1859. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 January 1811

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

1859. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 29 January 1811 ⁠* 

Jany. 29. 1811.

My dear Rickman

The unusual circumstance of being engaged in company prevented me from answering your note last night. I have Pasleys book for the Quarterly, having applied for it immediately upon your first intimation of its contents. [1]  I have not yet begun the reviewal, tho I expect that every post will bring me a letter enquiring if it is ready. I shall begin forthwith, – & if by this day <in course of a> fortnight you can supply me with your observations, – no hurry on the part of Murray or Gifford shall make operate upon me. I will desire them to keep the last place in the number for me, as the post of convenience, – & they are bound the more to do this as <because> they know I care nothing about it as the post of honour.

Did you not tell me that the poor store keeper in the Park the object of Whitbreads [2]  malice was employed in removing powder with a copper shovel? – & that this said deposit had formerly been under the room with the archives in the tower? – I desire never to lose an opportunity of exposing Whitbreads meanness.

I am so far ahead of the printer as to indulge myself with an excursion to Brazil [3]  for a few days. – Good news from that quarter. John Mays brother at Rio Janeiro [4]  is about to send over a journal of a journey to St Paulo (Piratininga) – & he expects to procure some of the books which I am in want of xxxx xx




* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS/ 29 Janry 1811
MS: Huntington Library, RS 163. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810). It was sent to Southey for review and Rickman provided him with helpful information and briefing notes. The completed article was deemed by Gifford to be ‘perfectly incorrect and dangerous’ with the result that the version published in the Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457, was much altered by Croker, in consultation with Gifford and Murray; see Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

[2] Southey recounted the full story in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 352–353. In 1809 the radical MP Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB) had raised as a possible abuse of office, the appointment of a German, Christian Frederick Walter (dates unknown), to the post of ordnance store-keeper in Hyde Park, with a salary of £100 p.a., a house, and an allowance for coal and candles. Walter looked after the gunpowder that had until recently been stored under the Record Room in the Tower of London. As part of his work, he had to separate the ‘serviceable from the unserviceable powder with a copper shovel’. The result of Whitbread’s complaint was, as Southey explained, that ‘an industrious, inoffensive old man’ was turned ‘out of house and out of employment, that is, literally to ruin’ (353). BACK

[3] i.e. some work on Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[4] William Henry May (1785–1849), John May’s youngest brother and business partner in Brazil. At Southey’s request, Tom Southey transcribed a journal that William Henry May kept when he was at São Paulo. It appeared as no. 3146 in the Sale catalogue of Southey’s Library, described as ‘Journal of a Journey in the Brazils in Search of Ship Timber’. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Murray, John Samuel (1778–1843) (mentioned 2 times)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 2 times)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)