1259. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 January 1807

1259. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 13 January 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

You certainly are the best of all possible men to do another persons business. [1]  the book about the Maranhon [2]  I knew nothing of. That about Chile did not ask for – because loth to lengthen the list of what you would have trouble in finding. – But every book relating to the original natives of America has a direct bearing upon my subject, – it being a matter of much curiosity to find out what they all have in common, – x how far any similarity of customs – knowledge &c – extended.

Galvam [3]  probably escaped your search by his leanness – getting lying hid between two larger books. Whenever he happens to be seen I do not think Wynn will scruple to frank him down. as he certainly has sent me as large a frank containing the Double Writer – a right excellent invention. [4] 

I am already far advanced in miscellaneous knowledge upon this subject – indeed long ago had read most of the original historians of the Indies, & marked every passage of importance – so that in them I have only now to run my eye down the margin, & make my notes from the land marks. The first of next month I begin – & after the first of March do nothing else – & then for a good book <volume> honestly made – with all in it that can be known. Before the end of autumn – let me see I write half a quarto sheet a day – exclusive of notes – that is a volume in 136 days. See how much may be done in a little time by only going steadily straight forward. Give me six months, from St Davids day – & I will be ready for the Printer with my first volume

[MS torn] comes in forma pauperis [5]  for the enclosure


Tuesday Jany 13. 1807.

If the box was at the Bull and Mouth on <xx > Saturday sevennight last – it will be here tomorrow. if it went on a Monday it will be a week longer xxxx reaching me – lying so long in London –  [6] 


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 13 Jan 1807.
MS: Huntington Library, RS 99. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] This letter concerns books which Southey required for his history of Brazil, and which had been left with Rickman. BACK

[2] The Marañón River, which begins northeast of Lima in Peru, becomes the Amazon River. BACK

[3] Duarte Galvão (1435–1517), Chronica del D. Affonso Henriques primero, D. Sancho, I & II,D. Affonso II & III, e Dom Diniz, Sexto Rey de Portugal (1727–1729). BACK

[4] For this letter, see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 9 October [1806], Letter 1223. The ‘double writer’ was most probably an early version of carbon paper, first patented by Ralph Wedgwood (1766–1837) on 7 October 1806 as the ‘stylographic manifold writer’. BACK

[5] Meaning ‘in pauper’s dress’. BACK

[6] A box of materials which Southey required for his history of Brazil. It had arrived by 24 January, so presumably took ‘a week longer’ and reached him on Wednesday 21 January. BACK

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