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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Neville White, 10 April 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, April 10. 1833.
“My dear Neville,

“Your letter, which I have this morning received, came when I was just about to reply to that of March 11th. You may judge how my other correspondents
Ætat. 58. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 205
fare, by the length of time that your letters remain unanswered; there being none which I receive more gladly, or to which I reply with more interest. And yet more than half my mornings are consumed in letter-writing; though as far as possible I have, from necessity, cut off all useless correspondence, and curtailed the rest.

“Now, my dear Neville, to the other part of your letter,—the uses and the danger of the Church Establishment. I will touch upon one of its uses which happened to be noticed in conversation yesterday with Wordsworth, by the way-side. He mentioned of what advantage the Church of England had been to that great body of Dissenters, among whom the Unitarian heresy has spread; and your country was particularly instanced. A great part of the Presbyterian congregations lapsed with their preachers, as sheep follow the bell-wether; but of those who remained orthodox, the majority found their way into the right fold. They held the doctrines of the Church before in the main, differing from them only in points where our Articles most wisely have left room for difference; and they now found by experience the insufficiency of their own discipline; and the want of such a standard as the Establishment preserves.

“Public property the Church indeed is; most truly and most sacredly so; and in a manner the very reverse of that in which the despoilers consider it to be so. It is the only property which is public; which is set apart and consecrated as a public inheritance, in which any one may claim his share, who is properly
qualified. You have your share of it, I might have had mine. There is no respectable family in England some of whose members have not, in the course of two or three generations, enjoyed their part in it. And many thousands are at this time qualifying themselves to claim their portion. Upon what principle can any government be justified in robbing them of their rights?

“Church property neither is, nor ever has been public property in any other sense than this. The whole was originally private property, so disposed of by individuals in the way which they deemed most beneficial to others, and most for the good of their own souls. How much of superstition may have been mingled with this matters not. Much of this property was wickedly shared among themselves by those persons who forwarded the Reformation as a scheme of spoliation; and in other ways materially impeded its progress. Yet they did nothing so bad as the Whig Ministry are preparing to do; for they, no doubt, mean to give to the Romish clergy what they take from the Irish Protestant Church.

“You should read Townsend’s pamphlet upon Lord Henley’s absurd and mischievous schemes. It is a most able and manly composition; and the name and character of the writer carry weight with them.

“God bless you!

Yours most affectionately,
R. S.”