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

2532. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 28 December 1814 ⁠* 

My dear R.

I was glad to see your encouraging sentence about Joam Fernandes. [1]  You will find a good deal of characteristic matter in this portion of the history. I happen to have perfect materials for the cabinet deliberation at Lisbon, – a whole series of authentic papers in ms. They are very curious, & show how compleatly Catholicism was the great moving principle.

Turners book [2]  (between you ourselves) is a sad falling off. Having ceased to imitate the stile of Gibbon, [3]  he has fallen into Gibbons way of writing upon the history, instead of giving it: & skims over the surface of things, like a swallow x over the water. I incline to the opposite extreme, & sometimes indulge in detail which might be spared. But this is because I love the realities of history, & delight in exhibiting the character & individual xxxxxxxxx character of {the} men & of the time upon whom I am engaged.

Farewell. I am now going to correct an Ode, [4]  which in an incorrect state will probably soon come to you for your potential superscription.

RS.

28 Dec. 1814.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: RS./ 28 Decr. 1814
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: FREE/ 31 DE 31/ 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 240
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Joam Fernandes Vieira (c. 1613–1681), a key military leader in the struggle to expel the Dutch from Pernambuco in the 1640s and 1650s; events covered in volume 2 of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819), published in 1817. BACK

[2] The first part of Turner’s History of England (1814–1819). BACK

[3] Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB), History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788). BACK

[4] ‘Ode, Written in December 1814’. It was thought unsuitable by the authorities, and was not published until Southey’s Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 227–238. It was retitled ‘Ode, Written During the War with America, 1814’ in The Poetical Works of Robert Southey, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, 221–228. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013