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

2074. Robert Southey to John Rickman [fragment], [before 10 April 1812] ⁠* 

My dear R.

The world think me a very industrious man, but if I worked half as hard at what I do like, as you do at what you do not, – I should have been at this time much nearer the end of my annual labour than is really the case. The truth is that it is a much more delightful thing to lay in knowledge, than it is to lay it out, & if crescit amor nummi &c, [1]  be a true aphorism I am sure the love of heaping up information is as strong & as growing a passion.

Things look well in Spain. If Badajoz falls [2]  I suppose Earl Wellington will drive the French out of Andalusia. Pasleys book seems to be doing its work, [3]  – the physic operates, however ingraciously it was taken. Lord Melville [4]  at the Admiralty gives hope for the Troop Ships – concerning which your advice is in this years register. Why will they not send a flying squadron to Catalonia! Why will they not send an army there & blockade Barcelona, now that the French are marching toward Russia. We shall do all in time, – but it is perilously imprudent to lose time in doing it.

The E. India question I take to be a very complicated one. [5]  If the trade be opened the immediate effect will be more ruinous than the B. Ayres speculations: what it may be hereafter I do not pretend to judge. But upon the subject of colonial policy, which of late has been a good deal in my head, I believe I could say more to the purpose in two pages than Mr. Brougham has said in two volumes. [6]  By the by did {I hope} you got my little Book [7]  wherein that said Brougham has been handled as he deserved. But I am still in his debt for his intended introduction of me to the Serjeant at Arms. [8]  – [remainder of MS missing]


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsements: RS./ 10 April 1812; 10: April 1812
MS: Huntington Library, RS 183
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An abbrevation of Juvenal, Satire 14, line 139: ‘crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crevit; ‘the love of wealth grows as wealth itself grows’. BACK

[2] An Anglo-Portuguese army did take Badajoz on the night of 6–7 April 1812. BACK

[3] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), who had served in the British army in Spain in 1808 and 1809. His Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (London, 1810), p. 241, argued that the British should have demanded ‘the chief command of every combined army in Spain’. BACK

[4] Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771–1851; DNB), who had become First Lord of the Admiralty earlier in 1812. He was viewed as a diligent administrator who was a reliable representative of the navy’s interests. BACK

[5] The East India Company held a monopoly of trade between Britain and India. This was ended in the new Charter Act of 1813 after much debate. BACK

[6] Henry Brougham, An Inquiry into the Colonial Policy of the European Powers (1803). BACK

[7] Southey’s The Origin, Nature and Object, of the New System of Education (1812), pp. 153–180 castigated the article ‘The Education of the Poor’, Edinburgh Review, 17 (November 1810), 58–88, for its condemnation of Andrew Bell as a plagiarist and an Anglican bigot. The author of the article was Brougham, though he was not named by Southey. BACK

[8] Southey had attributed to Brougham a long aside in the Edinburgh Review, 18 (August 1811), 420–423n, had questioned whether the ‘virulent personal abuse … levelled at the most respectable members of the Legislature’ in the Edinburgh Annual Register was in breach of Parliamentary privilege and hinted that action against the author and publishers might be taken. If it had, Southey would have been summoned to attend parliament by the serjeant-at-arms (i.e. the chief law enforcement office in the Houses of Parliament). In the event, the Edinburgh Review’s suggestion was not taken up. Francis John Colman, the serjeant-at-arms 1805–1811 had died in Portugal on 12 December 1811. His successor was John Clementson (1780–1856), who served in a temporary capacity from January-March 1812, when the post went to Henry Seymour (1778–1844), who held it until 1835. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013