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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Jebb, 6 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 6. 1833.
“My Lord,

“I am greatly obliged to you for your edition of Burnet’s Lives, made still more valuable by the Introduction, the Prefaces, and the Notes with which they are enriched. No books are read with more interest than such as this, and none are likely to do so much good.

“The Americans seem more awake to the uses of exemplary biography than we are. They lose no opportunity of pronouncing funeral orations; and in what may be called the ordination charge of an Unitarian minister, the old pastor recommends that biographical discourses should be delivered from the pulpit, occasionally instead of sermons, instancing as fit subjects such men as Watts, Lindsey, and Howard. This will remind you of the Roman Catholic practice to which we are indebted for such books as the Flos Sanctorum.


“But the American Unitarians come nearer to the Romanists on more dangerous ground. Two volumes have lately been sent me from New England of sermons by James Freeman, a very old and very amiable man, exceedingly beloved and reverenced by his friends and his flock. Had they come to me as a collection of essays, in which anything religious or devotional might or might not incidentally be introduced, I should have been pleased with the happy disposition that they indicate, the benevolent spirit that pervades them, and their occasional felicity of expression, and I may add with what might then have deserved to be called, their unobtrusive piety. But as discourses from a grey-haired pastor to his people, I could not peruse them without sorrow; nor, indeed, sometimes without astonishment. He tells his congregation, ‘Alms, when they are bestowed from pious and benevolent principles, will carry you to Heaven: they will deliver you from death, and never suffer you to descend into a place of darkness. This is rendering, it may be said, the path to everlasting happiness very plain and easy. True; but I do not render it easier and plainer than the Scriptures have made it.’

“No wonder that the Roman Catholics increase at Boston, as they do in Holland, and elsewhere, wherever such Christianity is preached. ‘The Almighty,’ he says, ‘sent down from His throne such men as Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton to enlighten the world.’

“In an Ordination Charge he says, ‘In this age of the Church it is unnecessary that you should read
Ætat. 58. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203
the Fathers, except for improvement in morals and devotion, because others have read them for you, and have extracted from them almost all the facts that they contain.’

“These are some of the fruits which Puritanism has brought forth in America. It seems as if in our own country the experiment was about to be repeated of improving the vineyard, by breaking down the fences, and letting the cattle and the wild beasts in. The crisis is probably very near at hand: I see my way much more distinctly into it than out of it. For the last two years it has been evident that O’Connell has formed an alliance offensive and defensive with the political unions. He relies upon them either to frighten the Ministers out of their coercive measures by a demonstration of physical force, embodied, mustered, and ready to take the field; or, if they fail in this, he expects them to hoist the tricolour flag, and march upon London whenever he gives the signal for rebellion in Ireland. Brandreth’s insurrection in 1817, the projected expedition of the Blanketeers a little later, and the Bristol riots, were all parts of a widely concerted scheme, which has only been from time to time postponed till a more convenient season, and is now thoroughly matured, and likely to be attempted upon a great scale whenever the leaders of the movement think proper. I am not without strong apprehensions that before this year passes away, London may have its Three Days.

“But earnestly as such a crisis is to be deprecated, I do not fear the result. It may even come in time
to save us from the otherwise inevitable overthrow of all our institutions by the treachery and cowardice of those who ought to uphold them. The Whigs will never give over the work of destruction which they have so prosperously begun, till the honester Destructives are armed against them, and threaten them with their due reward. The sooner therefore that it comes to this, the better.

“Meantime there is a comfort in seeing by the London election that a great change has taken place in public opinion there: there is a comfort in knowing that the Church of England and of Ireland could never at any time have been better able to bear hostile inquiry, and to defend themselves than now; above all, there is a never-failing comfort in a constant reliance upon Providence, and this, God be thanked, I am enabled to feel.

“I beg my kindest remembrances to Mr. Forster; and remain, with the greatest respect.

My Lord,
Your Lordship’s obliged and obedient servant,
Robert Southey.”