2511. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 December 1814

2511. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 December 1814 ⁠* 

My dear R.

Murray has sent me a curious MSS. for an opinion. A portion of the travels of Ewlia Effendi, a Turk, who travelled the greater part of the Turkish Empire about the middle of the 17 century. [1]  A German at Vienna translates it, & asks 500 £ for four volumes, of which only the two last have reached England, & are now upon my table. I am afraid it will not answer to publish them, which is a pity, for they are full of curious matter historical & statistic. [2]  The Turkishness of the writer is sometimes very xxx comical. I learn from him that “Every Ottoman Emperor is endowed with the virtues & qualities of 70 Saints.” this, he says, is certain. – The Pope you see is nothing when compared to a Grand Seigneur.

The people of whose improvement there is most hope in the different parts of the world are, among Europeans the Portugueze, among Musselmen the Turks, among savages the Hottentots in Africa, & the Sandwich-Islanders [3]  in Polynesia.

God bless you


4 Dec. 1814.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: RS./ 4 Dectr. 1814
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 7 DE 7/ 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 238. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 382–383. BACK

[1] Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682) whose Seyahatname described his travels through the Ottoman empire. An English version of part of this was published as Narrative of Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa (1834) by the Austrian orientalist Ritter Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856). He had published a German version in 1814 and was probably the author of the MS sent to Southey. BACK

[2] For a fuller account, see Southey to John King, 12 December 1814, Letter 2514. Southey inserted an extract from Eulia Effendi in the ‘Fragment of Interchapter’ on the ‘History of Cats’ in The Doctor, 7 vols (London, 1834–1847), VII, p. 579. This dealt with the value assigned by various cultures to cats, concluding: ‘Notwithstanding that high reputation and price of the Cats of Diorigi, they meet with dangerous enemies in their native place, where sometimes forty or fifty of them are killed secretly, tanned and converted into fur for the winter time. It is a fur scarce to be distinguised from Russian ermelin, and that of the red cats is not to be distinguished from the fox that comes from Ozalov.’ BACK

[3] The people of Hawaii. BACK

People mentioned