In 1829 Robert Southey published a book of his imaginary conversations with the original Utopian: Sir Thomas More; or Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society. The product of almost two decades of social and political engagement, Colloquies is Southey’s most important late prose work, and a key text of late 'Lake School' Romanticism. It is Southey’s own Espriella’s Letters (1807) reimagined as a dialogue of tory and radical selves; Coleridge’s Church and State (1830) cast in historical dramatic form. Over a series of wide-ranging conversations between the Ghost of More and his own Spanish alter-ego, ‘Montesinos’, Southey develops a richly detailed panorama of British history since the 1530s – from the Reformation to Catholic Emancipation. Exploring issues of religious toleration, urban poverty, and constitutional reform, and mixing the genres of dialogue, commonplace book, and picturesque guide, the Colloquies became a source of challenge and inspiration for important Victorian writers including Macaulay, Ruskin, Pugin and Carlyle.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Robert Southey: A Selective Chronology 1808-1843
List of Abbreviations
Progress and Prospects: Colloquies and Romantic History
The Social Context: Southey and Robert Owen
Origins and Composition
Publication and Reception
Note on the text and editorial procedures
Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829)
II. The Improvement Of The World
III. The Druidical Stones.—Visitations Of Pestilence
IV. Feudal Slavery.—Growth Of Pauperism
V. Decay of the Feudal System.—Edward VI.—Alfred
VI. Walla Crag.—Owen Of Lanark
VII. The Manufacturing System.—Part II.
VIII. Steam.—War.—Prospects Of Europe
IX. Derwentwater.—Catholic Emancipation.—Ireland
X. Crosthwaite Church.—St. Kentigern.—Part II.—The Reformation.—Dissenters.—Methodists
XI. Infidelity.—Church Establishment
XII. Blencathra.—Threlkeld Tarn.—The Cliffords.—Part II.—Privileged Orders.—The American Governments
XIII. The River Greta.—Trade.—Population.—Colonies.
XIV. The Library
XV. The Conclusion
Notes and Illustrations
Appendix A: Reviews of Colloquies
Appendix B: A note on ‘Montesinos’, Southey’s name in Colloquies
Appendix C: Southey’s sources for Colloquies (edited from the Sale Catalogue of his library)
Dr Tom Duggett is Associate Professor in English Literature at Xi'an Jiaotong - Liverpool University, Suzhou, China.