2968. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 5 April [1817]

2968. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 5 April [1817] ⁠* 

My dear R

Here is the conclusion of the Tender Epistle. I have cut out a good deal of useful matter respecting the moral state of the country, because it interfered too much with the main purport of the pamphlett which was to punish Wm S. [1] 

This & the troublesome affair of this Estate [2]  delay my journey for a week. I shall be town on the 24th.

You will see that I have entered a caveat against duelling, [3]  – & if the said Wm S. be valiant nevertheless, I shall turn him over to the Magistrate. He will hardly like my correspondence well enough to solicit its continuance.

God bless you


Saturday 5 April


* Endorsement: RS/ 5 April 1817
MS: Huntington Library, RS 317. ALS; 1p.
Dating note: Year from endorsement.
Note on MS: The enclosure has not survived. BACK

[1] 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’s response was his A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817). BACK

[2] 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

[3] Southey was worried that William Smith would challenge him to a duel. In the end, the passage (‘caveat against duelling’) in his A Letter to William Smith, Esq., M.P. (1817) that attempted to pre-empt this possibility was removed; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 April 1817, Letter 2976. Duelling was illegal, though there were over a thousand duels in England 1785–1845. BACK

People mentioned

Smith, William (1756–1835) (mentioned 2 times)

Places mentioned

Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)