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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 5 May 1807

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, May 5. 1807.
“My dear Grosvenor.

“When I wished you never to read the Classics again it was because, like many other persons, you read nothing else, and were not likely ever to get more knowledge out of them than you had got already, especially as you chiefly (I may say exclusively) read those from whom least is to be got, which is also another sin of the age. Your letter contains the usual blunders which the ignorance of the age is continually making, and upon which, and nothing else, rests the whole point at issue between such critics as Jeffrey and myself: you couple Homer and Virgil under the general term of classics, and suppose that both are to be admired upon the same grounds. A century ago this was better understood; the critics of that age did read what they wrote about, and understood what they read, and they knew that whoever thought the one of these
writers a good poet must upon that very principle hold the other to be a bad one. Greek and Latin poets, Grosvenor, are as opposite as French and English (excepting always
Lucretius and Catullus), and you may as well suppose it possible for a man equally to admire Shakspeare and Racine as Homer and Virgil; that is, provided he knows why and wherefore he admires either. Elmsley will tell you this, and I suppose you will admit him to be authority upon this subject.

“You ask me about the Catholic question. I am against admitting them to power of any kind, because the immediate use that would be made of it would be to make proselytes, for which Catholicism is of all religions best adapted. Every ship which had a Catholic captain would have a Catholic chaplain, and in no very long time a Catholic crew: so on in the army; just as every rich Catholic in England at this time has his mansion surrounded with converts fairly purchased,—the Jerningham family in Norfolk for instance. I object to any concessions, because no concession can possibly satisfy them; and I think it palpable folly to talk or think of tolerating any sect (beyond what they already enjoy) whose first principle is that their church is infallible, and, therefore, bound to persecute all others. This is the principle of Catholicism everywhere, and when they can they avow it and act upon it.

“If our statesmen (God forgive me for degrading the word),—if our traders in politics,—had better information of how things are going on abroad, they would not talk of the distinction between Catholic
and Protestant as political parties being extinct. But for that distinction Prussia could not have retained its conquests from Austria; and that distinction
Bonaparte is at this time endeavouring to profit by. There is a regular conspiracy,—a system carrying on to propagate popery in the North of Germany, of which Coleridge could communicate much if he would, he knowing the main directors of the new propaganda at Rome. The mode of doing it is curious,—they bring the people first to believe in Jacob Behmen, and then they may believe in anything else. All fanaticism tends to this point. You will hear something that bears upon this subject from Espriella when he makes his appearance; and you will also see more of the present history of enthusiasm in this country than any body could possibly suspect who has not, as I have done, cast a searching eye into the holes and comers of society, and watched its under currents, which carry more water than the upper stream.

“I have a favour to ask of Horace,—which is, that he will do me the kindness to send me the titles of such Portuguese manuscripts as are in the Museum. There cannot be so many as to make this a thing of much trouble; and there are some of great value, which were, I believe, part of the plunder of Osorio’s library carried off from Sylvas by Sir F. Drake. I wish to know what they are, for the purpose of ascertaining how many among them are not to be found in their own country, and either taking myself, or causing to be taken, if a fit transcriber can be found, copies to present to some fit library at Lisbon:
in so doing I shall render the literature of that country a most acceptable service, which it would most highly gratify me to do, and for which I should receive very essential services in return. There are, I believe, in particular, some papers of
Geronimo Lobos concerning Abyssinia, and a MS. of which Vincent has made some use. I am particularly desirous of effecting this, not merely because I could do nothing which would be more essentially useful to my own views there, but also because of the true and zealous love which I feel for Portuguese literature, in which I am now as well versed as in that of my own country, and into which (whenever the reign of priestcraft is at an end) I hope to be one day adopted.

“I pray you remember that what I think upon the Catholic question by no means disposes me in favour of the new ministry. I, Mr. Bedford, am, as you know, a court pensioner, and have, as you well know, deserved to be so for my great and devoted attachment to the person of His Majesty and the measures of his government. Nevertheless, Mr. Bedford, his ministers are men of tried and convicted incapacity; they have always been the contempt of Europe; whether they can be more despised than their predecessors have uniformly and deservedly been, I know not. I cannot tell how far below nothing the political barometer can sink till it has been tried.

“God bless you!

R. S.”