3437. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 10 February 1820]

3437. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 10 February 1820] ⁠* 

My dear R.

One of the rascally booksellers in London is at this time publishing in sixpenny numbers a life of the late King by Robert Southy Esqre, printed for the author, “observe to order Southy’s Life of the King to avoid imposition.” [1]  He expects to avoid the law by misspelling my name, & whether it be worth my while to see whether he is mistaken or not, & incur the expence of applying for an injunction, I am very doubtful. Longman & Turner will be the best judges of this. – If it were possible to get the scoundrel in the pillory, I would certainly take some pains & be at some cost to see him there. [2] 

The Kings death [3]  will delay my departure two or three weeks later than I had intended, – while my unwilling Minerva [4]  is at work. To render the task less irksome than it would otherwise be, I use it as the vehicle for an experiment in metre, – & accordingly am writing in hexameters: [5] me judice, [6]  with good success

I have received the Captains theory, [7]  – & hope he received my third vol. of Brazil. [8] 

They assure me that Brougham will be well beaten in Westmorland. [9]  A stir is talked of for Cumberland; but I think Curwen [10]  has neither will nor means to pay the piper, & Grahame can have no money for such a purpose while his father lives. [11]  But the sooner the dissolution takes place the better.

God bless you



* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 2 March 1820
MS: Huntington Library, RS 389. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Dating from content; the discussion of the rascally bookseller is very similar to that in letters to Mary Barker, 10–12 February 1820 (Letter 3436) and Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 February 1820 (Letter 3438). Rickman’s letter of 14 February 1820 is a reply to this. BACK

[1] Authentic Memoirs of Our Late Venerable and Beloved Monarch, George the Third … by Robert Southy, Esq. (1820). The identity of the publisher is unclear. BACK

[2] The pillory was primarily a form of public humiliation for petty criminals; it was not abolished until 1837. BACK

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

[4] Roman goddess of poetic inspiration. BACK

[5] Southey’s A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[6] ‘I judge’. BACK

[7] Burney’s A Commentary on the Systems which have been Advanced for Explaining the Planetary Motions (1819). BACK

[8] History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[9] The monarch’s death automatically triggered a general election. Brougham contested Westmorland against the Lowther interest, as he had done in 1818, and was defeated again. BACK

[10] John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB), MP for Carlisle 1786–1790, 1791–1812, 1816–1820, contested and won Cumberland for the Whigs in 1820, holding the seat until his death. BACK

[11] Sir James Graham, 1st Baronet (1761–1824), of Netherby was a government supporter and former MP for Ripon 1798–1807. His son, Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet (1792–1861; DNB), was Whig MP for Hull 1818–1820 and was looking for a cheaper seat; his name was connected to both Carlisle and Cumberland, but he stood for neither. BACK