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O F 

RICK MAN 



O WILLIAMS 




LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Lamb's Friend the Census-Taker 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF 
JOHN RICKMAN 



BY 
ORLO WILLIAMS 



ILLUSTRATED 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

1912 



3 
ft? Mr 



TO ICY 

MOTHER AND FATHER 



PREFACE 

MY thanks are due in the first place to the Rev. W. F. 
Rickman, the grandson of John Rickman, for his good- 
ness in placing at my disposal the bulk of the correspond- 
ence which is hi his possession. Without his kindness 
this book would have been impossible. To John Rickman 's 
granddaughter, Miss Lefroy, I am also very deeply in- 
debted. She has allowed me to reproduce a unique 
sketch made by her mother, to draw upon her mother's 
very interesting reminiscences, and to use some other 
letters of her grandfather's which are in her possession. 
I wish to thank Miss Warter for permission to give 
extracts from unpublished letters of Sou they 's, Mr. E. V. 
Lucas and Mr. Gordon Wordsworth for permission to 
print a long letter from Lamb to Rickman, Messrs. 
Macmillan & Co. for permission to use letters which 
appeared in Mrs. Sandford's Thomas Poole and his Friends, 
and H.M. Office of Works for the loan of a photograph. 
Leave to publish the Coleridge letters was given by 
Mr. Ernest Hartley Coleridge. I also mention that two 
articles by me, based on the letters, appeared in 
Blackwood's Magazine this year, and that for the political 
history I have received great assistance from vol. xi. of 
The Political History of England. 

ORLO WILLIAMS. 

20 IVERNA COURT, 
KENSINGTON, W. 



vii 



CONTENTS 



PACK 

Introduction 1 



CHAPTER I 

The Rickman family Early life of John Rickman His meeting 

with Southey Biguinages Departure from Christchurch . 19 



CHAPTER II 

1800 

Rickman in London George Dyer The Magazine Lamb's 
' pleasant hand * Southey's Thalaba Dyer's preface The 
first Population Act Rickman and the census ... 26 

CHAPTER III 

1801 to early 1802 

George Burnett Rickman secretary to Abbot in Ireland Letters 
from Lamb G. D.'s rescue His letter ' Horse medicine ' 
for Burnett His ' second birth ' and tutorship Lamb and the 
Morning Post Abbot appointed Speaker Rickman leaves 
Ireland 44 

CHAPTER IV 

1802-1805 

Secretaryship to the Speaker Bag and sword Thomas Poole 
George Burnett again G. B. quarrels with Southey Lamb's 
opinion of it Southey's first visit to Rickman Poole and 
Poor Laws Another letter from G. Dyer His ' patronage ' of 
Lamb Burnett's letters Rickman's temper Coleridge 
Rickman finds him a ship His letters Ned Phillips Over- 
work An unromantic marriage 77 

ix 



x LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

CHAPTER V 

PAGE 

Family life at Westminster A stern father The houses in Palace 
Yard Church parade Late dinner The Burneys and 
other friends Lamb's Wednesday evenings Driving in the 
gig Telford Rickman's official work 118 



CHAPTER VI 
1806-1816 

Political letters to Southey and Poole The Friend The Regency 
Bill The Quarterly Review Burnett's death Coleridge on 
Lamb's weaknesses Shelley Murder of Perceval Coleridge 
on ' Remorse ' Rickman's good advice to Southey Southey 
Poet Laureate His truculence curbed by Rickman Waterloo 
Rickman the consoler Economic distress in the country 
Rickman on * Mock Humanity ' and the Press . . .135 

CHAPTER VII 
1817-1829 

Southey's ' Wat Tyler 'Rickman's views on poor law reform His 
article in the Quarterly A letter from Luke Hansard Rick- 
man's depression Letters to Lord Colchester Scottish tour 
with Southey The model beguinage Depression again Rick- 
man on Canning Opening of the Caledonian Canal Bertha 
Southey Roman Catholic relief Rickman's part in Southey's 
essays State of Ireland Catholic Relief Bill passed Co- 
operation Rickman Lamb's ' friend ' in 1829 . . . 188 



CHAPTER VIII 
1830-1832 

Parliamentary reform Letters purely political Macaulay's 
maiden speech Rickman the political philosopher Calls 
Southey to arms ' Monarchy or Democracy ' The projected 
Colloquies Rickman's outline Introduction of the Reform 
Bill Rickman on the debate Dissolution The second Bill 
An all-night sitting O'Connell's Irish devils Murray and 
the Colloquies The third Bill Wellington's failure to form a 
ministry The Bill passes Murray and Spottiswoode impede 
the Colloquies Rickman wishes to retire .... 249 



CONTENTS xi 

CHAPTER IX 
1833-1840 

PAOC 

The reformed House of Commons The new Devils and the Whig 
Devils Lamb dines with Rickman Rickman on Wellington 
The fire at the Houses of Parliament A graphic account 
Henry Taylor the hero Lamb's death Rickman's comment 
Southey offered a baronetcy The Exchequer demolished 
Judge Jeffreys' house Rickman's illness and death 
Tribute of the House , 299 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

JOHN RICKMAN Frontispiece 

From an engraving published in 1843 

ST. STEPHEN'S CHAPEL AND THE SPEAKER'S HOUSE 

BEFORE THE FIRE IN 1834 .... Facing page 77 
From, a drawing in the British Museum 

THE ENTRANCE FROM NEW PALACE YARD TO THE 

SPEAKER'S COURT .... . ,,124 

From Smith's ' Antiquities of Westminster ' 

THE SPEAKER'S COURTYARD FROM THE SOUTH- 
WEST 124 

From Smith's ' Antiquities of Westminster ' 

RICKMAN LEAVING THE CLERK ASSISTANT'S HOUSE 125 

From a water-colour sketch by Mrs. Lefroy (1831) 

NORTH-WEST VIEW OF WESTMINSTER HALL, TAKEN 
BEFORE THE REMOVAL OF THE COFFEE-HOUSES 
AND PILLARS, BY THOMAS SANDBY, R.A. . 129 

From Smith's ' Antiquities of Westminster ' 

THE BURNING OF THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT IN 

1834 ,,309 

From a drawing in the British Museum 

JUDGE JEFFREYS' HOUSE IN DUKE STREET, WEST- 
MINSTER 317 

From a water-colour sketch by T. H. Shepherd in 1853, 
in the British Museum 

A VIEW OF JUDGE JEFFREYS' HOUSE FROM BIRD- 
CAGE WALK, TAKEN JUST BEFORE ITS DEMO- 
LITION IN 1910 318 

From a photograph lent by ff.Af. Office of Works 

ziii 



LAMB'S FRIEND THE CENSUS-TAKER 



INTRODUCTION 

IT was in collecting material for a memorandum on the 
history of the officials of the House of Commons of whom 
I am happy to be one that I first met the name of John 
Rickman ; and it was from the memoir by his son, reprinted 
from an obituary notice in the Gentleman's Magazine, that 
I first learnt the details of his life. I discovered that one 
of my own profession for Rickman was Speaker's Secretary 
for twelve, and Clerk at the Table for twenty-six, years 
had been the originator of the census in England and super- 
vised the population returns for four successive decades, 
that he had become a statistician celebrated even outside 
England, that he was intimate with Southey and Lamb and 
Coleridge, and most interesting of all that he had left a 
large body of correspondence with these and other friends. 
Now the memoir, written in the formal, lapidary style dear 
to the Early Victorians, does not present Rickman as a 
particularly promising subject for a biographical study. 
It leaves the reader with an impression of an austere being 
who lived only to perform prodigious labours : a worthy 
person no doubt, but, to put it briefly, dull. Yet the 
memoir is humanised by one inclusion, that of Charles 
Lamb's well-known letter to Manning in 1800, describing his 
new acquaintance Rickman as a ' pleasant hand ' with all 
the exuberance of Elian ecstasy. The fact that Rickman 
could have inspired such words from such a man was 
enough to tempt me further. I determined, if it were 
humanly possible, to possess myself of a correspondence 
which had apparently lain hidden for seventy years. My 
inquiries as to its existence were delayed by the exigencies 
of other tasks, but I was able in the meantime to gather 

A 



2 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

such further information as was to be derived from pub- 
lished sources. Rickman's name appears in many books 
frequently in Southey's voluminous correspondence, in 
Mrs. Sandford's Thomas Poole and his Friends, in the corre- 
spondence of Lamb, in biographies of Lamb, Southey, and 
Coleridge, in Crabb Robinson's and Lord Colchester's diaries, 
and in the Dictionary of National Biography yet at the end 
of my reading I seemed to have gained no more than indi- 
cations of Rickman's possible interest if more were known 
about him. He seemed to flit through the pages of books 
like a literary ghost to whom flesh and blood had never 
been given, though Mr. E. V. Lucas, in his charming and 
masterly Life of Charles Lamb, has certainly been successful 
in giving him some semblance of reality ; but the informa- 
tion available to Mr. Lucas was comparatively scanty, and 
so elusive does even his Rickman seem to be that none of 
my friends even those who prided themselves on peculiar 
intimacy with Lamb's life and circle has ever shown the 
smallest sign of intelligence on my mentioning his name. 
Yet Lamb lauded him to the skies, and found him the 
fittest recipient of the latest drolleries of his friends ; Southey 
leaned upon him for forty years ; Coleridge admired him 
whole-heartedly : his life was spent in laborious service 
for England, and he invented the means for his carrying 
out that numbering of the people which has taken place 
this year for the twelfth time. If he had lived and died in 
more modern times he would have been highly honoured in 
his life, and his biography would have anticipated the first 
anniversary of his death. But plain John Rickman, F.R.S., 
shunned notoriety while he lived, and when he died he was 
forgotten. 

And why has he been forgotten ? Chiefly because we have 
known nothing of the man himself whether he was prig 
or prude, witty or dull, Whig or Tory ; why he was so 
prized at Lamb's Wednesday evenings, what he had to 
do with such oddities as George Dyer and George Burnett, 
how he regarded the political conflict of which he was a 
close witness for nearly forty years. The answers to these 



INTRODUCTION 3 

questions are now no longer in doubt, and that is the reason 
of this book. The quest of Rickman's letters proved 
absurdly easy, and if Lamb's ' pleasant hand ' is still a 
phantom, the fault is entirely mine. 

