681. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 2 June 1802 *
June 2. 1802.
Now that my arrangements pro tempore  are concluded, it is time to dispatch intelligence to my friends. You remember Danvers’s house. We have taken one in the same row − the whole − furnished − at a guinea & half per week. so much room is necessary as Edith expects to be confined in the course of the summer.  the situation is good, & the almost next door neighbourhood of a friend every way desirable. this evening we take possession − I shall at least have leisure to do much here. after my thousand & one acquaintance in London I feel as secluded here as in a convent.
Our journey was cheap. four & twenty hours for three & twenty shillings. what a bargain if the coach had been as long again upon the road! I find some good books arrived for me from Lisbon. two of the oldest & rarest chronicles − the best book upon Abyssinia − & the whole monastic history of the kingdom & its colonies.  these last will enable me to compleat the two three first centuries, & then I enter upon the splendid period aera of discovery.  I wrote to one Simon Harcourt M.P.  to send me a Portugueze Manuscript belonging to my Uncle, directed to you. should it arrive will you acknowledge its receipt by a line to him. it is the paper of which I published an abstract. 
You will soon I hope be able to send me intelligence from the Chancellor. I left him a note the morning of our departure. I am well pleased that our connection should end − not but any foolish office is desirable with such a salary annexed − but I am weary of vagabonding about − & have now a pressing motive for settling. Nor can I & my books afford to be so seperated any longer. I should now be half a dozen times in the course of a day in your house, if the Devil would carry me there, or I could ride a broomstick. About the where of my abiding place there is little hesitation. Bristol has not enough society. for that Norwich is the best place − but the neighbourhood of London allows a readier intercourse of with booksellers − & in ceasing to be a Secretary I must become a Scribbler. My stay here − or at least Ediths − if it should please the Powers above to whistle me over to Dublin − cannot be less than four months − I expect that your definitive intelligence will enable me to commission John May to have his eye upon the small houses around Richmond, & secure me one at Michaelmas. He fixes me to that neighbourhood. One friend within a half hours walk is among the necessaries of life.
I met Poole here on his way to France − & desired that he would make Davy take him to you. he is a man whom you will like to converse with − for his pursuits have been chiefly agriculture & political oeconomy. he is self-taught, & his mind powerful, active & discriminating.
The Pneumatic Institution continues. the name should be changed  − as they do little with the gasses − on account chiefly of the expence of experiments. Beddoes now chiefly supports it. Davys successor − King − a Swiss − is a very able man − with a hand of dexterity almost as convertible as yours. their patients are very numerous. they sometimes succeed in curing early consumption by the Caustic  − & their treatment of syphilis rarely or never fails.  − I forget whether you saw Beddoes. the old medical language fits his character admirably − he is of nature cold & dry. it is to be lamented that they have not pursued pneumatic experiments steadily. the gasses act so immediately & powerfully that they should appear to be great agents in medicine.
Do you know anything − that is have you ever thought anything about the production of mushrooms? I want to have a method discovered of producing them in great quantities − because they contain more nutriment than any vegetable substance − & appear to need no manure. & besides they are excellent in a hundred ways. The world wants some Epicure to turn Chemist − & give us a scientific book of cookery. I dream of a thousand things which I could do if settled in a house in the country with a garden.
direct Kingsdown. Bristol.
I direct with the old &c formula to Mr Abbot.  correct me if this be wrong.
* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: R Southey/ June 2d 1802
MS: Huntington Library, RS 22. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 195-197; Orlo Williams, Lamb’s Friend the Census-Taker. Life and Letters of John Rickman (Boston and New York, 1912), p. 81 [in part]. BACK
 Chronica do Codestabre de Portugal Dom Nunes Alvarez Pereyra (1623), no. 3345 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Fernão Lopez (c. 1380-1459), Chronica del Rey D. Joam I, de boa Memoria e dos Reys de Portugal o Decimo Composta (1644), no. 3349 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The other books Southey mentions cannot be identified. BACK
 The ‘very curious paper, written about 1740, by a Portuguese Secretary of State, and containing his plans for the improvement of Portugal’, summarised by Southey as ‘On the State of Portugal’ in Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol, 1797), pp. 407-463. BACK
- 1 of 2
- next ›