LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Vol. IV Appendix

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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Extract from Mr. William Smith’s Speech in the House of Commons, March 14. 1817.

The honourable member then adverted to that tergiversation of principle which the career of political individuals so often presented. He was far from supposing that a man who set out in life with the profession of certain sentiments, was bound to conclude life with them. He thought there might be many occasions in which a change of opinion, when that change was unattended by any personal advantages, when it appeared entirely disinterested, might be the result of sincere conviction. But what he most detested, what most filled him with disgust, was the settled, determined malignity of a renegado. He had read in a publication (the Quarterly Review), certainly entitled to much respect from its general literary excellences, though he differed from it in its principles, a passage alluding to the recent disturbances, which passage was as follows:—‘When the man of free opinions commences professor of moral and political philosophy for the benefit of the public, the fables of old credulity are then verified; his very breath becomes venomous, and every page which he sends abroad carries with it poison to the unsuspicious reader. We have shown, on a former occasion, how men of this description are acting upon the public, and have explained in what
manner a large part of the people have been prepared for the virus with which they inoculate them. The dangers arising from such a state of things are now fully apparent, and the designs of the incendiaries, which have for some years been proclaimed so plainly, that they ought, long ere this, to have been prevented, are now manifested by overt acts.’

“With the permission of the House, he would read an extract from a poem recently published, to which, he supposed, the above writer alluded (or, at least, to productions of a similar kind), as constituting a part of the virus with which the public mind had been infected:—
‘My brethren, these are truths, and weighty ones:
Ye are all equal; Nature made ye so.
Equality is your birthright; when I gaze
On the proud palace, and behold one man,
In the blood-purpled robes of royalty,
Feasting at ease, and lording over millions;
Then turn me to the hut of poverty,
And see the wretched labourer, worn with toil,
Divide his scanty morsel with his infants,
I sicken, and, indignant at the sight,
Blush for the patience of humanity.’

“He could read many other passages from these works equally strong on both sides; but, if they were written by the same person, he should like to know from the honourable and learned gentleman opposite, why no proceedings had been instituted against the author. The poem Wat Tyler appeared to him to be the most seditious book that ever was written; its author did not stop short of exhorting to general anarchy; he vilified kings, priests, and nobles, and was for universal suffrage, and perfect equality. The Spencean plan could not be compared with it: that miserable and ridiculous performance did not attempt to employ any arguments; but the author of Wat Tyler constantly appealed to the passions, and in a
style which the author, at that time, he supposed, conceived to be eloquence. Why, then, had not those who thought it necessary to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act taken notice of this poem? why had they not discovered the author of that seditious publication, and visited him with the penalties of the law? The work was not published secretly, it was not handed about in the darkness of night, but openly and publicly sold in the face of day. It was at this time to be purchased at almost every bookseller’s shop in London: it was now exposed for sale in a bookseller’s shop in Pall Mall, who styled himself bookseller to one or two of the Royal Family. He borrowed the copy from which he had just read the extract from an honourable friend of his, who bought it in the usual way; and, therefore, he supposed there could be no difficulty in finding out the party that wrote it. He had heard, that when a man of the name of
Winterbottom was, some years ago, confined in Newgate, the manuscript had been sent to him, with liberty to print it for his own advantage, if he thought proper; but that man, it appeared, did not like to risk the publication, and, therefore, it was now first issued into the world. It must remain with the Government, and their legal advisers, to take what step they might deem most advisable to repress this seditious work, and punish its author. In bringing it under the notice of the House, he had merely spoken in defence of his constituents, who had been most grossly calumniated, and he thought that what he had said would go very far to exculpate them. But he wished to take this bull by the horns.”—See Hansard’s Parl. Debates, vol. xxxvii, p. 1088.

A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P., from Robert Southey, Esq.

“You are represented in the newspapers as having entered, during an important discussion in Parliament, into a comparison between certain passages in the Quarterly Review, and the opinions which were held by the author of Wat Tyler three and twenty years ago. It appears farther, according to the same authority, that the introduction of so strange a criticism, in so unfit a place, did not arise from the debate, but was a premeditated thing; that you had prepared yourself for it by stowing the Quarterly Review in one pocket, and Wat Tyler in the other; and that you deliberately stood up for the purpose of reviling an individual who was not present to vindicate himself, and in a place which afforded you protection.

