3366. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, [15 October 1819]

3366. Robert Southey to Humphrey Senhouse, [15 October 1819]⁠* 

[Unidentified hand begins]

May it please your Royal Highness [1] 

We the undersigned Nobility, Magistrates, Gentry, Clergy & Freeholders of the County of Cumberland, feel it our duty at this time to approach the Throne with a declaration of our loyal attachment to the established Institutions of these Kingdoms in opposition to the principles & practices by which their security is endangered, & the peace of society disturbed.

It is the direct & undisguised object of those demagogues by whom the multitude are misled, to bring about a revolution by force. For this purpose men are openly trained to arms & assembled in bodies which bid defiance to the civil power: assassination has been recommended & in more than one instance attempted; & lists are avowedly kept in which the loyal members of the community are marked for proscription. The rights of property are threatened; & the deluded populace are taught to believe that the administration of public affairs ought to be taken from persons who are qualified by their education & station in life, & whose stake in the country is a pledge for their good intentions & transferred to the ignorant & needy, who are necessarily incompetent, & who have nothing to lose. The liberty of the Press is daringly abused to the most flagitious purposes; it is employed with unremitting activity to efface from the minds of the people all respect for the laws, all sentiments of loyalty & religion, & all the old honourable feelings by which Englishmen heretofore have been distinguished. And unhappily this has been so far succesful, that men are now no longer disqualified for popular favour by notorious infamy; it matters not how profligate they may be in the relations of private life, how base in their dealings, how bankrupt in character & in fortune, nor how openly they may live in habitual violation of the laws both of God & men.

Regarding these things with just apprehension we must express our sorrow that any persons of rank & respectability should be induced to take measures which obviously tend to encourage wicked & desperate men in their rebellious purposes. For however much we regret the lives which were lost at Manchester, we cannot but see that greater & far more extensive evil must arise, if multitudes are allowed to assemble under such circumstances, in contempt of the constituted authorities. And we perceive in the attempts which are made to misrepresent the transactions of that day, a manifest design of diverting public indignation from the real authors of the mischief, the effect of which would be so to pervert the laws as to make them protect those whom they ought to punish & intimidate those whom they ought to protect.

As Englishmen therefore who rightly appreciate the blessings which we enjoy & desire that the free & happy constitution which we have inherited from our fathers may be transmitted to our children, we feel it our duty thus to address your Royal Highness. And should your Royal Highness be advised to recommend to Parliament the adoption of restrictive measures to check the diffusion of licentious principles & curb the audacious spirit of blasphemy & treason, we beg leave to assure your Royal Highness that much as we deplore the necessity of such measures, we will cheerfully submit to them with a full sense of that necessity, as the natural consequence of excesses which have at all times produced similar results, & as the indispensable & only means of saving the country from the worst of all evils.


[Unidentified hand ends; Southey’s hand begins]

My dear Senhouse

I send you the copy of an Address which I drew up at Calverts desire, & Xx sent to Lord Lonsdale. Lord L. came over the next day, & suggested a few alterations, which were made of course, – & the only business now is to obtain signatu[MS missing]. The signatures are not required to be autographs as they are to a Petition. You may therefore authorize any person to affix your name, if you see the propriety of the measure as we do. James Brougham [2]  wrote to Calvert to join in the requisition <for a meeting to censure the Manchester Magistrates; – he returned a proper answer & came to me to prepare a paper which might express his sentiments at the present crisis.>

I am very sorry that I missed seeing you, both at Edinburgh & at this place. My northern journey extended farther & lasted longer than I had expected. [3]  I went as far north as Fleet Mound [4]  which is near Dunrobin, & afterwards crost from Dingwall to Jeantown on the western sea, thro some of the wildest Highlands. xx We returned to Inverness, took the line of the Canal, went to see the Parallel Roads in Glenroy, & came home by Glencoe, Tyandrum, Inverary & Glasgow. As usual I when travelling I displayed a lupine appetite, & tho I sighed after the winepots of the Rhine, I took to the whiskey in a way which won the hearts of the Highlanders. [5]  – Good weather & chearful companions made this a delightful journey, & both my companions [6]  being men of authority we had every possible advantage wherever their influe jurisdiction extended, – which is over the whole of the new Highland Roads, – & of the Military Ones, – & along the Canal, [7]  & on the coast wherever piers are being made. – Cumberland appears as much to advantage after the severe & solemn scenery of Scotland, as it did to a disadvantage when we came from the vallies of Switzerland.

I expect to be in town in January, – by which time Wesley [8]  will be published, & I shall have got rid of my quarterly engagements for a while. The last number would make you remember – & smile at our unlucky attempt to see the Catacombs. [9]  In the next I shall have a paper upon the Monastic Orders. [10]  – I know not what delays my third volume of Brazil, which was finished three months ago. [11] 

Remember us to Miss Wood & her sister, [12]  – & tell my friend Humphrey [13]  I hope he goes on well with his Latin.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

R Southey.


* Address: To/ Humphrey Senhouse Esqre/ Fingest Grove/ Stoken Church/ Oxfordshire
Stamped: Keswick/ 298
Seal: red wax, design illegible
Watermark: HENRY SALMON/ 1818
Endorsement: October – 1819/ Robt. Southey to H.S./ copy of an address to the Prince Regent
MS: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727. ALS; 4p.
Note on MS: The copy of the Address to the Prince Regent that opens the letter is in an unidentified hand. The section of the letter addressed to Senhouse is in Southey’s hand.
Dating note: Dating from content; this letter was written on 15 October 1819, the same day as the one to Peachy that also enclosed a copy of the Address to the Prince Regent; see Letter 3365. BACK

[1] Following the ‘Peterloo’ Massacre of 16 August 1819, in which local magistrates ordered the dispersal of a public meeting in Manchester, resulting in at least eleven deaths, Whigs in Cumberland started to organise a County Meeting, held on 13 October 1819, to protest at the magistrates’ actions and send an Address to the Prince Regent. The conservative response drawn up by Southey – an Address to the Prince Regent denouncing the radicals and calling for curbs on the press – follows. It was not proceeded with, and the government’s supporters in Cumberland produced instead a more moderate document. BACK

[2] James Brougham (1780–1833), younger brother of Henry Brougham and one of the main organisers of the Whig cause in the Lake District. BACK

[3] Southey’s tour of Scotland lasted from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[4] Fleet Mound was a massive causeway, commissioned in 1803, designed by Telford, and built between 1814–1816, to carry the road over Loch Fleet. It comprised an earthwork, and a bridge with self-regulating sluice gates that allowed the waters from the river to flow out, but prevented seawater from coming in. BACK

[5] Senhouse had accompanied Southey on his tour in May–August 1817 of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Low Countries, during the course of which they had sampled copious amounts of local wine. BACK

[7] The Caledonian Canal, under construction 1803–1822. Rickman was Secretary to the Commissioners responsible for building the Canal. BACK

[8] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[9] ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–98. Southey and Senhouse had attempted to visit the Parisian catacombs on 20 May 1817, but had been unable to gain admittance. BACK

[10] Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. BACK

[11] The third and final volume of the History of Brazil (1810–1819). It was delayed by a proof sheet which had gone missing before Southey left for Scotland. It was not published until October 1819. BACK

[12] Senhouse’s cousin, Mary Anne Wood (1781–1860). She had four sisters, but Southey is probably referring to the youngest, Frances (dates unknown), whom the Southey family had met. BACK

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

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