3456. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa [fragment], 25 March 1820

3456. Robert Southey to Richard Duppa [fragment], 25 March 1820 ⁠* 

… There are at this day half a million of persons in the world (adult persons) calling themselves Methodists, and following the institutions of John Wesley; [1]  they are pretty equally divided between the British dominions and the United States of America; and they go on increasing year after year. They have also their missionaries in all parts of the world. The rise and progress of such a community is, therefore, neither an incurious nor an unimportant part of the history of the last century. I have brought it no farther than the death of the founder. [2]  You will find in it some odd things, some odd characters, some fine anecdotes, and many valuable facts, which the psychologist will know how to appreciate and apply. My humour (as it would have been called in the days of Ben Jonson) [3]  inclines me to hunt out such subjects; and whether the information be contained in goodly and stately folios of old times, like my noble Acta Sanctorum [4]  (which I shall like to show you whenever you will find your way again to your old chamber which looks to Borodale), or in modern pamphlets of whitey-brown paper; [5]  I am neither too indolent to search for it in the one, nor so fastidious as to despise it in the other. In proof of this unabated appetite, I have just begun an account of our old acquaintance the Sinner Saved, in the shape of a paper for the Q. R. [6] 


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), V, pp. 33–34 n.* [in part].
Dating note: Dating from published version. BACK

[1] John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB). BACK

[2] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[3] Ben Jonson (1572–1637; DNB), Poet Laureate 1616–1637 and author of Every Man in His Humour (1598), an example of a ‘humours comedy’ in which the main characters are driven by overriding obsessions or ‘humours’. BACK

[4] Acta Sanctorum, 53 vols (1643–1794), an enormous compendium of saints’ lives, which Southey had bought in Brussels in 1817, no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] Cheap pamphlets, published on inferior-quality paper. BACK

[6] The preacher and religious writer William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), who added ‘S.S.’ – ‘Sinner Saved’ – to his name to indicate his spiritual state. Southey’s review of The Works of the Reverend William Huntington, S. S. Minister of the Gospel, at Providence Chapel, Gray’s Inn Lane, Completed to the Close of the Year 1806 (1811) appeared in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510. BACK