3773. Robert Southey to [Unknown Correspondent], [c. 1820-1821]

3773. Robert Southey to [Unknown Correspondent], [c. 1820–1821]⁠* 

Dear Sir

We have declined going to Barrow, [1] & for the same reasons must also decline your obliging invitation.

I am much obliged to you for the Xtn Observer. [2]  Some of the early Quakers ran into heresy in mere ignorance; & others because xxx it was their principle to say whatever came uppermost. With regard to Wm. Penn [3]  – it is not easy to ascertain the opinions of a man, who did not always know what they were himself.

Believe me Dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey


* MS: Beinecke Library, GEN MSS 298, Series I, Box 1, folder 48. ALS; 1p.
Note on correspondent: The correspondent’s identity is unknown, but it is clearly a Lake District acquaintance with an interest in Quakerism. Likely candidates include William Calvert, whose wife was a Quaker.
Dating note: Dating from content. The letter refers to Southey’s proposed life of George Fox, which became public knowledge in 1820, and which attracted considerable attention and correspondence in that year and the one following. It is impossible to refine the dating further, so we have placed this letter at the end of 1821. BACK

[1] Possibly Barrow House, Derwentwater, owned by Joseph Pocklington (1804–1874). BACK

[2] A volume of the periodical, the Christian Observer, an Anglican evangelical journal that ran from 1802 to 1874; possibly Christian Observer, 12 (September 1813), 591–604, which reviewed Thomas Clarkson’s Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn (1813). BACK

[3] William Penn (1644–1718; DNB), Quaker leader and founder of Pennsylvania. BACK