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

1929. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [early June 1811] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

Thank you for poor Manuella, – perhaps you do not know that she was killed during the second siege. – The writer of her history under the print was seems to have been ignorant of this, & has miswritten her name as well as that of Zaragoza. Manuella Sancho, I conceive to be just such a misnomer as Mary John would be for Mary Johnson – Sanchez would be the true name. [1] 

The women did good service at Zaragoza & at Gerona also. I think the account of this latter siege, – which I am almost upon the point of beginning will interest you. –  [2] 

The unprofitable length of the volume is in no degree imputable to any want of compression on my part, Ann. Registers, wretched as they have hitherto been, are considered as works of reference, – & certainly ought to enter very much into detail. [3]  The additional extent is no more than proportionate to the additional matter, – D of York, [4] Austrian War, [5] Walcheren, [6]  think of these extraordinares of the year & you will not wonder at my lengthened labours.

I expect however to start on Monday week next. We shall be four or five days on the road – & make for Streatham first, – from thence I shall find my way to London within 24 hours.

Turner is to find out whether between 2 & 300 £ in the stocks ought not at this time to be transferred to me, by virtue of a decree in Chancery x in favour of that Uncle who (as my brother Harry Mr T. Southey – After his descent (as my brother calls it) it was to be claimed by the elder brothers heir at law. [7] 

The last I heard of the Pasley Review [8]  was from Bedford, who told me it had been put into Herries’s hands – so I hope the Chancellor of the Ex. will take the hint about the property tax – provided the good be done, they are welcome to the credit of it. – By the bye every thing which you & I think about Sicily, & all the xxxx was confirmed to me by Colonel Bunbury the other day. He has told our ministers that he had no doubt of a secret understanding between Buonaparte & the Sicilian Court. – & they only smile at him & ask him if he can possibly believe it! What is to be done with men who thus wilfully shut their eyes & ears to information! – I will be at that curst court next year in spite of Castelcicala [9]  – or of the Devil himself

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ Feby 1811
MS: Huntington Library, RS 164
Unpublished.
Dating note: dating from content, which suggest this letter was written in the week before 7 June 1811. BACK

[1] Rickman had sent a print of Manuella Sanchez (d. 1809), one of many Spanish women who distinguished themselves in the defence of Zaragoza. She was shot through the heart. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 521. BACK

[2] The Spanish city of Gerona had fallen to the French on 12 December 1809, after a seven-month siege. Southey’s account is in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 768–786. BACK

[3] Ballantyne was concerned enough about the length of the historical section to insist that Southey explained himself to the readers in a prefatory note; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 2.1 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[4] In 1809, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), had been forced to resign as commander-in-chief of the British army in the wake of allegations that he had profited from office trafficking. After a lengthy investigation, the charges were found to be unproven. It had, however, become apparent that his former mistress Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB) had received money from individuals keen for her to use her influence with the Duke, and that the Duke himself had known of her actions. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 109–301. BACK

[5] See chapters 24–27 of the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 575–659, relating the defeat of Austria by France in 1809. BACK

[6] The Walcheren Campaign, an unsuccessful British expedition to the Netherlands in 1809. The plan had been to open another front in the war against Napoleon. Although there was little actual fighting, the British forces were severely depleted by a sickness quickly dubbed the ‘Walcheren Fever’. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 660–692. BACK

[7] Unfortunately for Southey he did not inherit any money from his uncle, Thomas Southey. BACK

[8] 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. His 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

[9] Fabrizio Ruffo, Prince of Castelcicala (1763–1832), Sicilian minister to the Court of St James 1802–1815. Southey disliked the Bourbon regime in Sicily that Castelcicala represented, both for its reactionary nature and its unwillingness to fight the French. BACK

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August 2013