1312. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 April [1807]

1312. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 April [1807] ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

I xx <am> in great perplexity about writing to you least the letter should be chargeable – & yet unwilling to xxxx delay writing – but chargeable it ought not to be & I will at all rates risk it, having really something to reply to & something to say.

Your recollection is right – the M.S.S. consisting of nine folios on the shelf below stairs, & three or four smaller ones in the cupboards there, & one folio above stairs, on the same shelf with Corneilles works [1]  – bound but not lettered), & therefore of uncouth appearance to come by waggon: & any spare room in the box to be filled with Spanish or Portugueze books in preference to any others, & with S Americans in particular – if they come to hand. All the rest by water – & all at your leisure, there being no hurry. There is sealed up in some sort of wrapper a carpet which may come by waggon also to be put in use on its arrival. [2] 

What I have to say is that tho proof franking is over the proofs as long as you continue in town will still visit you: for this reason. that my secret may not be known either by Taylors [3]  or by Longmans people, which it would needs be if they were put in the office from either place. Besides I like them to pass under your eye, for what I can avail myself of now, I do, & what I cannot, lies over for other a more convenient season. Double them up, without any inclosure, & write on the direction Single proof sheet. I have not been informed either by xxpaper or otherwise whether Wynn is UnSecretaryfied or not. [4]  If he be not he still franks, & in that case you can either direct the printers devil to carry them to him, – or trouble John. [5] 

Of Tythes Espriella knows nothing. If it please the public to let him be taken prisoner crossing from Barcelona to Majorca – & brought to England he will have much to say. – for I had not leisure to make a fourth volume – nor indeed would one volume more have held all I failed to say. You have xxxx some curious letters to see concerning the Quakers – the Society at Avignon – & Joanna Southcott  [6] 

It is little likely that the Tantara-rares [7]  will meet at midsummer – I trust they will govern without a Parliament long enough to let you make your northern journey in full comfort. My daughter is familiar with Mrs Rickmans name, by reason of the silver cup [8]  – & will be exceeding disappointed if the prophecy of her appearance this summer should not be fulfilled.

God bless you


Wednesday. 29 April.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr.
Endorsement: RS./ 29 Apr 1807.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 108. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: Year from JR’s endorsement BACK

[1] Pierre Corneille (1606–1684). BACK

[2] This paragraph concerns the books and manuscripts which Southey was having sent to Keswick now that he had decided to stay in Greta Hall. BACK

[3] Southey had been sending copy for Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807) to the printer Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB) and wanted his authorship to remain a secret. BACK

[4] The so-called Ministry of All the Talents, in which Wynn had served as Under Secretary of State in the Home Office, had broken up in March 1807. BACK

[5] Rickman’s servant (surname and dates unknown). BACK

[6] Letters from England included sections on the visit of William Bryan (dates unknown) and John Wright (dates unknown) to the Société des Illuminés d’Avignon, and the self-proclaimed prophet Joanna Southcott. For these sections see Robert Southey and Millenarianism: Documents Concerning the Prophetic Movements of the Romantic Era, ed. Tim Fulford. BACK

[7] Southey’s disparaging term for the noisy MPs in the House of Commons. Tantara-rara, Rogues All was the title of a 1786 play by John O’Keeffe (1747–1833; DNB); see The Dramatic Works of John O’Keeffe Esq., 4 vols (London, 1798), III, pp. 349–90. ‘Tantara-rara, Fools All Fools All’ was also a popular song from Henry Fielding’s (1707–1754; DNB) play The Lottery (1732). BACK

[8] This had been sent to her in May 1806; see Southey to John Rickman, [c. 21 May 1806], Letter 1184. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)