Of the documents themselves I must say a word in 
passing, for they are not inconsiderable in bulk. The 
correspondence preserved in the Rickman family consists, 
firstly, of the letters which passed between Southey and 
Rickman from 1798 to 1839 ; secondly, of certain letters 
written by Rickman to his wife or daughters, mostly 
accounts of tours ; thirdly, twenty-three letters from 
Charles Lamb ; fourthly, fifteen letters from Coleridge. 
In the British Museum are some thirty letters from Rickman 
to Coleridge's friend, Thomas Poole of Nether Stowey. 
Mr. Gordon Wordsworth has another letter from Lamb, 
one of the longest and most characteristic in all Lamb's 
correspondence ; and there are four letters from Rickman 
quoted in the diaries of Lord Colchester, to whom, as Speaker 
Abbot, Rickman was secretary. The Southey-Rickman 
correspondence consists of over twelve hundred letters of 
varying length. It was used by the editors of Southey's 
correspondence, who have published about two hundred 
of Southey's, and quoted from about thirty of Rickman's, 
letters. From this mass I have had to select what was of 
permanent interest, and in doing so I have only quoted 
Southey sparingly, chiefly from unpublished letters, for the 
tenor of his correspondence is already well known. Two 
at least of Rickman's family letters are of great interest, 
and with them may be classed the reminiscences of his 
daughter, Mrs. Lefroy, which give many details of the 
household life at Westminster. The letters from Lamb, 
except that in Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's possession, were 
published in Canon Ainger's 1906 edition of Lamb's Letters, 
and I am precluded from using them. I publish seven of 
the Coleridge letters for the first time, a proceeding which 
their interest fully justifies. I have selected, again, from 
the Poole letters in the British Museum, omitting some 
passages included in Mrs. Sandford's Thomas Poole and 



4 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

his Friends, and including others not quoted there. These 
various items supplement one another particularly well, 
and there are practically no lacunae making conjecture 
necessary, though we cannot but lament the absence of 
Riokrnan's letters to Lamb. 

My aim, so far as possible, has been to allow the letters 
to speak for themselves ; still, even for the task of selecting 
and combining, a point of view is necessary. My point of 
view is illustrated by the title I have chosen, which is an 
answer to a difficult question frequently put to me, namely, 
' Who u-as Rickman ? ' He was many things, as I have 
said census-taker, Parliamentary official, the friend of 
several men whose names will live as long as English litera- 
ture. But the quality which has appealed most of all to 
my mind, and on which I base the immediate interest of 
this book, is that he was Lamb's friend, that is, a human 
being with certain distinctive human qualities. Rickman, 
1 admit, was far more intimately acquainted with Southey 
than with Lamb, but to have been Southey's friend is no 
different la. With Lamb it is different. Elia, as he tells us 
himself, chose his ' ragged regiment ' of ' intimados ' with 
care, and he immortalised them all Dyer, Burnett, Jem 
White, ' Ralph Bigod,' and the rest as parts of his own 
immortal character. He cared not one whit for a man's 
achievements or possessions, but took a friend to his heart, 
and planted him there, because, vigorous or feeble, radiant 
or Mckly, he was of that genus called common humanity, 
which Klia loved so dearly till the day he died. I have 
tried, therefore, to let Rickman reveal himself, not as the 
austere, stolid worker (which was only one side of him), 
I nit as a very definite personality with forcible views and 
an interesting life. Some may think that I have treated 
his actual work too summarily ; but this is not an economical 
tn-atise on the census, which, when all has been said, is 
not a particularly enlivening subject. 

Who, then, was Rickman ? As I have begun, so I will 
continue, by speaking first of his friendships, for they are 
a clue to his character. It is remarkable that, though he 



INTRODUCTION 5 

was externally unbending and severe, intolerant of other 
people's weaknesses, and indifferent whether his very great 
benevolence was presented in acceptable form to those who 
stood in need of it, his friends invariably spoke of him with 
admiration and affection. Lamb, besides the letter to 
Manning which I have mentioned, wrote on another occa- 
sion : ' His memory will be to me as the brazen serpent 
to the Israelites, I shall look up to it, to keep me straight 
and honest.' Coleridge called him a ' sterling man,' and 
assured him of his unaffected esteem. Talfourd alludes 
to him as ' the sturdiest of jovial companions.' From 
Southey's many expressions of affection I choose this : 
4 God bless you, my dear R., I would often give much for 
a quiet evening's conversation with you.' Southey was 
Rickman's earliest friend, for their meeting took place in 
1797, when Rickman was twenty-six, and the friendship 
lasted without a shadow till Rickman's death. What 
drew them together was a certain firmness of character 
and similarity of views. Both were revolutionaries when 
they met ; both crystallised simultaneously into Tories. 
Rickman befriended Southey in every possible way. He 
acted as his literary agent when the poet was in Portugal, 
he procured him a secretaryship when he returned, he 
opened his house to him whenever he visited London, he 
sent him books and Parliamentary papers for his reviews, 
he was never too busy to research for him and embody the 
result in eight quarto pages of close writing, he paid his 
fees for a doctor's degree in a particularly graceful manner, 
and he would have lent him money if it had been necessary. 
If he was stoical as a comforter, he was admirable as a 
counsellor. With equal good sense he pointed out the 
extravagances of Southey's first poem as Laureate, remon- 
strated with him on his excessive use of religious epithets, 
and dissuaded him from outraging public opinion by refus- 
ing to adopt the incorrect name of Waterloo for Wellington's 
great victory. But the friendship with Southey was so 
intimate a part of Rickman's whole life that I need say 
no more of it here. I will but mention the interesting fact, 



6 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

which comes to light, that Rickman practically wrote the 
whole of one of Southey's published essays, and that the 
letters, among other things, give many interesting details 
of the never-finished ' Colloquies ' which the two friends 
undertook in collaboration in 1831. 

Mr. E. V. Lucas gives a very adequate account of Rick- 
man's friendship with Lamb. It began in great warmth 
on both sides. Lamb thought Rickman ' absolute in all 
numbers,' and Rickman hugely enjoyed Lamb's wit. So 
long as Lamb lived in London this firm attachment lasted. 
Rickman attended regularly to play whist at the Wednesday 
evenings, and he was one of that steadier crew who checked 
the more demoralising influence of such men as Fell and 
Fen wick on the volatile Elia. The affection of Lamb for 
Rickman is proved by the fact that in 1803 he came to 
stay in Palace Yard while Mary Lamb was suffering from 
one of her attacks of lunacy, for on these occasions Lamb 
shunned all ordinary society. Mrs. Lefroy gives a picture 
of the Lambs on a visit Charles ' with rather the air of a 
dissenting preacher ' uttering a pun in a far corner of the 
room, and Mary ' a stout, roundabout little body with a 
turban, and a layer of snuff on her upper lip.' In later 
years the friendship cooled to some extent. Rickman be- 
came busier, the Lambs left London, and Charles became 
more intemperate. Yet in 1829 a fact not hitherto 
known Lamb again stayed with Rickman when Mary 
was ill, and in 1833 he dined with him to be reconciled to 
his friend Godwin. Lamb died at the end of 1834, and 
his death occasioned curious remarks from both Rickman 
and Southey, which are characteristic of their not too 
sympathetic natures. 

The chief interest of Coleridge in Rickman's life lies in 
the unpublished letters. One of these is an ingenuous 
comment by the opium-drinker on Hazlitt's too frequently 
convivial visits to Lamb, with a curious remark about the 
influence of tobacco on Lamb's desire for alcohol. Another 
describes the rehearsals of his tragedy ' Remorse,' proving 
that Rickman made some very acceptable emendations, 



INTRODUCTION 7 

The census-taker had a profound admiration for Coleridge's 
genius, and an entire contempt for his character. He wrote 
of him : ' If he dies, it will be from a sulky imagination, 
produced from the general cause of such things, i.e. a want 
of regular work and application/ Yet, as one of the letters 
which I publish shows, Coleridge entertained the most 
lively feelings for Rickman. 

Those who have any acquaintance with Lamb's life and 
letters will remember his two butts, George Dyer ' G. D.' 
or ' George i.,' and George Burnett ' George n.' or the 
' Bishop.' Rickman was the friend of both, and his corre- 
spondence gives many new facts about them. It was George 
Dyer who introduced Rickman to Lamb, and who procured 
him the editorship of the Commercial, Agricultural, and 
Manufacturers' Magazine. The Southey-Rickman letters 
give two new and amusing stories of his relations with 
Lamb. One relates how he persuaded a friend unasked to 
buy Lamb's play at half-price, and gravely handed Is. 6d. 
to Lamb, regretting he could do so little for his friends ; 
and the other tells how the Lambs talked him into love with 
a famous blue-stocking. Moreover, in this correspondence 
there are preserved three original letters from George Dyer, 
from whose pen no private letters have hitherto been known. 
The first, which I do not print, settles a date in Lamb's life. 
The second is exceedingly precious, for it is a sequel to 
Lamb's exquisitely humorous letter describing Dyer's rescue 
from starvation. The third is recommendation from Dyer 
of a deserving young man who wished for copying work, his 
character being vouched for by Dyer's washerwoman. 
Rickman found the man to be an arrant rogue, and the 
incident is thoroughly typical of him whom Lamb called 
the ' common lyar of benevolence.' 

Rickman enjoyed and appreciated what was good in 
Dyer, but his feelings towards George Burnett were more 
mixed. Burnett's life, if it had its humorous side, was a 
sad chapter of failure, which has never been properly put 
together. The Rickman correspondence supplies a good 
deal of new information, which I collected in an article in 



8 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Blackwood's Magazine for March of this year. The scheme 
of the present book prevented me from incorporating this 
article en bloc, but no essential points are omitted, though 
the events are recounted as they occurred as incidents 
in Rickman's life. The real cause of Burnett's failure was 
his indolent, vain character ; the immediate cause was 
the unsettlement of his mind by his meeting Southey at 
Balliol, and his introduction to Coleridge. Southey always 
felt the responsibility, and I am able to give some new and 
highly interesting extracts from Southey 's letters, which 
set forth his views on the conduct of his unfortunate friend. 
Rickman's relations with Burnett show the mixture of 
harshness and benevolence in his nature. He saw the 
unmistakable talent and the weak character which made 
it useless. Again and again he put himself out to find work 
for Burnett, after exclaiming that he would never have 
any more to do with him. Whenever ' George n.' showed 
the slightest tendency to reform, he could count on Rick- 
man's assistance. On the other hand, Rickman never 
showed any tact in his handling of that neurotic being. 
He plainly displayed his contempt, he wrote him letters 
which Lamb called ' a cruel dose of yellow gamboodge,' 
he even went so far ' as a cosmopolite ' as to wish him dead 
that some more useful being might consume his share of 
sustenance. The amazing story of Burnett's commission 
as a surgeon in the militia, which is told in part by Mrs. 
Sandford, can now be followed to its absurd conclusion, and 
in this connection I quote in full Burnett's three original 
letters which Thomas Poole preserved. It is just a hundred 
years ago since Burnett, the author of two quite interesting 
books, died in a workhouse infirmary, and I am glad, if only 
for the sake of elucidating Lamb's humorous references 
to him, that I can add to the knowledge of his career. 

