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

2339. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 30 November 1813 ⁠* 

Nov 30. 1813.

My dear R

Thank you for your letter. [1]  It cautions me well against the indiscreet xx use of words which ought to be reserved for great occasions, & I do not discover that we differ in opinion when we understand each other. I see as you do, & surely have often expressed, that the whirlwind of the Revolution was necessary to clear away the pestilence of the old governments, & think as you do that the Law of in the moral Government of the world & of the Universe general results are those which be {are} contemplated; – & {that} to these individuals, species & nations will sometimes be sacrificed. The belief that Good is stronger than Evil sets all right upon the great scale, – & all is set right for individuals also xx in a future state.

Certainly I do not believe that God can prefer one nation to another. But in cases like the old Dutch war against Spain, [2]  & the present war against Buonaparte, the struggle is actually between good & evil, & the contest is actually what the Crusades [3]  were only in name erroneously called – a Holy War. – However I will be sparing of such epithets.

I am glad the Char arrived in good case. They were from Crummock Lake, Derwentwater is not deep enough for them. I sent them thinking that a Char must be in London, must be like a Tortoise Shell Tom Cat a rara avis. [4] 

Remember me to Mrs R.

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS./ Nov 30. 1813
MS: Huntington Library, RS 214
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 337-338; and Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), p. 172 [in part]. BACK

[1] Rickman to Southey, 20 November 1813, Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 169–171. BACK

[2] The Dutch War of Independence against Spain, 1568–1648. BACK

[3] The military expeditions launched from western Europe to conquer Jerusalem in the period 1095–1272. BACK

[4] ‘a rarity’. The rarity of the male tortoiseshell cat had been discussed in Southey’s Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, p. 235. BACK

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August 2013