3433. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 February [1820]

3433. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 7 February [1820]⁠* 

My dear R.

I inclose law-letters for your superscription. If the Clergymans is not directed in form, you will know how to amend it. [1] 

Lord S.s will leaves me where I was. The equity of my claim seems very clear, – but what may be the law of the case Heaven knows, if Heaven has any thing to do with such laws as ours.

I am versifying væ mihi! ex-offi as an ex-officio poet. [2]  And in this thankless & bootless office must some two or three weeks be wasted. I have no intention of ever doing any thing more than mere task verses after this. The present attempt will be a curiosity in its kind. Most persons I know would dissuade me from such an experiment, – but I am following my own humour, & writing in English hexameters.

I suspect that the juveniles here are indebted to Mrs Rickman for an agreable surprize which they received last week, – & on which they continue to regale daily.

The existing Oliver Cromwell has sent into the world a huge quarto concerning his ancestor without any new information whatever, – or any merit of any kind. [3]  See what great families may come to, when such a breed as that shall end in a goose!

God bless you


7 Feby.


* Endorsement: Fr RS./ 7 Feby 1820
MS: Huntington Library, RS 388. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Cannon Southey’s (d. 1768) fantastically complex will gave Southey some hope of inheriting property at Fitzhead after the death of his third cousin, and John Cannon Southey’s heir, John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB). Southey was trying to establish, among other things, whether he was John Cannon Southey’s heir at law. The letter to the ‘Clergyman’ was probably to Robert Jarratt (1766–1843), Vicar of Wellington 1791–1843, about records of Southey’s ancestors in the parish registers at Wellington. BACK

[2] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[3] Oliver Cromwell (c. 1742–1821; DNB), Memoirs of the Protector, Oliver Cromwell, and of His Sons, Richard and Henry. Illustrated by Original Letters, and Other Family Papers (1820). This book provided one of the occasions for Southey’s ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347. BACK

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