methodists as a sort of Cossacks, or certainly to employ those persons henceforward in aid of the Establishment, who, if not thus employed, will swell the numbers of the Methodists and act against it. There are no differences of doctrine in the way; it is but to let the licence come from the clergyman instead of the magistrate, to invent some such name as coadjutor for those who have a ‘call;’ let them catechise the children, convert the women, reclaim the reprobates, and meet on week days, or at extra hours on Sundays in the church, to expound or sing psalms;
Ætat. 43. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 215
a little condescension, a little pay, and a little flattery.

“By nature I am a poet, by deliberate choice an historian, and a political writer I know not how; by accident, or the course of events. Yet I think I can do something towards awakening the country, and that I can obtain the confidence of well-disposed minds by writing honestly and sincerely upon things in which all persons are concerned.

“Were I to accept a good berth, which is held out to me, it would very much counteract the impression which I am aiming to produce. Instead of attempting to answer my arguments and assertions, the anarchists would then become the assailants, and attack me as one who had sold himself.

“God bless you!

R. Southey.”