3176. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 August 1818

3176. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 August 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

When you have cast your eye over the inclosed, send it to the Exchequer. [1]  This part is to be followed by a digest of Mr Broughams slanders, with documents (for the use of the Westmorland freeholders) in an Appendix. I am collecting materials for this from all quarters. And the concluding part, which will probably be finished before I can put the middle together will look at the Westmorland Election as a symptom of the times, & of the system which is pursued for subverting every thing. – In fact the gravamen [2]  of the personal offence lies here. For considering the temper which had been industriously excited in the rabble at Kendal, Carlisle & (in a less degree) at this place also, what this scoundrel said of Wordsworth was little short of a hint to these poor besotted wretches to stone him: for stoning is their order of the day. [3]  This letter of mine will be read in every alehouse throughout the xxxx counties, & find its way into every vale. And it will do some good.

God bless you


1 Aug. 1818.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: [partial] KESW/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 4 AU 4/ 1818
MS: Huntington Library, RS 348. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 188–189. BACK

[1] Brougham had provoked Southey’s ire by, reportedly, attacking him and Wordsworth at the hustings for the Westmorland election on 30 June 1818. Southey was dissuaded from publishing this retort to Brougham, which he modelled on his pamphlet A Letter to William Smith, Esq. M. P. (1817) and termed the ‘Tender Epistle’. The sections that were completed were published as a ‘Postscript’ to the second edition of Carmen Triumphale (London, 1821), pp. 45–53 (without naming Brougham). Here Southey is submitting part of the manuscript to Rickman and to Bedford, who was a civil servant at the Exchequer. BACK

[2] ‘The essence, or most serious part, of a complaint’. BACK

[3] The Westmorland election campaign had been marked by disorder. According to The Times, 17 February 1818, the Earl of Lonsdale and other gentleman of his party were, at the hustings in Kendal on 11 February, ‘much bespattered’ by missiles hurled by a drunken mob. Brougham had particularly attacked Wordsworth in a speech at Appleby on 29 June 1818 as ‘a man who wrote prose, and other compositions which he could not call prose, but which he wished were poetry’. Wordsworth had played a prominent (though anonymous) part in writing against Brougham’s candidature. BACK