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

2564. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 3 March 1815 ⁠* 

My dear R.

Glad as I am of the removal of the Property Tax; [1]  for the injustice with which it was laid on, I would rather have seen it continued for another seven years than that it should have been thus surrendered to a coalition of the mob & the Squirearchy. In my own judgement it ought to have been continued one or perhaps two years longer, in order to afford Government as much facility as possible in winding up the accounts of so long & arduous a contest. This would have been creditable to our national character; – but the people have no sense, & the Ministers no courage.

There is, no doubt, much to be said respecting the Corn Bill, [2]  but on that point also I am against the Squirearchy, – they have no right to fix a minimum unless they could consent to a maximum at the same time; xx as the one is manifestly un absurd, so is the other manifestly unjust.

Have you seen Dr Clarkes third volume? [3]  Never was such a fellow for discovering remarkable things. To say nothing of Alexanders xx coffin [4]  & the Ceres of Eleusis, [5]  he has found out {that} Joseph was buried in the great pyramid, which was opened by the Israelites in order to bring carry away his body, [6]  – & that Pompeys ashes were deposited in an urn upon the summit of Pompeys pillar. [7]  He reminds me somewhat of William Taylor in his discoveries, they are so many, & all so remarkable.

God bless you


3d. March 1815.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: RS/ 3 Mar. 1815
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 6 MR 6/ 1815
MS: Huntington Library, RS 244
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Government had made an announcement in the House of Commons on 9 February 1815 that income tax would be abolished. In fact, the renewed war with France in 1815 meant the war-time income tax was not finally ended until 1816. BACK

[2] The Government had introduced its proposal for a sliding scale of duties on imported corn on 1 March 1815. The Bill passed on 23 March 1815, despite much urban opposition. BACK

[3] The third volume of Edward Daniel Clarke (1769–1822), Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa (1810–1819). Southey later owned an edition of 1816–1824, no. 601 in the sale catalogue of his library. Clarke was also a great collector and bringer back of antiquities to Britain. BACK

[4] Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, 6 vols (1810–1819), II, pp. 246–249. Alexander the Great (356–323 BC, King of Macedon 336–323 BC). He was buried in Alexandria. BACK

[5] Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, 6 vols (1810–1819), II, pp. 772–775. The Temple of Ceres at Eleusis in Greece, site of the Eleusinian Mysteries. BACK

[6] Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, 6 vols (1810–1819), II, pp. 185–187. Joseph, son of Jacob, Biblical Patriarch. BACK

[7] Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, 6 vols (1810–1819), II, pp. 264–265. Gnaus Pompeius Magnus (106–48 BC), Roman general. Pompey’s pillar is a Roman triumphal column in Alexandria. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013