2374.1. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa [fragment], [late January 1814]

2374.1. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa [fragment], [late January 1814] ⁠* 

Jan 1814

The Abbe B and Manicheanism  [1] 

Among all his proofs as he calls them of a conspiracy there is nothing so like a conspiracy as the journey of my old acquaintance Bryant to Avignon.  [2]  A fact which proves that they had agents in different countries with {xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx x} funds at their disposal.

His notion about the Sophisters I cannot believe.  [3]  That about the Manicheans is a little more xxxxable. The total disappearance of their religion is a curious phenomenon in human history. And as their mythology is a very beautiful one and their principles not a whit more absurd than Popery & less so than Calvinism I own that I should not be sorry to see it start up again in some country where is {there was} nothing better. M Baruel thinks it was very right that Manes should be flead alive I am also a little intolerant upon principle as well as the Abbe and my intolerance is of this nature that I would condemn the Abbe for allowing this opinion to have the skin taken off one square inch of his xxxxxxxx


* MS: the letter survives only in a partial transcript in the hand of Henry Crabb Robinson and made by him in ‘July 1858’, Dr Williams’s Library, London, Crabb Robinson MSS. The letter was possibly amongst the letters from Southey to Duppa that Robinson was given by Duppa’s niece, Mrs Stone, in January 1844, see Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and their Writers, ed. Edith J. Morley, 3 vols (London, 1938), II, p. 640.
Dating note: the letter is possibly a reply to the letter from Duppa that Southey received on 28 January (see Southey to John Murray, 29 January 1814, Letter 2374). BACK

[1] Augustin Barruel (1741–1820), Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, 4 vols (London, 1797–1798), II, pp. 398–413, claimed that the cause of the French Revolution lay in a vast international conspiracy by, amongst others, Freemasons; and that the origins of Freemasonry lay in the dualist Manichean religion. The founder of this religion was Mani or Manes (216–274/7) and Barruel repeated the tradition that Manes had been flayed alive for falsely claiming he could cure the son of Bahram I, Emperor of Persia 273–276 (p. 405). Manes was, in Barruel’s opinion, ‘justly punished for his impostures’ (p. 411). BACK

[2] The copperplate engraver and religious visionary William Bryan (dates unknown), at one time a follower of the self-proclaimed prophet Richard Brothers (1757–1824; DNB). Bryan was probably introduced to Southey in 1794. At this time he may have told Southey of his visit to the occultist Société des Illuminés d’Avignon in 1789, an occasion that Southey related in Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, pp. 225–253. BACK

[3] Barruel’s term for Enlightenment philosophers; he claimed they were another of the key forces in the conspiracy that led to the French Revolution. BACK