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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Robert Gooch, 18 December 1825

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, Dec. 18. 1825.
“My dear Gooch,

“I cannot refer you to any other account of the Sisters of Charity than is to be found in Helyot’s Histoire des Ordres Monastiques, a very meagre but useful book;—compared to what a history ought to be, it is somewhat like what a skeleton is to the body. When I was first in the Low Countries I endeavoured
to collect what information I could concerning the Beguines, and got into their principal establishment at Ghent. Their history is curiously uncertain, which I found not only from themselves but from pursuing the subject in books; and as I have those books at hand, I can at any time tell you what is not known about them, for to that the information which they contain amounts. The Beguines are as much esteemed in the Low Countries as the Soeurs de la Charite in France, but I have incidentally learnt from books that scandal used to be busy with them. A profession of religion naturally affords cover for hypocrisy, and it is therefore to be expected that scandal should sometimes arise, and more frequently be imputed; but the general utility of the institution is unquestionable; and I do not know that there is anything to be set against it, for they are bound by no vows, nor to any of those observances which are at once absurd and onerous. I will have the notes which I made concerning them at Ghent transcribed for you. As your adventures were in Flanders, not in France, have you not mistaken the Beguines for the Sisters of Charity?

“It is not surprising that your letters in Blackwood should have produced so much impression. The subject comes home to everybody, and that Yarmouth story is one of the most touching incidents I ever remember to have heard. As an example to prove how much a principle of humanity is wanting, look by all means for an account of the Foundling Hospital at Dublin, where the most damnable inhumanity of its kind upon record was practised by the
Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 239
nurses for a course of years. The mortality was monstrous. I think it appeared that these wretches who dealt in infant suffering used sometimes to murder the children by sitting upon them in the carts wherein they conveyed them from the hospital to the country.

“The change of ministry in the Quarterly Review is the only change of such a kind which could have affected me for evil and for good.

“As for my importance to the Review, it is very little. Just at this juncture I might do harm by withdrawing from it; but at any other time I should be as little missed as I shall be, except in my own family and in some half-a-dozen hearts besides, whenever death shakes hands with me. The world closes over one as easily as the waters. Not, however, that I shall sink to be forgotten.

“But as for present effect, the reputation of the Review is made, and papers of less pith and moment than mine would serve the bookseller’s purpose quite as well, and amuse the great body of readers, who read only for amusement or for fashion, more.

“God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
R. Southey.”