3065. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 10 January 1818

3065. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 10 January 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

I send you Courtenays [1]  letter, – he is a worthy & well meaning man, who has all the disposition for doing good, if he had but the xxxxxx ability.

I have done a good deal, & altho what I have done should not prove to be amalgamable with your communications, there will be no labour lost: – for all that is not relevant to the thread of your argument may be set aside to form a separate paper. [2]  It is evident that you have a clear & connected whole in your mind, bearing as it ought to do with full weight & force upon one point: – two head pieces xxxx xxxx might interfere with each other, – so I will act as mouth piece only. I had been spinning perhaps an overfine thread, – partly for want of straight forward matter; & partly to take off common attention from the main argument, by the garnish with which it was drest up, – like gilding a pill, or sugaring the cup from which a child takes bitter physic. Not that it is mere garnish, – on the contrary it may make a wholesome & substantial dish by itself in a following number. –

So I shall make Murray wait, – & go to work upon your papers in good hope that they may be found materially instrumental in forwarding a great work.

God bless you


Keswick. 10 Jany. 1818.


* Endorsement: RS./ 10 Janry 1818
MS: Huntington Library, RS 325. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 200–201. BACK

[1] Thomas Peregrine Courtenay was the author of A Treatise upon the Poor Laws (1818), one of the works discussed in Southey’s article, ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. BACK

[2] Southey and Rickman’s article ‘On the Poor Laws’, Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308. Southey placed the remaining material in his ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 79–118. BACK

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