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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 25 August 1816

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Aug. 25. 1816.
“My dear Rickman,

“I have been long in your debt; my summers are more like those of the grasshopper than of the ant. Wynn was here nearly a week, and when he departed I rejoined him with my friend Nash at Lowther. . . . . This, and a round home by way of Wordsworth’s employed a week; and what with the King of Prussia’s librarian, the two secretaries of the Bible Society, and other such out of the way personages who come to me by a sort of instinct, I have had little time and less leisure since my return.

“The last odd personage who made his appearance was Owen of Lanark*, who is neither more nor

* On this subject see Colloquies, vol. i. p. 132. &c.

less than such a Pantisocrat as I was in the days of my youth. He is as ardent now as I was then, and will soon be cried down as a visionary (certainly he proposes to do more than I can believe practicable in this generation); but I will go to Lanark to see what he has done. I conversed with him for about an hour, and, not knowing anything about him, good part of the time elapsed before I could comprehend his views,—so little probable did it appear that any person should come to me with a levelling system of society, and tell me he had been to the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Ministers, &c. But he will be here again in a day or two, and meantime I have read a pamphlet which is much more injudicious than his conversation, and will very probably frustrate the good which he might by possibility have produced.

“To this system he says we must come speedily. . . . . What he says of the manufacturing system has much weight in it; the machinery which enables us to manufacture for half the world has found its way into other countries; every market is glutted; more goods are produced than can be consumed; and every improvement in mechanism that performs the work of hands, throws so many mouths upon the public,—a growing evil which has been increasing by the premature employment of children, bringing them into competition with the grown workmen when they should have been at school or at play. He wants Government to settle its paupers and supernumerary hands in villages upon waste lands, to live in community; urging that we must go to the root of the evil at once. He talks of what he
Ætat. 42. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 197
has done at Lanark (and this indeed has been much talked of by others); but his address to his people there has much that is misplaced, injudicious, and reprehensible. Did you see him in London? Had we met twenty years ago, the meeting might have influenced both his life and mine in no slight degree. During those years he has been a practical man, and I have been a student; we do not differ in the main point, but my mind has ripened more than his.

“You talk of brain transfusion, and placing one man’s memory upon another man’s shoulders. That same melancholy feeling must pass through the mind of every man who labours hard in acquiring knowledge; for, communicate what we can, and labour as assiduously as we may, how much must needs die with us? This reflection makes me sometimes regret (as far as is allowable) the time which I employ in doing what others might do as well, or what might as well be left undone. The Quarterly might go on without me, and should do so if I could go on without it. But what would become of my Portuguese acquirements and of yonder heap of materials, which none but myself can put in order, if I were to be removed by death?

“For the two voted monuments, I want one durable one, which should ultimately pay itself,—a pyramid not smaller than the largest in Egypt, the inside of which should serve London for Catacombs: some such provision is grievously wanted for so huge a capitol. God bless you!

R. S.”