3180. Robert Southey to [John Wilson Croker], 10 August 1818

3180. Robert Southey to [John Wilson Croker], 10 August 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 10 Aug. 1818

My dear Sir

I return the papers, – with many thanks for them. [1]  Nothing but Broughams characteristic imprudence could have put him in the wrong in a dispute concerning slander with Mr Manners, who most assuredly was a slanderer by profession. [2]  He has been punished sufficiently for it, & I should have thought the obloquy which is attached to him a good symptom if it had not originated in mere party feeling, not in any better motive principle.

The powder & shot which you have been kind enough to send me, are made up in cartridges. But whether I shall fire them or not at this time, is not quite certain. [3]  – The more I think of public affairs the less I like them, & to confess the truth, I engage myself more willingly & more deeply in the history of other times & other people, because they abstract my thoughts from the evils which are, & are to come.

Believe me my dear Sir

thankfully & truly yours

Robert Southey.


* Endorsement: Ansd
MS: Morgan Library, MA 1005. ALS; 1p.
Previously published: Myron F. Brightfield, John Wilson Croker (London, 1940), p. 216 [in part]. BACK

[1] Croker had provided Southey with details of individuals whom Brougham had attacked in the House of Commons, using parliamentary privilege to avoid a charge of slander. BACK

[2] Brougham had asked a question in the House of Commons on 9 July 1817 as to whether the George Manners appointed as Vice-Consul in Massachusetts in June 1817, was George Manners (1778–1853; DNB), editor of The Satirist 1807–1812 and a pro-government journalist, ‘who had stood on the floor of the King’s–bench, and received the sentence of the court for a slanderous attack on a private individual’. Brougham was correct in his identification and a sturdy defence of Manners by ‘Vindicator’ appeared in the Morning Post on 11 July 1817. The same day, Lord Castlereagh (1769–1822; DNB), Foreign Secretary 1812–1822, defended the appointment in the House of Commons, pointing out that Manners had still been allowed to practice as a barrister, despite his conviction in 1809 for libelling the opposition journalist Peter Finnerty (c. 1766–1822), who had himself been imprisoned in 1811 for libelling Castlereagh. But Castlereagh did not mention that Manners had also been found guilty of libel by the Court of King’s Bench on 2 June 1811 and sentenced to three months in prison – the victim was William Hallett (1784–1843), radical candidate for Berkshire in 1812, whom The Satirist had accused of mistreating his sister. BACK

[3] The Courier had reported on 4 July 1818 that, when Brougham spoke at the hustings for the Westmorland election on 30 June, he had attacked both Southey and Wordsworth for their hostility to him during the election and for insulting the freeholders of Westmoreland. Southey was dissuaded from publishing the retort to Brougham that he modelled on his pamphlet A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M. P. (1817), and termed the ‘Tender Epistle’. Parts of it saw print, without mention of Brougham’s name, in a ‘Postscript’ to the second edition of Carmen Triumphale (London, 1821), pp. 45–53. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)