2882. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 21 December 1816

2882. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 21 December 1816 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I sent off Dr Cokes’s W Indies, [1]  & Kosters’s Travels [2]  per coach according to your instructions, – & to be left at Thomas Tinkler’s - [3]  where they ought to arrive tomorrow.

It seems a good while since I have written to you, & now I am in some haste, having other letters which must be made ready for this post. – I am in the last chapter of this volume of Brazil & near the end of it, – next week compleats it. [4]  But I am very busy in digesting & putting together in one systematic form what I have at different times, & in different places written upon the state of affairs at home, – of course with many additions, – under some such title as a View of the Moral & Political state of England. Part of it will appear in the next Quarterly, – & the whole in one volume as soon as I can accomplish it. [5] Murray is my publisher of course, so much coming from the Review – some xxxxxx hostility I shall provoke, – that is certain; – it is likely that I may do some immediate good: ultimate good I think certain, – – I will run over a hasty outline of my arrangement, – that you may send me any hints which may occur.

I begin by examining the assertions that the war was unpopular, – that it was the cause of the existing distress, & that Parliamentary Reform would relieve that distress entering fully into each of these questions, – & putting those parties who maintain these propositions into my threshing machine.

I then show what the real evils of society are, – the kind of Poverty which exists – the state of the manufacturers, – condition of women in society &c &c. Expose the absurdity of supposing that Reform in Parliament can xxx remove or even alleviate the least of these evils.

But I require reform in this point, – that such seats as are bought & sold be bought & sold openly, like commissions in the army, – the price being appropriate to form a fund for public works, either national or local. [6] 

I require national education, asylums for children to any number. Saving banks with Branch banks of England for their security, & for some relief from County Paper [7]  – Constant Colonization, & great Public expenditure from the Sinking fund upon public works –

That in paying off soldiers & sailors it be not done indiscriminately, – but when one regiment is kept up & another paid off, – if there be men in the one who would wish to continue to serve, & in the other who desire this discharge, – these be adjusted between the regiments – You see what I mean – for I have no time to study how to express it clearer. Can any thing be so disgraceful as to see Government turning the sailors upon the streets of London, – & then having to commission a ship to receive them again! –

In brief – as far as I am able I mean to explain what are my views of real radical reform, – writing in my own name, & therefore without any controul, fear or favour.

Oh I must not forget to say that if you can bespeak me some of the Teesdale cheeses I shall be right glad. Yours are all gone, – they were very rich, – & will I dare be better when there has been a little more practice: There was no sage cheese [8]  among them.

Love to all & from all & so God bless you


21 Dec. 1816.


* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ Warcop Hall/ near/ Brough
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Coke (1747–1814; DNB), A History of the West Indies: Containing the Natural, Civil, and Ecclesiastical History of Each Island; with an Account of the Missions Instituted in those Islands (1808–11). Tom Southey, who had served in the navy in the West Indies, authored an account of the islands with Southey’s encouragement: A Chronological History of the West Indies (1827). BACK

[2] Koster’s Travels in Brazil (1816); reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

[3] Thomas Tinkler (c. 1754–1824), of Brough; landlord of the Wheatsheaf Inn, Warcop, where deliveries for Tom Southey could be left because the mail coach stopped there. BACK

[4] Chapter 30 of History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 632–692. BACK

[5] In Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 224–278, published on 11 February 1817, Southey contributed an article on ‘Parliamentary Reform’. In the remainder of the letter he outlines the arguments in this article. He was planning that this material should form part of an (unwritten) book on the ‘State of the Nation’. BACK

[6] This argument did not appear in Southey’s article. It was probably removed by the editors of the Quarterly Review. BACK

[7] A reference to the printing of paper money by local banks, many of which failed in the post-1815 economic depression. BACK

[8] A pun on the herb often used to flavour cheese and on Tom’s lack of wisdom as a novice cheese-maker. BACK

People mentioned

Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)