1753. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [6 March 1810]

1753. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [6 March 1810] ⁠* 

Pedra branca [1]  is Portugueze

The catch word identification of the Chapters was <is> a blunder of the Printers – who ought to have inserted the whole argument of each, – the use of such a Table of Contents being, not to make one who has read the book remember it, but to give a sort of birds eye view of it to any person. I have been provoked with Poples tardiness, – however it is finished at last. The rest of the Contents he needs not send me, & I hope before March is over you will have the volume. [2] 

Fardel  [3]  is a Portugueze word. – & on turning to the Dict. I find it is Castillian also. But certainly I was familiar with its meaning long before I knew any thing of either language. Is there not such a Latin word as fardus? [4] 

I have not yet seen the M. Reviews account of K White, in which they defend their original condemnation of him, & as I am told quote in proof of its justice the verses written on being confined at school, – not noticing that they are the earliest of the whole Remains, & that they were not in the volume which they condemned. [5]  If I find that this is as it has been represented to me I shall annoy my new friend the Editor [6]  with a short letter in half a dozen magazines. [7]  About my own works I am a perfect Quaker, – but it is not amiss to let these sort of Gentlemen know that I am a very Tartar upon debatable xxxx ground.

I wish Burnett may get this Librarianship, [8]  – & still more that he may be fit for it – which I very much doubt. You designate him truly when you call him worthless; I never saw so melancholy an instance of the deleterious effects of vanity, idleness, & French metaphysics. – Nevertheless tho any thing is good enough for him I wish he may succeed, x in getting something more <better> than he deserves. As for wishing every man his deserts, – that would be little short of high Treason at this time.

I condole with Mrs Rickman upon the disgrace of the county of Sussex in the person of its Member. [9]  – the most amusing incident I ever recall remember in Panfurciferium if <like> Dr Solomon [10]  I may be allowed to compound a mongrel word.



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsements: From/ RS./ 6 March 1810; Circitas/ 6: Mar. 1810
MS: Huntington Library, RS 147. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: dating from endorsement. BACK

[1] ‘White rock’. BACK

[2] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil. BACK

[3] ‘Food’. BACK

[4] Southey may have been thinking of ‘fartus’, to cram or fatten. BACK

[5] The assessment of Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White, 4th edn (1808), in Monthly Review, 61 (January 1810), 71–84, defended the Monthly’s original censure of White’s 1803 collection Clifton Grove (in Monthly Review, 43 (February 1804), 218) against Southey’s charge of cruelty and unfairness. The 1810 article quoted White’s ‘On Being Confined to School’ as proof of its earlier (1804) assertions that his work contained ‘no evidence of extraordinary poetic genius’ (p. 84). Southey’s point was that the poem had not appeared in Clifton Grove and should, therefore, not have been used against White in this way. BACK

[6] George Edward Griffiths (1771/2–1828; DNB), editor of the Monthly Review, 1803–1825. BACK

[7] Southey did not write the letter. BACK

[8] Rickman was attempting to obtain the post of Librarian to the London Institution for Burnett. BACK

[9] Mrs Rickman was from Sussex. One of the county’s two MPs 1801–1812 was the notorious eccentric and drunk, John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller (1757–1834). On 27 February 1810 an altercation with The Speaker led to the House of Commons ordering his arrest by the Serjeant-at-Arms. BACK

[10] Samuel Solomon (1768/9–1819; DNB), manufacturer of patent medicines. Southey had met him on the boat to Dublin in 1801. ‘Panfurceferium’ is a Greek-Latin hybrid that could be translated as ‘all rascality’. BACK

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