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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John May, 1 March 1833

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, March 1. 1833.
“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . If any one had told me that I should ever feel an anxious interest in any promise of the Lord Chancellor Brougham’s, it would have seemed a most improbable supposition; and yet I am now solicitous about two of his promises,—that to which you are looking, and that which he made to Henry about the Lunacy Commission. I have known men who make promises without the slightest intention of keeping them, rather with the full intention of never performing them. This is not Brougham’s case: in such things he does not look so far forward; and he is a good-natured man, much too good-natured ever to raise hopes, meaning to disappoint them. . . . .

“This year will not pass away without greater changes than the last. It is already apparent that the reformed Parliament will not work. Government by authority has long been defunct. Government by influence, was put to death by the Reform Bill, and nothing is left but Government by public opinion.


“I have gone through the whole evidence concerning the treatment of children in the factories, and nothing so bad was ever brought to light before. The slave trade is mercy to it. We know how the slave trade began and imperceptibly increased, nothing in the beginning being committed that shocked the feelings and was contrary to the spirit of the age. Having thus grown up, it went on by succession, and of later years has rather been mitigated than made worse. But this white slavery has risen in our own days, and is carried on in the midst of this civilised and Christian nation. Herein it is that our danger consists. The great body of the manufacturing populace, and also of the agricultural, are miserably poor; their condition is worse than it ought to be. One after another we are destroying all the outworks by which order and with it property and life are defended; and the brutalised populace is ready to break in upon us. The prelude which you witnessed at Bristol was a manifestation of the spirit that exists among them. But in the manufacturing districts, where the wages of the adults are at a starvation rate, and their children are literally worked to death,—murdered by inches,—the competition of the masters being the radical cause of these evils, there is a dreadful reality of oppression, a dreadful sense of injustice, of intolerable misery, of intolerable wrongs, more formidable than any causes which have ever moved a people to insurrection. Once more I will cry aloud and spare not. These are not times to be silent. Lord Ashley has taken up this Factory Question with all his heart, under a deep religious
Ætat. 58. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 201
sense of duty. I hear from him frequently. If we are to be saved, it will be, I will not say by such men, but for the sake of such men as he is,—men who have the fear of God before their eyes and the love of their fellow-creatures in their hearts.

“God bless you, my dear friend! Remember me most kindly to your two daughters; and believe me always yours most affectionately,

R. Southey.”