2965. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 April [1817]

2965. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 April [1817]⁠* 

Never perhaps was any man interrupted in so many ways as I have been of late, – & to crown the whole in steps the King & the High Sheriff with an Extent against the House which I inhabit & the articles belonging to it. [1]  However I will not be disappointed of my journey to the Alps, but I must put off my departure for a week, & x in consequence postpone my visit to my Uncle till my return from the Continent.

I shall transfer what I had intended for the Conclusion of my tender Epistle to Wm Smith, to the Q Review, [2]  & will wind up if I can this evening in a concluding paragraph.

God bless you


4 April.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK
Postmark: FREE/ 7 AP 7/ 1817
Endorsement: RS./ 4 April 1817
MS: Huntington Library, RS 316. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Dated ‘4 April’ in Southey’s hand on a slip of paper which has been pasted onto the bottom of the MS; year taken from postmark. BACK

[1] A writ of extent in aid was a legal process to recover debts, under which the belongings of a debtor were seized and the debtor was jailed; unless the debt was paid in seven days, the debtor’s goods were sold to meet their liabilities. The sheriff (of Cumberland in this case) would have the duty of enforcing the writ, but the Crown was only nominally the plaintiff. Greta Hall had suffered from the complicated financial and legal entanglements of its owner, Samuel Tolson Jnr (dates unknown), who was by April 1817 in Carlisle jail for debt. The creditor was William Quintus Harding (1778–1870), of Copeley, Warwick, who had married Rebecca Pemberton (c. 1779–1854), sister of Sophia, the wife of Southey’s friend Charles Lloyd. BACK

[2] William Smith had denounced Southey in the House of Commons on 14 March 1817 in the debate on the Seditious Meetings Bill, condemning ‘the settled, determined malignity of a renegado’ and comparing Southey’s arguments against radical views in the Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 227, with those expressed in Wat Tyler (1817), Act 2, lines 103–112. Southey responded with A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817), transferring part of the material originally drafted for this work to his polemical article, ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552 (published 20 May 1817). BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Smith, William (1756–1835) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)