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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to the Editor of the Courier, 28 February 1817

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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“In Courier, March 17. 1817.

“Allow me a place in your columns for my ‘last words’ concerning Wat Tyler.

“In the year 1794, this manuscript was placed by a friend of mine (long since deceased) in Mr. Ridgeway’s hands. Being shortly afterwards in London myself for a few days, I called on Mr. Ridgeway, in Newgate, and he and Mr. Symonds agreed to publish it. I understood that they had changed their intention, because no proof sheet was sent me, and acquiescing readily in their cooler opinion, made no inquiry concerning it. More than two years elapsed before I revisited London; and then, if I had thought of the manuscript, it would have appeared a thing of too little consequence to take the trouble of claiming it for the mere purpose of throwing it behind the fire. That it might be published surreptitiously at any future time, was a wickedness of which I never dreamt.

“To these facts I have made oath. Mr. Winterbottom, a dissenting minister, has sworn, on the contrary, that Messrs. Ridgeway and Symonds having declined the publication, it was undertaken by himself and Daniel Isaac Eaton; that I gave them the copy as their own property, and gave them, moreover, a fraternal embrace, in gratitude for their gracious acceptance of it; and that he the said Winterbottom verily believed he had a right now,
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after an interval of three-and-twenty years, to publish it as his own.

“My recollection is perfectly distinct, notwithstanding the lapse of time; and it was likely to be so, as I was never, on any other occasion, within the walls of Newgate. The work had been delivered to Mr. Ridgeway; it was for him that I inquired, and into his apartments I was shown. There I saw Mr. Symonds, and there I saw Mr. Winterbottom also, whom I knew to be a dissenting minister. I never saw Daniel Isaac Eaton in my life; and as for the story of the embrace, every person who knows my disposition and manners, will at once perceive it to be an impudent falsehood. Two other persons came into the room while I was there; the name of the one was Lloyd,—I believe he had been an officer in the army; that of the other was Barrow. I remembered him a bishop’s boy at Westminster. I left the room with an assurance that Messrs. Ridgeway and Symonds were to be the publishers; in what way Winterbottom might be connected with them, I neither knew nor cared, and Eaton I never saw. There is no earthly balance in which oaths can be weighed against each other; but character is something in the scale; and it is perfectly in character that the man who has published Wat Tyler under the present circumstances, should swear—as Mr. Winterbottom has sworn.

“Thus much concerning the facts. As to the work itself, I am desirous that my feelings should neither be misrepresented nor misunderstood. It contains the statement of opinions which I have long
outgrown, and which are stated more broadly because of this dramatic form. Were there a sentiment or an expression which bordered upon irreligion or impurity, I should look upon it with shame and contrition; but I can feel neither for opinions of universal equality, taken up as they were conscientiously in early youth, acted upon in disregard of all worldly considerations, and left behind me in the same straightforward course as I advanced in years. The piece was written when such opinions, or rather such hopes and fears, were confined to a very small number of the educated classes; when those who were deemed Republicans were exposed to personal danger from the populace; and when a spirit of anti-Jacobinism prevailed, which I cannot characterise better than by saying that it was as blind and as intolerant as the Jacobinism of the present day. The times have changed. Had it been published surreptitiously under any other political circumstances, I should have suffered it to take its course, in full confidence that it would do no harm, and would be speedily forgotten as it deserved. The present state of things, which is such as to make it doubtful whether the publisher be not as much actuated by public mischief as by private malignity, rendered it my duty to appeal for justice, and stop the circulation of what no man had a right to publish. And this I did, not as one ashamed and penitent for having expressed crude opinions and warm feelings in his youth (feelings right in themselves, and wrong only in their direction), but as a man whose life has been such that it may set slander at defiance, and who is unremit-
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tingly endeavouring to deserve well of his country and of mankind.

Robert Southey.”