2222. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 February [1813]

2222. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 February [1813] ⁠* 

My dear R.

I had a vehement suspicion that Brougham wrote the P. of Wales’s letter, because of it was so exceedingly mischevious, & so exceedingly rash, to say nothing of its marks of a practised pen, – a laywers mode of expression, – & its twang of hypocrisy, – impudent hypocrisy showing itself thro without a mask. [1]  Lewis Goldsmith affirms it positively to be his. [2]  – Well – one way or another, I suppose this Government of ours will be destroyed in the course of twenty or thirty years, – but they will not do it quite so easily as in France.

I have been reading Yankey history, & with profit. [3]  The war for their independence in many points furnishes matter of consolatory comparison with the state of Spain. The Americans had but two advantages over the Spaniards, – a less active enemy, & one great man: – on the other hand they had were far less unanimous, & had far less provocation. They might have been suppressed by more vigor on our side; but it is best as t it is, – for the colonies were of age, & could not much longer have been kept in pupillage.

The English want activity & enterprize in war as much as they superabound with it in commerce.

I could write an instructive chapter upon the American war, [4]  – & am thinking of a work (in the probable event of the failure of the Register [5] ) – to be called the Age of George 3. [6] 

About the end of April I hope to be a free man & to look southward.

Remember us to Mrs R.



Feby. 19.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: Fr. RS./ 19 Feb 1813
MS: Huntington Library, RS 197. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] On 14 January 1813, Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1768–1821; DNB), the estranged wife of the Prince Regent, had written to her husband protesting about the restrictions placed on her access to their daughter, Princess Charlotte. In early March a second letter on the same subject was sent to the Speaker of the House of Commons. As it was unsigned its authorship was initially questioned, though it was later attributed to Caroline. After debate, parliament agreed that it was the Regent’s right as a father and ruler to be in charge of his daughter’s education; see Gentleman’s Magazine, 83 (April 1813), 361, 363–364, 373–376. Brougham was the Princess’s legal adviser and was indeed the author of the letter. BACK

[2] Lewis Goldsmith (c. 1763/4–1846; DNB), author of the scandalous – and best-selling – The Secret History of the Cabinet of Bonaparte (1810), a combination of accurate information with wild allegations, including atrocity stories and tales of sexual misconduct. BACK

[3] Southey’s reading included: John Marshall (1755–1835), The Life of George Washington (1804), no. 1808 in the sale catalogue of his library; and William Findley (1742–1821), History of the Insurrection in the Western Counties of Pennsylvania in 1794 (1796), no. 1026 in the sale catalogue of his library; see Southey to Thomas Southey, 24 February 1813, Letter 2224. BACK

[4] The American War of Independence (1775–1783). BACK

[5] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813) was the last issue to which Southey contributed. BACK

[6] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). This did not materialise. BACK