Robert Southey to WH, 26 November, 1830 — An Electronic Edition

[1780-1818] - [1818-1824] - [1825-1832] - [1832-1842] - Hone Correspondence

Robert Southey to William Hone, 26 November, 1830.1-TEI-

N. Palace Yard.
Friday Morning. 26 Nov
My dear Sir

Thank you for both your letters. The handbills & Beddoes Essays. One of the handbills I left at the Home Secretary's Office, with a note simply saying that I had done so, in case it might not be already in their possession. The Essays I have only had time to glance at: in feeling, there is I believe very little difference (if any) between us. Certainly none about machinery & manufactures, nor the condition of the poor, nor the moral state of society in all its parts. Our differences would be upon very inferior things, tho as remedial means, of great importance.

You hardly seem to be aware how greatly the rents have everywhere been reduced; that matter is kept as secret as it can be by the landholders because they do not wish to have it known how much the value of their estates is diminished. In my view of things, much of the existing mischief, or rather of the distress by which that mischief has been brought on, has arisen from three popular cries at the end of the war — for retrenchment, for cheap bread, & for a metallic currency. Free Trade has complicated [possibly "compleated"] it.

I have no interests, present or future, which can by possibility mislead me on these questions. The solitary spot of earth which belongs to me is in Keswick Churchyard. My whole worldly wealth is in my books, & I desire no other. But I see very clearly the evil which these clamours have produced, & I believe that more mischief has ensued from [regulating][?] our agriculture & our trade with reference to other countries, than has ever [arisen][?] from our interference with foreign politics.

I would have all persons paid liberally, from the highest ministers down to the lowest labourer; —justly and largely paid; — they would then each in his degree, spend in proportion; — & perhaps I might not regard some degree of profusion on the higher ranks as an evil, because it affords employment to industry. & means of honest [gain][?] to thrift. I would have a whole system of taxation investigated for the purpose of ascertaining how the burthen can be more equitably distributed. I would afford every facility for emigration & form new colonies upon better plans than we have ever yet pursued. I would employ paupers upon waste lands, where if they only fed themselves, there would be so much [gain][?] besides the moral advantages & I would always have public works in progress. And I would provide for national education. As to where you & I appear to differ most. — I would [introduce][?] the Scotch banking system.—& [with it][?] the one pound notes. — into England, for without them there can be no permanent relief.

But I have no time for more. I will talk some of these points over with you, when next I may be in the City. Meantime believe me as always yours with sincere respect & goodwill.

Robert Southey.
British Library, Add. MS 41071, ff. 31-32. A more detailed account of the place of this letter in the context of the Hone/Southey relationship is available in the accompanying Conversation narrative. [return]
Robert Southey. Date: 2014-04-25