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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1441. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 15 April 1808 ⁠* 

Friday. April 15. 1808

My dear Rickman

I reached home last night, the whole round of my journey had been free from hurt hindrance & inconvenience, & every thing here was to my hearts desire. Knowing by experience xx xxxxx xxx {so many of } the accidents of life, I am thankful for this happy return.

Tom came back with me – he had been eased at Bristol of his emeroids, (Bible orthography against the surgeons) but he ought to have remained under able hands till the parts had recovered their strength. [1]  Southey-nature hath a touch of the mule in it, & Tom’s mule is not so well broken in as mine. I think he will repent his hasty departure from King, & I am sure he deserves to repent it: however I shall be glad to find that he escapes his deserts. – We stopt at Grasmere just to speak to Wordsworth from the chaise window. my only purpose in this being to learn later news from home than could have reached the south. I found him beginning to be uneasy about his eldest child, & upon asking a few questions clearly, perceived that there was every symptom of hydrocephalus & that those symptoms had been blindly neglected. Among other things I mentioned to him a mode of practice which Beddoes & King have often found successful, that of bleeding in the jugular vein, – & promised him to make search for a letter of Kings, wherein he had described the operation so minutely that he wished me if ever a country practitioner hesitated (& the case required it) to operate myselfx by the directions. My meaning was to alarm Wordsworth, & it in this I so far succeeded, that he immediately began to look for some account of the disease & that account so increased his alarm that he dispatched a messenger at midnight, who called me up xxx {before} four in the morning to look for the letter in question – If the child is saved, as probably it may, he will owe his life entirely to this. They wanted me to go over, – but I am not Doctor Southey, & could not have been of any possible use.

You will guess that the inclosed map is for Arrowsmith. [2]  I have cut out of a good book, & shall be glad to reinsert it therein, when he has made use of it.

When we parted you wished the Tantarararas [3]  had allowed you time to have been more useful to me – for my sake as well as your own. I wish they had allowed you more leisure, because I would have created time for participating in it, – but that you could have been more useful to me, or have made me feel myself more perfectly comfortable, at ease, & at home under your roof was not possible. You are no lover of professions & I for my part profess nothing except the faculty & practice of eating more gooseberry pie than any other man upon earth. Still you must allow me to thank you: & when you come northward in the summer you shall xxxxxxx be welcomed with as little ceremony & as much sincerity.

I am in the midst of the land detachment of books. [4]  they travelled excellently well, & give me main hopes of the main body, notwithstanding Frickers ominous note – – In a few days I shall have cleared off a load of letters which must be written, & be able to tell you of my meeting with Gebir at Bristol, – one of the most extraordinary men whom I have ever seen, & certainly one of the ablest, but with a mind wholly ungoverned, & perhaps ungovernable.

Remember me to Mrs Rickman – better employed as she will be in the summer, we are very sorry that there is so little hope of seeing her at the Lakes –

God bless you

RS


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr.
Endorsement: RS./ 15 April 1808.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 128
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 54–55. BACK

[1] Thomas had gone to Bristol to see John King who had treated him for haemorrhoids. BACK

[2] Aaron Arrowsmith (1750–1823; DNB), cartographer of Soho Square, London, renowned for his 1790 large chart of the world. Among Arrowsmith’s other productions were A Map Exhibiting All the New Discoveries in the Interior Parts of North America (1795 rev. 1801, 1802, 1804), Chart of the South Pacific (1798), A New Map of Africa (1802). BACK

[3] The tantara-raras were, in Southey’s parlance, the noisy, blaring MPs. Tantara-rara, Rogues All was the title of a 1786 play by John O’Keeffe (1747–1833; DNB); see The Dramatic Works of John O’Keeffe Esq., 4 vols (London, 1798), III, pp. 349–90. ‘Tantara-rara, Fools All Fools All’ was also a popular song from Henry Fielding’s (1707–1754; DNB) play The Lottery (1732). BACK

[4] See Southey to Thomas Southey, [28 March 1808], Letter 1433. BACK

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August 2013