2169. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 November 1812

2169. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 November 1812 ⁠* 

Nov. 2. 1812.

My dear R.

Thank you for a profitable letter. – In return I have only time to say I had another daughter born this day, & – in seamans phrase – all’s well.

The inclosed goes to request a speedy transmission of the second vol. of the Cortes Journals, which owing to the awkward mode of beginning with the fourth, has not been sent me. [1] 

The Population Book had better travel by the Via Longmannia. [2]  I think the Capitaneus offered me once a Dutch history of the buccaneers [3]  – that might come also. I wish to see it, because Bryan Edward [4]  throws out a suspicion that the shocking stories of cruelty with which our history abounds are not in the Dutch original, but interpolated by the Spanish translator from whose version it was done into English. – I believe in the cruelties.

There is a secret history about Christian Curwen. He would have carried his election hollow, if he could have faced the stories that would have been brought forward as electioneering weapons against him. The country at this moment rings with scandal about him & the Bp of Llandaffs daughter. [5]  the truth of this scandalam magnatum, [6]  – or as a Bishops <daughter> is concerned I suppose it may be called maximatum – is pretty vile by a letter of Christian Curwen to a neighbour of mine, – in which he confesses to impudence but vows & protests innocence as to any thing farther. Her beauty affords about as much excuse as his youth & inexperience.



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 2 Novr./ 1812
MS: Huntington Library, RS 193. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Diario de las Discusiones y Actas de las Cortes, 1810–1813, 19 vols (1811–1813), no. 3288 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. ‘the fourth’ was the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813), which Southey was attempting to complete early in order to boost its sales. BACK

[2] It is not clear what Southey is referring to here. Possibly Rickman was sending him some material from the 1811 Census, which he had organised. It was sufficiently weighty to warrant transmission by Southey’s publishers, Longman & Co. BACK

[3] Alexandre Esquemelin (1645–1707), De Americaeneche Zee Roovers (1678). Southey’s copy, no. 927 in the sale catalogue of his library, was a ‘Presentation Copy from Capt. Burney’. The Spanish translation, Piratas de la America (1681), no. 1462 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, contained much extra material. The first English translation appeared in 1684 as Bucaniers of America and followed the Spanish version. BACK

[4] Bryan Edwards (1743–1800; DNB), The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies (1793). Southey possessed a later edition of 1807, and Edwards’s ‘suspicion’ appears in vol. 3, p. 136. The book was no. 986 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] At the 1812 general election, the wealthy colliery owner John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB) had allegedly refused to stand for the Carlisle seat he had held for 21 years because of rumours concerning his seduction of Dorothy Watson (1777–1837), eldest daughter of Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, who owned a large estate at Calgarth on the shore of Lake Windermere. BACK

[6] ‘Scandal of magnates’; in (obsolete) English law a defamatory speech or writing that injures a peer of the realm. BACK

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