2694. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 January 1816

2694. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 January 1816⁠* 

7th Jany. 1816

My dear R.

I find the inclosed waiting for a cover upon my chimney piece. – So the tithes are to be touched next sessions. [1]  In Ireland they ought to be abolished at whatever cost, [2]  – in England I fear any remedy which is likely to be adopted would be worse than the disease, or rather I fear that the wealth of the Establishment will prove fatal to it [MS torn] did in Henry 8th times [3] 

I do not believe the sentence of the Liberales in Spain. Ferdinand [4]  can have no ministers who would advise such measures, & he is not bad enough himself for it. He has neither the strength of character, nor the cruelty. So at least it appears to me –

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 11 JA 11/ 1816
Endorsement: 7: Janry 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 262. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Newspapers at this time were reporting that ‘A very general expectation exists, that something will be done during the ensuing sittings of Parliament, with respect to tithes; and petitions on the subject, we perceive, are already preparing’, Caledonian Mercury, 8 January 1816. A House of Commons Select Committee was set up to look into the system of funding the Church of England through tithe payments. Its modest findings on the leasing of tithes were reported to the Commons on 18 June 1816. BACK

[2] In Ireland the great majority of agricultural tenants were Catholic or Presbyterian, but they still had to pay tithes to fund the Anglican Church of Ireland. BACK

[3] That is, the wealth of the established church made it a target of attack, as during the Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII (1491–1547; King of England 1509–1547; DNB). BACK

[4] Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). After France’s defeat, the King, who had been under arrest in France, returned to Spain and abolished the liberal constitution passed by the Cortes, which had governed in his absence those parts of Spain not under French domination, and ruled directly. The liberals who had framed the constitution were arrested on 10 May 1814. Various papers at this time reported news from Madrid that the King had ‘sentenced to various punishments, (without a trial) the numerous Liberales so long in confinement’, Caledonian Mercury, 6 January 1816. BACK