2286. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 August 1813

2286. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 August 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. August 2. 1813.

My dear Rickman

When that letter to Bedford was written I was in hopes that my movements might have been prorogued till the winter: – perhaps you will have learnt from him before this reaches you that I shall be at town <Streatham>; (Deo Volente [1] ) in the course of next week. [2]  My stay in those parts will hardly fall short of six weeks, & may more probably extend to eight, – by the latter part of that time I may hope that Mrs R. will have be returned from the country.

The Cyclopœdia says that the Gordius Aquaticus is vulgarly supposed to be animated horse hair. [3]  Owen Lloyds manufactory the print of this creature represents it as much smaller than Owen Lloyds [4]  manufactory, which is as large as the other Gordii upon the same plate, & very like them. But I distinctly saw the hair when the accretion was stripped off with the nail.

The battle of Vitoria [5]  seems likely to give us peace in the course of the year. If B. [6]  gives up Spain, which knowing when he has been beat out of it, he may make a merit of doing. I fear our Ministers will hardly have the spirit to insist upon his giving up his other usurpations also. And if we leave him with his present command of coast, or even with Holland alone, all will be to begin again as soon as he has raised a fleet. – However we shall by that time have an efficient ally in Spain. The Spanish armies are now assuming consistency, & we hear of men of the right stamp as Generals, who began only as Guerillas, they will find employment in America for awhile. The first business business of Spain when she begins to breathe at home will be to send over forces sufficient to put a stop to this colonial war. I am now tolerably versed in this mournful history. [7]  The Mexican insurrection [8]  is very much the <the last> Irish rebellion, [9]  & will in like manner be hunted down, & leave the land infected. At Caracas [10]  the people have been sickened, & in the provinces of the Plata they must be pretty well sickened to, – so that if B Ayres be taken the interior would not long remain refractory. [11] 

I have read enough Yankee history to know wherein how far any inferences from our mismanaged war appli are applicable to Sp. America, & in consequence to feel very little doubt that Spain will reduce the refract revolutionized colonies. The B Ayres Gazettes [12]  before me, of which I have a long set, make me sincerely wish that she may, – for the a viler crew than these who are aping Washington [13]  &c, never disgraced the name of patriot never converted innocent beef into sinful manflesh.



– I had nearly forgotten to say – can you now give an hour to the Public Accounts [14]  – for the last time!


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: From/ RS./ 2. Augt. 1813 –
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ 5 AU 5/ 1813
MS: Huntington Library, RS 211. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] God willing. BACK

[2] Southey had originally intended to visit London in the autumn of 1813; see Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 7 April 1813, Letter 2240. BACK

[3] The horsehair worm; see Abraham Rees (1743–1825; DNB), Cyclopaedia, 45 vols (London, 1802–1820), no. 2361 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] Owen Lloyd (1803–1841), third son of Charles and Sophia Lloyd, later curate of Langdale. BACK

[5] The combined British, Portuguese and Spanish victory over the French of 21 June 1813. It paved the way for the eventual defeat of the French in the Peninsular War. BACK

[6] Napoleon Bonaparte. BACK

[7] Southey had been writing on the subject in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 367–421. BACK

[8] The Mexican War of Independence had begun in September 1810. Southey was correct that in 1813 the tide was turning in favour of the Spanish forces, but they were unable to eradicate the Mexican guerrillas and this situation paved the way for Mexican independence in 1821. BACK

[9] The rising by the United Irishmen in 1798. BACK

[10] A Congress at Caracas had declared the independence of Venezuela on 5 July 1811, but the Republic collapsed in July 1812 under the impact of civil war, natural disasters and Spanish invasions. However, Republican forces recaptured Caracas and re-founded the Republic on 6 August 1813. BACK

[11] Spanish forces made a number of unsuccessful attempts to re-conquer Argentina in 1813–1818. BACK

[12] La Gazeta de Buenos Ayres, a weekly newspaper, which ran from 7 June 1810 – 12 September 1821. BACK

[13] George Washington (1732–1799), 1st President of the United States of America, 1789–1797. BACK

[14] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 495–507. The volume published in 1813 was the last one to which Southey contributed. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)