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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to C. W. W. Wynne, 6 April 1805

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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“April 6. 1805.
“Dear Wynn,

“I am startled at the price of Madoc, not that it is dear compared with other books, but it is too much money; and I vehemently suspect that in consequence, the sale will be just sufficient for the publisher not to lose anything, and for me not to gain anything. What will be its critical reception I cannot anticipate. There is neither metre nor politics to offend any body, and it may pass free for any matter that it contains, unless, indeed, some wiseacre should suspect me of favouring the Roman Catholic religion.

“And this catch-word leads me to the great po-
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 323
etical question. A Catholic establishment would be the best, perhaps the only, means of civilising Ireland. Jesuits and Benedictines, though they would not enlighten the savages, would humanise them, and bring the country into cultivation, A petition that asked for this, saying plainly we are Papists, and will be so, and this is the best thing that can be done for us, and for you too,—such a petition I could support, considering what the present condition of Ireland is, how wretchedly it has always been governed, and how hopeless the prospect is.

“You will laugh at me, but I believe there is more need to check Popery in England than to encourage it in Ireland. It was highly proper to let the immigrant monastics associate together here, and live in their old customs; but it is not proper to let them continue their establishments, nor proper that the children of Protestant parents should be inveigled into nunneries. You will tell me their vows are not binding in England; but they are binding in foro conscientiæ; and, believe me, whatever romances have related of the artifices of the Romish priesthood, does not and cannot exceed the truth. This, by God’s blessing, I will one day prove irrefragably to the world. The Protestant Dissenters will die away. Destroy the Test Act and you kill them. They affect to appeal wholly to reason, and bewilder themselves in the miserable snare of materialism. Besides, their creed is not reasonable; it is a vile mingle mangle which a Catholic may well laugh at. But Catholicism having survived the first flood of reformation, will stand, perhaps, to the end of all things. It would yield either to a general
spread of knowledge (which would require a totally new order of things), or to the unrestrained attacks of infidelity,—which would be casting out devils by Beelzebub the Prince of the Devils. But if it be tolerated here, if the old laws of prevention be suffered to sleep, it will gain ground, perhaps to a dangerous extent. You do not know what the zeal is, and what the power of an army of priests, having no interest whatever but that of their order. . . . . You will not carry the question now; what you will do in the next reign, Heaven knows!. . . . .

Coleridge is coming home full of Mediterranean politics. Oh, for a vigorous administration! but that wish implies so much, that Algernon Sidney suffered for less direct high treason. If I were not otherwise employed, almost I should like to write upon the duty and policy of introducing Christianity into our East Indian possessions, only that it can be done better at the close of the Asiatic part of my History. Unless that policy be adopted, I prophesy that by the year 2000 there will be more remains of the Portuguese than of the English Empire in the East. . . . .

“We go on badly in the East, and badly in the West. You will see in the Review that I have been crying out for the Cape. We want a port in the Mediterranean just now; for if Gibraltar is to be besieged, certainly Lisbon will be shut against us. Perhaps Tangiers could be recovered; that coast of Africa is again becoming of importance: but above all things Egypt, Egypt. This country is strong enough to conquer, and populous enough to colonise;
Ætat. 30. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 325
conquest would make the war popular, and colonisation secure the future prosperity of the country, and the eventual triumph of the English language over all others. It would amuse you to hear how ambitious of the honour of England and of the spread of her power I am become. If we had a king as ambitious as
Napoleon, he could not possibly find a privy-counsellor more after his own heart. Heaven send us another minister——! How long is the present one to fool away the resources of the country? If I were superstitious, I could believe that Providence meant to destroy us because it has infatuated us.

“God bless you!

R. S.”