1274. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 February 1807

1274. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 February 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

I like your notion of the Vampire much. [1]  the Post Office acknowledged their mistake about the privilege, but insisted upon the flaw in the date.

The MS. of Don M. [2]  goes up always thro Wynn which is better than sending it with a double inclosure; – but if you have leisure to run over the proofs – you might see something to amend – always remember that I know yours is a rapid eye as well as my own, – & that what would be asking G. D. for half a days labour – is asking you for ten minutes.

I get on well with Brazil – but am not certain with what degree of minuteness I should enter into the affairs of the Rio de la Plata, – a history which might easily be included if advisable, & as it must be often alluded to, – I am in want of the Captains old friend Ramusio, [3]  & must try if Heber has a copy – I want also & much want – the France Antarticque of Thevet, [4]  – tho the man as I suspected from Lery [5]  & find by Thuanus [6]  was a rogue & a liar. My next business in London will be to overhaul the Museum [7]  for such references as I cannot else get at – & this may be left till the volume be done.

Americo Vespucci [8]  seems to have been the first man who formed a settlement in Brazil. how nearly this man had won the palm from Magalhaens which he stole from Columbus! [9]  – His own accounts are curiously dishonest – you would judge from them that he was the Commander, & he takes care never to mention any persons name that the whole glory may be his own.

There are yet some books about Peru which I must in conscience go thro – but which it is not necessary yet to send for – I have also somewhere – & I think it must be in London – but am not sure. an English translation of Acugnas (Acuña it should be) voyage down the Amazons – a book which my Uncle (who is certainly the best Brazilian living – if I may use that word as we say Grecian –) has been long & vainly seeking in any form. [10]  It is a duodecimos newly lettered in green, – if it happens to catch your eye put it where it may be laid hands on easily.

My book promises to be very interesting, & will I think bring together a greater body of information concerning 1. the interior of S. America – 2. savage manners – 3. the means of taming savages – & 4 colonial policy – than can elsewhere be found xx xxxx other manner than in the way except by going to my documents. What a happy thing it is to love labour! I do not think there is a happier being than myself upon the face of Gods earth.

We had a loud clap of thunder lately in the midst of a snow-storm! – Do you know that wood-pigeons eat acorns? – we have found their crops full of them – but what a size for their throats & what work for their gizzards!

Remember me to Mrs R.

God bless you —


Friday. Feby 13. 1807.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 13 Feb 1807.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 102. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An incorrect year on a frank had led the Post Office to charge Southey for a package that should have been delivered free, hence the blood sucking image of the vampire – a creature new to most Britons, Southey having been one of the first to introduce it to English culture in his 1801 poem Thalaba the Destroyer. For Southey’s earlier letter to Rickman regarding the error; see Southey to John Rickman, 30 January [1807], Letter 1269. BACK

[2] Of Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[3] No. 2382 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485–1557), Navigatione e Viaggi (1565–1588). BACK

[4] André Thevet (1516?-1592), Singularitez de la France antarctique (1557). BACK

[5] Jean de Léry (1536–1613), Historia Navigationis in Brasiliam, quae et America Dicitur (1578). BACK

[6] Jacques Auguste de Thou (Thuanus) (1553–1617), author of Historia sui temporis (1620) and Memoires (1620). BACK

[7] The British Museum. BACK

[8] Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512), an Italian explorer who made three or four voyages (the number is disputed) to the east coast of South America at the start of the sixteenth century. BACK

[9] Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480–1521), the Portuguese circumnavigator who named the Pacific ocean; Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), voyager to America. BACK

[10] No. 8 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Cristóbal de Acuña (1597–1676?), Voyages and Discoveries in South America (1698). BACK

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