3188. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 September 1818

3188. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 September 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

I send the inclosed packet unsealed that, if you have any curiosity for such things, you may see some of John Welseys Epistles. They are perfectly worthless, except the last, & this is of some value, because it touches upon a point of doctrine {of} which he preached very rashly during many years of his life, & this letter was written only a few weeks before his death, when his hand shook so that he could scarcely write intelligibly. [1]  The others are not the less characteristic for being so entirely empty. By such missives & such brothering & sistering he kept up his influence among his people. – My life of this extraordinary man will be a very curious book.

We have entirely escaped the drought which you seem to be suffering from in the south. Our fields are beautifully green, & the gardens were never more productive.

To day you have had your Palace Yard Meeting. [2]  Bad as Juries are I cannot think there could be any difficulty in convicting Hunt of sedition, because the Jury in all likelihood would be Burdettite, [3]  & therefore disposed to do him justice.

Wilberforce is in this country, & will soon be at Keswick.

God bless you


7 Sept. 1818


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre
MS: Huntington Library, RS 352. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 96–97. BACK

[1] John Wesley to Edward Lewly, 12 January 1791, The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism, 2 vols (London, 1820), II, pp. 588–589. The letter concerned Wesley’s doctrine of the ‘Perfection’ that believers might attain – a doctrine Southey defined as ‘a constant communion with God, which fills the humble heart with love’ (p. 183), but which could easily be misunderstood as implying believers would enjoy good health or infallible judgement, or that they were without sin, or could not transgress against God’s laws. BACK

[2] A public meeting in New Palace Yard, Westminster on 7 September 1818, addressed by Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt (1773–1835; DNB), and calling for a remonstrance to the Prince Regent to assert the sovereignty of the people and that they should have a rightful share in the fruits of their labour. BACK

[3] Hunt had stood against Burdett in the Westminster constituency in the 1818 general election, leading to much rancour between their respective supporters. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)