2914. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 3 February 1817

2914. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 3 February 1817 ⁠* 

My dear R.

It is certainly a comfortable circumstan[MS missing] ingdom of Beelzebub, or rather his Anarchy is divided am in itself – the Delegates versus the Hampdens, [1]  Waithman versus Hunt, [2] Brougham versus Cochrane, [3]  – & Bankes [4]  versus Brougham, &c &c. – Another t riot or two, & things will be settled. The Prince will not like being shot at, & his ministers may think it necessary to silence the instigators of all this mischief [5] 

Owen of Lanark has been here, – with a tin case full of plans wherewith he will shortly afflict Beckett & Lord Sidmouth. [6]  What he ac[MS missing] has done at his own establishment is, by every persons account, so much, that it is a sad pity he should be so wild. He lives in a dream, & his complacency is as amusing as his immovable gentleness of temper is remarkable. He will insist that you may make a silk purse of a sows ear, – & yet I like the man.

I go tomorrow from home for eight days upon a visit twenty miles off, to a house noted by Cambden [7]  for its Roman antiquities – Netherhall its name. It is close by a Roman station, & is full of altars heathen Gods &c – the late owner [8]  had filled a certain apartment in the Garden with heathen Gods, & other monuments, – & when Lysons was in the country he took possession of that apartment for a whole day to the great distress of the female part of the family: – a good antiquarian anecdote. [9] 

God bless you


3 Feby. 1817.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 6 FE 6/ 1817
Endorsement: RS./ 3 Febry 1817
MS: Huntington Library, RS 307. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Delegates to a meeting of reformers at the Crown and Anchor tavern, convened for 22 January 1817, passed a more radical resolution – to support petitions to parliament for universal suffrage – than Sir Francis Burdett, Chairman of the Hampden Club of London, who had called the meeting, wished. The Hampden clubs were reformist political debating societies, grouped mostly in the north and midlands, formed by the veteran radical John Cartwright (1740–1824; DNB). BACK

[2] Robert Waithman (1764–1833; DNB), a wealthy linen draper and MP for the City of London 1818–1820, 1826–1833, disagreed with Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt (1773–1835; DNB), the main radical who supported petitions for universal suffrage at the 22 January meeting. Waithman preferred more moderate reform, and tried unavailingly to close the gap between the Whig opposition in parliament and the radicals outside it. BACK

[3] Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB), MP for Honiton 1806–1807, Westminster 1807–1818. A naval hero and a radical, Cochrane was one of the leaders charged by the Crown and Anchor delegates to present the petitions for universal suffrage to parliament on 29 January 1817. His readiness to take extra-parliamentary action frightened both Burdett and Brougham. Brougham, on 29 and 31 January, defended the right to petition parliament for reform but spoke out against universal suffrage and annual parliaments. BACK

[4] Henry Bankes (1756–1834; DNB) MP for Corfe Castle 1780–1826 and Dorset 1826–1831. He was particularly known for his opposition to public expenditure but supported the need to suppress radical agitation. BACK

[5] On 2 December 1816 a political meeting at Spa Fields, London, had led to an attempt to attack the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England. On 28 January 1817 the Prince Regent’s carriage was surrounded by protestors as he was driven to open the new session of parliament. Conservatives suggested one of the windows was smashed by a bullet; radicals suggested a pane of glass was cracked by the hail of rotten fruit and stones which rained down on the carriage. BACK

[6] Robert Owen (1771–1858; DNB), manager and owner of the mills and model community at New Lanark in Scotland 1799–1825 had developed an extensive plan for relieving distress, later embodied in his Report to the Committee of the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor (1817). He was to meet John Beckett (1775–1847), Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs 1806–1817, Judge Advocate-General 1817–1827, 1828–1830, 1834–1835; and Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth (1757–1844; DNB), Prime Minister 1801–1804, Home Secretary 1812–1822. BACK

[7] William Camden (1551–1623; DNB) discussed the Roman antiquities at Netherhall in his Britannia (London, 1599), p. 694. Camden had visited in 1599 and saw the collection made by the owner, John Senhouse (d. 1604). BACK

[8] Humphrey Senhouse (1731–1814), MP for Cockermouth 1786–1790, MP for Cumberland 1790–1796. BACK

[9] Daniel Lysons (1762–1834; DNB) and Samuel Lysons (1763–1819; DNB), Magna Britannia, a Concise Topographical Account of the Several Counties of Great Britain, 6 vols (London, 1806–1822), IV, pp. cli, clxiii. The Roman statues were placed in the lavatories in the garden at Netherhall and Lysons had occupied an entire day sketching them, much to the discomfort of the household (Robert Southey to John May, 26 August 1821). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)