753. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 January 1803

753. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 19 January 1803 ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

I have hardly askd for one cargo of books before I want another – & this is the reason. Longman & Rees have sent me certain Spanish Elegant Extracts to execute for their Annual Review, [1]  they want a long article – & I am paid by the yard. now will you ship me off these xxxxxxxx raw materials.


Quevedo. [2]  three small 4tos. there is another edition in 6 – but this has my land-marks thro it. Vicente Espinel. [3]  one small parchment, black-lettered on the back. the Austriada. [4]  one thick parchment 12.mo with red leaves. Gongora. [5]  Francisco de Borja Principe de Esquilache, [6]  each one 4to & bound much alike, the one an admirably printed book by Foppens of Brussels – the other from the Plantain Press. Viaje de Parnasso, a very thin little parchment volume by Cervantes. [7]  A Fenis Renascida [8]  – 5 small volumes bound in ugly Portugueze. Garcilaso de la Vega, [9]  a little volume in marbled-paper. Iglesias, [10]  two volumes in marbled paper. Alonso de Ledesma [11]  a very small volume, bound & old, a small 4to, of Priory-Garden-Wall Spanish Ballads. [12] 

O Feliz Independente. [13]  3 vol decently bound. a prose book. fill up the box with any others as may suit best. these gentlemen will pay their own carriage. – a little prose bound volume of ‘Cartas Varias.’ [14]  a bound 4to of Pellicers Commentary on Gongora. [15]  Luis de Leons poems [16]  – one decently bound volume Castle-Rackrent-size. [17]  Arte Poetica. [18]  4to parchment – & black-lettered on the back. if these leave any room put in Spaniards & Portugueze to fill it. I shall make about a five-guinea-job of this which will be a good one, for all the materials will be woven in elsewhere hereafter. – If the next appendix to the Critical lie in your way look for the ‘Count de Noroñas Poems.’ [19]  you will see some oceans of inanity. & something good as well. some good mock-heroic satire. Mischief goes to a Palace to look for Care, xxxxx but he finds it is the home of Indolence.

From the Poets I have collected a good deal to paint manners, & character the common feeling of their country. for instance – what I found this morning. the daughter of the Emperor Alonso [20]  was murdered by her husband in a fit of groundless jealousy. the story is exactly like that of Genevra in Ariosto, [21]  & told with some affecting circumstances by Count Pedro [22]  the oldest Portugueze historian. Well, Sir – a poet [23]  of Philip 3rd time [24]  represents this husband as looking at his wifes wounds in heaven, & jesting with her upon his jealousy. I read very oeconomically. these gentlemen serve me while breakfast is preparing – & after supper – & always lie at hand for the five & ten minute xxxxx <fractions> of time that would else be waste. x xxxxxxxxx I have another class of books – popish books of Elizabeths [25]  reign – & the little ugly stall-keepers – what I call my ducks – dirty but good – these are for "necessary reading" my "studies at ease."  [26] 

My eyes have suffered sadly from the frost. I am about my first chapter on monachism – a favourite subject. Xxxx it came not exactly like the house of Hanover [27]  – but due east. & xxx xxxxx <was grafted on> the radical Manicheism of Xtianity. at the period when my history begins, it had ripened into a good comfortable college sort of system. S. Bernard [28]  (oh well remembered put him in the box, a huge folio without a title.) he was a great man & not over honest – but xx I like him for the Crusades. S Bernard gave a sort of Jesuitical unity to the monks, & taught wise men to renounce the world if they chose to govern it. of course this called out new fanaticism & the same process of decay went on a second time. till the spread of heresy alarmed & indeed shook the Romish hierarchy. then begins a third period with Francisco & Domingo [29]  – the formers life I have written, & a most curious & important life it is. the fourth period is that of Loyola & Luther. [30]  the Catholics have no fifth – but we shall have from John Wesley, [31]  mark you that Posterity! & put me down for a prophet.

Longman & Rees have blabbed my name [32]  after an anonymous bargain – very inconsiderately. I am trying to make the best of a bad matter & get what I can for poor “Robert Southey.” Did you xx ever <see> the picture in Quarles Emblems [33]  of a soul with wings trying to fly & chained by the leg? – Zounds – tis to flutter flutter & never rise! Often I am a good journeyman – but by God I go about such work as you may have <seen> a turnspit when the cook maid calls him at noon. Paciencia! [34]  – tis better than Law & Physic – but I sometimes wish the old Ministry had had my conscience divided among them – & I had a good living.

