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810. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 July [1803] ⁠* 

July, 20.

Thank you for what you say about my scape-grace brother. Tom could get him into his own ship, but that would be a very bad thing for both. by a very circuitous route I could perhaps get at Captain Markham, [1]  but I already have made use of that interest to appoint Tom, & to ask a second favour thro persons with whom I have no intimacy from a man whom I know not would be neither right nor agreable. the upshot of all this is that if you can get him rated I shall be very glad & feel myself debtor for one service more. moreover there is a great fitness in sending a lad to sea who is good for nothing ashore.

You will have seen by my letter which crossed yours how puzzled I am about George the Second, & what I think of the possibility of making him understrap – by the by a most excellent verb of yours. [2]  it is a hopeless case. the three Georges [3]  make a grand triad of the three unbelievable men – in spite of vexation I cannot help laughing at his freaks & resolution to attempt some literary work which shall neither require trouble or exertion. [4]  as if he could go on as doubtless he begun by eating gingerbread alphabets. [5] 

RS.


Notes

* Endorsement: 1803
MS: Huntington Library, RS 37
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Markham (1761-1827; DNB), naval officer. Member of the Board of Admiralty 1801-1804, 1806-1807, MP for Portsmouth 1801-1818, 1820-1826. BACK

[2] Rickman had asked if Burnett might serve as an ‘understrap’ to Southey in the ‘Bibliotheca Britannica’; John Rickman to Southey, 18 July 1803, Huntington Library, Rickman MSS. BACK

[3] In the Southey-Rickman correspondence, the first two George’s were Dyer and Burnett. The identity of the third George is unclear. One possibility is Southey’s brother-in-law George Fricker. BACK

[4] Rickman had reported Burnett’s wish to undertake ‘writing literary things; such as may take no trouble or attention’; John Rickman to Southey, 18 July 1803, Huntington Library, Rickman MSS. BACK

[5] The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread (1764), a chapbook that taught children how to read through the story of a boy who was fed letters made of gingerbread. BACK

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August 2011