3378. Robert Southey to Henry Phillpotts, 2 November 1819

3378. Robert Southey to Henry Phillpotts, 2 November 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 2. Nov. 1819.

Dear Sir

Thank you for your Pamphlet; [1]  – it is very able, very animated, & thoroughly judicious. I wish such arguments were more frequently urged & more generally circulated, but as you have truly observed, the greater activity is as usual with the worse cause.

I am silent myself during these distempered times, partly because I do not like to be distracted from calmer & more congenial pursuits; still more because it does not appear to me that I could do any good by advising measures of a more decisive character than ministers are likely to adopt. In all likelihood they will do enough to avert the immediate danger, supported as they will be by the Grenvilles, [2]  & by the independent members. But this is like giving opiates which xxxyx <which> only suspend the sense of a mortal disease. Of all the engines of mischief that were ever employed the English press is at this time the worst; & unless some effectual means are taken for curbing it, I believe that a bloodier Revolution than has ever yet polluted the earth must inevitably ensue.

You need not be told Sir that there is a want of vigour in the existing Administration, & that there is no hope of seeing that want defect supplied from any quarter, or by any change. If they would but be persuaded that it is not more difficult to carry whole measures than half-ones, all might yet be well. My hope is that the xxx magnitude of the evil will compel them to look the danger in the face & meet it manfully. And notwithstanding all ominous appearances I comfort myself with a persuasion that Providence will not suffer a country such as this to be destroyed. Were it not for this ground of hope, I own I should despair. But these feelings will not prevent me from exerting myself to the utmost whenever it appears to me that it can be done with any prospect of utility.

Believe me dear Sir

respectfully & truly yours

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Henry Phillpotts,/ College,/ Durham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: red wax, design illegible
Endorsement: R Southey/ Nov. 2
MS: Exeter Cathedral Library, ED 11/58/1. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henry Phillpotts, A Letter to the Freeholders of the County of Durham on the Proceedings of the County Meeting holden on Thursday, 21st October 1819 – and Particularly on the Speech of J. G. Lambton, Esq., M. P. (1819). This pamphlet criticised the County Meeting held in Durham to denounce the government over its handling of the ‘Peterloo’ meeting in Manchester on 16 August 1819, at which at least eleven people were killed. BACK

[2] The small group in the House of Commons and House of Lords that owed allegiance to Lord Grenville; they had split from the Whigs in 1817 but did not join the government until 1822. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)