1582. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 February 1809

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3
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1582. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 February 1809 ⁠* 

18 Feb. 1809

My dear Rickman

Thank you for the Cintra Report, [1] xx the Portugueze is so printed as actually in some instances to be compleatly unintelligible. This is too bad, – the Printer ought to have paid a clerk in some Portugueze house for correcting the sheets. Thank you for the Memorial, – alas it is Hebrew-Greek to me! I am utterly ignorant in all matters of science, & in that state of ignorance I must remain. Yet I shall be able to give a better map of Brazil than has yet appeared by correcting Aarons kakography, [2]  & by inserting such places as I can discover in the course of my proceedings. Has the said Aaron ever seen the map of Paraguay in Dobrizhoffer de Abiponibus? [3]  – if not he should see it. I have not got the book, to my sorrow, but I have just spent the best part of three weeks in getting at it, & it is one of the best books I have met with. <Has he seen a map of Patagonia in an account of that country published by Falkner an English Jesuit Missionary xxxxx xxxxx – I am seeking for the book.> [4] 

The history of the Review concerning which Bedford has applied to you in his capacity of Jackal to Gifford the Editor, is this, – that it is set up as an Anti-Edinburgh to counteract as far as possible the cursed, cowardly, peace-mongering politicians which would lay this country prostrate at the feet of France. [5]  This is a good object, & in this object I cooperate by writing my best upon other subjects. Interest in the affair, except the regular per sheetage which is to be Edinburgh price whatever that may be! I have none, – but I shall be glad if the work answers its purpose, – glad for two reasons, because I shall be well paid for what I do in it, & well treated as to what I do out of it. Walter Scott is the projector, – Frere, Ellis, Heber & that set of men are looked to for occasional assistance, – & Government for such political intelligence as they think fit to communicate. I stipulated for freedom of opinion, & I dare say most of the freedom that is found there will be mine. Xx As yet I have written but one article, which is a defence of the Mission in Bengal, versus Scott Waring & Sidney Smith. [6]  In my hatred to the Scotchmen (a little revenge being mingled therewith) I wish the Quarterly to succeed. As one means of making it succeed I should rejoice if you reviewed the first books in your way which may happen to appear, – & if Poole as soon as a text shall turn up would write an article concerning the poor. [7]  Nothing more would be to be done than if you saw a book advertised on a subject which you liked, to intimate it in a note to the Jackal, – the book would be sent you, – & the per sheetage paid on the appearance of the articles. Sharon it seems is reckoned on as a helper now & then, – I tremble for his flowers of speech. Scott I believe has taken care of the Cid. [8] 

George I. has taken a great deal of pains which he might have spared for I know every thing about Amerigo, [9]  except what that Ptolomy [10]  was said to contain, & which proves to be little or nothing. I am as much obliged to him as if all the trouble had not been supererogatory. I believe it would take me equal pains were I to decypher the whole of his communications, but I have got at the result in the way of skip & go on, & am rather thankful that they contain nothing which it is necessary for to make quarto out.

I am glad you like the plain, downright straight-forward English of my History. [11] 

Thank you for an offer of hospitality in your former letter – but London is too far away for a yearly visit. I propose passing a week or ten days at Edinburgh in the spring with Walter Scott, for the express purpose of profiting by the Advocates Library, when doubtless there will be something to be found. – What is become of Mr Dalrymples books? [12]  will they be for sale?

I rather like this Inquiry, [13]  – being swinishly inclined. It promiseth to accelerate the journey to Falmouth.

I bespeak your daughter Ann for my own son Herbert, upon this ground, that he being all for a boy which she is for a girl, they must have been made for each other. – I have another coming in about six weeks. [14] 

As you seem to think the Cintra Convention Book [15]  to be of the nature of waste paper, I will ask you for two copies – one for my Uncle R.d Herbert Hill Staunton upon Wye Hereford. One for John May Esq. Hale Downton Wilts. both these persons are interested enough in Portugal to value this collection of documents. If you can lay hands on them, let J Mays copy go in my name, & my Uncles in your own.

