3644. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 3 March [1821]

3644. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 3 March [1821] ⁠* 

My dear R.

I met Scott who has fallen in this duel, [1]  – at Wordsworths one morning when I was last in town, & breakfasted with him there. There was something about him which I did not like, tho he was a very clever man. His magazine [2]  is more likely to get into worse hands, than better, (Hazlitts very likely, – if the publishers will trust him) [3]  – but he himself was in the right way to make it mischievous. There was an article about the Queen [4]  as rascally in all points as if it had been written by G. Dyers favourite cockatrice, [5]  – & he had evidently determined to take his ground as a Whig journalist, & go the whole lengths of that rascally faction, with which his only sympathy was that of a dislike to the institutions of the country. – I am sorry for his fate; he certainly provoked it, – but tho wrong in the quarrel, he was right in the feeling which led to it. – Some good however will arise, if this catastrophe of a literary dispute, should have the effect of abating the edge of slander in such writers.

Edward Hill wrote me a very good letter lately from Westminster. Have you yet determined upon a school for Willy? [6]  Westminster is the best possible place, in a case like his, where he can live at home. Remember me to him & the rest of my fellow travellers.

God bless you


3d March.

I have just heard from my Uncle, – an account of his Sisters death. Had poor Danvers been living he would have been very useful to him at this time. I have written to the only friend I have at Bristol who can be of use, to call upon him, & assist him if possible. He must have past a miserable month there, & I fear must be the worse for it


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: Fr RS./ 3 March 1821
MS: Huntington Library, RS 410. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, p. 224.
Dating note: Year from endorsement. BACK

[1] John Scott (1784–1821; DNB), Scottish journalist, was fatally wounded in a duel on 16 February 1821 and died eleven days later. His opponent was Jonathan Henry Christie (1792–1876), the London representative of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (1817–1980), with which Scott was engaged in a bitter quarrel. In particular, Scott objected to Blackwood’s personal attacks on authors, and responded by making personal attacks on those associated with Blackwood’s. BACK

[2] Scott was the founder and editor (1820–1821) of the monthly London Magazine (1820–1829). BACK

[3] Hazlitt did not become editor of the London Magazine. Its publisher, Robert Baldwin, sold it to John Taylor (1781–1864; DNB), and James Augustus Hessey (1785–1870) and Taylor became editor 1821–1825. BACK

[4] The London Magazine consistently supported Queen Caroline (1768–1821; DNB) in her struggle against her estranged husband, George IV; for example, London Magazine, 2 (November 1820), 568–575. BACK

[5] Probably Thomas Barnes (1785–1841; DNB), editor of The Times 1817–1841, a supporter of Queen Caroline; see Robert Southey to John Rickman, 8 August [1820], Letter 3522. BACK

[6] William Charles Rickman (1812–1886), Rickman’s son. He did attend Westminster School. BACK

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