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

2587. Robert Southey to William Peachy, 13 April 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 13th April. 1815

My dear Sir

This morning on my usual walk to Friars Crag, old Daniel Crosthwaite [1]  the Grocero-Bookseller accosted me to say that the Bishop of Gloucesters book was out of print. [2]  In reply to my first inquiries concerning it he had said that it was not published, – & his second order to his London correspondent produces the intelligence that the whole edition is sold. This blundering deprives me of the satisfaction of seeing my own opinions upon an important subject confirmed by one whose abilities & authority are of great weight: but it is not a subject upon which I stand in need of farther knowledge, as there are very few upon which I have formed so decided a judgement. I should however have perused the Bishops work with great interest. Have you seen Herbert Marsh’s Comparative View of the differences between the Churches of England & of Rome? [3]  It is becoming yearly of more importance that these differences should be generally understood. The Jesuits have established themselves within fifteen miles of Dublin in the County of Kildare, where they have given £18,000 for a house & about 140 acres of land – They have opened a College there, where they have about 40 pupils, children of farmers ‘who keep their gigs.” The age of admission is from 7 to 14, & no vacations are allowed, that nothing may disturb the operation of their system upon the growing mind. Their friends boast that Mr Kenney the President of this College has more money at command than any Bishop in the Kingdom. [4]  Government knows all this, & contented itself with making some fruitless questions at the commencement of the transaction. {But} Were you or I to discover a viper brood of vipers in our gardens, I think we should {not} defer operations against them, till some of the family had been bitten.

The last newspapers have disheartened me very much. There is clearly a party in the Cabinet who are in the cold fit of the ague, & are disposed to temporize, & vacillate & negociate, at a moment when we oug they ought to speak in thunder, & write their manifestoes in blood. Meantimes the old admirers of the Usurper Messrs Whitbread [5]  & Co, are staunch in his cause, & the Grenvilles who know that war is not only just & necessary, but that it is inevitable, & ought not to be avoided even if it could, instead of coming manfully forward with an avowal of this to strengthen & stimulate the Government, are activated only by that cursed spirit of party which it is to be feared may ultimately prove as fatal to England as it did to Carthage. [6]  The blunders of last year ought to be regarded not as matters for criminating the Ministry, but as lessons for the future: as decisive proof demonstrating that there can be no peace for Europe while Buonaparte lives, & while the army which he has formed after his own heart is suffered to exist. War must be made upon him as an Usurper & upon them as rebels. I do not mean to say that they are to be put to death when taken prisoners, – but that they should be sent to Siberia, never to return. Notwithstanding the cowardly language of Ministers, I think we must have immediate war & this is {felt} by all persons with whom I have any intercourse distinctly felt: If it be prompt & vigorous it x may be soon terminated: but in regarding {reference to} that moral order of things which may be distinctly traced throughout the course of history, I should regard any xx sufferings which might be inflicted upon France, & any catastrophe calamity with which Paris might be visited, as judicial dispensations, almost to be expected.

I announced last year a series of Inscriptions recording the acts of xxxxx the British Army in the Peninsula; [7]  – the plan was formed because I thought it incumbent upon me became me to seek all worthy occasions for writing upon public affairs {national topics}, as much as to shun the common-places of court-poetry. But I postponed it during the peace, because when the French Marshals had been taken into favour, there might have {been} some impropriety in applying to them those epithets which they deserved, when I was compelled was writing quasi ex officio, [8]  tho not actually so. In my history I felt no such restraint. [9]  Now however I have resumed the task, – No & shall publish as soon as possible. The plan includes an inscription for every battle & capture of &c, & epitaphs for all the distinguished officers who fell.

In looking for what good may arise out of this new state of things, I think we may promise ourselves the pleasure of seeing you next summer xx at the Island. Our best remembrances to Mrs Peachy. Senhouse past a day with us last week on his way Southward. I am fixed to my desk, & shall hardly travel before the Autumn – Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To / Major-General Peachy/ 9 Pulteney Street/ Bath.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 28603
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In Keswick directories of this period, M. and D. Crosthwaite are described as ‘mercers, drapers and grocers’ and D. Crosthwaite as ‘bookseller’. The Crosthwaites are possibly related to Peter Crosthwaite (1735–1808), a retired naval commander, publisher of maps and inventor of the aeolian harp. In the 1780s he established the first museum in Keswick. Its treasures included a set of musical stones, a stuffed albatross and a pig with no legs. By 1811 the Museum was run by his son Daniel (c. 1776–1847), a portrait painter. BACK

[2] George Isaac Huntingford (1748–1832; DNB), Bishop of Gloucester. In 1813 he published A Protestant Letter Addressed to Lord Somers opposing Catholic Emancipation. BACK

[3] Herbert Marsh (1757–1839; DNB), cleric and biblical critic. His Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome (1814) became a standard work of anti-Catholic apologetics. BACK

[4] The Jesuit Peter James Kenney (1779–1841; DNB) founded Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare, in 1814. It became the leading boarding school for Irish middle class Catholics. BACK

[5] i.e. the Whigs as followers of Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB). BACK

[6] The main rival to ancient Rome, destroyed in 146 BC. BACK

[7] In early 1814, Southey’s ‘Inscriptions Triumphal and Sepulchral, recording the acts of the British army in the Peninsula’ had been advertised as ‘nearly ready for publication’ (e.g. in European Magazine, 65 (January 1814), 77). Only 18 of the projected 30 poems were completed and they were not collected together until they were published in Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 122–156. BACK

[8] i.e. semi-officially. BACK

[9] Southey’s writings in the Edinburgh Annual Register 1810–1813. BACK

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August 2013