2719. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [19 February 1816]

2719. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [19 February 1816] ⁠* 

My dear R.

The Printer may now begin at the beginning, – being the right end.

I have made a query about the title. Give your opinion about it to Bedford. [1] 

Whoever else may object to this Proem’s, “gentle Readers” [2]  I am sure will like it not; – & I reckon Mrs R. among the number.

Treaties are always useful for referring to. [3]  – You have an affliction in the shape of Brougham come upon you. [4]  If that man were not xxxxxx protected with seven fold brass, [5]  he must have been cut to the quick by Lord Castlereagh. [6]  But he wants an antagonist who is a master of sarcasm, – the weapon which such men feel most.

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 22 FE 22/ 1816
Endorsement: 19 Febry 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 267. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Dating from endorsement. BACK

[1] Southey had suggested that The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) might be re-titled ‘Waterloo: or the Poet’s Pilgrimage’, Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 February 1816, Letter 2718. BACK

[2] The ‘Proem’ to The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816); ‘gentle readers’ was a long-established way of addressing a poem’s audience. BACK

[3] Rickman sent Southey copies of the Treaties of Paris (1814 and 1815), which helped set the boundaries of post-Napoleonic Europe. BACK

[4] After being absent from the House of Commons since 1812, Brougham was returned for Winchelsea in July 1815 and launched a determined attack on the government in February 1816 when the Commons started its new session. BACK

[5] As in the shield of the Greek hero Ajax, which was made of seven layers, with an eighth of brass, Homer, Iliad, Book 7. BACK

[6] Southey may be referring here to Brougham’s speech in the House of Commons on 15 February 1816, which attacked the government for not doing more to defend the Spanish liberals imprisoned by Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). The government’s response was led by Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1769–1822; DNB), Leader of the House of Commons and Foreign Secretary 1812–1822. Castlereagh argued that private diplomacy might be of more help in settling Spain’s political difficulties than public debates and noted that Britain had often been at odds with the Spanish liberals during the Peninsular War of 1808–1813. BACK