3565. Robert Southey to [Bernard Barton], 24 November 1820

3565. Robert Southey to [Bernard Barton], 24 November 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 24 Nov 1820

My dear Sir

I trust you will have imputed my silence about your Day in Autumn [1]  to the true cause, – the delay to which such communications are liable in waiting for an opportunity of conveyance. It was not till this morning that I received it in a parcel, dated on the sixth of this month. The waggon travels slowly, & more time is lost in carriers warehouses, where a parcel has to change conveyances twice or thrice on the road, than is required for the journey. – I now thank you again for the dedication & the poem. It is a very pleasing production, in a fine strain of genuine feeling.

In reply to your question concerning the life of George Fox, [2]  the plan of the work resembles that of the Life of Wesley [3]  as nearly as possible. Very little progress has been made in the composition, but a good deal in collecting materials & digesting the order of their arrangement. The first chapters will contain a summary history of the religious, or irreligious difficulties in England, & their consequences, from the rise of the Lollards [4]  to the time when George Fox went forth. This will be such an historical sketch as that view of our Ecclesiastical History in the Life of Wesley, which is the most elaborate portion of the work. [5]  The last chapter will probably contain a view of the state of the Society at this time & the modification & improvements which it has gradually & almost insensibly received. This part whenever it is written, & all those parts wherein I may be in danger of forming erroneous inference from an imperfect knowledge of the subject, I shall take care to xxxxxx show to some members of the society before it is printed. The general spirit & tendency of the book will, I doubt not, be thought favourable by the Quakers xxxxx as well as to them, & the more so by the judicious, because communication comes with xxx ten fold weight from one who does not dissemble his own differences of opinion upon xx certain main points. – Perhaps in the course of the work I may avail myself of your friendly offer: xx ask you some questions as they occur, & transmit certain parts for your inspection.

farewell my dear Sir & believe me

yours with much esteem

Robert Southey.


* MS: Huntington Library, RB 131334, tipped into a copy of The Life, Letters and Literary Remains of Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton, by His Son, with Portraits and Illustrations, 2 vols (London, 1883), I, between pp. 172–3. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), V, pp. 47–48 [in part]. BACK

[1] Bernard Barton’s A Day in Autumn; a Poem (London, 1820) carried an epigraph from Southey: ‘It was a day that sent into the heart/ A summer feeling’, from Madoc (1805), Part One, Book 13, lines 67–68; and an extended Dedication to ‘Robert Southey, Esq.’, pp. v–vii. BACK

[2] George Fox (1624–1691; DNB), founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Southey did not write this book. BACK

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

[4] A late fourteenth-century reform movement in the Church of England that may have survived until the Reformation. BACK

[5] Chapter 9, The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism, 2 vols (London, 1820), I, pp. 305–336. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)