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

2581. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 28 March 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 28th March 1815

My dear Sir

I write a few lines to request that you will halt a few days with us, on your way to the South. We hoped to have seen you during the winter, & trust that you will not disappoint us now.

What a Resurrection of the Devil is this! [1]  Hereafter I hope we shall hear more of justice & less of magnanimity. If the evil could be confined to France alone, we might contemplate it with complacency. What a blessed consummation it would be to see Marshals fighting against Marshals, Frenchmen against Frenchmen, Xx Satan against Beelzebub, till the whole of that army which has been bred up under this Monster should be exterminated! I feel so strongly that Paris ought to be burnt as a mark of divine vengeance against the crimes which have been committed there, & proceeded from thence, that I could half persuade myself it will not escape a second time. As for the issue of the contest I should have no fear concerning it, provided all were sound at home. But the fabric of social order in this country is undermined, & we are treading upon gunpowder. Of all acts of insanity ever committed by a legislature, that of quarrelling with the populace concerning Bread, is surely the most insane. [2]  The lower classes already understand the art of combination & of raising money, so as to avail themselves fully of their numbers & defy the law. They understand also in the Luddite countries [3]  the art of insurrection, & know how to baffle the military. Another lesson will make the London-mob perfect in this art, which in great cities is a very easy one. And what is our Government worth when that is accomplished!

Remember us to Miss Wood [4]  & believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Esqre/ Netherhall/ Maryport
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: Red Wax, ‘S’ with motto ‘In Labore Quies’
Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co / 1811
MS: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Napoleon had left Elba on 26 February 1815 and returned to France. 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] Luddities smashed textile machinery that they saw as a threat to employment. The movement was based in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Lancashire. BACK

[4] Possibly a cousin or aunt; Senhouse’s mother was Catherine Wood (dates unknown). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013