2111. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [after 8 June 1812]

2111. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [after 8 June 1812]⁠* 

My dear R.

Among the many evils which that unhappy Bellingham [1]  has occasioned, one is that he has cut off my communication with Bedford thro Downing Street, – which was exceedingly convenient: & upon Bellingham it must be charged that I trouble you now with a receipt for my pension.

As for that good ship the Historiographer, it seems the Prince was determined to have an Historian of his own chusing, whoever might be the ministers whom he was forced to submit to, – & it must be owned he has given a good specimen of his judgment in choosing one. [2]  The ship is not so good a one by one half as I had been led to believe, – instead of 400 lb burden being only 200. I had no want of friends. Croker applied to Ld Liverpool – to Ryder, [3]  – & thro Ld Yarmouth [4]  to Ld Hertford. Ld Lonsdale applied, – & Scott applied to Ld Melville. [5]  Like the patient angler I caught no fish, – but had a glorious nibble. Amen! I did my devoir in applying for it as sedulously as the market value of the thing deserved <required>, – & I cared for the disappointment just as much as what Shenstone calls the floccinaucinihilipilification of all such things deserve. [6] 

God be praised for this escape from the Gregres! [7]  – I finish the Register [8]  in three days at farthest, & am then about to see if I can spread the alarm thro <by means of> the Quarterly.

Remember me to Mrs R.



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: Fr./ RS/ May 1812
MS: Huntington Library, RS 189. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Bellingham (1770–1812; DNB), who had assassinated Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons in 11 May 1812. He was executed on 18 May 1812. BACK

[2] The post of Historiographer Royal had become vacant on the death of Louis Dutens (1730–1812; DNB) on 23 May 1812. Southey’s campaign had proved unsuccessful and it went to one of his particular bêtes noires, James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB). BACK

[3] The Tory politician Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby (1762–1847; DNB). A Pittite loyalist and member of Perceval’s cabinet, he became Lord President of the Council on the formation of Lord Liverpool’s ministry in June 1812. BACK

[4] Francis Charles Seymour-Conway (1777–1842; DNB), who, as heir to the Marquessate of Hertford, held the courtesy title Lord Yarmouth. He was a close friend of the Prince Regent, who appointed him to the post of vice-chamberlain in 1812. BACK

[5] Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771–1851; DNB), who had become First Lord of the Admiralty earlier in 1812. BACK

[6] William Shenstone (1714–1763; DNB); ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ is the act of esteeming something to be worthless. Shenstone seems to have coined the word in 1741. BACK

[7] Perceval’s death produced some uncertainty about his successor and the Cabinet’s attitude to Catholic Emancipation. Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1770–1828; Prime Minister 1812–1827; DNB), was finally confirmed as Prime Minister on 8 June 1812. This outcome meant there was no place for the Whigs, led by Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; Prime Minister 1830-1834; DNB); and the followers of William Grenville. ‘Gregres’ were idols of wood and clay in West Africa. BACK

[8] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK