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

1885. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 March 1811 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

Can you learn for me what proportion of officers died of the Walcheren Disease [1]  – it is of some importance as a physical fact, & might lead to {some} practical utility whenever we go to Holland again.

I like my summing up against the Gregres [2]  better in the proof than in mss.

Have you seen Koster’s pamphlett about Bullion? [3]  He seems to me t in one part to have hit the nail on the head & really made a discovery in political science – at least it was so to me. – That all the mischief proceeds from the blunder of having fixed a maximum for gold, the value of which like that of every thing else depends upon the supply. Now the mines supply less than they did, & the watch makers consume more in an astonishing proportion, & this is the mystery of the wonderful history. He is very erroneous in the latter part of his tract, but this seems to me a great point established. Koster loves a paradox dearly & I will lay my life has found this out by virtue of his darling habit of differing from every body he meets with [4] 

God bless you

RS.

March 19. 1811.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS/ 19 Mar 1811
MS: Huntington Library, RS 170
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The so-called ‘Walcheren Fever’ (a form of malaria) which had wreaked havoc amongst the troops sent on the ill-fated Walcheren campaign of 1809. Over 4000 British soldiers died and some 4000 more were affected by disease. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (May 1811), 685–690. BACK

[2] The Whigs, led by Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; DNB), Prime Minister 1830–1834; and the followers of William Grenville, Foreign Secretary 1791–1801, Prime Minister 1806–1807. ‘Gregres’ were idols of wood and clay in West Africa. BACK

[3] John Theodore Koster, A Short Statement of the Trade in Gold Bullion: Shewing the True Causes of the General Scarcity and Consequent High Price on that Precious Metal: Also Demonstrating that the Notes of the Bank of England are Not Depreciated (1810). It went into a second edition in 1811, and Koster followed this with Further Observations on Bullion and Bank Notes (1811). BACK

[4] John Theodore Koster’s contrary nature was noted by De Quincey, who claimed ‘he denied that any such battle as Talavera had ever been fought, and had a large wager depending upon the result’, ‘Lake Reminiscences; by the English Opium-Eater’, Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, 6.1 (January 1839), 3–4. BACK

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August 2013