2861. Robert Southey to [Andrew Bell], 12 November 1816

2861. Robert Southey to [Andrew Bell], 12 November 1816⁠* 

Keswick 12 Nov 1816 – My Dear Sir – I am glad to hear of your safe return, & of your good progress on the Continent. Lord Kenyon has sent me one of your letters (that from Yverdon [1]  Aug 1) & I am looking with some eagerness for another which is to tell me concerning Pestellozzi. Do not fail to let me see your correspondence with the French Authority, & all the minutes which you have made upon your travels. You know how much these things interest me & the knowledge may be made useful. – We have had Mr- Nash with us during the summer. – The artist who was our fellow traveller in the Low Countries, & made my Waterloo drawings. [2]  If when you return to Town, & are in that neighbourhood you will call at No 6 George Street Hanover Square, he will show you a drawing of the twins [3]  with which you will be pleased, – & sundry other memoranda of this house & its inhabitants. The Beaumonts [4]  also were in Keswick. But the birds of passage have all taken their departure now, premature winter has xx set in, & – with little heart to stir from it, or set foot beyond my own threshold, – for there is an end of my morning walks. My spirits carry a fair outside, & are indeed as well as they will ever be; nor do I, nor ought I to complain of them. Not an hour passes in which I do not feel the change – scarcely a circumstance occurs that does not bring it home to my heart; but the result is a composure of mind – a livelier faith – & an habitual aspiration after that state of existing in which our enjoyments shall be permanent.

Part of that paper upon the lower classes which you are pleased to commend came from my own immediate feelings. [5]  If it was the system of the Church to admit volunteers, I should gladly become one, – & I am inclined to think that something of the kind would be the best means of preventing her overthrow. Very easily might she have methodists of her own, – all of them would else be enlisted against her. But I think seriously of girding up my loins for an arduous undertaking. – That of writing upon the present state of things, – fully, unreservedly & with my whole heart: [6]  – What I have done in the Quarterly has been by piece meal, & has generally suffered something by repression on my part, & much afterwards by the Editors mu<ti>lations. But knowing as I do what has been in the world, – & seeing, as I believe, farther before me than most of my contemporaries, it may be in my power to produce such an Estimate of the wants, as might possibly avert great dangers, & lead to great benefit, – & if I have the power, the sin of omission would in this case be a heavy one. And this month or six weeks will clear off immediate business & provide for my ways and means, – mean while these thoughts will ferment & ripen. All here desire their loves.

Believe me my dear Sir –

most truly & affectionately yours –

Robert Southey.


* MS: Lancashire Record Office, DDKE/acc 7840 HMC/1438, undated copy in an unidentified hand. The original letter seems not to have survived.
Previously published: Historical Manuscripts Commission. Fourteenth Report. Appendix, Part IV. The Manuscripts of Lord Kenyon (London, 1894), pp. 563–564. BACK

[1] Bell had visited Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland in order to learn more about the educational institution run there by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827). BACK

[2] Nash had been one of the party during Southey’s 1815 tour of the Low Countries and provided seven of the eight drawings for The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[3] A drawing by Edward Nash of Edith May Southey and Sara Coleridge. BACK

[5] Southey’s review essay ‘On the Poor’, Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 187–235. BACK

[6] Southey was considering, but did not write, a book on the ‘State of the Nation’. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)