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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

990. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [21 November 1804] ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

I have this day received a letter from Rough to this purport. there is a Vacancy in the Museum [1]  for which Parkinson [2]  is candidate, a friend of Tobins & a capable man. the appointment is in the AB of Canterbury [3]  whose interest he has secured. – the Chancellor, [4]  & the Speaker, – & I am applied to, to apply to you to mention Parkinsons name to the Grand Parleur. If he has not been canvassed already this may be of use. – Of P. I know nothing but by hearsay, the learned Shavius [5]  is his adviser in this attempt – & Davy I believe knows him. there is a fitness in my doing as I am desired in this case, & there will be a fitness in your doing as you think fit. he is a proper man as being likely to make some use of the situation if he get it.

You may be sure that I would not send you so villainously dear a sheet of paper on my own account. We are at Lloyds – & if this go not off in five minutes, it cannot go till Friday night. it may be of consequence & so it is a matter of conscience to lose no time.

God bless you



The last proof of the poem is on the table. [6]  If I did not most abominably dislike caudle I would insist upon having a bason for my safe delivery. — [7] 


* Endorsement: 28 Nov–1804
MS: Huntington Library, RS 64
Dating note: Pencil endorsement is not in JR’s hand and could be a later addition; pencil annotation to HM folder reads ‘possibly Nov 2’; RS dates ‘Wednesday’. From the internal evidence of the letter, where Southey says ‘we are at Lloyds’, it would indicate that it was written earlier than the date of the endorsement, as the Southeys left Lloyd’s house on 26 November (which was a Monday in 1804). The ‘Wednesday’ referred to is presumably 21 November 1804. BACK

[1] The British Museum. BACK

[2] Possibly James Parkinson (1730–1813): land agent, proprietor from 1786 of the museum of natural and ethnological specimens assembled by Sir Ashton Lever (1729–1788; DNB). Unable to make a success of the museum, Parkinson sold it in 1806. BACK

[3] John Moore (1730–1805; Archbishop of Canterbury 1783–1805; DNB). BACK

[4] The Chancellor at this time was William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), also serving his second term as Prime Minister. BACK

[5] George Shaw (1751–1813), a botanist and zoologist. Shaw became assistant keeper of the natural history department at the British Museum from 1791, becoming keeper in 1806. He compiled a catalogue of Lever’s collection after its transfer to Parkinson’s ownership (see note 2), entitled the Museum Leverianum (1792–1796). BACK

[6] Madoc (1805). BACK

[7] Caudle was a warm drink of wine or ale, with sugar, eggs, bread, and various spices, often given to invalids. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013