3086. Robert Southey to Charles Butler, 2 March 1818

3086. Robert Southey to Charles Butler, 2 March 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 2 March. 1818

Dear Sir

It is not till this evening that I have been able to acknowledge your obliging letter of Jany. 2d. by thanking you for enriching my library with your works. [1]  They arrived only an hour ago in a box which I had long been expecting from Messrs Longmans. I look with great pleasure to a careful perusal of them.

You have indeed Sir written in a spirit of true Catholic charity, in the true acceptation of the word. And did the question of a reunion depend upon such minds as yours, that most desirable of all objects would easily be effected. As yet, according to human judgement, it is far distant, – yet sooner or later we shall be one fold, under one Shepherd, – & the increasing toleration of your Church is an advance toward it. I shall be much interested in your history of the English Catholics. Some of your martyrs (for I allow & respect the name) were men every way excellent. I wonder that a collection of Southwells works is not published. He holds no mean rank among the Elizabethan poets, & as a prose writer, he has rarely been excelled.

His “Epistle of Comfort, to the Reverend Priests & to the Honorable, Worshipful & other of the Lay sort restrained in durance for the Catholic faith” is a most beautiful composition of its kind. [2] 

I am still busy with the Jesuits in South America; – their establishments in the centre of that continent among the Chiquitos & the Moxos are less known than those in Paraguay, – but not less interesting; & had they not been placed in a most unhealthy region, they would soon have outstripped them in prosperity.  [3]  I verily believe that if the Jesuits had not been expelled from that country, there would not at this day be have been a single horde exisiting there in a savage state. My concluding volume is in great forwardness, & will contain a great portion of matter altogether new to the public, being drawn from unprinted documents.

Believe me Dear Sir

with sincere respect

your obliged & obedient servant

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Charles Butler Esqre/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 5 MR 5/ 1818
Endorsement: 2 March 1818/ Mr Southey; Chas Butler Esqre
MS: Victoria University Library, Toronto. ALS; 3p. (c).
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Butler’s Philological and Biographical Works (1817), no. 507 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, is noted as ‘Presentation Copy, with an autograph note from the author’. BACK

[2] Robert Southwell (1561–1595; DNB), the English Jesuit, was tortured and executed for high treason. His An Epistle of Comfort (1587) was written to counsel Catholics suffering persecution. Southey owned an undated edition published in Paris, no. 2712 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[3] History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 198–211, where the Jesuit missions to these peoples are described. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)