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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2023. Robert Southey to Andrew Bell, 31 January 1812 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

I have received all your memoranda & corrections & duly attended to them, following them, I believe, without any exception. [1]  The passage which you now point out where the Dragon confesses both that the sand has all the advantages of the slate is introduced somewhere, – & unless I am mistaken in one of the sheets already printed. [2]  However sure I am that it is pointed out & placed in its proper light. – The last address of the Boys delighted me greatly. It came to hand after the sheet in which it might have been introduced had passed been corrected, & I am not sure that it will not have more effect by being placed in an Appendix, as having arrived while the work was in the press, – because it will thus call the readers attention a second time to a circumstance a point on which it is very desirable to impress him as much as possible. [3] 

My name had better not appear. [4]  I know experimentally as well as by observation, that anonymous writings have tenfold the effect which they would have if they were public avowed publicly by the writer, – except in cases where the writer has a name which will from party circumstances will give currency to any thing. – I will try my hand at a dedication to the Prince, with some expectation of pleasing myself, but a determination not to print anything which does not. [5]  – Your papers went in a parcel to Murray – which travelling by waggon may be long upon the road.

I am very anxious to have the book published before the tide of public interest slacks, which it must very soon do. – The writer in the Philanthropist has written exactly as I could wish ‘mine enemy’ to write. He shall have a note in the Appendix, in which I shall answer him very mildly, & remind him that his quarrel lies more with Hooker [6]  & with Warburton [7]  than with me, & exhort him to confute the Ecclesiastical polity & the Alliance, – when he has done that I am at his service for the contest. [8] 

The Ladies, the Twins & the Horseman [9]  all unite in remembrances –

believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly, respectfully, & in haste

Robert Southey

Jany. 31. 1812


* Address: To/ The Reverend Dr Bell/ 5. Devonshire Street/ Portland Place/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 3 FE 3/ 1812
Endorsement: Mr Southey/ 31 Jany 1812
Seal: Red wax
MS: University of Kentucky Library
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey and Caroline Southey, The Life of the Rev. Andrew Bell, 3 vols (London and Edinburgh, 1844), II, pp. 654–655 [in part]. BACK

[1] Memoranda and corrections for Southey’s defence of Bell, The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education (1812). BACK

[2] Pupils in Lancaster’s schools wrote on slates. In Bell’s the alphabet was taught via writing letters in sand. Southey argued that Lancaster could not prove the superiority of his method; The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education (London, 1812), pp. 33–34. BACK

[3] Information about the tributes and gifts Bell received from his erstwhile pupils was put into a ‘Postscript’; see The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education (London, 1812), p. 210. BACK

[4] Southey’s name was not on the title page of The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education. BACK

[5] The volume was not dedicated to the Prince Regent. BACK

[6] Richard Hooker (1554–1600; DNB). Southey especially admired his The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (1594–1597), which argued for Anglicanism as a middle way between Puritanism and Catholicism, the role of reason in religion and a historical understanding of the Bible. The book was no. 1427 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] The Anglican theologian and bishop, William Warburton (1668–1779; DNB). BACK

[8] Southey responded to a pro-Lancaster essay in The Philanthropist, 1 (1811), 375–388, in the ‘Postscript’ to The Origin, Nature, and Object, of the New System of Education (London, 1812), pp. 203–206. He argued that the essay was opposed to the Anglican establishment and the ‘British constitution’. BACK

[9] Southey’s family. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013