2502. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 17 November 1814]

2502. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [c. 17 November 1814] ⁠* 

My dear R.

Thank you for your franks, – which seem to prove that Pople is my printer, – for I know not else how the proofs should have found their way to you. Thank you also for the Road & Carriage Reports, [1]  which I remember asking for; they may travel viâ Longman. I should be glad also of the Report upon the Copy right Committee, in which I believe there is some curious matter respecting the Book Trade. [2] 

The Spanish Apella [3]  is likely to be right about his African Ma Caspian; so many accounts speak of one. I think a similar sea will be found in New Holland. [4]  I never gave a moments credit to the supposed uninhabitability of the interior of that country, which had become a favourite hypothesis. A cousin of poor Darfur Brown, [5]  who lives in this country, fancied that if ever the mountain were conquerd, a table land of granite would be found. [6]  We shall now have much to discover there, – probably mor it is the only large tract in the world which is entirely terra incognita.

Have you received Roderick? [7] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Endorsement: RS/ Novr. 1814
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 17 NO 17/ 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 237. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Rickman was Secretary to the Parliamentary Commission, set up in 1803, on the making of roads and bridges in Scotland. BACK

[2] i.e. the evidence submitted to the Parliamentary committee examining copyright in 1813. This eventually led to an amendment to the law on copyright in 1814. This extended the copyright authors were entitled to on their works, by making it 28 years in all circumstances, or the life of the author if longer. BACK

[3] ‘Apella’ was a name for a person whose stories were not necessarily believable: ‘Let Apella the Jew believe, not I’, Horace, Satires, Book 1, satire 5, lines 100–101. The ‘Apella’ in question was Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), who Rickman had met in London. He was a Spaniard who had travelled extensively in North Africa and the Middle East under the pseudonym ‘Ali Bey al-Abbasi’ and published Travels of Ali Bey: in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, between the years 1803 and 1807 (1816), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. Badia told Rickman there was a huge sea in the interior of Africa, like the Caspian Sea (though he had not actually seen this phenomenon). BACK

[4] Australia. BACK

[5] William George Browne (1768–1813; DNB), Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria, from the Years 1792 to 1798 (1799), which detailed his captivity in Darfur. He was murdered in Persia in 1813. His cousin was possibly William Browne (1780–1859) of Orthwaite Hall, north of Keswick. BACK

[6] The first official crossings of the Blue Mountains occurred in 1813, opening up the interior of Australia to explorers from New South Wales. BACK

[7] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

People mentioned