1451. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 April 1808

1451. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 April 1808 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

I trouble you with something beyond a two-ouncer – for Gebir. Extraordinary as that poem [1]  is the author is still more so. I never saw so ungoverned a mind, – perhaps never so ungovernable a one; – nor did I ever see a man of more commanding powers. He & I scarcely found one subject on which we differed (Copenhagen excepted [2] ) & yet it is scarcely possible to xxx imagine two men more unlike.

My books had an excellent passage [3]  – the Burton tea chest was just falling to pieces when it arrived, & I am not sure that one volume of the Chinese novel [4]  had not dropt out of it, – for one is missing – But I am about to write to Biddlecombe concerning the desiderata. [5] 

I miss also two books which perhaps Capt Burney may have, as I remember sending them to him from Bristol. A Spanish history of the military orders which contained at the end something of <about> Sir Fr. Drake, [6]  – & a black letter art of navigation. [7] 

At present my house is in doleful confusion, littered every where with books. The carpenter not having yet appeared with the shelves – He is daily expected & then I shall soon know where to lay my hand upon any single xx volume in the dark. You will be well-pleased to see your old acquaintance in good order & at home. The unpacking was joyful work, & the chests were much sooner emptied than filled. Happy man is my dole, – to have such a collection of books, & nothing to do but to make use of them.

Remember me to Mrs R. Edith thanks her for the – I do’nt know what to call them, – glass stands, – she wishes to thank her in person. –

God bless you


April 29. 1808.


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 29 April 1808
MS: Huntington Library, RS 129. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Landor’s oriental poem of 1798. BACK

[2] In September 1807, British forces had bombarded Copenhagen, then neutral, to prevent Napoleon gaining possession of the Danish fleet. Southey regretted the attack. BACK

[3] Having decided to remain at Greta Hall the previous year, Southey had been steadily arranging for his books, which had been stored by friends in London and the West Country, to be collected together. BACK

[4] Thomas Percy (1729–1811; DNB) had translated the Chinese novel Hau Kiou Choann or The Pleasing History (1761). Two volumes of Percy’s Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the Chinese (1762) formed part of the sale of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] This letter has not been traced. BACK

[6] Francisco Caro de Torres (c. 1560–1630), Historia de las Ordenes Militares de Santiago, Calatrava, y Alcantara (1629). BACK

[7] Listed in the sale of Southey’s library was M. Curtes, The Arte of Navigation, translated by R. Eden, cuts, black letter (1561). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

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