3122. Robert Southey to Robert Harry Inglis, 14 April 1818

3122. Robert Southey to Robert Harry Inglis, 14 April 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 14 April. 1818

My dear Sir

Thank you for the translation of Bishop Porteus’s Work, [1]  – which has lain some time at the Booksellers, & afterwards travelled slowly thro the hands of various carriers. Such works as this would be of signal use if they could be introduced into Catholic countries, where the Priests as well as the people are miserably ignorant of the real nature of Christianity & where no medium is to be found between blank hopeless unbelief, & the most grovelling superstition. Most of the Priests I think would discourage its circulation, – it is not a little curious that those among them who are Atheists retain as hearty a hatred of the reformed religion as if they had imbibed all the prejudices & passions of Douay or St Omers, [2]  & they who are sincerely attached to their own Church would object to it for what they would regard as its sins of omission. However there are no authorities in Spanish America which would interfere with it; it would have the better chance of being read because books are not common in those countries, – & as He who made the human soul has not deserted it, we may rest assured that truths like these will sometimes, even among the Spanish Americans, meet with hearts open to receive them.

I am truly sorry to hear of Mrs Inglis’s illness. [3]  Of all anxieties these are the most trying. – At this distance of time as well as of place, – I will hope that it may ere this have passed away. But allow me to request that you will let me know in what state she is at present, – for I am too much beholden to your kindness not to feel interested in whatever concerns you so nearly.

Your friend Mr Jebb did me the favour of sending me his sermons. [4]  And I have since been indebted to him for a very judicious letter in reply to a question concerning the progress of Methodism in Ireland. [5]  – I have just sent my life of Wesley to the press, [6]  – under that title it comprehends a history of Methodism at home & abroad. To write such a work without giving offence is impossible, – but I shall offend no one wilfully or willingly, & I trust that both the facts which are set forth, & the spirit in which they are related will be of use when I shall be beyond the reach of good or evil report.

believe me my dear Sir

with sincere respect

yrs faithfully

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Robert Harry Inglis Esqre/ Battersea Rise/ Clapham Common/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ 17 AP 17/ 1818; 10 o’Clock/AP 17/1818 FN
Seal: red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
Endorsement: Robert Southey/ 14 April 1818
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14130. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Beilby Porteus (1731–1809; DNB), Bishop of London 1787–1809. The book Southey received might have been a Spanish translation of Porteus’s A Summary of the Principal Evidences for the Truth and Divine Origin of the Christian Revelation (1800). BACK

[2] Douai College (1561–1793) and St Omer College (1593–1762) were institutions for educating English Catholics when higher education was closed to them in England. They produced many missionary priests who attempted to reconvert England to Catholicism. BACK

[3] Mary Inglis, née Biscoe (1787–1872). Inglis and his wife were the guardians of the nine orphaned children of the banker, evangelical and philanthropist, Henry Thornton (1760–1815; DNB) and his wife, Marianne Sykes (1765–1815). BACK

[4] John Jebb, Sermons, on Subjects Chiefly Practical; with Illustrative Notes, and an Appendix, Relating to the Character of the Church of England, as Distinguished both from other Branches of the Reformation, and from the Modern Church of Rome (1816); no. 1504 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] See Southey to John Jebb, 6 December 1817, Letter 3047. BACK

[6] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

People mentioned

Jebb, John (1775–1833) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)