1226. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 October 1806

1226. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 October 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

You will be glad to hear that my child proves to be of the more worthy gender, – he is as stout-limbed & as strong-voiced as I could wish him. Edith going on excellently well. The boy was born a quarter after six in the morning, the alarm having been given at three; his name is Herbert.

I would do a good deal to please poor Tobin (– indeed it is doing a good deal to let him inflict an argument upon me –) but to write an epilogue is doing too much for any body. [1]  Indeed were I ever so well disposed to misemploy him; paper & rhymes, it would be as much out of my reach as the moon is, & I bless my stars for the incapacity, – believing that a man who can do such things well cannot do anything better. I am also thoroughly busy. Summer is my holyday season, in which I lay in a store of exercise to serve me for the winter, & leave myself as it were lying fallow to the influencies of heaven. I am now very hard at Palmerin, [2]  – so troublesome a business that a look before the leap would have prevented the leap altogether. I expected it would only be needful to alter the Propria quae maribus [3]  to their original orthography, & restore the costume when the old translators had omitted it as being to them foreign or obsolete; – but they have so mangled, mutilated & massacred the <manners> so vulgarized impoverished & embeggared the story <language>, so lopt cropt & xxxxxxx dockt all the ornaments, & so castrated the virility of the style – that I was fair to set my shoulder stiffly to the wheel, & retranslate about the one half. As this will not produce me one penny more than if I had reprinted it with all its imperfections on its head, the good conscience with which it is done reconciles me to xxxx the loss of time – & I have moreover such a true love of romance that the labour is not irksome. the labour of hand it is. To correct a sheet, 16 pages of the square sized black letter – is a days work, that is from breakfast till dinner, allowing an hours walk, & from tea till supper. & the whole is about sixty sheets.

Secondly Espriella [4]  is regulated by the Printer [5]  who seems as little disposed to hurry me as I am to hurry him. he has half a sheet yet to finish the first volume, & copy for three sheets more. In a few days I shall have the start in Palmerin sufficiently to put three more in readiness for him, having little more than to transcribe them. Indeed there is not above half a volume more to write.

Thirdly the reviewing is come round of which in the shape of Missionaries, Catholick Miracles, Bible & Religious Societies – Clarkson & Little Moore (not forgetting the Capitaneus ) [6]  I have more to do than I at first designed, yet not more than will make a reasonable item on the right side of the King of Persias books.

Fourthly I have done half the Cid, [7]  & wherever I seem sufficiently ahead of other employment to lie to for awhile – this is what I go to.

Lastly for the Athenæum alias Foolæum [8]  – for I abominate such titles I am making some preparations, meaning among other things to print there certain collections of unemployed notes & memoranda under the title of Omniana, for the sake of being paid for them now, & meaning them to use them hereafter as required, [9]  & taking care to secure them to myself by omitting the references.

By Gods blessing I shall have done all this by the end of the winter, & come to town early in spring, to inspect certain books for the Cid at the Museum & at Holland House – & to proceed to Lisbon.

I rejoice to hear of Mrs R’s recovery. [10]  pray you remember me to her —

God bless you


Monday October 13. 1806


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 13 Octr. 1806
MS: Huntington Library, RS 94. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 53–55 [in part]. BACK

[1] Tobin had asked Southey to write an epilogue, probably to The Curfew: a Play (1807), the posthumously-published work of Tobin’s brother John Tobin (1770–1804; DNB), a London solicitor and playwright whose comedy The Honey Moon had been a success in 1805; see Southey to John Tobin, 22 September 1806, Letter 1218. BACK

[2] Southey published an English translation of Palmerin of England, by Francisco Moraes in 4 volumes in 1807. BACK

[3] A schooltext Latin phrase: ‘things which are deemed appropriate to males’. BACK

[4] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[5] Richard Taylor (1781–1858; DNB), printer and naturalist, who would go on to establish the publishing firm of Taylor and Francis with his son William Francis (1817–1904; DNB) in 1852. BACK

[6] Southey reviewed the following in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807): John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), A Voyage to Cochin China, in the Years 1792, and 1793: Containing a General View of the Productions, and Political Importance of this Kingdom; and also of such European Settlements as were Visited on the Voyage, with Sketches of the Manners, Character, and Condition of their Inhabitants (1806), 2–16; James Burney, A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean ... Illustrated with Charts (Vol. 2; 1806), 16–30; James Stanier Clarke (1765?–1834; DNB), Naufragia, or, Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks (Vol. 2; 1806), 71–72; Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1805), 155–160; Patrick Colquhoun (1745–1820; DNB), A New and Appropriate System of Education for the Labouring People (1806), 278–282; John Wooll (bap. 1767–1833; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of the late Revd. Joseph Warton, Master of St. Mary Winton College; Prebendary of Winchester Cathedral; and Rector of the Parishes of Wickham and Upham, Hants: to which are added, a Selection from his Works; and a Literary Correspondence Between Eminent Persons, Reserved by him for Publication (1806), 298–305; Lucy Hutchinson (née Apsley; 1620–1681; DNB) and Julius Hutchinson (dates unknown), Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson (1806), 361–378; James Grant Raymond (1771–1817), The Life of Thomas Dermody (1806), 383–397; Henry Richard Fox, 3rd Lord Holland, Some Account of the Life and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio (1806), 397–411; Richard Duppa, The Life and Literary Works of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with his Poetry and Letters (1806), 411–425; George Chalmers, (bap. 1742–1825; DNB), ed., The Poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay (1806), 482–494; Thomas Moore (1779–1852; DNB), Epistles, Odes and Other Poems (1806), 498–499; [Society of Friends of Pennsylvania], Accounts of Two Attempts Towards the Civilization of Some Indian Natives (1806), 589–593; Thomas Clarkson, A Portraiture of Quakerism, as Taken From a View of the Moral Education, Discipline, Peculiar Customs, Religious Principles, Political and Civil Œconomy, and Character, of the Society of Friends (1806), 594–607; Thomas Jarrold (1770–1853; DNB), Dissertations on Man, Philosophical, Physiological and Political; in Answer to Mr. Malthus’s ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ (1806), 607–615. BACK

[7] Southey’s translation The Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808. BACK

[8] The short-lived Athenæum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (1807–1809), which was owned by Longman and edited by John Aikin. BACK

[9] Southey gathered many of the miscellaneous short pieces that he contributed to the Athenaeum in the book he compiled with Coleridge in 1812, Omniana: or Horae Otiosiores. BACK

[10] Susannah Rickman had suffered a miscarriage in May and was subsequently unwell; see Southey to Mary Barker, 26 May 1806, Letter 1187. BACK

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