3036. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 6 November 1817

3036. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 6 November 1817⁠* 

My dear R.

Thank you for your letter. [1]  You have I think made me clearly comprehend the subject; (one of those, as you must needs know, not very congenial to my mind) – its importance is self-evident, – & I hope I shall be able to place the matter in a clear point of view, & play the battery with effect. [2] Murray has sent down Davisons pamphlett, [3]  I just looked at his plan, which he himself would acknowledge to be much inferior to yours if he saw them compared; – & I sufferd Dr Bell to take it in his pocket last night to his lodgings. Davison however is a good ally. – The beginning is always the most difficult part of any composition with me, – I must beat about for one without delay, & when that is accomplished the work will go on smoothly & steadily.

I am holding my course as steadily as an East India-man in the track of the trade winds; & God willing shall make great way during the winter.

This General Craufurd has sent me some pamphletts de pauperibus [4]  &c, – & the letter is to express my thanks in course.

Warner [5]  has procured for me a printed account of the Bath Institution, which I will send you when next I write. [6]  The scheme is well meant, & well patronized, but likely (I think) to fall to pieces for want of cement. – I must ask him some questions which he says the Lady President [7]  will readily answer.

You have been a friend in deed (as the proverb has it) to R Lovell. The lad has a right spirit, & will do well, – the better for his difficulties. I do not doubt of his success in life, & when the time comes will do my utmost to promote it. The prospect is very different where there is neither the same spirit nor the same steadiness, but a pride of the wrong sort instead, & that too in close alliance with inordinate vanity. [8]  You will understand me. In this case I can do nothing – & can neither look on with comfort, nor forward with hope.

Remember us most kindly to Mrs R.

God bless you


6 Nov. 1817.


* Address: J Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS./ 6 Novr 1817.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 322. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Rickman’s letter to Southey, 29 October 1817; see Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 196–197. The main subject was the Poor Laws. BACK

[2] Southey was working towards the articles ‘On the Poor Laws’, Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308, and ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. BACK

[3] ‘On the Poor Laws’ was a review of, among other texts, John Davison (1777–1834; DNB), Considerations on the Poor Laws (1817). BACK

[4] ‘On the poor’. BACK

[5] Richard Warner (1763–1857; DNB), Curate of St James’s, Bath 1795–1817, and antiquarian. BACK

[6] Possibly First Establishment under the Auspices of the Ladies’ Association (1817). BACK

[7] Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) founded the Ladies’ Association at Bailbrook House, near Bath, in June 1816. It provided a home for impoverished gentlewomen. BACK

[8] Possibly a reference to Lovell’s cousin, Hartley Coleridge. BACK