1292. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 March [1807]

1292. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 20 March [1807] ⁠* 

Thank you for your remark about Villa – I referred to the Spanish word which means Town, but have altered the sentence so as not to let it imply a blunder. Your Bucentaur [1]  shall be turned to account elsewhere – for the Translator is not learned enough to use it. It is curious – yet I doubt it, & am rather disposed to believe the original form of the vessel was Bucentauric [2]  – because state-vessels were made in all sorts of monstrous forms in former days.

The praised G.C.B. is praised – as what? – not as Editor, [3]  – & if you will take notice thereof, you may perceive that where he is spoken of in the way one likes to speak of a very old & intimate acquaintance, formed in days when connections are the work of chance – – in that very sentence I lay the blame of all neglect upon his shoulders – & God knows it is enough to break his back. Whether he or the Printer [4]  have done worst I know not – but this I know that he has played the very Diabolus with what I had done, – omitted – interpolated, & in short done every thing which he ought not to have done, as if he had been Inquisitor General, with absolute authority to expunge & add at pleasure – many of the omissions are thoroughly vexatious – he has full enough MSS. by him for a fourth volume, for which room should have made (as I had made it) by giving only the shortest possible extracts from well known books – & from bad ones. – I have seen the book since I wrote to you (Wynn franks me the whole set of sheets which was overstepping the modesty of franking.) & it is far worse than I expected. I have ordered many cancels, [5]  which you may have when inserted whenever yours goes to the book binder. – & I suppose Longman will chuse to have a supplementary volume [6]  – in which case I shall take the management out my own hands, letting Bedford amuse himself with a proofsheet – & doxx nothing more.

D Manuel will improve when he leaves the Lakes & tell you things of more interest. [7] 

I am as hostile to this Catholic question as George III himself, & would far rather see the old premunire [8]  enforced against them, than one step of ground yielded.


March 20.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ Mar 20. 1807
MS: Huntington Library, RS 106. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Year from JR’s endorsement BACK

[1] The state galley of the Doges of Venice. BACK

[2] Meaning ‘like an ox-centaur’. BACK

[3] This paragraph concerns the recently published Specimens of the Later English Poets, co-edited with Grosvenor Charles Bedford, and to Southey’s dismay filled with errors. BACK

[4] The book was printed by S. Hollingsworth (first name and dates unknown) of Crane Court, Fleet Street. BACK

[5] For the cancels and errata, see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 March 1807 (Letter 1286) and 15 March 1807 (Letter 1288). BACK

[6] A supplementary volume was planned, but did not appear. BACK

[7] In Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807), Southey included a tour of the Lake District. BACK

[8] The offence under English law of appealing to or obeying a foreign court or authority, thus challenging the supremacy of the Crown. Southey’s objection to the emancipation of Catholics was always that it would allow into public office men who were loyal to the Pope rather than to the King. BACK