3668. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 9 April [1821]

3668. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 9 April [1821] ⁠* 

My dear R.

I really wish you would send to No 158 in the Strand for the Report of the Committee appointed at a Meeting of Journeymen (chiefly Printers) to take into Consideration a system of social Arrangement. It has reached me to day, & my first impression is that they are taking up just so much of Owens scheme as is practicable, meaning to form not a Community of Goods, but an association in which each works for himself, & the object of associating is to increase comforts & diminish expence. [1]  The Community of Goods which they propose being, they say, in the nature of Regimental or Naval Messes. – If their scheme be feasible, I know of nothing from which such great & certain good effects might be looked for.

One more if. If the scheme deserves encouragement, a more popular thing could not be done by men in power, than by assisting to set it forward, by taking a few shares. The capital they want to begin with is £12,000. ‘to erect the first dwelling for 250 families.” – But I hope you will find time to look at their Report.

God bless you


9 April.

I have found the Gallicus Morbus mentioned by that name as the peculiar disease of the age in an Epistle of Peter Martyrs (of Angleria) dated April 1488 [2]  – four years before Columbus sailed on his first voyage. [3]  There can be no doubt about the identity of the disease, – he gives its Spanish name also, the letter is addressed to one of his friends whose face was attacked by it. [4] 


* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 9 April 1821
MS: Huntington Library, RS 411. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Year from endorsement. BACK

[1] Report of the Committee appointed at a Meeting of Journeymen, Chiefly Printers, to Take into Consideration Certain Propositions, Submitted to them by Mr George Mudie, Having for their Object a System of Social Arrangement, Calculated to Effect Essential Improvements in the Condition of the Working Classes, and of Society at Large (1821). The Report was based on plans put forward by the journalist George Mudie (b. 1788) to form a community exemplifying the principles of Robert Owen (1771–1858; DNB), manager and owner of the mills and model community at New Lanark in Scotland 1799–1825. Such a community was briefly formed in East London 1821–1822. BACK

[2] Peter Martyr d’Anghiera (1457–1526), Opus Epistolarum (Amsterdam, 1670), p. 34, no. 1902 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This letter described the ‘French disease’, which Southey took to mean syphilis. If this identification was correct, then syphilis could not have an American origin. BACK

[3] Christopher Columbus (1450/1–1506), Italian explorer who was commissioned by the Spanish crown to sail west across the Atlantic in 1492 and who discovered America rather than Asia. BACK

[4] Arias Barbosa (c. 1465/70–1540), Portuguese scholar and Professor of Greek at the University of Salamanca 1495–1530. BACK