God bless you. if London were but half the distance I would come sometimes & eat x sheeps hearts with you.


Jany. 19. 1803.

12. St James’s Place. Kingsdown.

Still houseless – but with a house in view.


* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr / S. Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster/ Single
Postmark: B/ JAN 20/ 1803
Endorsement: RS/ Jany 19th/ 1803
MS: Huntington Library, RS 30. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 302-304. BACK

[1] Southey reviewed Augustin Louis Josse (1763-1841; DNB), El Tesoro Espanol o Biblioteca Portatil Espanola (1802) in Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803), 557-566. BACK

[2] Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645), Obras (1660), no. 3706 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Vicente Espinel (1550-1624), Diversas Rimas, con el Arte Poetica, y Algunas Odas de Oracio Traduzidas en Verso Castellano (1591), no. 3215 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] Juan Rufo Gutierrez (1547-c. 1620), La Austriada, Poema Heroico (1585), no. 3452 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Luis de Gongora (1561-1627), Obras, en Verso, con la Vida (1659), no. 3479 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Francisco de Borja, Principe de Esquilache (1581-1658), Las Obras en Verso (1754), no. 3236 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), Viage del Parnaso (1614), no. 3192 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Matias Pereira da Silva (dates unknown), A Fenis Renascida, ou Obras Poeticas dos Melhores Eugenhos Portuguezes (1746), no. 3647 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Garcilaso de la Vega (1501-1536), Obras (1788), no. 3669 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Jose Iglesias de la Casa (1748-1791), Poesias Posthumas (1793), no. 3406 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Alonso de Ledesma (1562-1623), either Conceptos Espirituales (1612) or Juegos de Noche Buena (1611), nos 3413 and 3415 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] Possibly Romances Sueltos en Verso Espanola, no. 3720 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] Teodoro de Almeida (1722-1804), O Feliz Independente do Mundo e da Fortuna ou Arte de Viver Contente (1786), no. 3166 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Unidentified. BACK

[15] Jose Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar (1602-1679), Lecciones Solemnes a las Obras de Don Luis de Gongora (1630), no. 3688 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Luis Ponce de Leon (1527-1591), Propias i Traducciones (1761), no. 3406 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[17] The same size (octavo) as Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849; DNB), Castle Rackrent, An Hibernian Tale (1800). BACK

[18] Juan Diaz Rengifo (1553-1615), Arte Poetica Espanola (1727), no. 3712 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[19] Gaspar Maria de la Nava Alvarez, Conde de Norona (1760-1815), Poesias (1799-1800). Southey’s review appeared in Critical Review, 36 (Appendix 1802), 538-549. BACK

[20] Stephanie ‘the Unfortunate’ (1148-1180), an illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VII (1105-1157; reigned 1111-1157), King of Galicia, Leon and Castille, and Emperor of all the Spains. She was murdered by her jealous husband Fernan Ruiz de Castro (1125-1185). BACK

[21] Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533), Orlando Furioso (1532), Cantos 5-6 tell how the Scottish princess Genevra is falsely accused of infidelity by a jealous ex-suitor. BACK

[22] Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos (1289-1350), Livro de Linhagens (1340-1344). BACK

[23] Unidentified. BACK

[24] Philip III (1578-1621, King of Spain 1598-1621). BACK

[25] Elizabeth I (1533-1603; reigned 1558-1603; DNB). BACK

[26] Books to be read when on the lavatory. BACK

[27] The House of Hanover inherited the British Throne in 1714. Hanover in Germany is South East of Britain. BACK

[28] St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), founder of the Cistercian Order. He was instrumental in preaching the Second Crusade of 1146-1149. The untitled work by St Bernard (n.d.) is no. 247 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[29] St Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226), founder of the Franciscan Order; and St Dominic (1170-1221), founder of the Dominican Order. BACK

[30] St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Jesuit Order; and Martin Luther (1483-1546), founder of Lutheranism. BACK

[31] John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism. BACK

[32] Southey’s name as translator of Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

[33] Francis Quarles (1592-1644; DNB), Emblemes (London, 1635), Book 5, Emblem 9, pp. 276-279. The book is no. 2311 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[34] ‘Patience’. BACK

People mentioned

Rees, Owen (1770–1837) (mentioned 2 times)

Places mentioned