3281. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 9 April 1819]

3281. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 9 April 1819] ⁠* 

My dear R.

I have but a dismal house at this time. For the last fortnight Mrs S. has been confined to her room, & for 18 hours of the 24 to her bed, by an abscess, exactly so pla situated as to render sitting more [1]  inconvenient than any other posture. And when it may end I know not, for there is no appearance of any its coming to a head, or going back. Her general health however bears up well, – & I am less alarmed about the possible consequences than I was at first, listening willingly to what Mr Edmondson tells me, – tho quite sufficiently still more disquieted & disturbed than is wholesome in any way. – One evil is that I know not when I shall be able to leave home with an easy mind.

Meantime I am hastening toward the end of my long labour & of this huge volume. The present portion of MS. enters upon the last Chapter, [2]  – it must needs be a long one, – & I can bring in to it naturally enough some things which were overlooked in their proper pla time & place.

The reason why the removal of the Court [3]  is so barely mentioned is that the details belong not to this History, – but to that of the Peninsular war. [4] Xx It is the first scene of that drama, – & a very impressive one in all circumstances.

Remember us to Mrs R.

God bless you


I discovered last night a curious blunder in Arrowsmiths great map – looking for the town of Silves, near the north bank of the Orellana below the Rio Negro, – I found that the engraver had metamorphosed it into St Ives. [5]  Just as compositors whenever they meet with & in their copy in whatever language it may happen to be, set it up the honest English conjunction and, in whatever language the sentence may happen to be.


* MS: Huntington Library, RS 381. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Dating from content. BACK

[1] Initially ‘most’. BACK

[2] Chapter 44, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 696–879. BACK

[3] The flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807–1808, following the French invasion of Portugal, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 694–695. BACK

[4] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (1823–1832), I, pp. 82–90. BACK

[5] Outlines of the Physical and Political Divisions of South America: Delineated by A. Arrowsmith Partly from Scarce and Original Documents (1811) was the basis of the map of Brazil and Paraguay that Arrowsmith had been commissioned to make for the second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

People mentioned