1278. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 23 February [1807] 

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1278. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 23 February [1807] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

Herewith cometh the last inclosure with which you will be troubled with for Harry, – to whom not being over-rich the twopenny post is more agreable always than the General. He goes for Lisbon, & if I had that Wishing Cap of Fortunatus [1]  – I would go too.

I have been obliged in consequence of some arrangements of Coleridges to make up my mind whether to remove from hence at a given time, or remain here indefinitely. The latter has been my choice – & I think seriously of gathering my books together here in the course of the summer, when the masons work which is yet to be done in my great study is finished. They will come by water sea to Whitehaven at no very great expence; & when they are here I shall be anchored with a mill-stone about my neck. But to see them all together, well arranged – & within reach will be a happy day.

I am getting on steadily with Brazil, [2]  to which all my mornings are given. As you advise I have found it best to relate all every thing concerning the contiguous Spanish settlement, & shall perhaps include them in the title page – What an unwise reply was that from Lord G! [3]  – as if they ought not to know every thing which is to be known concerning the state of a country so closely connected with that on which they have immediate designs, & with which sooner or later, they must interfere.

The France Antartique [4]  – if it could be borrowed for me would be of great use – for I am rapidly coming to the point of time in which it would {will} be wanted. I have done with the first first expedition up the Rio de la Plata (what a much better name the Paranna would be) & the Paraguay, – the famous voyage of Orellana down the Maranham, [5]  I have described as fully as possible, & am now having collected every previous circumstance which I can find, employed upon the adventure of your old friend Johannes Stadius with his beard & his tooth ache. [6]  A Scotchman would pick out all his information, sort it under different heads – mix it up with metaphysics – & leave out poor Hans, beard, tooth ache & all. Immediately after him, the Jesuits enter the country with the first Governor General I have a very full account of it in 1587 – in a folio MS. – being a memorial presented to Government concerning it —

God bless you


Monday 23 Feby.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 23 Feb. 1807
MS: Huntington Library, RS 103
Dating note: Year from JR’s endorsement; Southey dates letter ‘Monday’ which was 23 February in 1807. BACK

[1] The fairy-tale character who had an inexhaustible purse and cap that granted wishes. The character first appeared in Giovanni Francesco Straparola (c. 1480-c. 1557), Le piacevoli notti (1550–1553). BACK

[2] Southey’s History of Brazil appeared in three volumes from 1810 to 1819. BACK

[3] Grenville had informed Southey via Wynn that the government did not wish him to prepare a briefing report about Brazil, but encouraged him to publish on the subject for the benefit of the public; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 28 December 1806 (Letter 1250), Southey to John May, 29 December 1806 (Letter 1252) and Southey to Mary Barker, 4 February 1807 (Letter 1273). BACK

[4] André Thevet (1516?-1592), Singularitez de la France antarctique (1557). BACK

[5] Francisco de Orellana (1511–1546) navigated the length of the Amazon (also known as the Maranham and the Orellana) in 1541–1542. BACK

[6] Hans Staden (c. 1525-c. 1579), a German member of a expedition up the de la Plata river, who in 1552 was captured by the Tupinambá people of Brazil. Escaping to Europe in 1555, Staden published a German account of his travels in 1557, claiming to have witnessed cannibalism. His narrative was translated into Latin and in 1593 was incorporated in Theodor de Bry (1528–1598), Collectiones Peregrinatiorum in Indiam Orientalem et Indiam Occidentalem (1590–1634). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013