3441. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 February 1820

3441. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 February 1820⁠* 

Thank you, my dear R. for your letter, & for your Glengarry-papers. [1]  None of your hints will be lost. – I hope you will find time for your Beguinage paper, & means of bringing it forward to some effect. [2]  I will draw up for you at any time all that the information that my books can supply respecting the Flemish institutions, – or any similar institutions in France. It will be something more to the purpose than Broughams ridiculous account of Fellenberg, in his Education Report, – the said Fellenberg being as arrant an adventurer as Brougham himself. [3] 

It seems to me that the weight of taxation was not felt while the war lasted, except by those persons who had no means of increasing their means, (annuitants &c.) The weight was not more than was required to keep the wheels of a vast machine in motion. We were then in our economical relations – cut off from the rest of the world, When peace came the mischief was in taking off too much of the weight, & letting in disturbing causes. As far as I understand the reasoning of the Agriculturalists at this time, it seems to have been well founded. Their distress is owing to the effects of the war. That of the Manufacturers is not. It would have been brought about by the Steam Engine in time of peace <tho> there had been no war. The power which they obtained by means of machinery would always have tempted them to overstock the market, & to raise up a breed of Yahoos, [4]  – in a fit state of preparation for taking the infection of the Press. But how complicated are all these questions!

An odd notion has got abroad that Wynn is to go to the War Office, & the Clerks there are writing to him to solicit promotion. He himself has not the slightest expectation of any such appointment. I wish he had it, first for his own sake, & secondly because it would imply that the Grenvilles were with the administration. [5] 

I shall hardly see you before April; because of these task verses (laudatory of what is truly laudable) [6]  – & because the first vol: of Brazil is about to be reprinted to compleat the sets (about 170) which would otherwise be broken. [7]  This opportunity of adding to <making in> that volume such corrections & additions as fresh materials may supply, must not be let slip, – & I have about a fortnights work of this kind before me. – A full account of Cabrals discovery has come to light, written by one in the fleet, in a letter to the King. It was printed for the first time in 1817, & has some curious circumstances. [8]  I am now busy upon it.

Remember us to Mrs R. – My young ones mean to try their hand at a letter of thanks.

God bless you


18 Feby 1820.


* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 18 Feby 1820
MS: Huntington Library, RS 390. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Rickman and Southey had employed W. Easton (dates unknown) to translate a Gaelic inscription on a monument at the Well of the Seven Heads, Glengarry, that they had seen 16–18 September 1819, Journal of a Tour in Scotland, ed. Charles Harold Herford (London, 1929), pp. 200–201; Rickman had sent Southey the translation in his letter of 14 February 1820. BACK

[2] Rickman’s longstanding plan for communities of single women, which owed something to the Beguines, religious communities of the medieval Low Countries. BACK

[3] Appendix to Mr. Brougham’s Letter: Containing Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Education Committee (London, 1818), pp. 99–104, contained Brougham’s report on the educational schemes of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) and Philipp Emanuel von Fellenberg (1771–1844), both of whom he had visited in Switzerland in 1816. Southey had met Pestalozzi at Yverdon in Switzerland on 29 May 1817 and, later in the same trip, Fellenberg at Hofwyl, near Berne, on 5 July. BACK

[4] The industrial workforce, whom Southey compares to the brutish Yahoos in Jonathan Swift (1667–1745; DNB), Gulliver’s Travels (1726). BACK

[5] The followers of Lord Grenville had split from the Whigs in 1817 and finally joined the government in 1822. BACK

[6] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[7] The second edition of the first volume only of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) was published in 1822. BACK

[8] Manoel Aires de Casal (1754–1821), Corografia Brazilica, ou Relação Historico-Geografica do Reino do Brazil, 2 vols (Rio de Janeiro, 1817), I, pp. 12–34. This book was no. 3252 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Pedro Vaz de Caminha (c. 1450–1500) was a member of the fleet led by Pedro Alvares Cabral (c. 1467- c. 1520), which discovered Brazil in 1500. Caminha’s letter of 1 May 1500 announced the discovery to Manoel I (1469–1521; King of Portugal 1495–1521). Southey covered this new material in the second edition of the first volume of his History of Brazil (London, 1822), pp. 8–24. BACK