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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Henry Taylor, 13 November 1826

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, Nov. 13. 1826.
“My dear H. T.,

“You are right in supposing that I should have made a bad statesman*, and you may add to it that for no one line of life should I have been well qualified, except for the clerical profession. But had I been placed in political life I might very probably have erred more from want of decision than from deciding too rapidly.

“The Benedictine Order was established long before the twelfth century,—early in the sixth,—and swallows up all other rules in the Western world. It was in the twelfth that the two great Mendicant orders (the Franciscan and Dominican) were established. By help of those orders, and of that said Wadding whereon you pun, I shall make a ramp

* “I have thought, as I read the Edinburgh Annual Register, how apt you were to state a strong reason as a conclusive one. To every extensive measure weighty objections exist, whatever reasons there may be to overrule them. Had you been a statesman instead of an author, the habits of your mind would have been more scrutinising as to the merits, more inquisitive as to the defects of what, upon the whole, you should see cause to approve. If not, you would have been very far from what is called, in official phrase, ‘a safe man.’”—H. T. to R. S., Nov. 10. 1826.

I may quote here, as applicable to these remarks, a passage from a letter of my father’s written some years later:—“What —— —— complains of in Sadler’s speeches and in his book, is exactly what you have complained of in certain of my compositions; that confidence which a man feels whose opinions are established upon his religious belief, and who looks to the moral consequences in everything, and will no more admit of any measures which oppose that belief, or lead to consequences injurious to it, than a mathematician will listen to anything that contradicts an axiom, or a logician to a train of reasoning which starts from a false postulate.”—R. S. to H. T., April 8. 1829.

among the Roman Catholics. Do but imagine how
Butler and Bishop Bramston (who is an old acquaintance of mine) will look when I set Sister Providence upon her head before them!

“The Register was perhaps the most successful occupation for myself in which I was ever engaged. It led me to look into the grounds of my own opinions—to modify some, to change others, and to confirm other some. If you remember it, when you are reading the Peninsular War, you will perceive that imperfect information had led me sometimes wrong, and that sometimes I had erred in forming my own opinion. But on the whole it is very satisfactory to find how much more frequently I was right in combining facts and forming conclusions. Do you know that the Whigs held a Council of War, and resolved to have me brought as a culprit before the House of Commons for certain remarks in that Register upon some of their worshipful body; but their decision was reversed upon an appeal, I suppose, from Whig drunk to Whig sober. It was a great pity, for I should have had good advisers and good friends, have made my own cause good, and have punished them to my heart’s content.

“God bless you!

R. S.”