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

2100. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 25 May 1812 ⁠* 

Monday. May 25. 1812.

My dear R.

The Bahia consignment turns out to be two printed books – one the same as that which the Envoy contrived to forward so ingeniously by the post from Lisbon. [1]  Our The Consul [2]  has made the blunder & the disappointment, not the person who sent the books – both of which I was very desirous of possessing, – & the one of which from its extreme rarity I had considered as compleatly unattainable. [3] 

Whoever the ministers may be I hope they will look to the state of the newspapers, & put a stop to the cut-throat system while it is yet possible. I could recommend a short way with the Catholicks, – tell them to agree upon the security which they will give in the way of the veto, & then we are ready to take their claims into consideration. – This would be adjourning the question sine die. [4]  A better way would be to grant them every thing except seats in Parliament, – a distinction which I have always made. As for pacifying Ireland by any concessions, it is the height of folly or ignorance to suppose it possible, – but the English Romanists are entitled to ought not to be excluded from any thing which does not involve political power. This is a broad & obvious line.

M Wellesley has pledged himself to a Pasle ÿan war. [5]  As for the question who pays the piper, – they who have funded property must look to that. – I am in the situation of that traveller who may sing in sight of the robber. [6]  He I expect that he will beat the French out of Spain & thereby destroy Buonaparte – xx Knock the E. Ind. Company on the head, & sell the tythes. How long the Establishment may survive the loss of its property, or how the long the funds may last, & whether the Government {present system} can retain them are things beyond my foresight. – But I believe that the proudest days of England are to come – & that her happiest days are over, – & that I may very likely go to Falmouth at last on my way to Portugal or Spain, as so when those countries will be free & England enslaved.

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS./ 25 May/ 1812
MS: Huntington Library, RS 187
Unpublished. BACK

[1] This was a copy of Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. It had been sent to Southey (via Longman) by Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), envoy at Lisbon 1810–1814. The parcel had attracted the huge charge of 16 guineas for postage, and Southey had to pull strings with Francis Freeling to get it reduced to 1 guinea; see Southey to Richard Heber, 7 September 1812, Letter 2143. BACK

[2] The diplomat Frederick Lindeman (dates unknown), who had taken up his post at Bahia in 1810. BACK

[3] The parcel from Bahia had been sent at the request of Marcos de Noronha e Brito, Conde dos Arcos (1771–1828), Governor General of Bahia 30 September 1810–26 January 1818. It included a copy of José de Anchieta (1534–1597), Arte de Grammatica da Lingoa mais Usada na Costa do Brasil (1595). This was no. 1530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, inscribed by him: ‘This singularly rare and curious book was sent to me from the Public Library of Bahia de Todos, or Santos, by desire of the Conde des Arcos, then Governor of that Captaincy.’ BACK

[4] i.e. ‘Without assigning a day for a further hearing.’ At this time various compromise schemes for Catholic Emancipation were being floated, including the idea that the government should have a ‘veto’ over the appointment of Catholic bishops. BACK

[5] i.e. a war conducted along the lines advocated by 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

[6] Decius Iunius Iuvenalis (late 1st/early 2nd century AD), Satire 10, line 22 ‘An empty traveller will sing before a robber’. BACK

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August 2013