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

2400. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 11 April 1814 ⁠* 

April 11. 1814.

My dear R

So it is over, – dating from the destruction of the Bastille, a tragedy of five & twenty years! [1]  during two & twenty of which I have borne a full share of interest in all the events.

I am glad that the French have given fresh proofs of their baseness, – this gratifies my English feeling. And I am satisfied with Buonapartes fate, [2]  – for this upon consideration gratifies my vindictive principle. These {Three} likely terminations had suggested themselves to me; – that he would find enough followers to die game; – that he would kill himself; – or that he would abscond, & be lost. I did not suspect that he – even he – was mean enough to be pensioned off, & retire to hear the execrations of all Europe; – to read his own history, – & taste of damnation drop by drop, before the Devil drenches him with it from a cup like the Widow’s cruse. [3] 

If I knew Whitbread, [4]  I should like to give him joy upon this occasion ––

Vale

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS./ 11 April 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 223
Previously published: Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), p. 175. BACK

[1] Paris had been captured by allied forces on 30 March 1814, but Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) did not abdicate until 6 April 1814. The fall of the Bastille in 1789 is the traditional starting date for the French Revolution, though the wars between France and other European countries only began in 1792. BACK

[2] Napoleon was exiled to Elba under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, signed on 11 April 1814, and was given sovereignty over the island and permitted to retain the title Emperor. BACK

[3] 1 Kings 17:8–16. The widow’s cruse provided a never-ending supply of oil to the prophet Elisha. BACK

[4] The radical MP Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB). BACK

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August 2013