Rickman's friendships with these men and others Poole, 
Telford, the engineer, and the Burneys were characterised 
by a certain external formality which strikes rather chill 
upon the modern reader, who must remember, however, that 
society a hundred years ago was more patriarchal and 



INTRODUCTION 9 

punctilious than it is to-day. Yet rigidity was natural to 
the man. His family motto was * Fortitude in Adversity,' 
and perhaps a puritanical fortitude in everything would 
best sum up his character. He was sturdily unromantic. 
He could write to Southey that he had ' lately imported a 
wife,' and remonstrate with Poole for supposing that he 
married for love. In his family his word was law, and even 
to his children his letters were rather portentously solemn. 
The grave homily administered to his daughter Ann on 
the occasion of her having confessed her inability to play 
quadrille music at a children's party might have come out 
of a Jane Austen novel. His taste for pleasure was not 
very highly developed. When the Lambs took him to 
Sadlers Wells he slept, and his only recreation consisted in 
long driving tours in the yellow gig which Mrs. Lefroy 
describes, and these tours were planned on distinctly 
* improving ' lines. He had a hatred of show and affectation, 
which led him to avoid ' dinner party intercourse,' and 
deliberately banish the terms ' drawing room ' and ' dining 
room ' from his own house. A little litany which comes at 
the end of a letter to Southey gives a clue to some of his 
dislikes : ' From all novelists, tourists, anecdotists, beauty- 
mongers, selectors, abbre viators, et id genus omne, good 
Lord deliver us ! And also from overgrown theatres, which 
insure bad plays and bad acting.' The beauties of Nature, 
he thought, were morbidly insisted on by the Lake 
poets : in his view they should be ' as play hours.' But 
Rickman was not in the least crabbed. ' You know,' he 
said, ' I am in the habit of looking on the white side of 
futurity ' ; and again : ' The wiser economy of life is to like 
as much as possible, and to dislike as little as possible.' 
Neither was he a domestic tyrant, and his excellent letters 
on Bertha Southey are proof that he had a fatherly soul. 
His home life, indeed, was undisturbedly happy, and it is 
a pretty picture on which Mrs. Lefroy has allowed us to look. 
We see Riokman, the cares of office cast away, sleeping on 
his grass slope at Westminster, with his children around 
weaving daisy chains and itching to pull papa's pigtail ; 



10 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

we can imagine his garden with the * Hamboro' grape ' and 
the c mound to bury kittens and canaries in ' if indeed we 
can conceive anything so pastoral in stately Westminster. 
Mrs. Lefroy has preserved a charming memory of the official 
' church parade ' for Sunday service at St. Margaret's, and 
has drawn a portrait of her father in his tight pantaloons 
with c very pointed toes to his shoes,' his shirt frill ' very 
neatly plaited,' his cravat of fine white nainsook, and his 
swallow-tail coat. In early days at Westminster, Rickman's 
hair was curled and powdered every day ; and though he 
abandoned powder when the fashion died out, he was the 
last of the clerks to wear a stock and knee-breeches at the 
Table of the House. 

Considering that he enjoyed intimate friendship with 
men whose names are great in English literature, Rickman's 
own want of literary taste is a little surprising. He had 
small appreciation for belles lettres, and none at all for 
poetry. His earliest letter to Southey, a criticism of ' Joan 
of Arc ' from the point of view of antiquarian accuracy, 
contains the remark : ' Poetry has its use and its place, 
and like some known superfluities we should feel awkward 
without it.' On another occasion he says : ' I abjure all 
my little aversion to poetry in deference to your cogent 
reasons ; I only think poetry bad in a man who may be 
better employed : a toy in manhood.' Yet he was not 
without some critical insight. He thought Southey's 
4 Madoc ' bad, and told him so ; on the other hand, he was 
enthusiastic over Lamb's play, ' John Woodvil,' and offered 
to lend all the money necessary for its publication. Of 
Wordsworth's articles in the Friend he said : ' It seems 
to me that Wordsworth has neither fun nor common sense 
in him.' In spite of his editorship of the Commercial, 
Agricultural, and Manufacturers' Magazine, Rickman found 
literary composition a difficult task. He could not em- 
broider, but marshalled his facts in severe order. For 
that reason he refused to become a regular contributor to 
the Quarterly, and it was only for Southey's benefit that 
he wrote the article on the poor law which appeared in 



INTRODUCTION 11 

that magazine. In this case and in the case of the 
' Colloquies ' he strictly stipulated that Southey should 
apply the file without compunction. The actual matter 
of his writing was admirable, and more than once Southey 
bestows on it the highest praise, but what was wanting 
was that picturesque vigour of expression which gives so 
strong a flavour to his letters. 

Rickman's style is at its breeziest when he writes about 
politics, a subject on which his remarks are both enter- 
taining and extremely interesting. His political views 
were, to say the least, well defined. He was, in fact, a 
strong Tory. But he was neither a party politician nor 
a landowning squire who imbibed his politics with his 
mother's milk. He had been, with Southey, a revolu- 
tionary for a glorious year or two, but a study of economic 
and social subjects settled him a Tory a Tory, if I may 
say so, of the ' Manchester school,' for he held that the only 
safe rule was individualism or ' selfishness,' and that the 
Whigs and Reformers erred through a sentimental desire 
to be benevolent, a ' mock-humanity.' He was perfectly 
sincere in the conviction that, owing to the spread of Liberal 
ideas, a tremendous and devastating revolution was about 
to occur in England at any time before the Reform Bill 
was actually passed, and so distressed was he on more than 
one occasion that he confessed to a kind of melancolia of de- 
spair. But it is just his intellectual Toryism which makes 
his political letters unique, besides the fact that most 
of the contemporary memoirs are Whig, and Colchester's 
diaries end before the Reform Bill. His letters are an 
expression of the point of view of an extremely intelligent 
Tory, who was completely acquainted with the political 
events of his day, and bound by no party allegiance. They 
remind us, to whom the Tory politics of the early nine- 
teenth century cannot but appear hopelessly reactionary, 
what a hard-headed man then feared from the Whigs, ami 
by what spirit he was animated in his hatred for their 
political aims. 

Rickman's Parliamentary experience was longer than 



12 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

that which falls to the lot of most members ; he was in the 
service of the House of Commons for thirty-eight years. 
When he first came to Palace Yard the House was nearing 
the end of its most brilliant epoch. Burke was dead, but 
Pitt and Fox, Sheridan and Grattan were still there. The 
brilliance of debates was diminished under the long Tory 
administration, but the House was kept from stagnation 
by the unrest in the country, and the violent agitation of 
the small band of reformers, led by Burdett, Whi thread, 
and (later) Brougham, who raised annually the questions 
of Catholic emancipation and Parliamentary reform. Of 
these burning questions Rickman saw the rise, the climax, 
and the settlement, and it may naturally be supposed that 
his accounts of the debates are worth reading. I do not 
pretend that he had any access to the inner sources of 
political knowledge. His contempt for politicians was too 
great for him to trouble his head about their secrets. ' One 
cannot live so near the House of Commons,' he wrote, 
* without becoming cynical towards all who figure there.' 
His judgment, too, was often at fault. He was singularly 
mistaken about Perceval's ability in 1807 : he saw in 
Brougham only the ' noisy adventurer,' in Canning the 
intriguer, and in Wellington ' little more of the statesman 
than a vulgar appetite for power.' He was over-ready to 
believe political gossip discreditable to the other side. 
Thus, he was convinced in 1801 that Pitt resigned solely 
to escape impeachment, and that Catholic emancipation 
was not the real question at issue ; that the Duke of York's 
fear of impeachment forced the Ministry of All the Talents 
on the King, and that Grey's resignation after the second 
rejection of the Reform Bill was a cleverly stage-managed 
trick. Nevertheless, in spite of his prejudices and his 
credulity, Rickman is a valuable witness. Parliamentary 
officials are politely supposed to have no political opinions. 
It is amusing, therefore, to imagine the Speaker's Secretary, 
who was a model of correctness, putting off his bag and 
sword to write to Southey or Poole that Pitt c had genius 
without acquired knowledge; whence his affectation of infalli- 



INTRODUCTION 13 

bility and all the woes of Europe ' ; that ' Charley Fox eats 
his former opinions daily, and even ostentatiously, showing 
himself the worst man but the better Minister of a corrupt 
Government, where three people in four must be rogues and 
three deeds in four bad ' ; or ' I expected Mr. Perceval to 
be murdered, but I had expected it from the Burdetts and 
other vermin rendered infuriate by the weekly poison they 
imbibe from sixteen newspapers emulous in violence and 
mischief ' ; or, after a joyful account of the Regent's re- 
buff to Grenville and Grey in 1811, * the pangs of the 
M. Chronicle are delicious. Canting villain ! ' Still more 
entertaining is it to think of Rickman from 1814 onwards, 
sitting staidly at the Table in his wig and gown, courte- 
ously giving his attention to members of any party who 
required his advice on procedure, entering blameless 
minutes, editing questions, pruning motions into orderly 
shape, and all the while mentally fulminating against 
those whom he called the ' Whiggamores,' or contemptu- 
ously damning the Tories for their want of backbone. 
Little did Brougham, Canning, Whitbread, O'Connell, 
Peel, or Wellington imagine, if in the course of a full-dress 
second-reading debate their eye fell for a moment on the 
peacefully writing Clerk Assistant, that he was criticising 
them as bitterly as any of their opponents, recording 
Brougham's ' deeply infernal toned " Hear ! hear ! " ', Peel's 
haughty coldness, or Macaulay's maiden speech, or urging 
his friend, the trenchant reviewer of the Quarterly, to open 
the eyes of England to the machinations of the c Mobocracy ' 
backed by the ' hell-hounds of the Press.' The Roman 
Catholic question filled him with all kinds of gloomy fore- 
bodings, and he never forgave Wellington for his oppor- 
tunism in the matter, calling it ' the grossest of all specimens 
of impropriety in civil government.' But the political 
interest of Rickman 's correspondence reaches its climax at 
the time of the Reform Bill agitation. His feelings were 
passionately aroused, and he called to Southey to make a 
last stand with him, and to sound the bugle for all true 
patriots. Then was planned the writing of those * Colloquies ' 



