696. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 24 July 1802

696. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 24 July 1802 ⁠* 

My dear Rickman

Your letter seems to hint at an employment quite incompatible with my inclinations & talents & pursuits. [1]  there is no employment, if I rightly apprehend you, for which I am less fitted. I have learnt too irregularly to teach with method. besides tasks of this kind so teaze & tire the mind that it becomes unfit for anything. the common business of the world may be done with the eye & the hand – while the brain sleeps; – but in this – tis the horse in the mill – effort without advancing.

I forgot to ask whether – & you have not mentioned if certain boxes of books were deposited at your house the day of your departure? my flock must be gathered together. I shall look out a house about Richmond & settle myself as soon as circumstances permit our removal. I have caught some little calculation from you, & find that whatever makes me lose time from my history [2]  is a loss upon the balance, so I shall wash my hands & sit down steadily to that one pursuit.

The Cartas eruditas e curiosas [3]  if I forgot x mistake not are in one volume – the letters of men of learning in Spain under the Philips. or they are Feyjoos (& this I believe is the right recollection) – in neither case have they any relation to the French work [4]  which is made up from the Cartas annuaes [5]  – a rare & precious collection. I have only one volume in Portugueze [6]  – one in Italian – & two (the Japanese letters) in Latin. [7]  to collect the whole is a work of time, research, difficulty & expence. there is a long road to travel before these guides become necessary. I am now busy with John [8]  the father of Prince Henrique the discoverer, who by the by was half of English blood tho of Portugueze fabric, & filling up my prolegomena de Mauris [9]  from D’Herbelot & Cardonne [10]  collated with the Spanish & what Arabian accounts are in Xtian or Heathen language. here was a noble cargo of Monastic History awaiting me – Cistertian, Seraphic, Dominican & Jesuit – twenty folios. these old gentlemen meant only to illuminate their own Convents – but the light shines upon the passers by. the number of Bedlamite stories they contain is quite wonderful. Set up two convents in London for the both sexes – & you will knock up the private madhouses.

We have little stirring – except that King is inventing diseases for dogs, cats, rabbits & guinea-pigs – & curing them in the humanum genus [11]  – not however including bats & whales with Linnæus. [12]  In syphilis the treatment is so uniformly successful that old Fracastorius ought to get out of his grave & write another poem. [13] 

I will trouble you to receive the salary for me – I am not in want of money – but it may save Mr Corry trouble to take both quarters at once – at the same time make my respects to him suitably. the remittance you sent from Ireland had so near an escape (something like it at least – for the next letter you wrote never reached me –) that it has taught me caution. I will therefore beg you to procure bank-post-bills for it – but do this at your leisure.

Letters cannot reach me on the hill in time to be answered by return of post. they come here about four – which is the hour of the Mails departure.

Danvers desires to be remembered. his Mother grows more & more feeble – still she enjoys herself – but the body is almost worn out. I have caught something like a family feeling towards her & shall miss her sadly. Did you see Harry & William Taylor on their return? Harry I find likes England better than he did before he went to France. – the Bishop gave us a flying visit lately – from George the first I have a letter with stronger marks of the Dyer than any you have ever beheld. Eye hath not seen, nor hath heart conceived [14]  any thing so admirably original. – The Edgeworths have made the amende honorable [15]  for Castle Rackrent by an Essay upon Bulls. [16]  many a man who sins with a good grace makes an awkward figure at repenting.

yrs truly

Robert Southey.


July 24. 1802. Kingsdown.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: R Southey/ July 24/ June 24./ 1802
MS: Huntington Library, RS 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 279-280. BACK

[1] Rickman had probably suggested Southey take up a post as a tutor. BACK

[2] Southey’s uncompleted ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[3] Benito Jerónimo Feijoo (1676-1764), Cartas Eruditas y Curiosas (1742-1760), no. 3297 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. They were in 5 volumes, not one. The period of ‘the Philips’ lasted from the reign of Philip II (1527-1598, King of Spain 1556-1598) to Philip V (1683-1746, King of Spain 1700-1746). BACK

[4] Possibly Histoire de ce qui passé au Royaume du Japon en 1625-6-7 (1633), no 1337 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Collections of annual reports sent by Jesuit missionaries to their superiors. BACK

[6] Fernando Guerreiro, Relacam Annual das Cousas que Fizeram os Padres da Companha de Jesu nas partes da India Oriental em Alguas Outras da Conquista deste Reyno nos Annos de 1607 & 1608 (1611), no. 3484 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. He later acquired the two volumes covering the years 1601-1602 and 1604-1605, no. 3483 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Possibly: Avvisi del Giapone e di Cima, 1582-3-4. 6 & 8 (1586), no. 1080 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Epistolae Japanicae de Multorum Gentilium in Variis Insulis ad Christi Fidem per Societatis Jesu Theologos Conversione (1569), no. 1005 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; and Emanuel Acosta (dates unknown), Rerum Oriente Gestarum Commentarius et Epistolarum Japonicus (1572), no. 6 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] John I (1357-1433, King of Portugal 1385-1433). His wife was Philippa of Lancaster (1360-1415; DNB) and their third son was Henry ‘the Navigator’ (1394-1460). BACK

[9] The Latin translates as ‘of the Moors’. The Prologue to Southey’s ‘History of Portugal’ dealt with the period of Islamic domination before the 12th century. BACK

[10] Barthelemy d’Herbelot de Molainville (1625-1695), Bibliotheque Orientale (1697); Denis Dominique Cardonne (1721-1783), Histoire de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes (1765). BACK

[11] i.e. the human race. BACK

[12] In his Systema Naturae (1735), the taxonomist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), classified bats as four-footed mammals and whales as fish. BACK

[13] Girolamo Fracastoro (Fracastorius, 1478-1553), physician, scholar and poet. His epic Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus (1530) was the derivation of the name for syphilis. The Pneumatic Institute treated syphilis with nitrous acid; see Thomas Beddoes, A Collection of Testimonies Respecting the Treatment of Venereal Disease by Nitrous Acid (1799). BACK

[14] An adaptation of 1 Corinthians 2: 29. BACK

[15] i.e. a satisfactory apology. BACK

[16] Southey was mistaken: Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849; DNB) was the author of Castle Rackrent (1800) and Essay on Irish Bulls (1802); she did not co-author them with her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817; DNB). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Exports

JSON What's this?
As you're browsing RC, you might see small buttons scattered on various pages. These buttons let you download that page's content in a ready-to-use data file! Learn more on our RC Data page.