1821. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [October 1810] 

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

1821. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [October 1810] ⁠* 

That faulty sentence in the Preface was left for correction because I was in haste to send it off that my Uncle might see the proof while in town. It is now cast into good shape, – & I have xx at your suggestion used the word affection in the Dedication. [1]  The little preference I had for the other when previously weighing them, was not sufficient to withstand any objection that might happen to be made.

There is something concerning flat heads in an after note [2]  – the long-headed Elizabethans are explained in the note where you wished to find them, by that curious extract from Claude d’Abbeville, xxx he tells you how they manufactured them in France, & doubtless the same fashion prevailed here. [3]  – We had better take to it again, & see if it be possible to squeeze x {some of our} whelp-politicians into the right Burleigh [4]  shape. Pugs – designed for the parlour, must submit to have their noses broke, – Tom cats in town are usually untommed to make xxxxx xxxx {qualify them for} freedom comforts of the a house. – It is but fair that these human animals who come into the world to be the pets of fortune should undergo some operation to make them more better adapted for their situations. They who never speak in Parliament should have their tongues slit like magpies, & they who speak too much, – just have the tip taken off.



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: From/ RS – / Oct. 1810
MS: Huntington Library, RS 154
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The changes had been made, at Rickman’s suggestion, to the preliminary matter for Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), which was dedicated ‘TO/ THE REVEREND HERBERT HILL … BY HIS NEPHEW/ ROBERT SOUTHEY,/ AS A MEMORIAL/ OF/ GRATEFUL AND RESPECTFUL AFFECTION’ (I, unpaginated). BACK

[2] A custom of the Omagua tribe, which involved ‘confining the forehead and occiput of their infants between two boards to make them perfectly flat, an operation intended to make them resemble the full moon, which is their standard of beauty for the human face’, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. 587 and p. 88 n. BACK

[3] History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. 642. Southey’s source was, Claude d’Abbeville (d. 1632), Histoire de la Mission des Peres Capuchines en l’Isle de Maragnan et Terres Circonvoisins (1614). BACK

[4] The Elizabethan politician and royal adviser William Cecil, 1st Baron Burleigh (1520/21–1598; DNB). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013