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805. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 13 July 1803 ⁠* 

Bristol. Wednesday 13 July 1803.

Dear Tom

I have no doubt that Rickman will get Edward an appointment & if it does not soon arrive by that means I will seek out some other – but what think you of the Whelp having already worn his uniform? I shall heartily rejoice when he is off for every thing I see or hear of him only serves to vex and provoke me.

Your Amadis [1]  must be at Portsmouth, but I know not where there. it was to be directed to you. H.M.S. Galatea. you will doubtless recover it by sending to the different inns where the London Coaches arrive.

Well Tom I have settled every thing with Longman & am to manage a Bibliotecha Britannica of which this is the design. to give an account chronologically arranged of all the Books in all the British languages – with biography, criticism, & connecting chapters, so as to form a connected history of English Literature. each volume 800 pages in quarto. each page 40 lines. terms 150£ per volume to me as Editor & Manager in chief & absolute director. four guineas per sheet for what is written. five where the subject-author has written in Saxon Welch or xxx Latin. the work will be published in half-volumes like the Cyclopædia, [2]  & we talk of having the first part out by Xmas 1804. [3]  So far is settled, & somewhat farther for I have got the refusal of a house at Richmond which will be vacant in November, & have arranged with Longman & Rees that they shall advance me 150£ to furnish it. & still farther than this I have got half a dozen helpmates already. Turner for the Welsh & Saxon. Carlisle for the Surgery. Captain Burney for the voyages. Rickman for Roger Bacon [4]  & what else he may like. Duppa for books of art. Every body likes the scheme, which is the most important that has ever been undertaken in this country. I calculate upon writing a quarter part of each volume upon the average – & thus clearing 250£ by each.

I met Pace [5]  in London. he is looking for employment & cannot get it.

Yesterday Charles & I returned. you may suppose I am busy enough what with letter writing &c – & now this Bibliotheca business makes it necessary that I should write to several persons whom I never wrote to before. tis a huge work but I like it – & can live upon it while I finish my History, [6]  & get credit by it into the bargain.

If you can command a boat you can get at Biddlecombe & home by night if the weather be fixed & fair. it would be better a month hence when Rickman will be there. are you to board the ship for the purpose of pressing men? if so that is at any rate better than lying at Spithead.

God bless you – you shall have a large letter next time – but I must into town. all well. Margery has three teeth.

yrs affectionately

R Southey.

the Annual Review [7]  will be out by the end of the month.


Notes

* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ H.M.S. Galatea/ Yarmouth/ Isle of Wight/ Single
Postmark: BRISTOL/ JUL 13 1803
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 219-220 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey’s translation of Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

[2] The Cyclopaedia: or An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences was an encyclopaedia, first published in 1728, and much expanded and republished throughout the eighteenth century, especially by Abraham Rees (1743-1825; DNB), The New Cyclopaedia, 45 vols (1802-1820). BACK

[3] The project was abandoned by Longman and Rees in August 1803. BACK

[4] Roger Bacon (c. 1214-c. 1292; DNB), philosopher and Franciscan friar. BACK

[5] Unidentified; possibly an old shipmate of Tom Southey’s. BACK

[6] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[7] Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803). BACK

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August 2011