1441. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 15 April 1808 *
Friday. April 15. 1808
My dear Rickman
I reached home last night, the whole round of my journey had been free from hurt hindrance & inconvenience, & every thing here was to my hearts desire. Knowing by experience xx xxxxx xxx <so many of > the accidents of life, I am thankful for this happy return.
Tom came back with me – he had been eased at Bristol of his emeroids, (Bible orthography against the surgeons) but he ought to have remained under able hands till the parts had recovered their strength.  Southey-nature hath a touch of the mule in it, & Tom’s mule is not so well broken in as mine. I think he will repent his hasty departure from King, & I am sure he deserves to repent it: however I shall be glad to find that he escapes his deserts. – We stopt at Grasmere just to speak to Wordsworth from the chaise window. my only purpose in this being to learn later news from home than could have reached the south. I found him beginning to be uneasy about his eldest child, & upon asking a few questions clearly, perceived that there was every symptom of hydrocephalus & that those symptoms had been blindly neglected. Among other things I mentioned to him a mode of practice which Beddoes & King have often found successful, that of bleeding in the jugular vein, – & promised him to make search for a letter of Kings, wherein he had described the operation so minutely that he wished me if ever a country practitioner hesitated (& the case required it) to operate myselfx by the directions. My meaning was to alarm Wordsworth, & it in this I so far succeeded, that he immediately began to look for some account of the disease & that account so increased his alarm that he dispatched a messenger at midnight, who called me up xxx <before> four in the morning to look for the letter in question – If the child is saved, as probably it may, he will owe his life entirely to this. They wanted me to go over, – but I am not Doctor Southey, & could not have been of any possible use.
You will guess that the inclosed map is for Arrowsmith. I have cut out of a good book, & shall be glad to reinsert it therein, when he has made use of it.
When we parted you wished the Tantarararas  had allowed you time to have been more useful to me – for my sake as well as your own. I wish they had allowed you more leisure, because I would have created time for participating in it, – but that you could have been more useful to me, or have made me feel myself more perfectly comfortable, at ease, & at home under your roof was not possible. You are no lover of professions & I for my part profess nothing except the faculty & practice of eating more gooseberry pie than any other man upon earth. Still you must allow me to thank you: & when you come northward in the summer you shall xxxxxxx be welcomed with as little ceremony & as much sincerity.
I am in the midst of the land detachment of books.  they travelled excellently well, & give me main hopes of the main body, notwithstanding Frickers ominous note – – In a few days I shall have cleared off a load of letters which must be written, & be able to tell you of my meeting with Gebir at Bristol, – one of the most extraordinary men whom I have ever seen, & certainly one of the ablest, but with a mind wholly ungoverned, & perhaps ungovernable.
Remember me to Mrs Rickman – better employed as she will be in the summer, we are very sorry that there is so little hope of seeing her at the Lakes –
God bless you
* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr.
Endorsement: RS./ 15 April 1808.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 128. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 54–55. BACK
 The tantara-raras were, in Southey’s parlance, the noisy, blaring MPs. Tantara-rara, Rogues All was the title of a 1786 play by John O’Keeffe (1747–1833; DNB); see The Dramatic Works of John O’Keeffe Esq., 4 vols (London, 1798), III, pp. 349–90. ‘Tantara-rara, Fools All Fools All’ was also a popular song from Henry Fielding’s (1707–1754; DNB) play The Lottery (1732). BACK