3430. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 February 1820

3430. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 February 1820⁠* 

My dear R.

Dr S. has taken it in his head that I am a very proper person to –– write a hymn for the Humane Society! [1]  – an honour which I have begged leave to decline.

So we have seen the end of a reign of sixty years, the most eventful in history! [2]  – What an ugly coincidence that the proclamation ought to have been on the 30th January! [3]  – It appears that Buonaparte [4]  was very superstitious with respect to days, – which of all superstitions should seem to be the silliest. This book of Fleury’s [5]  (which like all other books from that squad contains some little new information with a great mass of most impudent falsehood) says that one of his schemes after the second abdication was to get to Spanish America (Mexico if he could) & put himself at the head of the insurgents. But he was dissuaded by the remark that they had heads already, & did not want him.

My daughters Kate & Isabel used when I was going to London to desire that I would bring back with me – “a boy-doll – a male-creature.” They now desire that I will bring back – Willy, – nothing but Willy will satisfy them. [6] 

Remember us all to him & to Franco, & to Mrs Rickman. & I must not forget Miss Anne [7]  – who is no longer to be called little.

Gods bless you


2 Feby. 1820.


* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 2 Feby 1820
MS: Huntington Library, RS 387. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Royal Humane Society, founded 1774 to promote lifesaving. BACK

[2] George III (1738–1820; King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB) died on 29 January 1820. BACK

[3] The anniversary of the execution of Charles I (1600–1649; King of Great Britain 1625–1649; DNB). BACK

[4] Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; Emperor of the French 1804–1814, 1815). BACK

[5] Pierre Alexandre Édouard, Baron Fleury de Chaboulon (1779–1835), Memoirs of the Private Life, Return, and Reign of Napoleon in 1815, 2 vols (London, 1820), II, p. 295. Fleury had been secretary to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; Emperor of the French 1804–1814, 1815) in 1815. Southey had a copy of the French edition, Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire de la Vie Privée: du Retour et du Règne de Napoléon (1819–1820), no. 563 in the sale catalogue of his library; the English translation was published by Murray. BACK

[6] Rickman’s son, William Charles Rickman (1812–1886). BACK

[7] Rickman’s daughters, Anne (b. 1808) and Frances (dates unknown). BACK