3232. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 8 January 1819

3232. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 8 January 1819 ⁠* 

My dear R.

To day has brought with it a piece of good fortune. In the Yankee Report concerning S America [1]  I saw a history of B Ayres [2]  mentioned in proof of the progress of literature in that city; I wrote immediately to Neville White to obtain it for me, thro his connections with that place, – he went to a B Ayres house to give the commission, & behold one of the partners gives him the book, – & I have this day received it, just in the best time possible. It confirms most fully & entirely my own views of the conduct of the Jesuits, & gives me the facts subsequent to their expulsion: – the only facts of which I was in want. [3]  I verily think a good prize in the lottery would ha not have given me so much pleasure as this God-send.

Wynn tells me he fears there will be great difficulties to contend with about the Copy right question, for Vansittart seems determined against giving the trifling sum which he could ask for, – 500 £ a year each to Oxford Cambridge Edinburgh – Dublin – which would render the whole easy. [4]  Why what a dog must Vansittart be to scruple at such a sum, – & not scruple at laying a tax of more than £70 upon my history of Brazil! [5] 

Remember me to Mrs R.

God bless you


Jany 8. 1819.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 11 JA 11/ 1819
MS: Huntington Library, RS 361. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Reports on the Present State of the United Provinces of South America; Drawn up by Messrs Rodney and Graham, Commissioners Sent to Buenos Ayres by the Government of North America (London, 1819), p. 137. BACK

[2] Gregorio Funes (1749–1829), Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos-Ayres y Tucuman (1816–1817), no. 3464 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Southey needed Funes’s book for Chapters 41–43 of History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 548–695, covering the years following the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil in 1759 and from Spanish America in 1767. BACK

[4] Southey’s ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213, particularly condemned the legal requirement to deposit copies of all published works with eleven different public and university libraries. Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley (1766–1851; DNB), Chancellor of the Exchequer 1812–1823, was unwilling to waive this requirement and compensate the libraries with an annual grant. BACK

[5] The total cost of the three volumes of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) was £7 15 shillings. If eleven copies had to be delivered to copyright libraries the cost to the publisher was £85 5 shillings. BACK