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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Mark Robinson to Robert Southey, 13 January 1824

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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“Beverley, Jan. 13. 1824.

“I am encouraged by the representations I have received of your affability and willingness to afford information to those who apply to you, to lay before you a matter which has given me no little concern; and in the hope that you will favour me with your views upon the subject, I will proceed without further introduction.

“It has for several years appeared to me, and several respectable friends of mine, who, as well as myself, are all members of the Wesleyan Methodist Society, in which we have for many years filled official situations, that the rapid dissent which we believe the travelling preachers have been chiefly instrumental in effecting in the society from the Established Church, is much to be lamented, and that in the same proportion in which the society have departed from the original plan of Methodism, in the same proportion they have missed their way. We think that a secession from the Church has engendered a sectarian spirit, and given to the preachers a kind of influence over the people which, we fear, in many of its consequences, will be injurious both to their piety and liberty, leading them to exchange the former for party zeal, and the latter for a too ready acquiescence in all the measures of the preachers. We lately opened a correspondence with the Church Methodists in Ireland, from which we learn
—what you, Sir, are probably already acquainted with—that, in 1817, the Methodist Conference in Ireland, after exciting the societies throughout the country to petition them for the sacraments, determined upon giving them to all who should desire it. In consequence, 7000 amongst them, amongst whom were many of the most respectable members in Dublin and other principal places, withdrew from the Conference connection and established a separate itinerancy, and that they have now about 14,000 in close connection with them. We learn also that the
Bishop of Waterford called together the clergy of his diocese, and sent for one of the itinerant preachers of the connection, who so fully satisfied his lordship and the clergy, that they all, without one dissenting voice, promised to give the Church Methodists countenance and support. What particularly satisfied this meeting was the declaration of the preachers that the Society had settled their chapels on trustees conditionally, that if they should ever leave the Church, these chapels should go to the crown. They hold no meetings in canonical hours, and receive the sacrament at the hands of the clergy. The bishop and many of his clergy have contributed to the erection of the Waterford chapel, and not only numbers of the Church people attend the chapel on the Sunday evenings, but also the clergy themselves.

“This correspondence we have named to several, both of the evangelical and orthodox clergy, none of whom raise any objection to it, and most of whom are its warm advocates. I lately received an invitation from the evangelical clergy in Hull to meet
Ætat. 50. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 163
them in this business; and, in company with
M. T. Sadler, Esq., of Leeds, who is one of our most able coadjutors, I attended the meeting. The clergy were unanimously of opinion that Church Methodism would meet with general support throughout the country, and that the pious clergy would give it their support. It has also been named in a private way to many of our magistrates and other respectable gentlemen, who profess to think well of it. We feel confident that there is an intention in the minds of some of the leading conference preachers to get up, not so much a plan of regular dissent as a rival Church. This we think strongly indicated by the introduction of baptism, of the Lord’s supper, burial of the dead, the reading the church service, vergers with their uniform and wands, and especially the preachers having in the two last conferences attempted to introduce episcopal ordination: the leading preachers to be bishops, and the remainder regular clergymen. We are also of opinion that the preachers holding a regular conference or convocation, from which they exclude all the people, may in the end, not only endanger the liberties of their own people but of the country at large. Pray, Sir, is there any good precedent for such a meeting? Did not the proctors make part of the conference or convocation of the English clergy, and are not all the ecclesiastical laws subject to the control of his Majesty in Chancery, and of the Civil Courts? We have it in contemplation to petition the next conference to admit a fair representation of the people, and to beg that they will deliberate measures
for the gradual return of the societies to Church Methodism.

Mr. Sadler is perhaps known to you as the author of an excellent pamphlet addressed to Walter Fawkes, Esq., late member for the county of York, in which he has refuted that gentleman’s arguments in favour of a reform in Parliament. I had forgotten to say that if the conference will not listen to our request at all, we purpose applying to our Irish friends to send over some efficient preachers, which we believe they will do.

“I may add, that your excellent conclusion of the Life of Wesley has also contributed to induce me to take the liberty of troubling you on this subject, conceiving that our plan is not very dissimilar to what you refer to. . . . . We shall highly value your opinion and advice, and shall feel much obliged by as early a reply as you can conveniently favour us with.

I am, for myself and friends, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Mark Robinson.”