2847. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 September 1816

2847. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 September 1816⁠* 

20 Sept. 1816

My dear R.

If I am again desired to come to London it will be very silly after the letters I have written. [1]  they are to this purport, – xxxx to express my full xxxx opinion of the real state of things & expose the actual danger in broad terms: – to recommend as the only means of prevent averting it that the batteries which are now playing breach upon the Government be silenced, – in other words that the punishment for sedition be made such as to prevent a repetition of the offence; – & if verdicts cannot be procured that the H Corpus [2]  be suspended & the Anarchists silenced by that means. I have endeavoured to make the necessity of these measures felt, & shown that for my own part I cannot be better employed any where else than here, & that if it be thought advisable that I should either covertly or openly give up some time to political writing, it would counteract in great measure the effect of any thing which might proceed from me, if I were I to accept of any thing in shape of office or augmented pension; [3]  – this therefore I have decidedly declined, – but have offered to employ my pen zealously in recommendation & defence of vigorous measures. – Should I therefore be again desired to visit London, my journey will pass as an ordinary occurrence, – & nothing extraordinary will occur in it, except that I shall be introduced to <some of> the first officers of Government – instead of the second to whom my acquaintance has hitherto been limited: I can only repeat in conversation what I have said in writing – & this may pass for a very natural occurrence. I can only repeat in conversation what I have already said in writing; & perhaps concur in arranging a journal, of which most certainly I will not undertake the management: – that office is beneath me, & would require a sacrifice of character as well as time. The matter of danger is one which could not fail to present itself, – as for that matter I know very well what I have at stake in the event of a revolution, – were the Hunts & the Hazlitts to have the upper hand. There is no man whom the Whigs & the Anarchists hate more inveterately, because there is none whom they fear so much. Nothing that I could do would increase their good disposition towards me, – & it would be folly to dream of lessening abating it. If the G. will but act vigorously & promptly all may yet be well, – if they will not – I shall have no time to spare from my history of Brazil: [4] 

– Of which history I send the conclusion of a chapter, [5]  – the next in order does not follow upon the same paper because the transcription was begun before this was finished.

I heartily wish you were in an efficient situation. Every thing may be done with foresight & resolution, – without them every thing must go to ruin.

God bless you



* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre.
Endorsement: 20 Septr. 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 294. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 211–212 [in part]. BACK

[1] Bedford had conveyed to Southey the ministerial suggestion that he should edit a pro-government journal; Southey had declined. BACK

[2] Habeas Corpus is the principle in English law that prevents detention without trial. It was suspended in 1794–1795 and again in 1817–1818. BACK

[3] Southey had received a government pension of £200 per annum since 1807. BACK

[4] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[5] Probably History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 588–631 (Chapter 29). BACK

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