3196. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 September 1818

3196. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 September 1818⁠* 

My dear R.

I have been turning over the leaves of the Acta Sanctorum, [1]  just to look at the prints & glance at the contents, {& having done this,} I am about, in horis otiosioribus, [2]  to go thro all that they contain concerning this island, Ireland & Britanny, as connected therewith. This is merely for the sake of the gleanings which I can hardly fail to gather in such a field. – But the main use of these tremendous volumes will be for a work projected eighteen years ago upon the M[MS missing] Orders; – a regular history of them (which I then thought of) will be beyond my powers, – but under the title of Sketches of Monastic History, I may take the cream of the subject. [3]  You know I have a good custom of brooding over a work long before I undertake it & thus imperceptibly the design matures & shapes itself.

My third vol. of Brazil is now half printed, – & of the remaining half more than half the work is done. [4]  – I see by my years account that half the second volume are sold, & of the first volume 102 copies are left [5]  – When the concluding volume is published the whole of the first will soon be carried off, [6]  – but I fear there will be a good many first volumes which will never be joined to their intended companions. As soon as this Opus is out of the Press, the peninsular war goes in, [7]  – & as soon as the Life of Welsey [8]  is compleated, I shall put together the long gathered & still accumulating materials of Espriella: wherein {thro that vehicle} much may be said. [9] 

Remember me to Mrs. R.

God bless you


18 Sept. 1818


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 21 SE 21/ 1818
MS: Huntington Library, RS 353. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The massive compendium of hagiographies entitled Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794) which Southey had bought in Brussels in 1817, but which had just arrived; no. 207 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] ‘In leisure hours’. BACK

[3] Southey’s ‘History of the Monastic Orders’ was never completed. BACK

[4] The History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[5] 750 copies of the first volume of the History of Brazil were printed in 1810; and 750 copies of the second volume in 1817. BACK

[6] The third volume of the History of Brazil was printed in 1819; but the first volume did not sell out until mid–1820. BACK

[7] The History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[8] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[9] Southey never published a second instalment of the travel narrative of his fictional visitor to Britain, Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807). BACK

People mentioned