3091. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 March 1818

3091. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 March 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

I have a note from R. L. His Aunt, [1]  not knowing that it was better to keep him ignorant of his intended promotion, let him know it, – & his note is to this effect: – That as to grammar & punctuation he deems himself competent, – “but not as to knowledge of the mode of executing work in Mr H’s [2]  office, which is excessively difficult” which would require a long initiation. – that he is afraid of holding such a responsible situation under Mr H: – & what is of more weight, that he has been used to incessant bodily labour, & therefore is ill-fitted & ill-inclined for an employment which admits of none. Therefore, he says, if I do not strongly disapprove of his so doing, he would rather remain as he is, “Mr H he adds, has no overseers, but he has a few men who superintend a certain number of compositors, & who work themselves, & it is not impossible but that by length of service I might arrive at one of these.”

Now, tho it is vexatious to have kind intentions frustrated, R. L. is not altogether wrong in preferring an inferior situation because he feels himself fully equal to it, & can therefore rely upon himself. This is <a> better failing (all things considered) than that sin whereby the angels fell. [3]  There is a quiet, persevering spirit of independence & industry about the boy, which promises well.

Your hurricanes have not reached us. We have had ordinary gales here, nothing more; – & one of the mildest winters that has been remembered.

God bless you


14 March 1818.


* Endorsement: R.S./ 14 March 1818
MS: Huntington Library, RS 333. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[2] The firms owned by Luke Hansard (1752–1828; DNB) and his son, Thomas Curson Hansard (1766–1833; DNB), which printed the Journals of the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Debates. Rickman had found the young Lovell a job with the Hansards. BACK

[3] Henry VIII, Act 3, scene 2, lines 440–441: ‘I charge thee, fling away ambition/ By that sin fell the angels’. BACK

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