2681. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 December 1815

2681. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 December 1815 ⁠* 

My dear R.

The inclosed portion of mss. (with the occasional interleaving of not more than a page) is I think about as much as your frank will certainly cover, – & small as it appears, it contains matter for not less than two printed sheets. [1]  You will find the commencement of a curious chapter. Send it by post to Streatham, & by the same conveyance my Uncle may transmit it to Pople. At present my work is pretty equally divided between this, & the ex officio poem, which for a reason that you will comprehend I entitle La Belle Alliance. [2]  It is in a six lined stanza, like the tale of Gualberto, [3]  & I shall perhaps finish the Proem this evening.

I have nearly finished the first volume of Sir J Malcolms book, [4]  surely the dearest that ever issued from the Press. As far as I have gone it is an excellent book for reviewing precisely because the author has left undone those things which he ought to have done. There may probably be some good matter to come, touching the present state of the country, – but the first volume has no one merit whatever, & has added less to my knowledge than I should have xxx supposed possible.

Herbert has gone on admirably during my long absence. A schoolmaster here gave him one lesson weekly in Greek, but he went on daily with both with the Greek & German by himself, as I expected, & made good progress in both. I have subscribed to the Saxon Chronicle, [5]  & when it arrives mean to make my way thro it with him, – a useful undertaking for both.

God bless you


13 Dec. 1815.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: 13 Decr1815
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: FREE/ 16 DE 16/ 1815
MS: Huntington Library, RS 260. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Material for the second volume of the History of Brazil, published in 1817. BACK

[2] A poem that became The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). Southey’s desire to name it the ‘Belle Alliance’ was due to his belief that it was more suited to verse (Southey to John Rickman, [c. 5 July 1815], Letter 2633), and that ‘the name of Waterloo was given to the battle by the Duke of Wellington in a spirit of the lowest & vilest jealousy’ (Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 December 1815, Letter 2684). BACK

[3] The ballad ‘St Juan Gualberto’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800), 1–19. BACK

[4] Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833; DNB), The History of Persia (1815), a lavish, two volume quarto, containing a map and several plates and portraits. It was dedicated to Marquis Wellesley. Southey owned a copy, no. 1662 in the sale catalogue of his library. He did not review it. BACK

[5] A copy of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ so that Southey and Herbert could study Old English. In 1815 ‘A new edition of the Saxon Chronicle, with an English translation and notes’, edited by James Ingram (1774–1850; DNB), Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford 1803–1808, was advertised as ‘In the press’, The Tradesman, 14 (January 1815), 55. However, it did not appear until 1823. Southey had two copies, nos 2593 and 2594 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 1 time)