820. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 August 1803

820. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 August 1803 ⁠* 

My Bibliopolæ [1]  have taught me a lesson which ought to have been beat into my numbskull long ago. – that in dealings between man & man there ought always to be writings & proper legal suspicion. they are frightened by the stagnation of their trade during this panic & write to desire that I will not “incur any expences on the Bibliotheca.” [2]  All this would be very well if I had not a week ago returned a definite answer about the house at Richmond. which is probably now actually upon my hands. Cursing & swearing however are against the third commandment [3]  & it would be a fools trick to fret my guts to fiddle-strings, musical as they are already. I am in a hobble & must get out how I can. it will be no very great exertion to fit Madoc [4]  for the press by Xmas. meantime I will try & procure subscribers privately not by printed proposals. if I can get off an edition of 500 in 4to thus at 25/ I shall clear about 250£. if that fails, at any rate I can raise the 150£ upon the poem which Longman & Rees were to have advanced me for furniture. this spider-trade has at least one advantage – fall which way I may I have still a thread to hang by.

Tis fortunate that since my return I have given but little time to this poor Bibliotheca, & stuck close to history [5]  instead, so close that another fortnight will bring me to the end of my materials. please to send me the Chronica do Principe D Joaõ. [6]  Chr. d El Rey D Joaõ 2. [7]  & also Chro. d El Rey D. Manuel. [8]  they are all bound alike, small 4tos. & stand in that bookcase next to the side board. a sheet of brown paper lined with Acts of Parliament will be sufficient package. I am half thro Joam the Second [9]  reign in another chronicle.

Burneys book [10]  & Clarkes [11]  are before my tribunal. Clarke is a wretched dog. he talks of the village Aldea in Africa – not knowing that Aldea is Portugueze for a village. [12]  as this man promises to write six more such quartos at £3 - 8 – each, I think I am in duty bound to use the scourge.

Burnett – George II I should say – sets out for London next week. I wrote to Carlisle about him, & he who does good to every body that falls in his way has promised to make him a surgeon as far as the Hospital [13]  goes without expence. he shall bring the books for C Burney. the treatise for navigation [14]  is by some Martin Cortes – the second that was ever published – if the old Cyclopædia [15]  says true. it must doubtless be curious.

Poor Margaret is very unwell. so feverish that we get no sleep anights, & very little rest by day. Altogether I feel so very well inclined to be out of temper that I am sure I am out of spirits.

Tom is off at last for the Cove of Cork. thank God!


R Southey.

August 12. 1803. I am 29 this day.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS/ Augt 12./ 1803
MS: Huntington Library, RS 41. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Latin translates as ‘Booksellers’. BACK

[2] Longman and Rees had abandoned their plan to publish Southey’s Bibliotheca Britannica, a chronological account of all literature published in Britain. BACK

[3] Exodus 20: 7, ‘You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God’. BACK

[4] Southey had finished a version of Madoc in 1797-1799 and was revising it for publication. It did not appear until 1805. BACK

[5] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[6] Damiao de Gois (1502-1574), Chronica do Seren. Principe D. Joao (1790), no. 3263 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Garcia de Resende (1470-1536), Chronica dos Valeros, e Insignes Feitos del Rey D. Joam II, de Gloriosa Memoria (1798), no. 3264 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Damiao de Gois (1502-1574), Chronica do Senhor Rei D. Emanuel (1790), no. 3262 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] John II (1455-1495, King of Portugal 1481-1495). BACK

[10] James Burney, A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean (1803); reviewed by Southey in Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 3-12. BACK

[11] James Stanier Clarke (1766-1834; DNB), The Progress of Maritime Discovery (1803); reviewed by Southey in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 12-20. BACK

[12] James Stanier Clarke, The Progress of Maritime Discovery (London, 1803), p. 322. BACK

[13] The Westminster Hospital, where Carlisle was the surgeon. BACK

[14] Martin Cortes de Albacar (1510-1582), The Arte of Navigation (1561), translated by Richard Eden (c. 1520-1576; DNB), no. 890 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] Ephraim Chambers (1680?-1740; DNB), Cyclopædia: Or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 5 vols (London, 1786-1788), V, ‘Chart’. BACK

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