1629. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 May [1809]

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1629. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 May [1809] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

I had yesterday a visit from the Scotch Bookseller Ballantyne , who in consequence of something which I said in a letter to W Scott has formally proposed to me to undertake a Review of old Books – i.e of all except contemporary ones, – to come forth quarterly in crown number, the Editorship 100 £ a year, the writing ten guineas per sheet. [1]  I believe I have christened it by the heathen name of Rhadamanthus. [2] 

Such a volume would suit me better than any other lucre-of-gain work, inasmuch I should do exactly what pleased me, & having the power editorial in my own hands should be in no danger of mutilation, – xxxxx If it takes effect as I believe it will, can you create time to send some sound opinions into the world thro this medium? taking what text you will – There is Herodotus who wants to be read by you – save time by reading Littleburys translation [3]  which is a solid one, – & have the original to refer to every notable passage. There is Homer upon whom you would throw more light than all the Commentators; – if you will examine him in your point of view, I will anatomize Popes version [4]  – which I have long considered as the original sin of xxx our poetry. But above all, what I should most desire from you should be <is> something upon those political principles which are universal.

I shall go to Wm T. for some of his politics, – his oddities. To the Rose of Sharon for a Saga, & a Welsh bard, & when things are fairly arranged I will endeavour to persuade Lamb to put some money in his pocket by this easy way, for in no other manner can so much be got by authorship – unless a man had Scotts Goose, – who lays bigger eggs than ever. [5] 

This Chapter 12 is for Hereford as before. [6] 

I am xxxx writing in thunder lightning & in haste. – You will perceive that I have used Drake [7]  & Cavendish [8]  no better than the Capitaneus, & moreover that I have fallen foul of Ralegh, [9]  – whom – sorry & I am to say – one of my supplementary notes proves to be a liar.

Remember me to Mrs R

yrs very truly


May 16.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 16 May 1809
MS: Huntington Library, RS 142. ALS; 4p.
Dating note: date from JR’s endorsement BACK

[1] For the letter to Scott, see Southey to Walter Scott, 11 March 1809, Letter 1597. BACK

[2] In Greek mythology Rhadamanthus was a wise king who was one of the judges of the dead. Southey’s plans for this periodical were never fulfilled. BACK

[3] Isaac Littlebury (d. 1710), The History of Herodotus: Translated from the Greek (1707). BACK

[4] Alexander Pope’s (1688–1744; DNB) translation of Homer’s Iliad (1715–1720) and Odyssey (1726). BACK

[5] Southey often comments on the large sales that Scott’s publications attracted. BACK

[6] Of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810) to be sent to his uncle Herbert Hill. BACK

[7] Sir Francis Drake (1540–1596; DNB) is mentioned in Southey’s The History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, pp. 355–356. BACK

[8] Thomas Cavendish (bap. 1560–1592; DNB), explorer, whose privateering activities on the coast of South America are described in The History of Brazil, I, pp. 359–364. BACK

[9] Sir Walter Ralegh (1554–1618; DNB), courtier, explorer, and author, who aspired to increase British wealth through his voyages to the New World, and create a colonial empire on the north coast of South America. The note Southey refers to is in The History of Brazil (London, 1810), I, pp. 652–653. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 2 times)
Lamb, Charles (1775–1834) (mentioned 1 time)
Ballantyne, John (1774–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Burney, James (1750–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Taylor, William (1765–1836) (mentioned 1 time)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)