Yet more of map-making. I have a map of the Archipelago of Chiloe [16]  published in 1791, & probably upon a larger scale than any other which has appeared of that out of the way part of the world. This I can send up if Aaron has not seen it. And if Aaron will send me a proof of that part of his great map of England [17]  which includes this circle of mountains, I will can mark out the relative size & situation of all the Lakes which it contains, – a thing which in the selling maps of the Lake country is done with very great inaccuracy, & which I am competent to do, (having with only two exceptions) seen them all, & most of them repeatedly.

I know not whether the Brazil Pilot is yet published. the original is here, & I had the translation sent down, – the charts being now first added will make it a very useful book.  [18]  I hope my Uncle’s next work will be a statistic Account of Brazil, but I suppose he will wait till it be seen how much of their his materials can be inserted in the historical form

yrs truly


Feby. 18. 1809.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsements: 18 Feb 1809; RS./ 18 Feb 1809; Paraguay – Dobrizhoffer de Abiponibus –/ Patagonia – Falkner an Eng. Jesuit Missionary/ Archipelago of Chiloe – 1791 –/ part J R
MS: Huntington Library, RS 135. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The ‘Report of the Board of Inquiry’ into the events leading to the Convention of Cintra was published on 27 December 1808. BACK

[2] The map was intended for Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (1810–1819); see Southey to John Rickman, 18 January 1809, Letter 1568. BACK

[3] Southey had Scott borrow a copy for him from the Advocates Library in Edinburgh, Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariæ (1784). Southey eventually owned a copy of this work, no. 843 in the sale catalogue of his library. It was translated by Sara Coleridge (with Southey’s encouragement), as An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822). BACK

[4] Thomas Falkner (1707–1784), an English Jesuit whose papers were published as A Description of Patagonia and the Adjoining Parts of South America (1774). BACK

[5] The Quarterly Review, for which Southey began writing from its first number in 1809. The Edinburgh Review advocated making peace with France. BACK

[6] When Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), one of the founders of and leading contributors to the Edinburgh Review reviewed the activities of British missionaries in India negatively; Southey counteracted his views in the Quarterly Review. Smith’s review of ‘Ingram on Methodism’ appeared in the Edinburgh Review, 11 (January 1808), 341–362, and he reviewed ‘Indian Missions’ in the Edinburgh Review, 12 (April 1808), 151–181. Southey reviewed the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. In his turn, Smith responded in ‘Styles on Methodists and Missions’, in the Edinburgh Review, 14 (April 1809), 40–50. BACK

[7] John Rickman did not contribute to the Quarterly Review until 1818, when he jointly authored with Southey a review of documents pertaining to the poor laws. Thomas Poole did not write for the Quarterly. BACK

[8] Southey’s The Chronicle of the Cid (1808) was reviewed by Scott in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 117–134. BACK

[9] Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512), Italian explorer and navigator, who participated in several voyages to South America between 1499 and 1502. BACK

[10] Ptolomæi Geographicæ Enarrationes (1535), no. 2178 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[12] Alexander Dalrymple (1737–1808; DNB), hydrographer, writer on exploration. BACK

[13] Perhaps The Proceedings of the Enquiry into the Armistice and Convention of Cintra, and into the Conduct of the Officers Concerned (1809), printed for John Joseph Stockdale (1776/7–1847). BACK

[14] Bertha Southey was born on 27 March 1809. BACK

[15] See note 13. BACK

[16] The Chiloé Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of Chile. The map came from P. F. Pedro Gonzalez de Agueros (dates untraced), Descripcion Historial de la Provincia y Archipielago de Chile, y Obispado de la Concepcion (1791), no. 3480 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[17] Arrowsmith’s Map of England And Wales, The Result Of Fifteen Years Labour was published in 1815. BACK

[18] Southey’s uncle Herbert Hill had translated Manoel Pimentel (1650–1719), The Brazil Pilot; or, a Description of the Coast of Brazil, Translated from the Portuguese of Manoel Pimentel … to which are added, Charts, of some of its most Considerable Ports (1809). This was no. 2331 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 4 times)
Arrowsmith, Aaron (1750–1823) (mentioned 2 times)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 2 times)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)
Dyer, George (1755–1841) (mentioned 1 time)
Ellis, George (1753–1815) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Herbert (1806–1816) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Staunton on Wye (mentioned 1 time)