755. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 30 January [1803]

755. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 30 January [1803] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

Thank you for your letter in all & every one of its parts. the books which you could not find must be in one of the boxes packed up in the Strand, & which may easily be known from the travellers by their looser cordage & fastening. Of the addendi – & trust me thexx virtue of supererogation is a great one & goes to account with me – the Italian Life of Bernard [1]  is the only one which I ought to have specified <but I shall be glad to receive the 2 vol of Racine [2]  & the mss Madoc. [3] >

Domingo & Francisco [4]  have both been gutted. the French life of Loyola [5]  is worth little for I have biographized him from the earliest of his Life-writers. the Hist. Jes. Ordinis [6]  I do not recollectxx unless it be a little book by one Hasenmuller or some such Germanish name – if so I have the whole trail of that volume ready drest. but there is a folio history of monachism – which tho it falls miserably short of what such a title ought to pretend, may be of use – by Hospinian. [7] 

By way of fillers – send Osorio de Rebus Eman. [8]  3 vol. bound like Resendius, [9]  & Resendius also. the Cronicas dos Seis Reys primeiros. [10]  a folio thing, & lettered upon so light-coloured a leather, that it might as well not have been lettered at all. Feijoos [11]  works. about 16 little 4tos in parchment. Corona Gotica by Saavedra [12]  two little quadrutoed volumes. Vieyra Hist de Futuro. [13]  1 4to parchment. a folio translation of Eusebius – Socrates Sozomen &c. [14] 

I am rich in books considered as plain & poor Robert Southey, & in foreign books – considered as an English man. but for my glutton appetite & healthy digestion, my stock is but small & the Historian feels daily & hourly the want of materials. I believe I must visit London for the sake of the Museum. [15]  but not till the spring be far advanced & warm enough to write with tolerable comfort in their reading room. my history of Monachism [16]  cannot be compleat without the Benedictine History of Mabillon. [17]  there is another book in the Museum which must be noticed literally – or put in a note – the book of the conformities of St Francis & Jesus Xt! [18]  I have thirteen folio of Franciscan History in the house – & yet want the main one, Waddings Seraphic Annals [19]  which contains the original Bulls.

Of the Beguins [20]  I have as yet found neither trace nor tidings – except that I have seen the name certainly among the heretic list. but my monastic knowledge is very far from complete. I know only the outline xxxx for the two centuries between Francisco & Luther. [21]  & nothing but Jesuit history from that period.

Do not suspect me of querulousness. labour is my amusement, & nothing makes me growl but that the kind of labour cannot be wholly my own choice. that I must lay aside old chronicles, to review modern poems instead of composing from a full head. that I must write like a school boy upon some idle theme on which nothing can be said or ought to be said. I believe the best thing will be as you hope. for if I live & do well my history [22]  shall be done, & that will be a fortune to a man oeconomical from habit & moderate in his wants & wishes from feeling & principle.

Coleridge is with me at present. he talks of going abroad – for poor fellow he suffers terribly from this climate. you bid me come with the swallows to London! I wish I could go with the swallows on their winterly migration.

If I have not specified books enough to fill a package-case, make up the quantity by any thing relative to Spain Portugal, the East or West-Indies.

Farewell – we are all a little ailing – & all with sore eyes, for which as there must be some general cause I wish we could find a general remedy.

yrs affectionately


Jany 30. dies fausta. [23] 


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr / St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Postmark: B/ JAN 31/ 1803
Endorsement: RS/ Jany 30/ 1803
MS: Huntington Library, RS 31. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), II, pp. 199-201 [in part]. BACK

[1] Filippo di San Giovanni Battista (dates unknown), Vita di San Bernardo (1618), no. 180 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] Jean Racine (1639-1699), French dramatist. A two-volume edition of his works does not appear in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Presumably a copy of Southey’s unpublished fifteen-book version of Madoc, completed in 1797-1799. BACK

[4] St Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226), founder of the Franciscan Order; St Dominic (1170-1221), founder of the Dominican Order. Southey was incorporating their lives into his unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[5] Unidentified. BACK

[6] Elias Hasenmuller (d. 1587), Historia Iesuitici Ordinis (1595), no. 1514 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Rudolf Hospinian (1547-1626), De Monachis (1669), no. 1430 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Jeronimo Osorio (1506-1580), De Rebus Emmanuenlis Lusitanae Regis (1791), no. 2067 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Andre de Resende (1498-1573), De Antiquitatibus Lusitaniae (1790), no. 3446 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Possibly Chronica del D. Affonso Henriques Primero, D. Sancho I & II, D. Affonso II & III, e Dom Diniz, Sexto Rey de Portugal (1727-1729), no. 3352 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Benito Jeronimo Feijoo y Montenegro (1674-1764), Theatro Critico Universal (1749-1760), no. 3298 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] Diego de Saavedra Fajardo (1584-1648), Corona Gothica Castellana y Austriaca (1670), no. 3724 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] Antonio Vieira (1608-1697), Historia do Futuro (1718), no. 3772 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Meredith Hanmer (1534-1604; DNB), Eusebius, Socrates, &c. Ancient Ecclesiasticall Histories (1636), no. 960 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] The British Museum, London, opened in 1759. BACK

[16] Southey’s planned, but never completed, ‘History of Monasticism’. BACK

[17] Jean Mabillon (1632-1707). Southey eventually obtained his Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti (1733) and Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti (1703), nos. 208 and 1692 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[18] Southey eventually acquired a third edition of this book by Bartholomew Rinonico (d. c. 1401), Liber Aureus, Inscriptus Liber Conformitatum Vitae B. P. Francisci ad Vitam Jesu Christi (1590), no. 472 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. It claimed the Bible contained no fewer than 64 predictions of the life of St Francis. BACK

[19] Southey eventually acquired two sets of Luke Wadding’s (1588-1657; DNB) Annales Minorum, seu Trium Ordinum A. S. Francisco Institutorum (1625-1654) and (1731-1745), nos 2903-2904 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[20] The Beguines were medieval lay religious communities of women, located mainly in the Low Countries. In the 14th century, they were often accused of heresy. Rickman thought of them as a model for his plan of communities of poor single women. BACK

[21] Martin Luther (1483-1546), founder of Lutheranism. BACK

[22] Southey’s uncompleted ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[23] ‘Auspicious day’; 30 January was ‘auspicious’ for Southey as it was the anniversary of the execution of Charles I (1600-1649, King of Great Britain 1625-1649; DNB). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

35 Strand, London (mentioned 1 time)