“My name, indeed, was not mentioned; but that I was the person whom you intended, was notorious to all who heard you. For the impropriety of introducing such topics in such an assembly, it is farther stated that you received a well-merited rebuke from Mr. Wynn, who spoke on that occasion as much from his feelings towards one with whom he has lived in uninterrupted friendship for nearly thirty years, as from a sense of the respect which is due to Parliament. It is, however, proper that I should speak explicitly for myself. This was not necessary in regard to Mr. Brougham: he only carried the quarrels as well as the practices of the Edinburgh Review into the House of Commons. But as calumny, Sir, has not been your vocation, it may be useful, even to yourself, if I comment upon your first attempt.

“First, as to the Quarterly Review. You can have no
other authority for ascribing any particular paper in that journal to one person or to another, than common report; in following which you may happen to be as much mistaken as I was when upon the same grounds I supposed
Mr. William Smith to be a man of candour, incapable of grossly and wantonly insulting an individual.

“The Quarterly Review stands upon its own merits. It is not answerable for anything more than it contains. What I may have said, or thought, in any part of my life, no more concerns that journal than it does you or the House of Commons; and I am as little answerable for the journal as the journal for me. What I may have written in it is a question which you, Sir, have no right to ask, and which certainly I will not answer. As little right have you to take that for granted which you cannot possibly know. The question, as respects the Quarterly Review, is not who wrote the paper which happens to have excited Mr. William Smith’s displeasure, but whether the facts which are there stated are true, the quotations accurate, and the inferences just. The reviewer, whoever he may be, may defy you to disprove them.

“Secondly, as to Wat Tyler. Now, Sir, though you are not acquainted with the full history of this notable production, yet you could not have been ignorant that the author whom you attacked at such unfair advantage was the aggrieved, and not the offending person. You knew that this poem had been written very many years ago, in his early youth. You knew that a copy of it had been surreptitiously obtained, and made public, by some skulking scoundrel, who had found booksellers not more honourable than himself to undertake the publication. You knew that it was published without the writer’s knowledge, for the avowed purpose of insulting him, and with the hope of injuring him if possible. You knew that the transaction bore upon its face every character of
baseness and malignity. You knew that it must have been effected either by robbery or by breach of trust. These things,
Mr. William Smith, you knew! And, knowing them as you did, I verily believe, that if it were possible to revoke what is irrevocable, you would at this moment be far more desirous of blotting from remembrance the disgraceful speech which stands upon record in your name, than I should be of cancelling the boyish composition which gave occasion to it. Wat Tyler is full of errors; but they are the errors of youth and ignorance; they bear no indication of an ungenerous spirit or of a malevolent heart.

“For the book itself I deny that it is a seditious performance; for it places in the mouths of the personages who are introduced nothing more than a correct statement of their real principles. That it is a mischievous publication, I know; the errors which it contains being especially dangerous at this time. Therefore I came forward to avow it, to claim it as my own property, which had never been alienated, and to suppress it. And I am desirous that my motives in thus acting should not be misunderstood. The piece was written under the influence of opinions which I have long since outgrown, and repeatedly disclaimed, but for which I have never affected to feel either shame or contrition; they were taken up conscientiously in early youth, they were acted upon in disregard of all worldly considerations, and they were left behind in the same straightforward course, as I advanced in years. It was written when republicanism was confined to a very small number of the educated classes; when those who were known to entertain such opinions were exposed to personal danger from the populace; and when a spirit of Anti-Jacobinism was predominant, which I cannot characterise more truly than by saying that it was as unjust and intolerant, though not quite as ferocious,
as the Jacobinism of the present day. Had the poem been published during any quiet state of the public mind, the act of dishonesty in the publisher would have been the same; but I should have left it unnoticed, in full confidence that it would have been forgotten as speedily as it deserved. But in these times it was incumbent upon me to come forward as I have done. It became me to disclaim whatever had been erroneous and intemperate in my former opinions, as frankly and as fearlessly as I once maintained them. And this I did, not as one who felt himself in any degree disgraced by the exposure of the crude and misdirected feelings of his youth (feelings right in themselves, and wrong only in their direction), but as one whom no considerations have ever deterred from doing what he believed to be his duty.

