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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 8 September 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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“Sept. 8. 1816.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“I have seldom taken up a pen with so little knowledge of what was to proceed from it as on this occasion; for after sleeping upon your letters, and thinking on them, and breakfasting upon them, I am at a loss how to reply or how to act. If it be necessary, I will certainly go to London. Do you, after what I may say, talk with Herries, and determine whether it be so. . . . .

“It is very obvious that a sense of danger has occasioned this step. Look at my first Paper upon the Poor in the 16th Quarterly; had the ministry opened their eyes four years ago, had they seen what was passing before their eyes, the evil might then have been checked. The events of a successful war would have enabled them to pursue a vigorous policy at home. It will be more difficult now, and requires more courage. And less is to be done by administering antidotes, than by preventing the dis-
Ætat. 43. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 203
tribution of the poison. Make by all means the utmost use of the press in directing the public opinion, but impose some curb upon its license, or all efforts will be in vain.

“In any way that may be thought desirable I will do my best; but alas, Grosvenor, what can I do that I have not been doing? A journal with the same object in view as the Anti-Jacobin, but conducted upon better principles, might be of service. I could contribute to it from a distance. But to you it must be obvious, that as my head and hands are not, like Kehama’s, multipliable at pleasure, I can exert myself only in one place at a time, and Government would gain nothing by transferring me from the Quarterly to anything else which they might be willing to launch. It may be said that the Q. R. is established; that this engine is at work, and will go on, and that it is desirable to have more engines than one. I admit this. . . . . In short, whatever ought to be done I am ready to do, and to do it fearlessly. The best thing seems to write a small book or large pamphlet upon the state of the nation.

“In all this I see nothing which would require a change of residence; that measure would induce a great sacrifice of feeling, of comfort, and of expense, and draw on a heavily increased expenditure. They would provide for this; but in what manner? A man is easily provided for who is in a profession, or is capable of holding any official character; this is not my case. . . . .

“You will understand that I will hasten to London
if it be thought necessary, but that in my own calm judgment it is quite unnecessary, and I even believe that any conversation which the men in power might have with me would operate to my disadvantage. I should appear confused and visionary; an impracticable sort of man. On the whole, too, I do not think I could leave this country, where I am now in a manner attached to the soil by a sort of moral and intellectual serfage, which I could not break if I would,—and would not, if I could. And
Edith is to be considered even more than myself.

“It is better that I should write either to you or Herries a letter to be shown, than that I should show myself. Good may undoubtedly be done by exposing the anarchists, and awakening the sound part of the country to a sense of their danger. This I can do; but it will be of no avail unless it be followed by effective measures. . . . . The immediate distress can best be alleviated by finding employment for the poor. . . . . I am very desirous that Mr. Owen’s plan for employing paupers in agriculture should be tried: he writes like a madman, but his practice ought not to be confounded with his metaphysics; the experiment is worth trying, I do not doubt its success; and the consequences which he so foolishly anticipates will triumph should be regarded as the dreams of an enthusiast, not as reasons to deter Government from the most plausible means of abolishing the poor-rates which has been (or in my judgment can be) proposed. I have seen Owen, and talked with him at great length.

“God bless you!