3182. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 August 1818

3182. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 14 August 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

Put upon the direction of the inclosed xxxx honours of the Alphabet as the said Sir Howard [1]  is entitled to, – I have no means here of discovered which they are. It is a letter concerning the Peninsular War. He offers me communications on the application of some Mr Townsend of Sandhurst, [2]  – whom to the best of my knowledge I never heard of before.

I shall soon send up more Brazil, – an interesting portion, a river voyage from the very centre of the continent by the Guapiri & Madeira to Para, – from the original narrative in the Adventurers own hand writing. [3]  – I am reading Clarendon, [4]  a book which ought to be more read. – Are the Americans seeking to provoke another war? [5]  & are we to take x no cognizance of the murder of these Englishmen? [6]  – I cannot think that Government will hold together. In the contest between the two principles here the good will prevail at last, – & perhaps at first, – there, it will require a severer process to bring about that wholesome degree of inequality which is necessary for the well being of society: when it is formed by mere wealth it is odious & useless.

Remember us to Mrs R.

God bless you


14 Aug. 1818.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 17 AU 17/ 1818
MS: Huntington Library, RS 350. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] General Sir Howard Douglas was an artillery officer and engineering expert who had been employed in 1812 on missions to organise resistance to the French occupation in the north of Spain. At the time of this letter he was Inspector-General of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. The ‘alphabet’ of letters after his name included CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath) and FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society). He had offered to send Southey material to help with his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[2] George Townsend (1788–1857; DNB), author and clergyman. Professor at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and Curate of Farnborough 1816–1822, Chaplain to the Bishop of Durham 1822–1825, Prebend of Durham Cathedral 1825–1857. BACK

[3] Southey discusses the voyage down this river in his History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, 349–359, drawn from ‘Voyage up the Madeira in 1749, with a MS. Map’, no. 3849 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] A new edition, printed by Pople, of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609–1674; DNB), The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1816). BACK

[5] The United Kingdom and United States were attempting to negotiate a settlement of outstanding disputes, which finally led to the Convention, signed on 20 October 1818, dealing mainly with the Oregon Territory. BACK

[6] Possibly a reference to the execution on 29 April 1818 of Alexander Arbuthnot (1748–1818) and Richard Ambrister (1797–1818), two British citizens, for aiding the Creek and Seminole against United States forces in Spanish Florida. The men were condemned by a military tribunal, and on grounds of very dubious legality (to say the least), provoking protests from the British and Spanish governments. BACK