“When, therefore, Mr. William Smith informed the House of Commons that the author of Wat Tyler thinks no longer upon certain points as he did in his youth, he informed that Legislative Assembly of nothing more than what the author has shown during very many years in the course of his writings,—that while events have been moving on upon the great theatre of human affairs, his intellect has not been stationary. But when the Member for Norwich asserts (as he is said to have asserted) that I impute evil motives to men merely for holding now the same doctrines which I myself formerly professed, and when he charges me (as he is said to have charged me) with the malignity and baseness of a renegade, the assertion and the charge are as false as the language in which they are conveyed is coarse and insulting.

“Upon this subject I must be heard farther. The Edinburgh Review has spoken somewhere of those vindictive and jealous writings in which Mr. Southey has brought forward his claims to the approbation of the public. This is one of those passages for which the editor
of that review has merited an abatement in heraldry, no such writings ever having been written; and, indeed, by other like assertions of equal veracity, the gentleman has richly entitled himself to bear a gore sinister tenné in his escutcheon. Few authors have obtruded themselves upon the public in their individual character less than I have done. My books have been sent into the world with no other introduction than an explanatory Preface as brief as possible, arrogating nothing, vindicating nothing; and then they have been left to their fate. None of the innumerable attacks which have been made upon them has ever called forth on my part a single word of reply, triumphantly as I might have exposed my assailants, not only for their ignorance and inconsistency, but frequently for that moral turpitude, which is implied in wilful and deliberate mis-statement. The unprovoked insults which have been levelled at me, both in prose and rhyme, never induced me to retaliate. It will not be supposed that the ability for satire was wanting, but, happily, I had long since subdued the disposition. I knew that men might be appreciated from the character of their enemies as well as of their friends, and I accepted the hatred of sciolists, coxcombs, and profligates, as one sure proof that I was deserving well of the wise and of the good.

“It will not, therefore, be imputed to any habit of egotism, or any vain desire of interesting the public in my individual concerns, if I now come forward from that privacy in which both from judgment and disposition it would have been my choice to have remained. While among the mountains of Cumberland I have been employed upon the Mines of Brazil, the War in the Peninsula, and such other varieties of pursuit as serve to keep the intellect in health by alternately exercising and refreshing it; my name has served in London for the very
shuttle-cock of discussion. My celebrity for a time has eclipsed that of
Mr. Hunt the orator, and may perhaps have impeded the rising reputation of Toby the sapient pig. I have reigned in the newspapers as paramount as Joanna Southcott during the last month of her tympany. Nay, columns have been devoted to Mr. Southey and Wat Tyler which would otherwise have been employed in bewailing the forlorn condition of the Emperor Napoleon, and reprobating the inhumanity of the British Cabinet for having designedly exposed him, like Bishop Hatto, to be devoured by the rats.

“That I should ever be honoured by such a delicate investigation of my political opinions was what I never could have anticipated, even in the wildest dreams of unfledged vanity. Honour, however, has been thrust upon me, as upon Malvolio. The verses of a boy, of which he thought no more than of his school-exercises, and which, had they been published when they were written, would have passed without notice to the family vault, have not only been perused by the Lord Chancellor in his judicial office, but have been twice produced in Parliament for the edification of the Legislature. The appetite for slander must be sharp-set when it can prey upon such small gear! As, however, the opinions of Mr. Southey have not been thought unworthy to occupy so considerable a share of attention, he need not apprehend the censure of the judicious if he takes part in the discussion himself, so far as briefly to inform the world what they really have been, and what they are.

