2781. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 6 May [1816]

2781. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 6 May [1816] ⁠* 

6 May.

My dear R.

I have been asked for a letter of introduction to you by the elder Koster, an old Lisbonian, & a very estimable man, notwithstanding some wrong notions, & a contradictious manner. By no fault of his own he is at present a ruined man, – with not merely an unsullied character, but a high one. I believe his business in town is partly if not chiefly to try what interest he may have in procuring a consulship in Brazil, – he has claims upon Government for having many years acted as Consul at Lisbon, during Sir John Horts non-residence, [1]  – without the slightest remuneration. In this I do not suppose that you can assist him, – nor indeed do I know that he has any other motive in asking an introduction to you, than the desire of seeing you; – xxxx his house at Lisbon was the only xxxx one where men of all countries were to be found who possessed any literary or scientific attainments, – & in this way few men have made a wider acquaintance among persons worthy of being known.

His family are lodging at Keswick, & Henry (my fellow traveller) is printing his travels in Brazil, a book which for its unaffected manner, & plain detail will remind you of old times when men made books because they had something to relate of their own observation [2] 

I work closely, & have regained strength: – spirits no doubt will follow in course of time [3] 

God bless you


The Irishmen (of whom Christian Curwen [4]  has made large importations into this country) – have introduced their stills here, & manufacture whiskey according to the demand. – This practice will soon extend in England as well as in Scotland


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: 6 May 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 281. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, p. 139.
Note on MS: this letter had an enclosure (Huntington Library RS 280) – a letter of introduction – which has survived. See Southey to John Rickman, 6 May 1816, Letter 2782
Dating note: Year from endorsement. BACK

[1] Sir John Hort, 1st Baronet (1735–1807), Consul General at Lisbon 1767–1796. He spent over two years on leave in London 1786–1789, leading to many complaints from British merchants in Lisbon. BACK

[2] Southey favourably reviewed Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil (1816) in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

[3] Southey’s son Herbert had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[4] John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB), Whig MP for Carlisle 1786–1790, 1791–1812 and 1816–120, MP for Cumberland 1820–1828. He was also a substantial colliery owner in the region. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)