2737. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 15 March [1816]

2737. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 15 March [1816] ⁠* 

My dear R.

In Pinkertons abominable collection of Voyages is a compilation about Tibet, copied from Astleys Collection, & here it is stated that the people say their custom of polyandry is necessary because of the scarcity of women. [1] 

A French Scavan [2]  of the Egyptian Squad has published just now a history of the Egyptian Expedition. [3]  He says that Nelson purposely avoided falling in with the fleet on its passage, being afraid of the army that was on board! [4]  This proper Frenchman after saying much of the importance which Egypt would be of to France throughout the whole of his two volumes, concludes thus, We May we not yet conceive some hope of finding in the generosity of Sovereigns united at now by the love of peace & justice, this trifling recompense for the immense sacrifices which France has made for <to> <for> the tranquillity of the world, & for the happiness of living henceforth under the laws of the wisest & most enlightened Prince in Europe!!! [5] 

The perfection of impudence is certainly seen in this nation!


15 March.


* Address: John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 18 MR 18/ 1816
Seal: red wax, with ‘S’, ‘In Labore Quies’ motto below
Endorsement: 15 March 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 273. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: the letter is previously unpublished apart from the opening paragraph which is used for a footnote (and misattributed to Rickman) in John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, p. 18. BACK

[1] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in all Parts of the World, 17 vols (London, 1808–1814), VII, pp. 541–86, ‘A Description of Tibet’. The description of polyandry in Tibet is at pp. 551–552. These volumes are no. 2335 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The whole ‘Description’ was copied from A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels, 4 vols (London, 1745–1747), IV, pp. 449–476. This collection is usually known after the name of its publisher, Thomas Astley (d. 1759). BACK

[2] ‘wise person’. BACK

[3] Pierre-Dominique Martin (1771–1855), Histoire de l’Expédition Française en Egypte (1815). Martin had been an engineer attached to the French forces in Egypt 1799–1801. BACK

[4] Martin, Histoire de l’Expédition Française en Egypte, 2 vols (Paris, 1815), I, pp. 163–168, referring to the intentions of Horatio Nelson (1758–1805; DNB), commander of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. BACK

[5] Martin, Histoire de l’Expédition Française en Egypte, 2 vols (Paris, 1815), II, pp. 305–306. BACK