“In my youth, when my stock of knowledge consisted of such an acquaintance with Greek and Roman history as is acquired in the course of a regular scholastic education,—when my heart was full of poetry and romance, and Lucan and Akenside were at my tongue’s end, I fell into the political opinions which the French Revolution was then
scattering throughout Europe; and following these opinions with ardour wherever they led, I soon perceived the inequalities of rank were a light evil compared to the inequalities of property, and those more fearful distinctions which the want of moral and intellectual culture occasions between man and man. At that time, and with those opinions, or rather feelings (for their root was in the heart and not in the understanding), I wrote
Wat Tyler, as one who was impatient of ‘all the oppressions that are done under the sun.’ The subject was injudiciously chosen, and it was treated as might be expected by a youth of twenty, in such times, who regarded only one side of the question. There is no other misrepresentation. The sentiments of the historical characters are correctly stated. Were I now to dramatize the same story, there would be much to add, but little to alter. I should not express these sentiments less strongly, but I should oppose to them more enlarged views of the nature of man and the progress of society. I should set forth with equal force the oppressions of the feudal system, the excesses of the insurgents, and the treachery of the Government; and hold up the errors and crimes which were then committed as a warning for this and for future ages. I should write as a man, not as a stripling; with the same heart and the same desires, but with a ripened understanding and competent stores of knowledge.

“It is a fair and legitimate inference, that no person would have selected this subject, and treated it in such a manner at such a time, unless he had in a certain degree partaken of the sentiments which are expressed in it: in what degree he partook them is a question which it requires more temper as well as more discretion to resolve than you, Sir, have given any proof of possessing. This can only be ascertained by comparing the piece with other works of the same author, written about the same time
or shortly afterwards, and under the influence of the same political opinions; by such a comparison it might be discerned what arose from his own feelings, and what from the nature of dramatic composition. But to select passages from a dramatic poem, and ascribe the whole force of the sentiments to the writer as if he himself held them, without the slightest qualification, is a mode of criticism manifestly absurd and unjust. Whether it proceeded in this instance from excess of malice, or deficiency of judgment, is a point which they who are best acquainted with
Mr. William Smith may be able to determine.

“It so happens that sufficient specimens of Mr. Southey’s way of thinking in his youth are before the world, without breaking open escritoires, or stealing any more of his juvenile papers which he may have neglected to burn. The poem to which, with all its faults, he is indebted for his first favourable notice from the public, may possibly have been honoured with a place in Mr. William Smith’s library, as it received the approbation of all the dissenting journals of the day. It is possible that their recommendation may have induced him to favour Joan of Arc with a perusal, and not improbably, in a mood which would indulge its manifold demerits in style and structure, for the sake of its liberal opinions. Perhaps, too, he may have condescended to notice the minor poems of the same author, sanctioned as some of these also were at their first appearance by the same critical authorities. In these productions he may have seen expressed an enthusiastic love of liberty, a detestation of tyranny wherever it exists and in whatever form, an ardent abhorrence of all wicked ambition, and a sympathy not less ardent with those who were engaged in war for the defence of their country, and in a righteous cause,—feelings just as well as generous in themselves. He might have perceived also frequent indications, that in the opinion of the youthful
writer a far happier system of society was possible than any under which mankind are at present existing, or ever have existed since the patriarchal ages,—and no equivocal aspirations after such a state. In all this he might have seen something that was erroneous, and more that was visionary; but nothing that savoured of intemperance or violence. I insist, therefore, that inasmuch as
Wat Tyler may differ in character from these works, the difference arises necessarily from the nature of dramatic composition. I maintain that this is the inference which must be drawn by every honest and judicious mind; and I affirm that such an influence would be strictly conformable to the fact.

“Do not, however, Sir, suppose that I shall seek to shrink from a full avowal of what my opinions have been; neither before God or man am I ashamed of them. I have as little cause for humiliation in recalling them, as Gibbon had, when he related how he had knelt at the feet of a confessor: for while I imbibed the republican opinions of the day, I escaped the Atheism, and the leprous immorality which generally accompanied them. I cannot, therefore, join with Beattie in blessing
‘The hour when I escaped the wrangling crew,
From Pyrrho’s maze and Epicurus’ sty.’
For I was never lost in the one, nor defiled in the other. My progress was of a different kind. From building castles in the air to framing commonwealths, was an easy transition; the next step was to realise the vision; and in the hope of accomplishing this, I forsook the course of life for which I had been designed, and the prospects of advancement, which I may say without presumption, were within my reach. My purpose was to retire with a few friends into the wilds of America, and there lay the foundations of a community, upon what we believed to
be the political system of Christianity. It matters not in what manner the vision was dissolved. I am not writing my own memoirs, and it is sufficient simply to state the fact. We were connected with no clubs, no societies, no party. The course which we would have pursued might have proved destructive to ourselves, but as it related to all other persons, never did the aberrations of youth take a more innocent direction.

