2259. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [before 21 May 1813] 

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

2259. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [before 21 May 1813]⁠* 

My dear R.

Here is a delicious xxxxxxxxxx for any person who should xxxx xxx when he speaks upon the Catholic question passage from one of Fieldings papers in the Covent Garden Journal.

He has been describing the Robinhoodians, as he calls the Robin Hood Society, [1]  as if from some newly discovered manuscript, & after speculating upon the age in which they lived proceeds thus

‘But if none of these reasons should be thought satisfactory to fix with any absolute certainty the exact era of this assembly, the following conclusions must be, I think, allowed by evey reader.

1st that some religion had a kind of establishment amongst these people.

2dly That this religion, whatever it was, could not have the least sway over their morals or practice.

3dly That this society, in which the first principles of religion & government were debated, was the chief assembly in this country, & Mr Whitebread, [2]  the baker, the greatest man in it

And lastly, I think it can create no manner of surprize in any one, that such a nation as this hath been long since swept away from the face of the earth, & the very name of such a people expunged out of the memory of man.” [3] 


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 21 May 1813
MS: Huntington Library, RS 206
Dating note: dating from endorsement. BACK

[1] An early-mid eighteenth century debating society which met at Essex Street, Strand, London. BACK

[2] Southey’s delight presumably comes from the similarity to the surname of Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB), radical MP and especial Southeyan bête noire. BACK

[3] Henry Fielding (1707–1754; DNB), The Covent-Garden Journal, 9 (1 February 1752), reprinted in The Works of Henry Fielding, 12 vols (London, 1776), I, pp. 87–88. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013