1391. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [on or before 8 December 1807]

1391. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [on or before 8 December 1807] ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

My Uncle leaves town in a few days to go look after litigious parishioners in Herefordshire; – he therefore wishes me to delay my journey, – so you will not see me till the snowdrops & the unborn have made their appearance. [1] 

I have taken time about the Edinburgh proposal, [2]  – not to think about it, for that were wasting time, – but to let the pros & cons find their level, – that being a safe way of proceeding. You see the advantage of engaging in it just in the right point of view, – but even that is not worth the sort of compromise which it would cost. I write therefore to Walter Scott, refusing, in terms of all courtesy to have bear any part in a journal with x which I do not hold any one opinion in common, & the conduct of which I thoroughly disapprove. [3] 

You estimate Palmerin [4]  rightly, – it is even more inferior to Amadis [5]  than Virgil is to Homer. The only scene in it which at all affects one is that where the tombs of K Arban & old Grumedan xxxx <give> for a moment a sort of historical reality to the story. [6]  Yet the very difference between this romance & Amadis, the reputation of both being considered, made it worth while that both should be in our language. – The part which I have translated is as well done as Amadis, – the difference lies in the original. Moraes [7]  was for writing a fine style. The Cid [8]  you will find equal in this point to Amadis, the language being of the same character i–e – both being anterior to the age of fine style.

Prince Arthur is so lettered in green, on a gilt back. one of the small quartos. [9]  With this I have nothing to do but to write a preface & add notes, – in which I design to give the whole bibliology of the Round Table. [10]  Luxurious sort of reading, in which I think I should not afford to indulge were I not paid for it.

Espriellas secret is not worth any awkward attempt at evading the avowal. [11]  Your friend Lady Holland has just sent me a present of Spanish plays, & asked me the question concerning it. This book is xxx likely to set me fairly afloat, a second edition [12]  will clear me with Longman, & leave me the profits of all my other books to look on to for ways & means in the ensuing year; – enough it is to be hoped without touching the xxxxx produce of Brazil. [13] 

Drop the inclosed note [14]  into the twopenny – it is to desire that the sheets of the Cid may be sent to you when my Uncle leaves town. I wish you to look them over before the additional notes be made up, that you may point out what may occur to you.



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr./ Harting/ near/ Petersfield/ Hampshire/ Single
Endorsements: Circa. 10 Decr. 1807; RS./ 10 Decr. 1807
MS: Huntington Library, RS 121. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 33–34. BACK

[1] Emma, Southey’s third daughter, was born on 9 February 1808. BACK

[2] Archibald Constable (1774–1827; DNB), the Edinburgh publisher of the Edinburgh Review and Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1807), had asked through Scott whether Southey would become a contributor to the Edinburgh Review; see Southey to John Rickman, 1 December 1807, Letter 1387. BACK

[3] For this, see Southey to Walter Scott, 8 December 1807, Letter 1392. BACK

[4] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

[5] Southey’s translation of the Spanish romance Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

[6] See Southey’s edition of Palmerin for the tomb of King Arban of North Wales and the knight Don Grumedan. In a footnote, Southey writes: ‘Many readers will remember their old friends. They who do not may be introduced to these excellent good knights by Amadis of Gaul’, Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze, 4 vols (London, 1807), I, p. 291. The good knights appear in Southey’s Amadis of Gaul, 4 vols. (London, 1803), III, p. 316. BACK

[7] Francisco Moraes Cabral (1500?-1572), who Southey argued was the author of Palmerin. BACK

[8] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[9] Perhaps Sir Richard Blackmore (1654–1729; DNB), Prince Arthur (1695). A copy of this work was listed in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Southey’s edition The Byrth, Lyf and Acts of King Arthur was published in 1817. BACK

[11] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[12] A second edition of Letters from England was published in 1808. BACK

[13] Southey’s History of Brazil was published in three volumes from 1810–1819. BACK

[14] This has not survived. BACK

People mentioned

Southey, Emma (1808–1809) (mentioned 1 time)