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641. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 December 1801 ⁠* 

Saturday. 19 Dec. 1801.

Yesterday your note arrived. this morning I have executed your commission – tho had not Xmas been so close at hand I should probably have presented a remonstrance against the wretched calvinistical cant of Hannah More – & recommended any thing instead – any chance number in Mr Lanes [1]  catalogue of novels in preference.

When I called with Allyballycarrickoshauglin [2]  at the Cockpit [3]  I immediately discovered the Goul. [4]  I wish his picture were before me – it would call up uglier phantoms than Fuseli [5]  can create xx by digesting raw pork.

My comforts are sadly lessened here. my Mother is very ill – she will hardly live out the winter. so much of our time & attention is necessarily taken up in a sick room – that little is left for any thing else. – xxxx xxxxxx I continue unemployed – except in attending Walkers Lectures. [6]  in all probability – from being no secretary at all I shall soon be transmuted into a sort of semi-tutor. Corry is familiar & friendly. but it is certainly odd that he has never asked me to dinner.



R S.


* MS: Huntington Library, RS 18
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 264-265. BACK

[1] William Lane (1745/6-1814; DNB), publisher of light literature and promoter of circulating libraries. BACK

[2] The bog which Castle Rackrent looks out over in Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849; DNB), Castle Rackrent (1800). Southey was presumably calling in on Rickman to leave the copies of Castle Rackrent that Rickman had ordered as gifts; see Rickman to Robert Southey, 5 December 1801, in Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 67-68. BACK

[3] Government offices opposite Whitehall, used by the Privy Council office, where Rickman was directing work on the 1801 census. BACK

[4] ‘The Goul’ was a nickname for a Mr Simonds (or Simmonds), who worked for Rickman on the 1801 Census; see Rickman to Robert Southey, 7 November 1801, in Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), p. 58. BACK

[5] Henry Fuseli (1741-1825; DNB), Swiss-born artist, whose work includes ‘The Nightmare’ (1781). Fuseli was rumoured to eat raw pork before sleeping in order to stimulate nightmares. BACK

[6] Probably given by Adam Walker (1730/1-1821; DNB), famed for his lectures, especially on astronomy. BACK

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August 2011