3029. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 October 1817

3029. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 12 October 1817 ⁠* 

My dear R.

You have rubbed up my memory with regard to Warner, [1]  – so I have written to him, & will turn his information, – if we can get any, to account.

I have bespoken the subject of the Poor from Murray, – the Report will serve for text, with a pamphlett of Sir E Brydges, & another by T. P. Courtenay, which I believe was only printed for the use of the committee. [2] 

I have heard nothing of Giffords illness but except what you tell me. He is a miserable sufferer from ill health, so much so that I marvel how he can carry on the review, having to contend with unmethodical habits to boot. – As far as I can understand whatever is vacillating & timid in the management proceeds from him; – this is doing harm enough, – & yet he is more injurious as a writer than as an editor, by waspish criticisms upon worthless books. Hazlitt I hear is fool enough to suppose that I reviewed his Round Table in the last number. [3]  If I ever think it worth while to lay hold of that scoundrel, he shall xxxx feel the difference between my hand & Giffords.

I am not uneasy about the missing portion of Brazil. [4]  It is that portion which Longman withheld from the press before I went abroad, & doubtless it will be forthcoming now that I have made enquiry for it. Indeed by my not receiving an answer from Longmans house I suppose it has been found, & that I shall speedily have a proof sheet.

Except a few days of equinoctial storms we have had fine weather ever since you left us. I am now settled regularly to work; – long winter evenings enable me to idle away time in the fine season; & that idleness provides me a stock of health & animal spirits <life> for the season of hybernation.

Here is an old schoolfellow [5]  of mine who bears testimony to the Divining Rod; & protests that in his hand it is an unerring indication either of water, or a vein of metal: A green hazel twig held bet in both hands & bent like a bow vibrates perceptibly both to the sight & feeling upon passing over either the one or the other; & this he says, he has repeatedly proved. Others, he says, have made the same proof, but it does not succeed with every one. He is a man not likely to be imposed upon himself, & utterly incapable of imposing upon others.

The girls desire to be remembered to Anne. [6] Mrs R. will be in the country when this arrives. – We took a cart from Buttermere round thro Borrodale last week, & I thought on the way of Shakespere & Mr Clark [7] 

God bless you –


Keswick. 12 Oct. 1817.


* Endorsement: RS./ 12 Octr 1817
MS: Huntington Library, RS 321. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Richard Warner (1763–1857; DNB), Curate of St James’s, Bath 1795–1817 and antiquarian. Southey had met him in 1797; see Southey to [Charles Biddlecombe], 16 October 1797, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part One, Letter 263. Southey may have asked for information about Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) and her foundation, the Ladies’ Association of Bath (1816). BACK

[2] Rickman and Southey’s views on the poor appeared in the articles ‘On the Poor Laws’, Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308, and ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. The former was ostensibly a review of several texts, including Reports of the Select Committee on the Poor Laws (1817–1818); the latter included Thomas Peregrine Courtenay, A Treatise upon the Poor Laws (1818) among the works it nominally reviewed. Southey did not discuss Brydges’ Arguments in Favour of the Practicability of Relieving the Able-bodied Poor by Finding Employment for them ... Addressed to the Committee on the Poor Laws (1817). BACK

[3] Hazlitt’s collected reviews, published as The Round Table, a Collection of Essays on Literature, Men and Manners (1817) had been criticised in Quarterly Review, 17 (April 1817), 154–159. It is unclear who wrote the review. BACK

[4] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). The publication of the second volume had been delayed because a portion of Southey’s manuscript had been mislaid. BACK

[5] Possibly Grosvenor Charles Bedford, who had just visited Southey. BACK

[6] Rickman’s daughter (b. 1808). BACK

[7] Untraced. Southey here recalls an experience shared with Rickman during the latter’s visit to the Lakes in August-September 1817. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)