“I know, Sir, that you were not ignorant of this circumstance: the project, while it was in view, was much talked of among that sect of Christians to which you belong; and some of your friends are well acquainted with the events of my life. What, then, I may ask, did you learn concerning me from this late surreptitious publication? Nay, Sir, the personal knowledge which you possessed was not needful for a full understanding of the political opinions which I entertained in youth. They are expressed in poems which have been frequently reprinted, and are continually on sale; no alterations have ever been made for the purpose of withdrawing, concealing, or extenuating them. I have merely affixed to every piece the date of the year in which it was written,—and the progress of years is sufficient to explain the change.

“You, Mr. William Smith, may possibly be acquainted with other persons who were republicans in the first years of the French Revolution, and who have long since ceased to be so, with as little impeachment of their integrity as of their judgment; yet you bring it as a heinous charge against me, that, having entertained enthusiastic notions in my youth, three-and-twenty years should have produced a change in the opinions of one whose life has been devoted to the acquirement of knowledge.

“You are pleased, in your candour, to admit that I might have been sincere when I was erroneous, and you, who are a professor of modern liberality, are not pleased
to admit that the course of time and events may have corrected me in what was wrong, and confirmed me in what was right. True it is that the events of the last five-and-twenty years have been lost upon you; perhaps you judge me by yourself, and you may think that this is a fair criterion; but I must protest against being measured by any such standard. Between you and me, Sir, there can be no sympathy, even though we should sometimes happen to think alike. We are as unlike in all things as men of the same time, country, and rank in society, can be imagined to be; and the difference is in our mind and mould as we came from the Potter’s hand.

“And what, Sir, is the change in the opinions of Mr. Southey, which has drawn upon him the ponderous displeasure of William Smith? This was a point upon which it behoved you to be especially well informed before you applied to him the false and insolent appellation which you are said to have used, and which I am authorised in believing that you have used. He has ceased to believe that old monarchical countries are capable of republican forms of government. He has ceased to think that he understood the principles of government, and the nature of man and society, before he was one-and-twenty years of age. He has ceased to suppose that men who neither cultivate their intellectual nor their moral faculties can understand them at any age. He has ceased to wish for revolutions even in countries where great alteration is to be desired, because he has seen that the end of anarchy is military despotism. But he has not ceased to love liberty with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength; he has not ceased to detest tyranny wherever it exists, and in whatever form. He has not ceased to abhor the wickedness of ambition, and to sympathise with those who were engaged in the defence of their country and in a righteous cause; if, indeed,
he had, he might have been sure of the approbation, not only of Mr. William Smith, and of those persons who were during the war the sober opponents of their country’s cause, but of the whole crew of ultra Whigs and Anarchists, from Messrs.
Brougham and Clodius, down to Cobbett, Cethegus, and Co.

“Many were the English who wished well to the French at the commencement of their Revolution; but if any of those Englishmen have attached the same interest to the cause of France through all the changes of the Revolution,—if they have hoped that Bonaparte might succeed in the usurpation of Portugal and Spain, and the subjugation of the Continent,—the change is in them, in their feelings and their principles, not in me and in mine. At no time of my life have I held any opinions like those of the Bonapartists and Revolutionists of the present day; never could I have held any communion with such men in thought, word, or deed;—my nature, God be thanked! would always have kept me from them instinctively, as it would from toad or asp. Look through the whole writings of my youth, including, if you please, Wat Tyler,—there can be no danger that its errors should infect a gentleman who has called upon the Attorney-general to prosecute the author; and he would not be the worse were he to catch from it a little of the youthful generosity which it breathes. I ask you, Sir, in which of those writings I have appealed to the base or the malignant feelings of mankind; and I ask you whether the present race of revolutionary writers appeal to any other? What man’s private character did I stab? Whom did I libel? Whom did I slander? Whom did I traduce? These miscreants live by calumny and sedition; they are libellers and liars by trade.

