1387. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 December 1807

1387. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 1 December 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

My Uncle is arrived after a six weeks passage. Provokingly enough he has sent the letter which he wrote for me to Falmouth, & directed one to me which ought to have gone there, so that I neither know any thing of his xxx movements, nor whether Harry be with him. I have written to know how long he stays in town, [1]  – & my business in now writing is to ask whether, in case his answer should wish me to set forward without loss of time – it be convenient for you to receive me in the course of the next fortnight.

My plans for the coming year are tolerably extensive. the first volume of Brazil certainly goes to press in the spring. [2]  I think also of setting forward a volume of Travels in Portugal, for which I possess matter in abundance. [3]  Espriella sells – about 300 are left of the thousand, & the Longmen think it likely that in another month it will be expedient to send it again to press; – when the humour takes me therefore I may prudently proceed with the projected completion. [4] 

Overtures have been made me to bear a part in the Edinburgh Review, choosing my own books, & expressing my own opinions: – they come through Walter Scott but unquestionably from Constable. [5]  I have returned no answer as yet, having written one in refusal, & detained it for farther consideration. To the Longmen however I communicated this offer [6]  – that they may see the unfitness of my reviewing at seven pounds the Annual sheet, [7]  when I am offered ten guineas xx Scotch-measure xxxx & told that the price is soon to be considerably increased. I differ from all the opinions of the Edinburgh Review – both in taste, morals, politics & religion. The question is whether it be worth while in this rascally xxx age of party-feeling to secure good treatment for myself in that quarter, & take care of my friends; – as for the employment in a financial point of view it is likely that my time may be as profitably given to better work. My greatest inclining is to lay every thing else aside & get the Brazilian book forward. The sale of 500 cannot be doubtful. – enough to pay the expense of publication quite certain to be immediate. I mean therefore to print it on my own account, – for which I can, without difficulty, borrow the necessary sum. – there is no reason why the booksellers should share my profits xx as interest for an advance of money, which is merely nominal, – xx they paying nothing before they receive.

We have had extraordinary weather here – a deeper snow than has been remembered since 1767. Three days we were without a post, – on one day only one person came into the town. In some places the ro[MS torn] is cut thro drifts seven or eight feet deep [MS torn] went out to see this pass thro banks of snow walls of snow, & very singular it is. Even today after four days gentle thaw, a hundred men are employed in opening the road to Penrith, where the stage has been stuck since Friday week last: – there the drifts are in some places twenty feet deep. The mountain scenery has been fine beyond all powers of pen or pencil to express – at morning when the valley was in mist. the heights in sunshine – & blue sky above them, – & <at noon> when clouds lay upon their summits, & the sun shone upon the clouds, & the clouds & the snow & the sunshine made up one glory.

There is little <doubt> that my Uncle will wish me to meet him in town speedily. His letter I shall get on Saturday or Sunday next, & start within three or four days after I receive yours. But I shall halt three or four ways on the way.

Remember me to Mrs R.

God bless you


Tuesday. Dec 1. 1807.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ 1 Decr. 1807
MS: Huntington Library, RS 120. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 28–30. BACK

[1] For this, see Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 November 1807, Letter 1384. BACK

[2] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil was not published until 1810. BACK

[3] Southey did not produce this projected book; but his 1797 Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal were reprinted in an expanded form in 1808 as Letters Written During a Journey in Spain, and a Short Residence in Portugal. BACK

[4] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). A second edition was published in 1808; a sequel was not forthcoming. BACK

[5] Archibald Constable (1774–1827; DNB), the Edinburgh publisher of the Edinburgh Review and Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1807). For Southey’s answer, see Southey to Walter Scott, 8 December 1807, Letter 1392. BACK

[6] This letter has not been traced. BACK

[7] That is, for the Annual Review, for which Southey had been reviewing for four years. BACK

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