1122. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 November [1805]

1122. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 November [1805] ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

You do not overvalue Clavijero – but there is little original in him. [1]  the whole is in Torquemada, [2]  & so much the more rogue Robertson [3]  who pretends to have read Torquemada. – If you read Madoc again you will like it better; the disappointment of story being over, the merits of execution will come out.

There should be among my books Limborchs Hist of the Inquisition, [4]  a folio bound in parchment, with the Holland crest above the lettering. Tell Elmsley when you see him, that it is at his disposal. Lord Holland is endeavouring to recollect his fathers library, [5]  & I am it is returning some proffered civilities to send it him.

It will not do to attack Robertson – at least not till I am known to be the author. for I have often spoken my opinion about that Scotch scoundrel in mixed companies, & people remember what they can quote against me as insolence & envy. – Have you seen the Monthly Review of Madoc it is Malice stark-naked. [6]  I could not wish an enemy to write more like a fool.

This farther cargo will be a fair sample <tho only of the lighter part of the work> – you must remember that the letters are not consecutive. [7]  – I write as the humour takes me, & shall arrange at leisure. There are serious parts <of course>, & some [MS torn] that I shall prepare for the next exportation. – I have no thought of seeing [MS torn] certainly shall not see it during the winter. In the Spring perhaps Bedfords insufferable delays [8]  will force me up, & Don Manuel [9]  will supply us with work enough then to make the journey interesting on his account.

Sharon is about a new edition. [10]  I hope he knows what to strike out of the first. I shall write to him upon the subject.

God bless you


Wednesday. 19. Nov.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 19 Novr. 1805.
Seal: [two] red wax; square grid design
MS: Huntington Library, RS 81. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey is referring to Francisco Javier Clavigero, or Clavijero (1731–1787), Storia Antica del Messico (1780), which he used as a source for Madoc (1805). BACK

[2] Juan de Torquemada (ca. 1557–1664), Monarquia Indiana, con el Origen y Guerras de los Indios Occidentales, de suas Problaciones Descubrimiento, Conquista, Conversion. Southey owned the 1723 edition (no. 3797 in the sale catalogue of his library) which was published in Madrid. BACK

[3] William Robertson (1721–1793; DNB), historian, about whose History of America (1792) Southey was habitually dismissive. BACK

[4] Philippus van Limborch’s (1633–1712), Historia Inquisitionis (1692) was translated into English by Samuel Chandler (1693–1766; DNB), a dissenting minister and theologian, and published as the History of the Inquisition in 1731. BACK

[5] Stephen Fox, 2nd Baron Holland (1745–1774; DNB). BACK

[6] John Ferriar (1761–1815; DNB), a Scottish physician who practised medicine in Manchester, often contributed articles to the Monthly Review, including this one on Southey’s Madoc (1805). See Monthly Review, n.s. 48 (October 1805), 113–122. BACK

[7] Southey is referring to his Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807), which he was writing at this time. BACK

[8] In their jointly-compiled anthology Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[9] Southey’s usual way of referring to Letters from England. BACK

[10] A second edition of Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons (1799–1805) was published in 1807. BACK

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