“The one object to which I have ever been desirous of contributing according to my power, is the removal of
those obstacles by which the improvement of mankind is impeded; and to this the whole tenour of my writings, whether in prose, or verse, bears witness. This has been the pole-star of my course; the needle has shifted according to the movements of the state vessel wherein I am embarked, but the direction to which it points has always been the same. I did not fall into the error of those who having been the friends of France when they imagined that the cause of liberty was implicated in her success, transferred their attachment from the Republic to the military tyranny in which it ended, and regarded with complacency the progress of oppression, because France was the oppressor. ‘They had turned their faces towards the east in the morning to worship the rising sun, and in the evening they were looking eastward still, obstinately affirming that still the sun was there.’* I, on the contrary, altered my position as the world went round. For so doing,
Mr. William Smith is said to have insulted me with the appellation of renegade; and if it be indeed true that the foul aspersion passed his lips, I brand him for it on the forehead with the name of slanderer. Salve the mark as you will, Sir, it is ineffaceable! You must bear it with you to your grave, and the remembrance will outlast your epitaph.

“And now, Sir, learn what are the opinions of the man to whom you have offered this public and notorious wrong,—opinions not derived from any contagion of the times, nor entertained with the unreflecting eagerness of youth, nor adopted in connection with any party in the State; but gathered patiently, during many years of leisure and retirement, from books, observation, meditation, and intercourse with living minds who will be the light of other ages.

* I quote my own words, written in 1809.


“Greater changes in the condition of the country have been wrought during the last half century, than an equal course of years had ever before produced. Without entering into the proofs of this proposition, suffice it to indicate, as among the most efficient causes, the steam and the spinning engines, the mail coach, and the free publication of the debates in Parliament: hence follow, in natural and necessary consequence, increased activity, enterprise, wealth, and power; but, on the other hand, greediness of gain, looseness of principle, half knowledge (more perilous than ignorance), vice, poverty, wretchedness, disaffection, and political insecurity. The changes which have taken place render other changes inevitable; forward we must go, for it is not possible to retrace our steps; the hand of the political horologe cannot go back, like the shadow upon Hezekiah’s dial;—when the hour comes, it must strike,

“Slavery has long ceased to be tolerable in Europe: the remains of feudal oppression are disappearing even in those countries which have improved the least: nor can it be much longer endured that the extremes of ignorance, wretchedness, and brutality should exist in the very centre of civilised society. There can be no safety with a populace half Luddite, half Lazzaroni, Let us not deceive ourselves. We are far from that state in which anything resembling equality would be possible; but we are arrived at that state in which the extremes of inequality are become intolerable. They are too dangerous, as well as too monstrous, to be borne much longer. Plans which would have led to the utmost horrors of insurrection have been prevented by the Government, and by the enactment of strong, but necessary laws. Let it not, however, be supposed that the disease is healed, because the ulcer may skin over. The remedies by which the body politic can be restored to health must be
slow in their operation. The condition of the populace, physical, moral, and intellectual, must be improved, or a Jacquerie, a Bellum Servile, sooner or later, will be the result. It is the People at this time who stand in need of reformation, not the Government.

“The Government must better the condition of the populace; and the first thing necessary is to prevent it from being worsened. It must no longer suffer itself to be menaced, its chief magistrate insulted, and its most sacred institutions vilified with impunity. It must curb the seditious press, and keep it curbed. For this purpose, if the laws are not at present effectual, they should be made so; nor will they then avail, unless they are vigilantly executed. I say this, well knowing to what obloquy it will expose me, and how grossly and impudently my meaning will be misrepresented; but I say it, because, if the licentiousness of the press be not curbed, its abuse will most assuredly one day occasion the loss of its freedom.

“This is the first and most indispensable measure, for without this all others will be fruitless. Next in urgency is the immediate relief of the poor. I differ toto cœlo from Mr. Owen, of Lanark, in one main point. To build upon any other foundation than religion, is building upon sand. But I admire his practical benevolence; I love his enthusiasm; and I go far with him in his earthly views. What he has actually done entitles him to the greatest attention and respect. I sincerely wish that his plan for the extirpation of pauperism should be fairly tried. To employ the poor in manufactures is only shifting the evil, and throwing others out of employ by bringing more labour and more produce of labour into a market which is already overstocked.

