3097. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 19 March 1818]

3097. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 19 March 1818] ⁠* 

My dear R.

I call to mind that I forgot to write the direction of last nights inclosure, – it is Sir Howard Douglas Bart & &c &c, Farnham. [1]  He has sent me one important fact, – that the Spanish Government prevented him from raising an army in Galicia as had been intended, – because they were afraid the Galicians would have opposed the revolutionary proceedings of the Cortes, [2]  had they been thus embodied. – I shall have from him documents respecting that part of the country which will be very serviceable.

The inclosed is to be a very meritorious personage, the initiator, Directress, & in great part the supporter of the “Ladies Association.” [3]  The Bishop of Meath, [4]  who is a Lake Acquaintance of mine, & a very able man, – has applied to me to make this institution known thro the Q. R. Money is wanting & if we could raise a large subscription, so as to establish it upon a permanent footing, – the example would do every thing, & we might live to see one of the greatest evils of society, in great measure relieved. – I shall bring the Beguines forward. [5] 

Brougham chose to entertain his Committee with an eulogium upon Pestalozzi & Fellenberg. [6]  I saw them both, & saw that they were both arrant humbugs, – with this difference that the former is an honest old man, with a warm heart, & a muddy head, who humbugs himself as well as his believers; – & that the latter is seeking how to make a fortune, & to plaister a cracked character.

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] FREE/ 19 MR 19/ 18
MS: Huntington Library, RS 334. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Dating from postmark. BACK

[1] Douglas was an artillery officer and engineering expert who had been employed in 1812 on missions to organise resistance to Napoleon in the north of Spain. BACK

[2] The Spanish parliament, based in Cadiz, which governed those parts of Spain not under French sway during the Peninsular War. This story did not appear in Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[3] Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) founded the Ladies Association at Bailbrook House, near Bath, in June 1816. It provided a home for impoverished gentlewomen. BACK

[4] Thomas Lewis O’Beirne (1748–1823; DNB), like Isabella King an Irish Anglican, and Bishop of Meath 1798–1823. He had met Southey in the Lakes in 1811. BACK

[5] Medieval communities of lay women in the Low Countries. Southey and Rickman had a long-standing interest in the Beguines as a possible model that might provide employment for single women. Southey promoted this idea, specifically praising the Ladies Association, in his article on ‘British Monachism’, Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102 (at 90–102). BACK

[6] Appendix to Mr. Brougham’s Letter: Containing Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Education Committee (London, 1818), pp. 99–104 contained Brougham’s report on the educational schemes of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) and Philipp Emanuel von Fellenberg (1771–1844), both of whom he had visited in Switzerland in 1816. Southey had met Pestalozzi at Yverdon in Switzerland on 29 May 1817 and Fellenberg at Hofwyl, near Berne, on 5 July 1817. BACK