14 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

between ' Montesinos ' and ' Metretes ' Southey and 
Rickman which never saw the light. Rickman's first 
suggested title for the book was ' Monarchy or Democracy,' 
and the motto Ne quid detrimenti respublica capiat. It 
was to supply Southey with necessary political knowledge 
that his letters on the Reform debates are so frequent and 
full, and their tone may be judged from the description of 
Lord John Russell's first Reform Bill speech : ' The backing 
speech of the Tricolor Donkey Lord was truly asinine.' 
What strikes the reader particularly about the letters at 
this period is their modernity. With a few changes of 
names, they might have been written by a Unionist 
at any time during the last eighteen months. The House 
of Lords, the question of creating peers, an Irish party 
('O'Connell's squadron of Irish Devils') that boasted of 
holding the balance of power there are parallels at the 
moment of writing. 1 Rickman's vivacious outcries against 
the ' Whiggamores,' if a little pathetic, were seriously meant. 
This is proved by the fact that, after comforting himself in 
1833 that ' in our Pandemonium ' the ' new devils ' were 
' cuffing and scratching the Whig Devils beautifully,' he 
practically ceased to take any further interest in politics. 
In his relations to political events and persons as well as 
in his relations to his friends, Rickman shows intensely 
human qualities. My reason, therefore, for including so 
many political letters has been that they are not only 
interesting for what they say, but illustrate, often most 
entertainingly, a certain type of mind. 

I suspect that the uncompromising nature of his views 
was responsible in part for the small amount of public 
recognition which Rickman received for his really important 
statistical work. Yet he shunned all appearance of self- 
advertisement, and would have looked with suspicion on 
officially bestowed honours. Indeed, it is to be noticed 
that he suspected his employment on the population returns 
to be meant as a bribe. But Rickman's sole ambition was 
to be of utility, and in that aim he was certainly successful. 

1 May 1911. 



INTRODUCTION 15 

Even the industrious Southey marvelled at his prodigious 
capacity for work. 

His official business was to him little more than so much 
routine, but he was never lax in its performance, and he 
was always ready to do such extra work as came in his way 
the indexing of Hatsell and of the Journals, the institution 
of a new system of publishing the Votes and Proceedings, 
digesting various returns, supplying evidence for a com- 
mittee, or even sending in a secret scheme for combating 
the Radicals. Till his death he remained in harness, though 
he certainly wished to retire in 1832, and complained of 
intrigues which prevented this. His work on the three 
Commissions for building the Caledonian Canal, making 
roads, and building churches in the Highlands was in- 
valuable. He was Telford's loyal supporter for seventeen 
years in the Caledonian Canal enterprise, and it was due to 
him that Southey wrote for it his three inscriptions. But 
the only subject in which Rickman truly took a real interest 
was what is now called economics, though he would have 
hated the word, having the utmost contempt for the political 
economists of his day. Social science was his study from 
the time he left Oxford, and he regarded the population 
returns quite rightly as giving data for the widest political 
and social deductions, though he was a little too reliant on 
statistical evidence in the face of palpable fact. It was 
a pity that Rickman had no opportunity of dealing with 
the poor laws of this country. The subject was one on 
which he had very definite views, for he saw their great 
defects (before 1834), if his remedies were a little drastic. 
He conceived that treating poor men according to their 
deserts bread and water for the idlers would suffice to 
abolish the poor rates and introduce good character instead. 
He forgot, perhaps, that many of the rich would also have 
deserved bread and water. He believed in competition, in 
unrestricted manufactures, and laisser-faire with a strong 
police. And yet he was willing enough to be socialistically 
benevolent for women. In 1800 he started as a hobby a 
little speculation on the subject of beguinages in England, 



16 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

which he took up again in later life, and one of his letters 
gives a sketch of a model female institution a model which 
is not so far from reality now. Rickman, in fact, useful as he 
was to his country, might have been far more useful, if only 
governments then had known, as they do now, how to use 
their permanent officials. 

Rickman, at heart, was as little reactionary as he was 
a tyrant. His ideal state would have been a benevolent 
despotism, and in his relations with others he was inclined 
to act the benevolent despot himself. Save, perhaps, in 
his extreme respect for intellectual knowledge, he was a 
typical John Bull. I am saved from any further effort to 
sum up his character by being able to quote, in conclusion 
of these preliminary remarks, a letter written by his friend, 
the historian Sharon Turner, for inclusion in his son's 
memoir. 

1 20 Sept. 1840. 

' My impression, whenever I saw your father, was, 
that he had a strong and resolute mind, very discursive, 
full of varied but promiscuous knowledge, ready to bring 
it out whenever called upon, and always pleased to have a 
reason to do so, and to talk with those who would be inter- 
ested to hear him ; whoever did so, could not fail to be both 
gratified and informed. For he had a large store of facts 
and thoughts, and frequently viewed things in an original 
though sometimes also in a peculiar manner. He was fond 
of intellectual labour as an exercise of the mind as well as 
for the prosecution of the object he undertook ; and what- 
ever he directed his attention to, he pursued with a zeal 
and perseverance, and with an almost insensibility of fatigue 
that can seldom be paralleled. ... He thought little of 
those who pursued any object with indolence and indifference 
and believed that mental activity always did good to the 
health, and that the evils ascribed to it arose from other 
causes. 

* He was peculiarly a man of facts and realities, and 
well adapted to all things that required close attention, 



INTRODUCTION 17 

investigation, and continued mental labour. He was very 
anxious never to be deceived himself, and never to deceive 
others. He had not a philosophical cast of mind, nor did 
he view his subjects with that course and style of thought. 
But he saw his main points quickly and adhered tenaciously 
to them, and always threw light upon them. 

' I would not call him a man of genius, but of a powerful 
and solid mind quick, ardent, penetrating, self-confident 
from experienced success in what he undertook, and not 
willing to yield his own opinions to the opposing conclusions 
of others he was therefore rather peremptory, both from 
the strength of his own convictions, and his earnest desire 
that what he deemed right should be thought or deemed 
so by others : but it was always in good humour. He had 
a very straightforward, upright, and honest-meaning mind, 
with nothing of the base or shabby in it. I never saw any- 
thing like trick or subterfuge, or fraud, or hypocrisy in him : 
nor could he endure these hi any other. He liked to skir- 
mish in conversation, and so often attacked what he thought 
wrong in all parties, and in their leaders, that it was not 
easy to know what his settled opinions were on many of 
our political questions. He was at times a little impatient 
and stern ; but whatever his manner might be, he was 
always a kind-hearted and worthy man one of steady, 
moral conduct and desirous that all should be so. . . .' 

[NOTE. For the benefit of those and they are many who 
take a particular interest in the smallest fact concerning Charles 
Lamb, I summarise here the new points which the Rickman 
correspondence brings to light. 

(1) George Dyer's first letter in 1801 fixes the approximate 
date of Lamb's removal from Pentonville to Southampton 
Buildings (p. 34). 

(2) Rickman's letter to Southey enclosing Dyer's second 
letter of 1801 fixes within a few days the date of Lamb's lon^ 
letter to Rickman describing Dyer's rescue from starvation. 
Mr. E. V. Lucas heads this letter ' ? November.' Dyer's letter, 
too, corroborates Lamb's account (pp. 56-60). 

(3) A short undated letter from Lamb to Rickman, printed by 

B 



18 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Canon Ainger after one on November 24, 1801, is shown to belong 
to November 9 or 10 (p. 60). 

(4) The allusion in Lamb's letter to Rickman of July 16, 1803, 
where he refers to a ' gentle ghost ' who wishes to return, has 
mystified all commentators. I think its date, together with the 
contents of letters from Southey and Rickman, proves it conclus- 
ively to refer to a kind of circular sent by George Burnett to his 
friends, announcing his return to the paths of reason, and ex- 
pressing regret for former aberrations together with a desire for 
work. This confirms Mr. E. V. Lucas in a conjecture which he 
seems to have abandoned (p. 90). 

(5) Lamb stayed with Rickman in 1803 during one of Mary 
Lamb's attacks of insanity (p. 87). 

(6) On July 25, 1829, Lamb wrote to Bernard Barton describing 
a visit paid, during a recent attack of Mary Lamb's, to a friend in 
London, ' one of the individuals of my old long knot of friends, 
card-players, pleasant companions that have tumbled to pieces 
into dust and other things.' The identity of this friend has 
hitherto been unknown, but Rickman' s letter to Southey of 
July 14, 1829, proves him to have been Lamb's entertainer 
(p. 247). 

(7) Three letters from Coleridge refer to Lamb (pp. 105, 106, 
157), the last giving a particularly interesting account of Lamb's 
convivialities. 

(8) Two new stories of Lamb's connection with George Dyer 
occur in the Rickman correspondence with Southey (pp. 76, 93, 
94). 

(9) Lamb's estimate of Southey's and Coleridge's responsi- 
bility for Burnett's aberrations is quoted by Rickman (p. 85). 

(10) Mrs. Lefroy in her reminiscences gives a portrait of the 
Lambs at Rickman's house (p. 128). 

(11) I am able to quote Rickman's and Southey's interesting 
comments on Lamb's death (p. 313).] 



CHAPTER I 

The Rickman family Early life of John Rickman His meeting with 
Southey Blguinagea Departure from Christchurch. 

FROM the genealogical researches made by John Rickman 's 
father, the Rev. Thomas Rickman, it appears that the 
family of Rickman, Rykeman or Richman, originated in 
Somersetshire, for the arms or, three piles azure, three bars 
gules, over all a stag trippant ; with a crest, a stag's head 
couped proper were originally granted to Rickman of 
Somersetshire. The family seems to have overflowed first 
into Dorsetshire, where John Ritcheman is known to have 
been rector of Porton in 1380, and members of the family 
represented Lyme in Parliament in the reigns of Henry iv. 
and Henry v. The Rickmans of Hampshire, from whom 
John Rickman more immediately sprang, had the same 
arms and a slightly different crest with the motto, ' Fortitude 
in Adversity.' The earliest mention of the family is in 
the parish register of Wardleham, where the baptism of 
John Rickman, son of Richard Rickman and Isabel his wife, 
is recorded in 1542. A William Rickman who lived at 
Marchwood in Eling appears in 1556 among the subscribers 
to the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada. 
In 1623 a Richard Rickman was married at Eling to Elizabeth 
Stubbs, and their son William was baptised in 1627. The 
son of this William, James Rickman, was father of three sons, 
William, John, and James, the first of whom was born in 
1701 at Milford. John Rickman, the subject of this book, 
was his grandson. 

