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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 14 October 1801

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Dublin, Oct. 16. 1801.
“Dear Edith,

“In my last no direction was given. You will write under cover, and direct thus:—

Right Honble
Isaac Corry,
&c. &c. &c.

This said personage I have not yet seen, whereby I am kept in a state of purportless idleness. He is
gone to his own country, playing truant from business among his friends. To-morrow his return is probable. I like his character; he does business well, and with method, but loves his amusement better than business, and prefers books better than official papers. It does not appear that my work will be any ways difficult,—copying and letter-writing, which any body could do, if any body could be confidentially trusted.

John Rickman is a great man in Dublin and in the eyes of the world, but not one jot altered from the John Rickman of Christchurch, save only that, in compliance with an extorted promise, he has deprived himself of the pleasure of scratching his head, by putting powder in it. He has astonished the people about him. The government stationer hinted to him, when he was giving an order, that if he wanted anything in the pocket-book way, he might as well put it down in the order. Out he pulled his own—‘Look, sir, I have bought one for two shillings.’ His predecessor admonished him not to let himself down by speaking to any of the clerks. ‘Why, sir,’ said John Rickman, ‘I should not let myself down if I spoke to every man between this and the bridge.’ And so he goes on in his own right way. He has been obliged to mount up to the third story, before he could find a room small enough to sleep in; and there he led me, to show me his government bed, which, because it is a government bed, contains stuff enough to make a dozen; the curtains being completely double, and mattrass piled upon mattrass, so that tumbling out would be a
Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 169
dangerous fall. About our quarters here, when we remove hither in June, he will look out. The filth of the houses is intolerable,—floors and furniture offending you with Portuguese nastiness; but it is a very fine city,—a magnificent city,—such public buildings, and the streets so wide! For these advantages Dublin is indebted to the prodigal corruption of its own government. Every member who asked money to make improvements got it; and if he got 20,000 pounds, in decency spent five for the public, and pocketed the rest. These gentlemen are now being hauled a little over the coals, and they have grace enough to thank God the Union did not take place sooner.

“The peace was not welcome to the patricians, it took away all their hopes of ‘any fun’ by the help of France. The government, acting well and wisely, control both parties,—the Orangemen and the United Irishmen,—and command respect from both; the old fatteners upon the corruption are silent in shame: the military, who must be kept up, will be well employed in making roads,—this measure is not yet announced to the public. It will be difficult to civilise this people. An Irishman builds him a turf stye, gets his fuel from the bogs, digs his patch of potatoes, and then lives upon them in idleness: like a true savage, he does not think it worth while to work that he may better himself. Potatoes and butter-milk,—on this they are born and bred; and whiskey sends them to the third heaven at once. If Davy had one of them in his laboratory, he could analyze his fleshy blood, and bones into nothing but potatoes, and but-
ter-milk, and whiskey; they are the primary elements of an Irishman. Their love of ‘fun’ eternally engages them in mischievous combinations, which are eternally baffled by their own blessed instinct of blundering. The United Irishmen must have obtained possession of Dublin but for a bull. On the night appointed, the mail-coach was to be stopped and burnt, about a mile from town; and that was the signal; the lamplighters were in the plot; and oh! to be sure! the honeys would not light a lamp in Dublin that evening, for fear the people should see what was going on. Of course alarm was taken, and all the mischief prevented. Modesty characterises them as much here as on the other side of the water. A man stopped
Rickman yesterday,—‘I’ll be oblaged to you, sir, if you’ll plaise to ask Mr. Abbot to give me a place of sixty or seventy pounds a year.’ Favours, indeed, are asked here with as unblushing and obstinate a perseverance as in Portugal. This is the striking side of the picture—the dark colours that first strike a stranger; their good qualities you cannot so soon discover. Genius, indeed, immediately appears to characterise them; a love of saying good things—which 999 Englishmen in a thousand never dream of attempting in the course of their lives. When Lord Hardwicke came over, there fell a fine rain, the first after a long series of dry weather; a servant of Dr. Lindsay’s heard an Irishman call to his comrade in the street—‘Ho, Pat! and we shall have a riot,’—of course, a phrase to quicken an Englishman’s hearing,—‘this rain will breed a riot—the little potatoes will be pushing out the big ones.’

Ætat. 27. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 171

“Did I send, in my last, the noble bull that Rickman heard? He was late in company, when a gentleman looked at his watch, and cried, ‘It is to-morrow morning!—I must wish you good night.’

“I have bought no books yet, for lack of money. To-day Rickman is engaged to dinner, and I am to seek for myself some ordinary or chop-house. This morning will clear off my letters; and I will make business a plea hereafter for writing fewer,—’tis a hideous waste of time. My love to Coleridge, &c., if, indeed, I do not write to him also.

Edith, God bless you!

Yours affectionately,
Robert Southey.”