3523. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 August [1820]

3523. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 August [1820] ⁠* 

My dear R.

Thank you for your letter. Here in the country, it is surprizing how little people seem to think about the Q. or to be aware of the state of affairs in London to which her arrival & her conduct have xxx brought about. [1]  Yet there is mischief afloat even here. Yesterday a fellow was singing God save the Queen about the town, & I have heard that some of the rabble her maintain that the King killed the Princess Charlotte, & now wants to kill the Queen. Of the former fact they say there can be no doubt; for the Doctor [2]  killed himself afterwards, & why should he have done that, if it had not been for remorse of conscience?

I would wager that the mine explodes & will throw up something to stop the slides. Riots you will probably have, like those in 1780, [3]  – with a more determined purpose of murder: but any an army of special constables, & an arsenal of staves would do wonders. I hardly however dare give the home department credit for sufficient forethought to make this easy preparation.

The turn which things are taking in Spain & Sicily [4]  will put an end to the cant about bloodless revolutions, & perhaps take away all desire of imitation. In Spain indeed I believe the counter-revolutionists to be the stronger party: & the soldiers themselves will not like to be paid with the spoils of the Church. Here in England we shall see the fitness of embodying yeomanry & train bands.

The Whigs are sliding too, – & an explosion must send them to perdition

All things considered I should think it safe to insure the ship, – but not the Captain & some of the officers. – The patient is very ill, but if the abscess breaks, his constitution is strong enough to bear it, & he will be restored to health. A comfortable prognosis for his friends, & I think it will be pro verified by the event –

God bless you


12 Aug. on which day I enter my 47th year


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: Fr/ RS./ – <12 Aug–> 1820./ on his own Birth day,/ 47 Years –
MS: Huntington Library, RS 400. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Year from endorsement.

[1] Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), estranged wife of George IV. He had pressurised his Cabinet into preparing a Bill of Pains and Penalties to dissolve the marriage and deprive her of the title of Queen. She had rejected compromise terms offered by the Cabinet and had arrived in England on 5 June 1820. BACK

[2] Sir Richard Croft, 6th Baronet (1762–1818; DNB), Princess Charlotte’s obstetrician, had shot himself, reputedly in remorse at his failure to save the Princess. BACK

[3] The anti-Catholic Gordon riots of June 1780, which led to nearly 300 deaths. BACK

[4] Spain was increasingly riven by royalist and revolutionary plots and uprisings, following the liberal revolution of January–March 1820. Once news of a revolution in Naples had spread to Sicily, it led to rioting in Palermo in July 1820 and the creation of a government under the control of the town’s guilds. This was followed by further internal struggles and warfare with other Sicilian towns and troops from Naples. BACK

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