1914. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 May 1811

1914. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 May 1811 ⁠* 

My dear R.

The Austrian money business [1]  belongs no doubt to 1810, & I shall come upon it in the course of the Debates. Your information that there are no other papers is more agreable to me at this time than any papers themselves could be. I am getting on strenuously. 448 pages printed, – that is only ten short of the former volume. 40 in the printers hands. 132 ready for him, – & still it will be hard work to be ready for setting off the last week in May. An unmerciful year costing me a full ten weeks extra labour. [2] 

Mr T Southey, whom I visited at Taunton after leaving you in 1808 is defunct, & has left the whole of his property between his man Tom, & one of his acquaintance. [3]  I always thought this likely, & having had no expectations am neither disappointed nor surprized.

No news yet of Ally Crokers revision by the bye I gave him that name because he chance to accentuates the old xxxx word allŷ in this manner in his Battle of Talavera. [4] 

I want you to tell me if Koster is not right in his about the Bullion question. [5]  To my comprehension he has made the matter as plain as a pike-staff, – an implement which is in frequent use with me as a simily.

If you see my Uncle before I happen to write to him, (as very probably you may), tell him his friend Mr Stuart has sent the Valeroso Lucideno [6]  by the mail from Lisbon, whereby it reached Longmans with a charge for postage of sixteen guineas. L. appealed to Mr Freeling, – who stretching the laws of the office to the utmost in my favour let xx me off for only one guinea, – which I am thus to pay for the use of a book the prime cost of which cannot exceed half a moidore. I hope Mr Stuart manages the affairs of two nations better than he has done mine. – I took it so patiently (being somewhat tickled at the xxxx xxxxx prodigious folly of the thing) that there is not a single oath of mine upon the occasion carried to account & against him in the Black Book. The Devil never thought of tempting Job [7]  with such a charge for postage.


May 1. 1811.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS/ 1 May 1811
MS: Huntington Library, RS 174. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The British opposition had criticised some of the loans and subsidies given to Britain’s continental allies, e.g. the debate in the Commons on 12 May 1809 in which money given to Austria in particular was discussed, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 302–304. BACK

[2] Ballantyne was concerned enough about the length of Southey’s contributions to insist that the latter explained himself to the readers in a prefatory note; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[3] Thomas Southey’s death was reported in his local newspaper the Taunton Courier on 18 April 1811. He left nothing to his brother’s children. The ‘acquaintance’ was possibly William Oliver (1775–1830) of Hope Corner, Taunton. BACK

[4] Croker’s The Battles of Talavera, first published in 1809 had gone into nine editions by 1812. It was written in the style of Scott’s Marmion (1808). Southey is also probably recalling the title of the popular Irish song ‘Ally Croker’ (1725). BACK

[5] John Theodore Koster, A Short Statement of the Trade in Gold Bullion: Shewing the True Causes of the General Scarcity and Consequent High Price on that Precious Metal: Also Demonstrating that the Notes of the Bank of England are Not Depreciated (1810). It went into a second edition in 1811, and Koster followed this with Further Observations on Bullion and Bank Notes (1811). BACK

[6] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), envoy at Lisbon 1810–1814, had sent a copy of Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. It had been on the list of books wanted in Southey, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. [vi]. BACK

[7] The central figure in the Book of Job, who suffered the death of his children, destruction of his property and boils. BACK