LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 September 1827

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, Sept. 18. 1827.
“My dear Rickman,

“. . . . . Your scheme for putting an end to previous imprisonment for all minor offences, has always seemed to me one of the most practicable and useful suggestions that has ever been offered for preventing much evil and saving much expense. And I cannot but hope it will be carried into effect, in the way of which good it will at least be put by bringing it again forward.

Wordsworth, in his capacity of Stamp Distributor, received a circular lately requiring him to employ persons to purchase soda powders when sold without a stamp, and then lay an information against the vendors. It seems as if they were resolved so to reduce the emolument in the public services, and connect such services with them, that no one with the habits and feelings of a gentleman shall enter or continue in it.

“Mr. N. breakfasted with me, and we talked of you and Mr. Telford. He maintained what seemed to me a most untenable assertion, that pau-
Ætat. 53. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 313
perism has decreased since the Restoration, and says the returns prove this. Now it is certain that the poor laws were not so misapplied as to breed paupers till within our own times; nor did the manufacturers in those days increase and multiply in whole districts.

“In looking through the statutes of Henry VII., I have found that an abatement or allowance as it is called of ‘6000l. in every fifteenth and tenth (i. e. upon the two) was made in relief, comfort, and discharge of the poor towns, cities, and burghs in the realm, wasted, desolate, and destroyed, or over greatly impoverished, or else to such fifteenth or tenth over greatly charged.’ This allowance to be divided according to former example. I will hunt this subject back, and endeavour to ascertain whether a deduction was made from the impost on the money distributed in relief.

“The statutes I clearly see have not yet been read as you have taught me to read. Though I have only examined this reign, several curious inferences have appeared which I believe others have neglected to make. I find a disposition in the older laws to keep the lower classes in castes, making the child follow his father’s calling, and a law allowing no one to be apprenticed in any town, unless the parents had lands or rent to the amount of 20l. a-year. The laws opposed the strong desire of bettering their condition which the labouring people manifested, and the only liberty allowed was of breeding their children to learning. Henry VII. repealed the restrictions upon apprenticeship, upon the petition of the Norwich
people, but for that city only, going to work experimentally in his laws.

“I learn, too, that the cross-bow would have superseded the bow and arrow, even if fire-arms had not been introduced, and that there was a great anxiety to keep that weapon from the people. The higher orders had an obvious interest in continuing the use of those weapons which were least effective against armour; and the cross-bow, like the musket, was a leveller a weak hand could discharge, it required as little practice as a gun, and generally went with surer aim than the arrow, perhaps with greater force.

H. T. tells me that Huskisson’s health can never stand the fatigue of his Parliamentary business. Do not you overwork yourself, however much it may be the taste of Ministers and post horses to be so sacrificed. God bless you!

R. S.”