There is a letter by John Rickman, written to his eldest 
daughter, which gives an interesting account of his near 
ancestors. This long letter, which occupies forty- two quarto 

id 



20 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

pages, was written purely as a warning to his younger 
daughter not to embark upon rash expenditure in her newly 
married life. This lesson in economy so typical of its 
writer's formal mind can only be quoted in extract. It 
is dated ' 8 December, 1836,' and after the exordium con- 
tinues thus : 

' The grandfather of my grandfather (a portrait of 
which last we have) was a yeoman of small property, 50 
or 60 acres, on the coast of Hampshire, at Hordwell in 
the parish of Milford near Lymington, and possessor of a 
windmill there. He being a patriot, and no Popery man, 
left his plough and his mill and joined the army of the Duke 
of Monmouth which was defeated at Sedgmoor in the year 
1685. He escaped the slaughter of the day and the ven- 
geance of Judge Jefferies, and returned home to tell of his 
adventures, to boast of them (no doubt) after the triumph 
of his party at the Revolution in 1688. The son of the 
miller who succeeded to the landed property had three sons 
of whom my grandfather W. R. was the eldest, and being a 
studious lad of good talents was placed in the country house 
of Mr. Missing, a wealthy merchant at Portsmouth, who 
dying left a son remarkably unfit for business, which there- 
fore devolved on my grandfather upon his marriage in the 
year 1729 with the daughter of his former employer. . . . 

' In the year 1739, a war commenced between England 
and Spain, and my grandfather (through Portsmouth 
Borough influence, I suppose) obtained the contract for 
supply of provisions to the Spanish prisoners of war con- 
fined in Porchester Castle. His business was very lucrative, 
and as he had become a proficient in the Spanish language, 
indeed well read in Spanish literature, he had opportunity 
of being attentive to Don Ulloa, 1 the Spanish officer em- 
ployed in mensuration of a degree of longitude near the 
equator in Spanish America, who in his narrative makes 
grateful mention of his English friend, Mr. Rickman.' 

1 Admiral Ulloa was captured in 1745. The reference is in Book ix. 
ch. ir. of his Narrative of a Voyage to S. America, and speaks of William 
Rickman 's great care for the prisoners' comfort. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 21 

William Rickman thus became a prosperous man. He 
made considerable purchases of land, was made a Justice of 
the Peace, in which office he distinguished himself in bring- 
ing a gang of murderers and smugglers to book for their 
crimes, and in 1747 served as Sheriff for the county. This 
was the summit of his prosperity. The Spanish war merged 
into a French war, and another merchant was given the 
contract to feed the French prisoners. William Rickman 
was practically superseded, and his income fell consider- 
ably. Further, he had become surety for his brother, a 
Custom House collector, in 8000, a sum which he forfeited 
on his rascally relative's absconding. A nephew also lost 
him 1500 on another suretyship. William Rickman 's 
affairs thus fell into decay, so that when he died in 1764 he 
had sold all his landed property. 

His son, Thomas Rickman, was at this time on the 
verge of entering Holy Orders. In 1766 he became vicar 
of Newburn in Northumberland. He married a Miss 
Beaumont in 1770, of which marriage John Rickman, born 
in 1771. was the only son, the two other children being 
daughters. In 1776, when the taxes caused by the American 
war began to pinch, he was offered an exchange and second 
benefice at Compton, near Winchester, which he exchanged 
in 1780 for the livings of Ash, near Farnham in Hampshire, 
and Stourpaine in Dorset, which he held till his death in 
1809. In 1796, however, being no longer able to perform 
divine service, he retired to Christchurch. 4 Soon after this,' 
says Rickman in the same letter as I have quoted above, 
* the Income Tax was imposed, and I had some prospect of 
employment in London. The salary of a curate at Ash 
was a heavy burden on my father's income, and the price 
of provisions was enormous, so that my father upon my 
leaving the family broke up his little establishment, and 
went to reside between Lymington and Christchurch 
with some of his relations. . . . This continued till 1803, 
when upon my being well established in Palace Yard my 
father again ventured on housekeeping till he died in 1809.'' 

John Rickman himself was educated at Guildford 



22 LIFE AND BETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

Grammar School from 1781 to 1788, when he went to 
Magdalen Hall, and thence to Lincoln College, Oxford. 
No allusion is ever made by Rickman to his boyhood, 
except when he mentions that he suffered several years' 
reasonable misery through a mistake in deciding upon a 
profession. 1 Probably he had had early ideas of entering 
the Church, which residence at Oxford had dissipated. 
After taking his degree in 1792 or 1793, Rickman seems to 
have remained at Christchurch reading the books in the 
library left by his grandfather, especially those upon 
economic subjects, thus laying in the wide stock of know- 
ledge which stood him in such good stead later in his career. 
The recollections of Mrs. Lefroy (Rickman's elder daughter 
Ann) mention that Rickman used to act as tutor in the 
vacations to the son of a very rich man named Clark, 
whose daughter became Marchioness of Ormond. Mr. 
Clark offered Rickman a large living in Kent if he would 
take Holy Orders, but he refused. He seems to have had 
an attachment, not wholly unreturned, for Miss Clark, 
who remained a close friend of his throughout her life. 
On her death in 1818 he was made her executor, and received 
a legacy of 7000. 

The first event of any note in Rickman's life was his 
acquaintance with Robert Southey, the future Poet 
Laureate. In the summer of 1797 Southey and his wife 
took lodgings at Burton, near Christchurch, and it was not 
long before they met John Rickman. In a letter from 
Southey to Cottle, the publisher, dated June 18, 1797, 2 he 
speaks of going down Christchurch harbour in Rickman's 
boat, and calls his new friend ' a sensible young man, of 
rough but mild manners, and very seditious.' In a note 
Cottle says : ' On visiting Southey at Christchurch, he 
introduced me to the Mr. Rickman, whom I found sensible 
enough, blunt enough, and seditious enough ; that is, 
simply anti-ministerial.' Their dislike of Pitt's war 

1 In a letter to Southey of September 23, 1817, giving advice as to the 
profession which Derwent Coleridge should adopt. 

8 Cottle, Beminiacence* of Southey and Coleridge, p. 214. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 23 

policy and their desire to ameliorate society Southey had 
not long got over the scheme of Pantisocracy soon bound 
these two friends with links of mutual respect and esteem, 
and the friendship, however restrained was its expression, 
ripened into a warm and lifelong affection. 

The first letter of their correspondence is from Rickman, 
dated November 13, 1798. It was written to thank Southey 
for sending a new edition of his Joan of Arc, and contains 
some detailed criticisms of that poem, chiefly on historical 
matters of fact. Rickman corrects Southey on such points 
as the date when the fife was introduced as military music 
and the material of which cannons were first made. There 
is then a gap for more than a year, and the next letter, also 
from Rickman, on January 4, 1800, contains a proposi- 
tion that Southey shall devote his verse to some definitely 
utilitarian object. 

' Poetry has its use and its place, and like some 
known superfluities we should feel awkward without it. 
But when I have sometimes considered with some surprise 
the facility with which you compose verse, I have always 
wished to see that facility exerted to some solid purpose 
in prose. The objects I propose for your investigation 
are therefore : the employment, and consequent ameliora- 
tion, of womankind, the consequences on the welfare of 
society, and some illustration of the possibility of these 
things. You think it too good an alteration to be expected 
and so do I, from virtue : but if the vanity of leading 
women could be interested, it might become fashionable 
to promote certain establishments to this purpose, and 
then it might go down.' 

Rickman's purpose, hi fact, was to urge the establish- 
ment of beguinages on the model of those in the Netherlands. 
He promises in this letter to furnish any dry deductions 
on the head of political economy. He continues : 

4 You like women better than I do ; therefore I think 
it likely that you may take as much trouble to benefit the 



24 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

sex, as I to benefit the community by this means. For 
all that I have been in love these ten years, not enough to 
put me beside calculation, but with a fixed and unaltered 
preference.' 

It was the secret of Rickman's character that no emotion 
or affection ever put him ' beside calculation.' This letter 
contains another personal touch in the words : ' I begin to 
be almost tired of staying in this obscure place so long. 
I imagine I was born for better purpose than to vegetate 
at Christchurch.' This contradicts his own statement, in 
the letter to his daughter quoted above, that he went to 
London in 1799. The first letter to Southey mentions a 
visit to London, but it is clear from this passage that Rick- 
man had no occupation in London at the beginning of 1800. 

Southey answered Rickman's letter with great interest on 
January 9, urging him to undertake the task himself, and 
pleading the unsuitability of his own style to methodical 
deduction and his prospective departure, for health's sake, 
to some other climate as obstacles to his own performance of 
it. He ended by inviting Rickman to stay with him at 
Bristol. Rickman replied that his own style was too severe 
to please the public, and supplied further information upon 
the subject, touching upon various other matters in the 
course of a long letter. Southey then consented to under- 
take the work ; his and Rickman's next letters are given 
up to a discussion of the position of women in various 
nations. On February 17 Rickman announced his probable 
arrival at Bristol in the following week, requesting Southey 
to engage him lodgings near the harbour, that he might also 
observe the tides a subject in which he took great interest. 
This letter contains an early instance of Rickman's violent 
political views : 

' I expect peace soon, at least to all the world except 
England ; and it is better for us to fight on till slow indig- 
nation shall finish Pitt and the war together. I have 
laughed at Lord Castlereagh's panegyric on the compre- 
hensive mind of this sorry drunkard, who in 16 years has 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 25 

produced no measure of eternal utility the paltry resources 
of immediate rapacity are dignified with the name of finance ; 
this methodised pillage has stamped him a great man 
among the vulgar.' 

Southey looked forward to Rickman 's visit with no little 
enthusiasm, as is proved in his letter of February 18, 1800, 
to John May describing the proposed scheme, calling Rick- 
man ' a man of uncommon talents and knowledge,' and 
saying that he himself would be * little more than mason 
under the master architect.' * Rickman, having sent his 
box by coach, arrived on foot from Christchurch, and stayed 
till the end of March at Bristol, where he made the acquaint- 
ance of Humphry Davy, who was then experimenting at 
the Pneumatic Institute. It is impossible to say what 
progress was made with the beguinage scheme, for Southey 
was forced by continued ill-health to set out for Portugal 
in April. The project therefore dropped, but, as we shall 
see, it was revived twenty years later. When Southey 
left to join his vessel at Falmouth, Rickman went to London 
to take up his abode. It was for him the beginning of a 
wider life, the life of utility for which he always craved. 
This fresh start will be better left to a separate chapter. 

