690. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 July [1802]

690. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 4 July [1802] ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

I received yours & its contents duly, & consider myself paid off. at last I have found out the riddle [1]  – the tutor was to be called private secretary, & then the Treasury paid him. I am dull at these solutions – George Dyers two last poems [2]  passed me for pure nonsense. twas all dark to my owl eyes till blind Tobin saw the meaning.

So now if I can get an appointment abroad I shall be thankful – if not – I shall be contented. a light heart & a thin pair of breeches [3]  – you know the song & my nankin trousers [4]  may be included under the generic name. I have invested John May with full powers to procure me a house about Richmond – not without certain fears that xx what I require will not easily be found. rent & taxes not to exceed £40. a small garden. near a market but not in a town – & not so close to a turnpike as to annoy either me or my cabbages.

My brother Tom is in England – he was to be paid off yesterday – & I expect him here as soon as the coach can bring him. poor fellow the first news he received was his mothers death.

God bless you –

yrs –

R Southey.

Sunday July 4. Kingsdown .


* MS: Huntington Library, RS 23. ALS; 1p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The answer to the ‘riddle’ of why Isaac Corry had employed Southey as his secretary. Corry had wanted Southey to act as a tutor to his sons, and for the bill to be picked up by the state. BACK

[2] George Dyer’s ‘Funeral Procession of Polly Whitehead’ and ‘A Monody on the Death of Penelope Trotter’, in his Poems and Critical Essays, 2 vols (London, 1802), II, pp. 216-228 and 229-235. BACK

[3] Southey is quoting the popular song ‘How pleasant a Sailor’s life passes’, much reprinted in publications such as The Myrtle and Vine; Or, Complete Vocal Library, 4 vols (London, 1800), IV, pp. 53-54. BACK

[4] Trousers made from nankeen, a durable buff or yellow-coloured cloth. BACK

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