3634. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 February 1821

3634. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 February 1821 ⁠* 

My dear R.

I am not sorry to see that the Queens Lawyers are attacking the Press, [1]  – ministry will hardly be such geese as not to prepare the same sauce for the gander; – & with regard to that sort of license for which one of the new weekly papers is prosecuted, on whatever side it is used, it ought to meet with no mercy. [2]  – The Courier I think will make a good fight of it, & spare no omit no means in its own defence.

By what I can learn from one of the Portugueze Journals printed in London [3]  (which have been main causes of the revolution in Portugal) there are two revolutionary parties in that country of the most opposite views; one for an union with Spain, upon the scheme (I doubt not) of a federal commonwealth; – the other for raising the Duke de Cadaval [4]  (a younger branch of the royal family to the throne, his mother was a daughter of the Duke de Luxembourg, – of Bourbon blood, – but I think they cannot count upon the support of France in this ground. The majority probably wish only for an amendment in this old form of government; but nothing that is aimed at can bring back the commercial prosperity which Lisbon enjoyed before the late war, – that is inevitably lost, & for ever.

It is a good thing that Morillo [5]  has found a fair opportunity of leaving the Venezuelans to quarrel among themselves; – they will soon begin to cut each others throats as lovingly as the people of Buenos Ayres, where they have sometimes two revolutions in a week. [6]  If there were a settled Government in Spain, these miserable people in a short time would be sending over deputies to request that the Mother Country would put an end to their miseries by reassuming her former dominion over them.

Next week I hope you will receive my hexameters, [7]  – the last proofs were returned yesterday. It is a fair experiment, & will find some partizans as well as plenty of assailants. But whatever comments & criticisms it may call forth I have done with it, & am thinking of other things.

Remember me to Mrs R.

God bless you


14 Feby. 1821.


* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 14 Feby 1821
MS: Huntington Library, RS 409. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The attempt to dissolve the marriage of George IV and Queen Caroline (1768–1821; DNB) had failed when a Bill of Pains and Penalties was withdrawn on 10 November 1820, but the controversy continued. On 9 February 1821 the Queen’s lawyers had successfully persuaded a Middlesex Grand Jury to issue bills of indictment against the Courier and Morning Post for libelling Queen Caroline. BACK

[2] The ‘new weekly paper’ that was being prosecuted was the pro-government Sunday paper, John Bull (1820–1892), for its claim on 15 January 1821 that various aristocratic Whig ladies had only visited Queen Caroline because their relative, Lady Caroline Wrottesley (d. 1818), had previously had an affair with a servant. The libel action had started in the Court of King’s Bench on 3 February 1821. BACK

[3] Correio Braziliense (1808–1822), a Portuguese journal published in London, no. 3203 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] An army revolt in Porto on 24 August 1820 had established a junta to run the country. It declared its intention of organising elections to a Cortes, which were held in December 1820, and demanded John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826) return from Brazil, where the Portuguese court had fled in 1807–1808. The Dukedom of Cadaval had been created in 1645 for a junior branch of the Portuguese royal family, the House of Braganza, and its incumbent at this time was Nuno Caetano Alvares Pereira de Melo, 6th Duke of Cadaval (1799–1837). His mother was Marie Madelaine Charlotte Henriette Emile (1778–1833), youngest child of Anne-Charles-Sigismond de Montmorency-Luxembourg, 10th Duke of Piney-Luxembourg (1737–1803), a distant relative of the French royal family, the House of Bourbon. It was at least rumoured at this time that the Duke of Cadaval was seeking the Portuguese throne. BACK

[5] Pablo Morillo y Morillo, Count of Cartagena and Marquess of La Puerta (1775–1837), Spanish General. He had been sent to Venezuela in 1814 to re-conquer the country for Spain. Following the liberal revolution of 1820 he negotiated a year-long truce with the revolutionaries and returned to Spain. BACK

[6] The United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, with its capital at Buenos Aires, had effectively been independent from Spain since 1810. At this time it was riven by conflicts between those who advocated a federalist and a unitary constitution. BACK

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

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