1 Southey 's Life and Correspondence, ii. 51. 



CHAPTER II 

1800 

Rickman in London George Dyer The Magazine Lamb's ' pleasant 
hand ' Southey's Tfialaba Dyer's preface The first Population Act 
Rickman and the census. 

IN April 1800, before Southey had left Falmouth, Rickman 
had settled in London. It is not possible to determine 
precisely what his prospects of literary employment were, 
but from hints in his letters it is evident that Southey had 
recommended him to the editor of the Critical Review, that 
he might succeed to the place of reviewer of poetry vacated 
by Southey, and that he had given him a letter of intro- 
duction to George Dyer, Lamb's immortal G. D., 1 who was 
at this time pursuing a literary career in Clifford's Inn. 
Dyer, whom Hazlitt called ' one of God Almighty's gentle- 
men,' in spite of his slovenliness, absent-mindedness, and 
his execrable taste in poetry, was a most constant and warm- 
hearted friend to men of letters. Southey could have re- 
commended Rickman to no better person, and it is pleasant 
to notice that Dyer and Rickman became firm friends. 
This friendship has preserved to us three of Dyer's private 
letters no others are known and has furnished a few more 
facts in the life of the genial G. D. Rickman's first letter 
to Southey from London mentions their meeting : 

' LONDON, Apr. 13^, 1800. 

* MY DEAR SIB, Having called on Mr. Dyer on Thursday 
he appointed this morning (Saturday) for the proposed 

1 See Lamb's Essays, ' Oxford in the Vacation ' and ' Amicus Redivivus,' 
also his earlier letters. Mr. E. V. Lucas gives a very good account of 
Dyer in his Life of Charles Lamb, ch. xiv. 
26 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 27 

inspection of your books. [Here follow details of the 
books.] G. Dyer is a great curiosity ; his room more so ; 
and I was witness to the regular apologies he makes to every 
visitor on its unusual disorder. Their answers are as regular, 
that they never saw it otherwise. He is very busy printing 
some poetry. He read me some from the manuscript : 
whence he seems no unhappy forger of the Spenserian style. 
He received me with the highest civility, and professes 
great regard for you. . . . I remain your obliged Servant, 

' JOHN RICKMAN.' 

In spite of their warm friendship Rickman's style in 
addressing Southey was, in accordance with his character, 
most formal. The formality softened in the course of years 
to ' My dear S.' and a ' God bless you, my dear S. Yrs. 
J. R.', but hi all letters, even to his family, he found it 
difficult to express affection in words. The next letter 
shows that George Dyer was able to find Rickman employ- 
ment without delay. 

1 LONDON, Apr. 18th, 1800. 

' MY DEAR SIR, As I have indirect intelligence that you 
could not reach Falmouth sooner than the 15th I venture 
to direct another letter to your name there, supposing from 
the S.W. winds that you are not yet put to sea. The letter 
you found waiting at Falmouth was a hurried one, and you 
may consider this as a supplement. I learnt at the India- 
house that Mr. Coleridge has taken a flight northward ; to 
Cumberland I think. By this I suppose his German plays 
are completed, though I have not seen them. Cottle * 
cannot be more busy with Alfred at Bristol than G. Dyer 
at present is about a publication. He has promised all his 
friends, and the public, that an octavo of poems shall be 

1 Amos Cottle, brother of Joseph Cottle, the Bristol publisher, who first 
published the poems of Coleridge and Southey. The poem * Alfred ' was 
exceedingly dull. Its author died shortly after its publication, and there 
is a very humorous letter from Lamb to Coleridge of October 9, 1800, 
describing his visit of condolence to Joseph Cottle. 



28 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

ready for delivery on the first of May. The copy is as yet very 
imperfect, and the printing not commenced. But I suppose 
every body knows him well enough, to know that punctu- 
ality and method are not among his virtues, and the " Sad 
dog " (as he calls himself) will be pardoned. He has been 
very attentive to my interest, as he has offered to my 
acceptance, the task of conducting a Magazine. As its 
proprietor Griffiths seems no haughty bookseller, and is hi 
much present distress, I shall do what I can for him for this 
month or two ; and afterwards consider more maturely 
about the business. The circumstances of this publication 
stand thus : the title is promising The Commercial and 
Agricultural Magazine. It has reached No. 8 with tolerable, 
not splendid success. Indeed it has not deserved much, 
and the bundle of papers the Editor has sent me for selection 
are very pitiful. It is printed with about the same letter- 
press as a Review. He offers 2| guineas p. sheet, and 2 
guineas p. month for arrangement and correction. The last 
sum seems very low. He excuses the offer by the infant 
state and small returns of the Magazine. I suppose it may 
be possible for me to manage this concern with success ; as 
the usual subjects are things on which I have been accus- 
tomed to think often. Luckily I have some short essays 
(which you have not seen) which may help out the present 
dearth of matter, and the editor seems rather fearfull that 
I should chuse to contribute too much than too little for 
the future. He seems to have been ill-used in this respect 
by his last conductor, who thereby wished to get the power 
of the property into his own hands thereby also disgusting 
the best correspondents. 

' In my opinion to write anonymously is small trouble, 
because it requires no fastidious correction ; and I am 
persuaded I write better speedily, than maturely. But the 
conduct of a publication infers a kind of conscious, irksome 
responsibility, which I do not like so well : and I should 
not meddle with this, but from a sincere wish to save a 
publication from sinking, whose future repute may possibly 
collect a useful body of information. I am also somewhat 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 29 

biassed towards an acceptance of the task that I may not 
seem to undervalue the efforts of so good a man as G. D. 

' He wishes of all things he could get me some employ- 
ment in the reviews : I did not tell him, I had any prospect 
of that sort, though I suppose your intended transfer will 
be accepted by S. Hamilton, 1 if you have not failed to 
promise a renewal of communication at your return. I do 
not know enough of the history of poetry to execute the 
business very well the general knowledge of good and evil 
is scarcely stock enough for a reviewer's observations. 
However if it be offered, I must dash through thick and thin 
depending chiefly on your opinion (I fear me a partial one) 
that the performance will not be below par. Thus have I 
given you a faithful history of the proffered employ which 
I indirectly owe to your civility. I conjecture that a 
constrained abode at Falmouth will be far from adverse 
to the completion of Thalaba : I have some curiosity to 
watch the public taste on that intended innovation m the 
Commonwealth of Poesy. . . . 

* 33 SOUTHAMPTON BUILDINGS, HOLBORN.' 

Southey arrived at Lisbon on May 1, and remained there 
till the middle of 1801. His letters to Rickman during that 
period are chiefly descriptions of the state of Portugal. As 
three of them have been published in Southey's corre- 
spondence, it is unnecessary further to allude to them. 
Southey was finishing his poem ' Thalaba,' and Rickman 
had undertaken to negotiate for its sale and publication in 
England. To this we shall have several allusions. 

Rickman continued to edit the Commercial, Agricultural, 
and Manufacturers' Magazine till he went to Ireland. In the 
appendix to the memoir by his son a list of the articles con- 
tributed by him is given. They range over many economic 
subjects bread laws, tides, clocks, the condition of the 
poor, Phoenician commerce, weights and measures, paper 
money, and cottage gardens. 

1 Editor of the Critical Review. 



30 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Rickman's next letter is dated May 28. 

'I read the letter with much pleasure which informed 
me of your safe arrival at Lisbon. I suppose by this 
time your sea-sickness is almost forgotten. I am glad 
that you ascertained that imagination can also cure this 
disease. 1 This fact may hereafter be valuable when Davy 2 
shall have to give the death-blow to quacks of all descrip- 
tions. It was singular that about the time (I supposed) 
you sailed, a rumour was current here that the French fleet 
had also sailed for Lisbon. You had then found unwelcome 
guests in the Tagus. I suppose a Republican Frenchman 
is a more terrible animal at Lisbon, than even an Irishman ; 
I confess that in England it would be no bad regulation to 
make an Irishman a contraband freight ; however as they 
are soon to be imported as legislators I must take care of 
the Scandalum magnatum penalties. I suppose fortune 
hunting will be more successful in the Parliament House, 
than it has ever been at Bath 3 to the Paddies. The Union 
business has become so stale, that when the deputation of 
both houses attended his Majesty with the address on that 
subject, half an hour after the appointed time, they were 
told that he was set out for Windsor, lest he should be too 
late for dinner-time ! You must know ere this, that the 
King has been fired at by a madman, 4 with little danger of 
being struck, from the distance, and from the random effects 
of a common pistol shot. However we thank God in the 
churches for this mercy vouchsafed to a sinful people ! 
The man is to be tried by a special commission ; but his 
lunacy is undoubted. At the first rumour I thought it 
another scheme of Dundas 5 to revive the expiring flame 
of loyalty however it has not had that effect ; the pro- 

1 Southey had related how an alarm of an attack by a French cutter 
had cured him of sea-sickness for six hours. 
* The scientist, Sir Humphry Davy. 

