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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 25 January 1811

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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“Jan. 25. 1811.
“My dear Rickman,

“Thank you for the East India Report and for the Burdett papers. Your notes upon Parliamentary
Reform are now lying in my desk to be introduced immediately after the foolish plan which he proposed in 1805,—a plan which could do no possible good. It is downright absurdity to suppose that the House of Commons can be a pure representative body, when there is always a regular party organised against the government of the country, and consequently in semi-alliance with the enemy; Such a state of things (which never existed anywhere else, and, as you will say, could not exist here but by favour of old Neptune), was unknown to our old laws of Parliament; and it is therefore a manifest fallacy to argue from those laws against practices which are rendered necessary by the existing system, and without which there could be no government. The evil which I wish to see remedied is the aggregation of landed property, which gives to such a man as —— the command of whole counties, and enables such men as —— to sing ‘we are seven,’ like
Wordsworth’s little girl, into the ear of a minister, and demand for himself situations which he is unfit for. This is a worse evil than that which our mortmain statutes were enacted to remedy, for it is gradually rooting out the yeomanry of the country, and dwindling the gentry into complete political insignificance. It is not parliamentary reform which can touch this evil: some further limitation of entail, or a proper scheme of income taxation, might. Concerning parliamentary reform, indeed, my views are much changed; and Sir F. Burdett’s scheme has not a little contributed to the alteration, elucidated as it is by all his subsequent conduct. The phrase, in-
Ætat. 36. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 297
deed, like Catholic Emancipation, is vox et præterea nihil.

“God bless you!

R. S.”