3671. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 April [1821]

3671. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 April [1821] ⁠* 

That you for the proof of “the Exped. of Orsua & the Crimes of Lope de Aguire, an excised Chapter of the H. of Brazil, printed in the Ed: Ann: Register for 1810, & now republishing with a few necessary additions. [1] 

The inclosed answers the card of invitation which came [MS obscured] your hands. [2] 

Wordsworth was with me last week. The Solicitor General is to give Hume a dressing for him in the Committee; [3]  – after which W. proposes to favour the said Hume with a private letter, – which I request him to communicate thro the channel of a newspaper. [4] 

I look with some care anxiety to the result of the debate in the Lords this night. [5] 

God bless you


16 April.

I am obliged to Mr Phillips [6]  for sending me Miss Bethams cover. It inclosed a copy of verses which prove their poor Authoress to be perfectly qualified for Bedlam [7] 


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 19 AP 19/ 1821
Seal: [partial] black wax; design illegible
Endorsement: Fr RS./ 16 April/ 1821
MS: Huntington Library, RS 412. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Year from endorsement. BACK

[1] Southey’s The Expedition of Orsua; and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821), originally intended to be part of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) and first published in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), i–l. BACK

[2] Southey had been invited to attend the annual dinners of both the Royal Literary Fund and the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution. He declined both invitations; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 April 1821, Letters 3670. BACK

[3] Joseph Hume (1777–1855; DNB), Scottish doctor and radical MP for various seats 1818–1855, was campaigning vigorously to reduce government expenditure, especially on sinecures. In a speech in the House of Commons on 22 March 1821 he moved the abolition of the offices of Receivers-General and Distributors of Stamps, maintaining that the posts were sinecures, as evidenced by the appointment of ‘an idle poet (Mr Wordsworth)’ as Distributor of Stamps in Westmorland in 1813. The Commons set up a Select Committee to investigate the issue and this sent Wordsworth into a panic. He posted a carefully worded letter to his patron, the Earl of Lonsdale, outlining his duties as Distributor; see The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The Later Years. Part 1. 1821-1828, ed. E. de Selincourt, 2nd edn rev. Alan G. Hill (Oxford, 1978), pp. 54–57. Lonsdale promised to forward the letter to John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst (1772–1863; DNB), Solicitor-General 1819–1822, who was a member of the Select Committee investigating the matter. BACK

[4] Very wisely, Wordsworth did not take this advice. BACK

[5] To Southey’s relief, the Roman Catholic Disability Removal Bill was defeated the following day after a lengthy debate. BACK

[6] Probably Edward Phillips (1771–1844), Secretary to The Speaker 1814–1833. BACK

[7] Matilda Betham had been placed in an asylum by her family in 1819; released in 1820, she returned there in 1822. BACK

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