3 Where Pitt was recovering from the gout. 

4 On May 15 in Drury Lane Theatre. The man was an old soldier called 
James Hadfield. 

6 Afterwards Lord Melville ; at this time Secretary for War. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 31 

posal of Bonaparte for peace has sank deep into the public 
mind, and the minister is at his wits' end. A proposed 
severity in the collection of the income tax had not one 
advocate in the City. It is therefore dropped, at least in 
regard to those whose income exceeds 2000 per aim. Other 
people they wish still to submit to a ruinous scrutiny. But 
this seems a partiality to loan mongers too violent to go 
down. Pitt under his disappointment absented himself 
so long from the House, that it was currently reported he 
was gone mad ! To be sure Ld. Camelford l is a specimen 
of madness in the family ; he has been in two scrapes since 
I came hither, for the last of which Ld. Kenyon has hold 
of him, and threatens heavily. I wrote to Davy a few 
days before the Lisbon packet arrived and prophesied a 
good passage to you a lucky prophet but you know I 
am in the habit of looking on the white side of futurity 
a certain gain for the present, and little consequent loss. 
I expect to hear from Davy before he visits the metropolis ; 
where he ought to remain for the important purposes of 
fame and fortune. If I can persuade him that the public 
good is implicated in his acquisition of these things, he 
perhaps may not be impregnable : arguments which have self 
at bottom will not touch him. I shall have truth to help 
me in my plea : for surely on his fame and repute much uni- 
versal good is consequent. ... I have not heard of Hamilton 
about the Review ; I am not inclined to make application 
to him, nor am I very solicitous about the matter ; if it is 
offered I shall do the best I can. They have a month or 
two of the poetical department in store. I thank you for 
your offers of assistance in the Magazine affair ; but I do 
not enough care about its success to give you the least 
trouble about it. The printer is a very civil man ; but 
has not correspondents enough, or dash enough for the 
undertaking. So let it go on jog-trot. In so far as your 
enquiries relative to the Portuguese history may coincide 
with its title, I should be well pleased to receive any com- 
munication on this condition, that you do not mispend 

1 Finally killed in a duel in Kensington in 1804. 



32 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

any precious time in it. I have a confused recollection 
of some Portuguese edict about preventing the planting 
new vineyards, under pretence of not diminishing corn- 
land ; in fact to establish a monopoly in favour of some 
lords who hold most vineyards. It is said that port is 
raised lately to 10 per pipe in Portugal from the above 
cause perhaps. The first of your enquiries on this subject 
would be acceptable : as would be any thing on the popu- 
lation, agriculture, tenure of farms, commerce, supply of 
Lisbon with fuel and necessaries, price of provision etc. 
So far as these things may be pertinent in the history I 
should like to receive them in company with Thalaba ; 
the best of your poems yet published ; and I conjecture 
more strictly poetical than will be Madoc. The air of 
history in the epic, always (to my feel) takes off the con- 
tinuous, fine edge of poetry. ... I am in possession of the 
benefit of your civility in the Westminster library, though 
I have made very little use of it yet, having been much 
engaged with various, compulsory company. Among the 
rest the people of Christchurch seem to have combined 
together to visit town. To speak of them in due order of 
precedence, first, Lady Strathmore * for interment. She 
was so silly as to will her body to be deposited in Poets 
Corner (!) and lyes there within three yards of Shakspeare's 
Monument. Concordes Animae ! Kindred Spirits ! She 
was coffined in her wedding suit, and with her a speaking 
trumpet ! When one recollects her confessions recorded in 
Doctors' Commons, and published by Bowes, and which 
(beside her amours with Gray) 2 relate two artificial abor- 
tions, one must confess that according to the trumpet 
application in Butler's description of fame, this interred 
trumpet is in considerable danger of an unsavoury blast. 

1 Mary Elizabeth Bowes, Countess of Strathmore, 1749-1800. Her 
husband, the ninth earl, died in 1776. After some very indiscreet flirtations 
she married an adventurer, who took her surname, treated her with great 
brutality, and finally abducted her when she was suing for divorce. She 
was rescued, and he was imprisoned. Her confessions, published in 1793 
were probably extorted by her husband. 

2 The Hon. George Grey. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 33 

. . . There is a Bill pending before Parliament to prevent 
nunneries in England. I hear they increase fast, and that 
there are two large ones in Essex Quocirca hoc ? Why, 
it proves that if the Sex are so sensible of their forlorn con- 
dition as to embrace a new religion, and unpleasant vows 
for the sake of a nunnery, that they will ardently embrace 
the Beguinage when it is established. Do you go on build- 
ing this institution in your head ? I should not reckon 
that waste time compared with the researches for the 
history of Portugal. If you mention in your next that 
the Beguinage is not forgotten, I will try to proceed pari 
passu ; but no faster than you will deign to march, in this 
chivalrous emprize. G. Dyer has not put out his Spen- 
serian volume yet. ... I see little of him, he is much 
engaged in private tutorage. I imagine he does any thing 
better than he writes poetry. But it would be dangerous 
to tell him so ; he is so confident of not imbibing the stream 
from the nether orifice of that bird in the Edda. J. Cottle is 
vigorously printing unfortunate Alfred. I look with melan- 
choly to his future disappointment. Amos Cottle dines 
with me on Saturday. We shall drink your health, and 
speedy return to the land of intellect and morality. I 
hear that R. Cottle (whom I do not know) is going to com- 
mence a bookselling business. Your letter is down at 
Clifford's Inn. As it contained no secret, I thought it 
would gratify G. D. and A. C. 1 to see themselves not forgotten, 
and perhaps in some sort give you a greater latitude of 
longer silence to either of them ; for of writing letters you 
must be well nigh weary. I am as glad as you that you 
have not forgotten Portuguese ; that will save much time. 
Mrs. E. S. proceeds in that task with rapidity, I daresay ; 
I think females are good at learning to talk outlandish 
tongues, especially if she can accommodate herself to 
Portuguese company. There are no middle-aged women 
in Portugal, therefore the Prince of Wales (perhaps) did 
not follow you. G. Dyer desires me to convey to you 
Mrs. Opie's 2 remembrances with his own. He proposes 

1 Amos Cottle. a The novelist and poet, wife of John Opie, the painter, 

C 



34 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

to send you a budget of literary news next month. His 
chivalry is anxious that his respects should be particularly 
conveyed to Mrs. Southey. I without chivalry desire the 
same thing.' 

There is nothing of particular moment in Rickman's 
letter to Southey of July 29, except that one page of it is 
written by G. Dyer, and that it contains the news : ' Mr. 
Lamb is soon to be my neighbour in Southampton Buildings.' 
Dyer's letter is written in what Lamb afterwards called his 
' Grecian's hand,' and is only just legible. It gives Southey 
news of the literary world, mentioning in particular the 
poems of R. Bloomfield, the shoemaker-poet. Lamb 
moved in this year from Pentonville to lodge with his friend 
Gutch, the law-stationer, at 27 Southampton Buildings, 
and his move is announced in a letter to Coleridge. This 
letter of Rickman's proves that the move was not made till 
well into the summer of 1800. Rickman had as yet not 
made Lamb's acquaintance, though he was familiar with 
his name. Southey had known Lamb since 1795, and 
Lamb had even stayed with him at Burton in 1797, but it 
was presumably before he had met Rickman. The meeting 
between Lamb and Rickman took place in the autumn of 
this year, and Lamb describes it in an ecstatic letter to his 
friend Manning dated November 3. 

'I have made an acquisition latterly of a pleasant 
hand, one Rickman, to whom I was introduced by George 
Dyer, not the most flattering auspices under which one man 
can be introduced to another. George brings all sorts of 
people together, setting up a sort of agrarian law, or common 
property, in matter of society ; but for once he has done 
me a great pleasure, while he was only pursuing a principle, 
as ignes fatui may light you home. This Rickman lives in 
our Buildings, immediately opposite our house ; the finest 
fellow to drop in a' nights, about nine or ten o'clock cold 
bread and cheese time just in the wishing time of the night, 
when you wish for somebody to come in, without a distinct 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 35 

idea of a probable anybody. Just in the nick, neither too 
early to be tedious, nor too late to sit a reasonable time. 
He is a most pleasant hand ; a fine rattling fellow, has gone 
through life laughing at solemn apes ; himself hugely 
literate, oppressively full of information in all stuff of 
conversation, from matter of fact to Xenophon and Plato 
can talk Greek with Person, politics with Thelwall, con- 
jecture with George Dyer, nonsense with me, and anything 
with anybody ; a great farmer, somewhat concerned him- 
self in an agricultural magazine ; reads no poetry but 
Shakespeare ; very intimate with Southey, but never reads 
his poetry ; relishes George Dyer ; thoroughly penetrates 
into the ridiculous wherever found ; understands the first 
time (a great desideratum in common minds) you need 
never twice speak to him ; does not want explanations, trans- 
lations, limitations, as Professor Godwin does when you 
make an assertion ; up to anything ; down to everything ; 
whatever sapit hominem. A perfect man. . . . You must 
see Rickman to know him, for he is a species in one ; a new 
class ; an exotic ; any slip of which I am proud to put in 
my garden pot ; the clearest headed fellow ; fullest of 
matter, with least verbosity. If there be any alloy in my 
fortune to have met with such a man, it is that he commonly 
divides his time between town and country, having some 
foolish family ties at Christchurch, by which means he can 
only gladden our London hemisphere with returns of light. 
He is now going for six weeks.' 

It is not easy to realise from his letters by what charm 
Rickman, who in all that he wrote was too matter of fact 
to display his winning qualities, so gained the affection of 
such men as Lamb and Southey. Southey's letters from 
Portugal never end without a regret that Rickman is not 
there too, while there is something almost pathetic in 
Lamb's enthusiasm. Lamb's letters to him are full of 
affection and admiration, while Rickman, though, as we 
shall see, he appreciated Lamb very highly, and was ready 
to assist him in any way, never alludes to him with any 



36 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

warmth of feeling, even after his death. In his next letter 
to Southey of December 23, which opens with an account 
of the incomplete negotiations for the sale of Thalaba to 
Longmans, Rickman quotes Lamb's opinion of the poem 
that ' it contains more poetry and manifests more care than 
Joan of Arc.' This letter contains an allusion to Rickman 's 
decision not to enter the Church. He says : 

' I am very glad to learn . . . that your brother has 
a very promising prospect before him, if he chuses to 
enter the Church. I hope he has not genius or severity 
enough to refuse it. Though I myself have (somewhat to 
my cost) declined telling lies once a week for hire, I wish 
my friends a different opinion and less scrupulosity.' 

Rickman goes on to speak of Cottle, whom a wicked wit 
in his rooms had called the ' Epic Owl,' and concludes with 
an account of the failure of Godwin's play Antonio, of which 
Lamb told the story so inimitably in his essay on the old 
actors in the London Magazine, and in a letter to Manning 
of December 16. 

The next letter to Southey deserves quotation at length. 

'Deer. 21th, 1800. 

