2942. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 14 March 1817

2942. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, 14 March 1817⁠* 

Keswick. 14. March. 1817

My dear Senhouse

I was about to have written to you, & precisely to the purport of your letter. By the fifteenth of April I shall be ready to start [1]  from Warcop; – fix the day according to your own convenience, let me know it, & you shall find me & my portmanteau, at the Wheat Sheaf, Warcop, kept by a certain Thomas Tinkler, [2]  – ready to step into the Mail.

The books which I have consulted seem to show that our better plan will be to go by way of Dijon, Lyons & Mont Cenis to Turin, – from thence to Milan, & back across the Simplon to Geneva. We shall thus see Piedmont & Savoy as well as Switzerland, countries which may perhaps prove little inferior in beauty, – for tho we may miss the Lakes, we may find a more varied foliage, & a richer cultivation.

When I read in the Courier of the marauding expedition to Allonby, [3]  I could not helping wishing that these men of liberal opinions had visited some of the corn stacks at Tallantyre, [4]  – where a practical lecture might perhaps produce a change of opinions. – I have a letter from town which says “Curwen again will be the ruin of any improvement in the Poor Laws. Such an ignorant & long-tongued man to be chairman of a Committee, after having in two following years showed different degrees of palpable ignorance in the speech moving for such a Committee! Who will work in it under his name & banner? Many Members are very eager, & very well informed – but Curwen must ruin all.” [5] 

I shall leave this place for Warcop on the seventh of April, – by which time I shall have compleated a paper for the Quarterly upon the Reports of the Secret Committee, – the causes which have combined so many persons against the best & mildest Government that the world has ever seen, – & the consequences of that party spirit which is the peculiar disgrace, – & one day or other will be the ruin of England. – Whether it be possible with so timid a ministry to save the country from a Yahoo insurrection, God only knows: – but X if I cannot succeed in persuading them that the boldest measures are the safest, I will at least endeavour to convince the sober part of the people of their danger. [6] 

Remember us to Miss Wood [7]  & her sister. And give my love to Humphrey, [8]  & tell him I will not fail to send him the next poem which I publish

God bless you

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

Edith who is just come up to her lessons, desires I will not forget her love “to Miss Wood, & Miss Fanny [9]  & all of them.”


* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Esqre/ Netherhall/ Maryport
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Seal: black wax, design illegible
Watermark: B.E. & S. BATH.1814
MS: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] For the European tour that he and Southey were about to make in May–August 1817. BACK

[2] Thomas Tinkler (c. 1754–1824) of Brough; landlord of the Wheatsheaf Inn, Warcop. BACK

[3] Allonby is a village on the Cumbrian coast. The Courier, 10 March 1817, had carried reports of events there on 4–5 March 1817. Large crowds from Maryport had broken into a storehouse and carried off about twenty tons of flour, oatmeal and barley to prevent it being shipped out of the country. BACK

[4] Tallantire Hall near Cockermouth, located about ten miles inland, southeast of Allonby. William Browne (1780–1861) of Tallantire Hall was High Sheriff of Cumberland 1816–1817 and thus ultimately responsible for law enforcement in the county. He was a supporter of the Whigs. BACK

[5] The quotation is from John Rickman’s letter to Southey, 11 March 1817, Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), p. 192. John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB), MP for Carlisle 1786–1790, 1791–1812, 1816–1820, MP for Cumberland 1820–1828, had moved for the appointment of a select committee to examine the Poor Laws on 21 February 1817. It reported in July 1817 without producing any major reforms. BACK

[6] Southey’s ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552 (published 20 May 1817). The article reviewed, among other things, the Report of the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, Respecting Certain Meetings and Dangerous Combinations (1817), which investigated recent revolutionary outbreaks and reported on 19 February 1817. Jonathan Swift (1667–1745; DNB), Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Part 4 described a race of beings called the Yahoos, who were ignorant, coarse and incapable of reason. They closely resembled human beings. Here Southey uses the term to refer to the mob. BACK

[7] Mary Anne Wood (1782–1860), Senhouse’s cousin. BACK

[8] Humphrey Senhouse (1809–1834), Senhouse’s only son. BACK

[9] Mary Anne Wood’s youngest sister, Frances Wood (dates unknown). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Warcop/ Warcop Hall, near Brough (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)