“Wise and extensive plans of foreign colonisation contribute essentially to keep a State like England in health;
but we must not overlook the greater facility of colonising at home. Would it not be desirable that tracts of waste land should be purchased with public money, to be held as national domains, and colonised with our disbanded soldiers and sailors, and people who are in want of employment, dividing them into estates of different sizes, according to the capability of the speculators, and allotting to every cottage that should be erected there a certain proportion of ground? Thus should we make immediate provision for those brave men whose services are no longer required for the defence of their country;—thus should we administer immediate relief to the poor, lighten the poor-rates, give occupation to various branches of manufacture, and provide a permanent source of revenue, accruing from the increased prosperity of the country. There never was a time when every rood of ground maintained its man; but surely it is allowable to hope that whole districts will not always be suffered to lie waste while multitudes are in want of employment and of bread.

“A duty scarcely less urgent than that of diminishing the burden of the poor-rates, is that of providing for the education of the lower classes. Government must no longer, in neglect of its first and paramount duty, allow them to grow up in worse than heathen ignorance. They must be trained in the way they should go; they must be taught to ‘fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.’ Mere reading and writing will not do this: they must be instructed according to the Established religion,—they must be fed with the milk of sound doctrine, for States are secure in proportion as the great body of the people are attached to the institutions of their country. A moral and religious education will induce habits of industry; the people will know their duty, and find their interest and their happiness in follow-
ing it. Give us the great boon of parochial education, so connected with the Church as to form part of the Establishment, and we shall find it a bulwark to the State as well as to the Church. Let this be done; let savings’ banks be generally introduced; let new channels for industry be opened (as soon as the necessities of the State will permit) by a liberal expenditure in public works, by colonising our waste lands at home, and regularly sending off our swarms abroad,—and the strength, wealth, and security of the nation will be in proportion to its numbers.

“Never, indeed, was there a more senseless cry than that which is at this time raised for retrenchment in the public expenditure, as a means of alleviating the present distress. That distress arises from a great and sudden diminution of employment, occasioned by many coinciding causes, the chief of which is, that the war-expenditure of from forty to fifty millions yearly has ceased. Men are out of employ: the evil is, that too little is spent, and, as a remedy, we are exhorted to spend less. Everywhere there are mouths crying out for food, because the hands want work; and at this time, and for this reason, the State-quack requires further reduction. Because so many hands are unemployed, he calls upon Government to throw more upon the public by reducing its establishments and suspending its works. O lepidum caput! and it is by such heads as this that we are to be reformed!

“‘Statesmen,’ says Mr. Burke, ‘before they value themselves on the relief given to the people by the destruction (or diminution) of their revenue, ought first to have carefully attended to the solution of this problem—whether it be more advantageous to the people to pay considerably and to gain in proportion, or to gain little or nothing and to be disburdened of all contribution.’
And in another place this great statesman says, ‘The prosperity and improvement of nations have generally increased with the increase of their revenues; and they will both continue to grow and flourish as long as the balance between what is left to strengthen the efforts of individuals, and what is collected for the common efforts of the State, bear to each other a due reciprocal proportion, and are kept in a close correspondence and communication.’ This opinion is strikingly corroborated by the unexampled prosperity which the country enjoyed during the war,—a war of unexampled expenditure; and the stupendous works of antiquity, the ruins of which at this day so mournfully attest the opulence and splendour of States which have long ceased to exist, were in no slight degree the causes of that prosperity of which they are the proofs. Instead, therefore, of this senseless cry for retrenchment, which is like prescribing depletion for a patient whose complaints proceed from inanition, a liberal expenditure should be advised in works of public utility and magnificence. For if experience has shown us that increased expenditure during war, and a proportionately increasing prosperity, have been naturally connected as cause and consequence, it is neither rash nor illogical to infer that a liberal expenditure in peace upon national works would produce the same beneficial effect without any of the accompanying evil. Money thus expended will flow like chyle into the veins of the State, and nourish and invigorate it. Build, therefore, our monuments for Trafalgar and Waterloo, and let no paltry considerations prevent them from being made worthy of the occasion and of the country,—of the men who have fought, conquered, and died for us,—of
Nelson, of Wellington, and of Great Britain! Let them be such as may correspond in splendour with the actions to which they are consecrated, and vie, if possible, in duration with the
memory of those immortal events. They are for after ages: the more magnificent they may be, the better will they manifest the national sense of great public services, and the more will they excite and foster that feeling in which great actions have their root. In proportion to their magnificence, also, will be the present benefit, as well as the future good; for they are not like the Egyptian pyramids, to be raised by bondsmen under rigorous taskmasters; the wealth which is taken from the people returns to them again, like vapours which are drawn imperceptibly from the earth, but distributed to it in refreshing dews and fertilising showers. What bounds could imagination set to the welfare and glory of this island, if a tenth part, or even a twentieth of what the war expenditure has been, were annually applied in improving and creating harbours, in bringing our roads to the best possible state, in colonising upon our waste lands, in reclaiming fens and conquering tracts from the sea, in encouraging the liberal arts, in erecting churches, in building and endowing schools and colleges, and making war upon physical and moral evil with the whole artillery of wisdom and righteousness, with all the resources of science, and all the ardour of enlightened and enlarged benevolence?

