2237. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 26 March 1813

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

2237. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 26 March 1813 ⁠* 

My dear R

I have just replied to an application from a bookseller [1]  to write the Lives of the Admirals – supplementary to Campbells book – a job left undone by Redhead Yorke of mulatto character as well as complection. [2]  No doubt this arose from my having been announced as author of a Life of Nelson. But I shall not trust myself off terra firma again. – This Nelson [3]  I hope will find its way to you in two or three weeks at farthest. You will find in it some circumstances hitherto untold, – of little moment indeed, but such as enliven & enrich narration, – & you will find also a clear & connected narrative –which is not to be found in any of the published lives that have fallen in my way.

Our naval reputation is in a bad way, & it is well for us that we are likely to have a military character at the end of the war, xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx will depend or hope upon My hope is that Beaver [4]  may fall in with an American, – for he is in that station.


March 26. 1813.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: Fr./ RS./ 26 Mar 1813
MS: Huntington Library, RS 201. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Possibly either C. J. Barrington or J. Harris, booksellers and publishers; see Robert Southey to [C. J. Barrington or J. Harris], 26 March 1813, Letter 2236. BACK

[2] John Campbell (1708–1775; DNB), whose Lives of the Admirals and Other Eminent British Seamen (1742–1744) had been continued firstly by John Berkenhout (1726–1791; DNB) and then by Henry Redhead Yorke (1772–1813; DNB). Yorke was a native of the West Indies and had recanted his earlier radicalism, to become an extreme loyalist. Barrington and Harris were the publishers of the recent continuations of Lives of the Admirals. BACK

[3] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[4] The naval officer Philip Beaver (1766–1813; DNB). After successful service in Mozambique and the coast of Madagascar, his ship had been ordered home in late 1812. Southey’s hope that Beaver would contribute to a revival of the reputation of the British navy, after a series of defeats in the war against the United States of America, was ill-founded. The latter’s ship put in at Table Bay in late March 1813, and Beaver was taken ill with a violent inflammation of the bowels. He died on 5 April. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Harris, John (1756–1846) (mentioned 2 times)
Barrington, C. J. (dates unknown) (mentioned 2 times)