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

2427. Robert Southey to John Bell, 25 May 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 25. 1814

Sir

I should have been very glad if it had been in my power to communicate to you any information upon the subject of your enquiries. Morris-dancing, [1]  I believe, is entirely out of use in this part of the North; & in the West of England (my native country) I remember to have heard of only one instance. It is however a curious one. George Lukins who was famous in the year 1788 for having had seven Devils cast out of him by as many ministers, in Temple Church, Bristol, declared that the said Devils entered into him eighteen years before, as he was, with other young people going about & acting Christmas plays or mummeries. – This Lukins lived at Yatton in Somersetshire, [2] 

I am Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Bell Esqre/ Quayside/ Newcastle on Tyne
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: Red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Morgan Library, MA 4500
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A form of English folk dancing that dates back to the fifteenth century and possibly earlier. BACK

[2] The tailor George Lukins (b. c. 1744), popularly known as the ‘Yatton demoniac’, was the subject in 1788 of a controversial exorcism performed by the Revd Joseph Easterbrook (d. 1790/1791), vicar of Temple Church, Bristol, and six Methodist ministers. The case attracted a great deal of publicity. Opinion was divided as to whether Lukins had been possessed by the devil, was a victim of epilepsy or St Vitus’ Dance, an imposter, or a lunatic. It is fair to say that the case for morris dancing resulting in demoniacal possession remains unproven. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013