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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickman, 18 November 1803

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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“Nov. 18. 1803.
“Dear Rickman,

“I am manufacturing a piece of Paternoster Row goods, value three guineas, out of Captain Burney’s book; and not very easy work, it being always more difficult to dilate praise than censure: however, by help of Barros I have been able to collate accounts with him in the great voyage of Magelhaens (for he
Ætat. 29. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 235
has misnamed him), and so to eke out my pages by additions. About the other worthy,
Sir Francis, I have invented a quaint rhyme, which I shall insert as ancient, and modestly wonder that, as the author has a genuine love for all quaint things, it should have escaped his researches:
‘Oh Nature, to Old England true,
Continue these mistakes;
Give us for our Kings such Queens,
And for our Dux such Drakes.’

“. . . . . My History goes on well; I am full sail in the Asiatic Channel, and have found out some odd things. The Christians of St. Thomas worshipped the Virgin Mary, which throws back that superstition to an earlier date than is generally allowed it. The astrolabe, the quadrant, the compass, were found in the east, quomodo diabolus? Martin Behaim invented the sea astrolabe at Lisbon, by express direction of Joam II., and behold! within ten or a dozen years Vasco da Gama finds it in India.

“They had gunpowder there, espingards, what shall I call them? and cannon; but the Portuguese owed their success to the great superiority of their artillery: in fact, the main improvements in sea artillery were invented by Joam II. himself. But the great intercourse between India and the old world is most remarkable In the first voyage of Gama: he met with a moor of Fez, a moor of Tunis, a Venetian and a Polish Jew. The world was not so ignorant as has been supposed; individuals possessed knowledge, which
there were no motives for communicating; no sooner was it known that K. Joam II. would reward people for intelligence respecting the East, than two of his own Jew subjects came, and told him they had been there. The commercial spirit of the Moors is truly astonishing; Dutchmen or East India directors could not be more jealous of their monopolies. The little kingdoms which Gama found resemble
Homer’s Phæacia. Every city had its monarch, and he was the great merchant, his brothers were captains of ships. Spice, spice, was what the Europeans wanted; and for what could they require it in such quantities and at such a cost? spiced wines go but a little way in answering this. The Hindoos, too, wanted coral from the Portuguese—odd fellows! when it grows in their own seas. I believe the Portuguese conquests to have been the chief cause that barbarised the Mohammedans; their spreading commerce would else have raised up a commercial interest, out of which an enlightened policy might have grown. The Koran was a masterpiece of policy, attributing sanctity to its language. Arabic thus became a sort of freemason’s passport for every believer,—a bond of fraternity. . . . .

“God bless you!

R. S.”