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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

1818. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 October [1810] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

I have been charged by Danvers to ask you (tho with little hope either on my part or his) if there was any situation, however low, to which you could help his wretched brother, [1]  – who is literally starving. Sunk as he is to the very dunghill, the best thing he could do would be to enlist as a soldier, & I should be glad to hear he had done this.

For the first time these eighteen years I have wished to be at the Theatre. One nights noise must have been worth hearing [2] 

This month of October has been so fine that I regret you have not been [MS torn] to enjoy it. Duppa was with us last week.

What a pretty mess the Arch-Tantararas [3]  are in!

The Yucatan xx score-numeration comes in in a note, & introduces a remark upon Robertsons shameful inaccuracy; [4]  – of which this serves as one proof, – & the tin-money mentioned by Cortes as another. [5] 

Remember me to Mrs R.

Yrs RS.

Oct 14.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: From/ RS./ 14 Octr. 1810
MS: Huntington Library, RS 153
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Danvers (d. 1812), a surgeon and apothecary, of Woolwich, who was made bankrupt in 1808. BACK

[2] Possibly a reference to the riots at Covent Garden, 10–17 September 1810, over private boxes. BACK

[3] Southey’s contemptuous name for politicians. BACK

[4] The system of arithmetic used in Yucatan, ‘They count … by fives, till they come to twenty, and then by twenties, as far as a hundred, then to 400, and then to 8000, and from thence to infinity’, Southey, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. 638. Southey criticised William Robertson’s (1721–1793; DNB) neglect of the Maya civilization in Yucatan in his History of America (1777) as evidence of poor scholarship, History of Brazil, I, p. 644. Southey owned an edition of Robertson’s book from 1788, no. 2456 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. 639. Hernan Cortes (1485–1547), Spanish conqueror of the Aztec empire, had noticed the use of pieces of tin as money in central America, while Robertson had denied the existence of metal money in pre-Columban America. BACK

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August 2013