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

2081. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [before 20 April 1812]⁠* 

My dear R.

Tell the Capitaneus when you see him, that Humboldt [1]  comes under my hands for the next number, – that is the one after this which is about to appear. I have been very carefully reading him, with great respect for his multifarious knowledge & information the full & satisfactory information which he communicates concerning the present state of the country.

Mine enemy continueth to make speeches! [2]  if his beer have as little sweet-wort in it & as much wormwood, God help those who drink the detestable potation! That man never ought to trust himself in Parliament without taking a swinging dose of calomel over night to clear off his superfluous bile: I would venture a wager that his gall bladder is twice the usual size, & the biliary ducts of proportionate calibre.

When Christian Curwen [3]  talks of distress &c – he ought to be hauled over his own coals, – an article for which he & the xxx other pit owners have taxed me ten guineas a year since I came into this country. The captains have rebelled against the last advance of xx a shilling a cart at the pits (you saw our one horse cart –) – they have gone to Scotland in consequence his coals lie upon hand, he has no money to pay his men, & would not be safe at this time were he to show his equine countenance in Workington. With all his wealth it is believed that the expences of his thousand & one mistresses keep him poor. – He is pater atque maritus [4]  to half the county of Cumberland; – to say nothing of Westmorland & Lancashire.

RS


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr.
Endorsement: RS/ 20 April 1812; 20 April 1812
MS: Huntington Library, RS 184
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey did not review anything by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) for the Quarterly Review. He had been reading the Political History of New Spain (1811–1812), no. 1463 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[2] The radical MP Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB), whose family’s fortune was based on a successful brewery business. He had already made speeches on seven different topics in the House of Commons in April 1812. BACK

[3] The wealthy colliery owner and Whig MP for Carlisle 1786–1790, 1791–1812, 1816–1820, John Christian Curwen (1756–1828; DNB). Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 98 noted Curwen’s speech in the House of Commons on 11 March 1811 in which he blamed the government’s policy towards America for manufacturing and agricultural distress – ‘the theory of opposition’. BACK

[4] ‘Father and husband’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013