638. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 11 December 1801

638. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 11 December 1801 ⁠* 

Friday. Dec. 11. 1801.

Yesterday (the day after your letterling reached me) I journeyed to Johnsons [1]  for my friend Thady. [2]  you were mistaken in supposing I could get them at the trade price – I cannot even get my own books with paying the full charge. – there were no copies ready – else I should have dropt one with Mary Lamb, & introduced myself to Mr Beaumont [3]  with the other. of course they will arrive today.

Mr Corry has found out an employment for me – to go with him & his son [4]  to Walkers Lectures [5]  – & sit two hours every other morning xx hearing – what I have known God knows how long.

Burnett has a situation which he cannot keep! – it is only to make up matter for the Courier [6]  from the French papers & from Peltiers Paris, [7]  after the news has been taken from them. mere childs work – for two or three columns a week – he receives a guinea & half while on trial – two guineas if he continues. his sawneying & unteachable indolence almost surpasses belief. he is tottering now in Coleridges leading strings. I know not what can become of him. he is in deep water, & will neither strike out hand or foot to save himself. – Bless the newspapers! – Lamb also has an engagement – with the Morning Post. he will be eminently useful there, & will I doubt not make it a permanent source of income.

I do not remember whether or not I have mentioned my mothers arrival. she is very ill – there is reason to believe far gone in consumption.

London robs me of all leisure. one calls & another calls – & if I have not those interruptions, the inconvenience of one only sitting room effectually prevents continuous attention to any subject. At the years end I shall not be richer than if this connection with the Irish Chancellor had not existed. true that the salary is gained without effort – & so much exertion saved should be accounted gain. with the year it must end, & my ultimate gain will be that little knowledge of Ireland may be acquired in the next visit. it is worth a years hard travelling to see a floating island.

Thanks for the etymology! –

My motherEdithMrs Lovell all add their remembrances – farewell –

Robert Southey.


* MS: Huntington Library, RS 16. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 68-69 [in part]. BACK

[1] Joseph Johnson (1738-1809; DNB), bookseller and publisher, based in St Paul’s Church-Yard, London. BACK

[2] Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849; DNB), Castle Rackrent (1800). Thady Quirk is the story’s narrator. Rickman had asked Southey to order six copies for his friends; see Rickman to Robert Southey, 5 December 1801, in Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), pp. 67-68. BACK

[3] Beaumont (dates unknown) was a cousin of John Rickman’s. BACK

[4] William Corry (c. 1786-1853). BACK

[5] Probably given by Adam Walker (1730/1-1821; DNB), famed for his lectures, especially on astronomy. BACK

[6] The Courier was a long-established daily newspaper, part-owned by Daniel Stuart. BACK

[7] Jean-Gabriel Peltier (1760-1825; DNB), publisher of Paris pendant l’Annee (1795-1802), an anti-revolutionary periodical. BACK

People mentioned

Corry, Isaac (1753–1813) (mentioned 2 times)
Lamb, Charles (1775–1834) (mentioned 1 time)
Lamb, Mary Anne (1764–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Margaret (1752–1802) (mentioned 1 time)


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