“It is likewise incumbent upon Government to take heed lest, in its solicitude for raising the necessary revenue, there should be too little regard for the means by which it is raised. It should beware of imposing such duties as create a strong temptation to evade them. It should be careful that all its measures tend as much as possible to the improvement of the people, and especially careful nothing be done which can tend in any way to corrupt them. It should reform its prisons, and apply some remedy to the worst grievance which exists,—the enormous expenses, the chicanery, and the ruinous delays of the law.


Machiavelli says, that legislators ought to suppose all men to be naturally bad;—in no point has that sagacious statesman been more erroneous. Fitter it is that governments should think well of mankind; for the better they think of them the better they will find them, and the better they will make them. Government must reform the populace, the people must reform themselves. This is the true reform, and compared with this all else is flocci, nauci, nihili, pili.

“Such, Sir, are, in part, the views of the man whom you have traduced. Had you perused his writings, you could not have mistaken them; and I am willing to believe that if you had done this, and formed an opinion for yourself, instead of retailing that of wretches who are at once the panders of malice and the pioneers of rebellion, you would neither have been so far forgetful of your parliamentary character, nor of the decencies between man and man, as so wantonly, so unjustly, and in such a place, to have attacked one who had given you no provocation.

“Did you imagine that I should sit down quietly under the wrong, and treat your attack with the same silent contempt as I have done all the abuse and calumny with which, from one party or the other, anti-Jacobins or Jacobins, I have been assailed in daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly publications, since the year 1796, when I first became known to the public? The place where you made the attack, and the manner of the attack, prevent this.

“How far the writings of Mr. Southey may be found to deserve a favourable acceptance from after ages, time will decide: but a name which, whether worthily or not, has been conspicuous in the literary history of its age, will certainly not perish. Some account of his life will always be prefixed to his works, and transferred to literary histories and to the biographical dictionaries, not only of
this, but of other countries. There it will be related, that he lived in the bosom of his family, in absolute retirement; that in all his writings there breathed the same abhorrence of oppression and immorality, the same spirit of devotion, and the same ardent wishes for the amelioration of mankind; and that the only charge which malice could bring against him was, that as he grew older his opinions altered concerning the means by which that amelioration was to be effected; and that as he learnt to understand the institutions of his country, he learnt to appreciate them rightly, to love, and to revere, and to defend them. It will be said of him, that in an age of personality he abstained from satire, and that during the course of his literary life, often as he was assailed, the only occasion on which he ever condescended to reply, was when a certain
Mr. William Smith insulted him in Parliament with the appellation of renegade. On that occasion it will be said, that he vindicated himself as it became him to do, and treated his calumniator with just and memorable severity. Whether it shall be added, that Mr. William Smith redeemed his own character by coming forward with honest manliness and acknowledging that he had spoken rashly and unjustly, concerns himself, but is not of the slightest importance to me.

Robert Southey.”

Spottiswoodes and Shaw,