' 1 wish you to consider my last, as only half a letter ; 
otherwise the omission of any remembrance of Mrs. Southey, 
and enquiring about the state of your own health, and about 
the period of your return to England may be felt as in- 
civility. However you know how one sometimes slips on 
to the end of the paper, unconscious. As I really wish to 
be informed on the above points, satisfy my longing in your 
next. About Thalaba Longman has this day given a 
three months' note payable to the order of Mr. J. May. 
He made a push to obtain the edition at 100 guineas, but 
I told him, time could not be afforded to consult you by 
letter, and that I myself could not feel justified in taking 
less than 115, thus splitting the difference between your 
first demand, and his first offer. You are to have a dozen 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 37 

copies. I asked for half of them on large paper : but it is 
pleaded that the printing expense of those few, would be 
same as of 250. Otherwise Mr. L. would make no objection. 
I think his plea valid, and have given up the point. He 
has a great appetite to mutilate the beauty of the title page, 
by inserting, A Metrical Romance. I would not assent to 
this, and the matter is compromised by liberty to say these 
words on the second title, after the preface. It was necessary 
to say it somewhere, and that seems the fittest place. [Here 
follow further details about the printing of the poem.] . . . 
G. Dyer has your letter. He dines with me to-day. I am 
about to attempt to persuade him not to cancel a long 
preface of 80 or 90 pages, which he has prefixed to a vol. of 
poems, printed but not published and this, because for- 
sooth, he thinks he has committed himself in some opinion 
given of some poet or other. Thus in this idle punctilio, 
he is likely to waste 20 or 30. His poems are publishing 
by subscription : I fear me much, that his necessities will 
spend the money received, and the future bill from the 
printer will drive him half -mad. He projects three vols. : it 
is humourous to see him anxious about some feeble criticism, 
which no soul will ever read. But his exertion of a fanciful 
literary justice is honourable to him I wish it was not 
expensive. He exhibits an obstinacy on this point, which 
I fear I shall not conquer. 1 

* We feel also a scarcity here. Bread about 4jd. a Ib. and 
little hope of fall till next harvest. The mob (high and low) 
prate about monopoly : and if Mr. Pitt had not luckily in 
his youth read Adam Smith, by this time England would 
have been a scene of injustice, and the future summer had 
produced an absolute and fatal famine. Rice is sent for, 
and expected in June. Meat is not dear (considering) ; 
about 7d. per Ib., much the cheapest aliment ; the people 
tolerably quiet under their affliction ; perhaps it may issue 

1 Lamb describes Dyer's crazy obstinacy in a very amusing letter to 
Manning of December 27. The half-burnt cancelled preface bound into 
Lamb's copy of the poems is in the British Museum. The first volume was 
issued in 1801 without a preface, and two complete volumes in 1S02. 



38 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

in the first of national goods : a general inclosure Bill. . . . 
Your brother goes into the Church : and the product of 
Thalaba (a thing of more consequence) into your pocket. 
Had I been aware of that destination, I had pushed 
Longman for a shorter date. Three months I considered as 
a fair distance for an apprenticeship fee. However, it may 
be readily discounted. I thank you for the commercial 
intelligence which you occasionally give me. By inserting 
it (in a guarded shape) I make your epistles pay me much 
more than the postage to and from Lisbon . I have continued 
to conduct the Magazine, I mentioned to you. As it is quite 
in my own way, it is rather a pleasurable occupation, and 
producing about 70 per arm. The Critical Reviewers have 
(I suppose) got some other poet-taster. They were not so 
civil as to write to me on the subject : but from starving 
scribblers, and brutal booksellers one does not expect much 
attention. As I have a very mean opinion of my talents for 
that task, I am glad to avoid it, hoping you will resume if. 
on your return. For as you must wish to read the political 
effusions of the day (I had almost called them ephemeral) 
the money rec ed - may be esteemed clear gain. I have 
another occupation offered me : of which this is the history. 
At my suggestion, they have passed an Act of Parliament for 
ascertaining the population of Great Britain, and as a 
compliment (of course) have proposed to me to superintend 
the execution of it. Next March the returns will be made, 
and I shall be busy enough for a short time, I suppose. 
I suspect all this attention (it is more immediately from 
G. Rose) is intended as a decent bribe : which I shall reject, 
by doing the business well, and taking no more remuneration, 
than I judge exactly adequate to the trouble. It is a task 
of national benefit, and I should be fanciful to reject it, 
because offered by rogues. As they well know me for their 
foe, I cannot suspect them of magnanimity enough to notice 
me with any good intention. At all events, I shall go 
strait forward. I wish you and Mrs. S. a merry Xmas, and 
a happy New Year ! leaving the rest of the paper to be 
filled next Tuesday morning. J. R.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 39 

1 December 30^, 1800. 

*I have this morning reced. a letter from Mr. J. May, 
and in consequence have transmitted to him the note of 
115. He is in Wiltshire, therefore I was so many days 
in hearing from him. So that the pecuniary part of 
the business is now complete. ... I sometimes think of 
our projected Beguinage with satisfaction. If it can be 
brought to bear (it seems not impossible) I hope all the 
Ladies will allow, that at least I have a little solid gallantry 
towards their sex. I have not written a word more about 
it : but will with my first leisure in February the last 
half of which, I purpose to spend in the country. I have 
a very pleasant neighbour opposite, C. Lamb. He laughs 
as much as I wish, and makes even puns, without remorse 
of conscience. He has lately completed a dramatic piece, 1 
rather tragic (without murder). The language entirely 
of the last century, and farther back : From Shakespeare, 
Beaumont, and Fletcher. He demurs on printing it. I 
wish him to set it forth under some fictitious name of that 
age Shirley (perhaps) who was burnt out at the great 
fire of London. Lamb is peculiarly happy in his heroine, 
and altogether I have not seen a play with so much humour, 
moral feeling and correct sentiment, since the world was 
young. 

' G. Dyer is miserable about his unfortunate preface. I 
am quite vexed at his obstinacy. Lamb calls him, 
Cancellarius Magnus, The Lord High Canceller. I have 
been twice at Christchurch this year, once in Sussex. But 
still London is best, though we have not seen the sun for 
the last month till to-day. Snow fell in the night. There 
was never such perpetual, general fog known : an un- 
healthy year throughout, except for invalids, who had 
Portugal summer. Bill of mortality 23,000 4000 above 
the average. Make my best compts. to Mrs. Sou they and 
your uncle. May God preserve you far into the nineteenth 
century ! ' 

1 Lamb's play, John Woodvil. It is mentioned again in Rickman's 
correspondence. 



40 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

The first Population Act for Great Britain passed the 
House of Lords the very day on which the first part of this 
letter was written. Herein, little as he knew it then, lay the 
life-work in which Rickman was to take the highest pride, 
for it enabled him to be of that ' utility ' which was his 
continual aim. It is curious that he should speak of his 
employment in so nonchalant a manner to Southey, for 
he must have looked upon his own handiwork already with 
pride. In 1796, while Rickman was still in obscurity at 
Burton, he wrote a paper entitled ' Thoughts on the Utility 
and Facility of a general Enumeration of the People of 
the British Empire,' extracts from which are given in the 
memoir by W. C. Rickman. These extracts set forth, 
in a very dry manner, the economic advantages of ascer- 
taining the number of the population, the probability of 
its being far higher than the usual estimate, and the facility 
of arithmetically deducing it from the parish registers. 
This paper was communicated by Mr. (afterwards Sir George) 
Rose, the member for Christchurch, to Charles Abbot, the 
future Speaker, who was also interested in the subject, 
Abbot introduced the Population Bill in 1800, and on its 
being passed offered to Rickman the supervision of the 
returns. In view of Abbot's subsequent employment of 
Rickman as his secretary, it is not hard to suppose that 
Rickman's suspicions of a bribe were unfounded, and that 
his anti-ministerial ardours in reality blazed unseen. 

I hope I may be excused here in making a short digression 
upon the census, the work upon which Rickman was 
occupied more or less continuously for the rest of his 
life, though I do not propose to go into the question of its 
economic results. The whole machinery was set to work 
in 1801 by Rickman, who was given an office in the Cockpit, 1 
and authority to choose his clerks. The aim was to find 
out not only the number of the population, but also to 
estimate the increase or decrease from the records in the 
parish registers. The returns of 1801 were made by the 
clergy under six heads : 

1 A little valley off the Birdcage Walk. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 41 

(1) The number of inhabited houses, the number of 

uninhabited houses, and the number of families 
inhabiting each house ; 

(2) The number of persons, excluding soldiers and sailors, 

found in the parish on the day of inquiry ; 

(3) The number of persons engaged in trade, agriculture, 

manufacture, and the number not so engaged ; 

(4) The number of baptisms and funerals during every 

period of ten years from 1700 to 1780, and from 
1780 to 1800, in each year ; 

(5) The number of marriages yearly between 1754 and 

1800 (the Marriage Act not having been enforced 
till 1754) ; and 

(6) Explanatory remarks. 

From this short list of questions has sprung the elaborate 
census paper of to-day. It is not surprising that the returns 
of 1801, important as they are, were very inaccurate. The 
clergy were not all equally intelligent in draft ing their returns, 
and there was considerable difficulty in determining what 
constituted a family. The further question, requiring a 
return of parish registers, was so inaccurately answered that 
the results were not printed. In 1811 some improvements 
were made in the questions, old houses being distinguished 
from new, and in the question as to occupation families 
were substituted for persons. Only the births, deaths, 
and marriages were returned by the clergy, the rest of the 
inquiry being entrusted to the overseers of the parish. In 
1821 the questions were much the same, except that the 
number of persons of various ages the unit being 5 years 
from 1 to 20 and 10 years from 20 to 100 was specifically 
asked. 

In 1831 the scope of the inquiry was considerably 
enlarged. The difficulty of determining the constitution 
of a family was solved by applying the inquiry to males 
of twenty years of age, and making a careful schedule of 
the various trades and professions. The agricultural class 
was divided into occupiers of land employing labourers, 



42 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

occupiers not so doing, and labourers. The Parish Register 
Act of 1812 enabled a return to be made of ages at the 
time of death, and the whole returns were arranged for the 
first time under parishes, and no longer under hundreds. 
The returns of 1801, 1811, and 1821 were issued in single 
volumes. Those of 1831 were more elaborate. In view 
of the Reform Bill it was necessary to publish the in- 
formation as soon as possible. By a stupendous effort 
the digest of twenty-eight thousand returns, which did not 
come in till August 1831, was published in January 1832, 
in two volumes, entitled A Comparative Account of the 
population of Great Britain in 1831. Rickman's very able 
preface includes an account of the origins of London, and 
remarks upon the increased duration of life, with a mor- 
tality table for the county of Essex. But these two hastily 
produced volumes were superseded in 1833 by the Abstract 
of Returns, in three volumes, to which was prefaced a com- 
parative account, in one volume, of the results of the four 
census years. The Abstract contains a complete account 
of the parish registers of England. Rickman's preface to 
this Abstract shows him a master of his subject. ' A con- 
troversy/ as he says, ' of some duration had existed as to 
the increase or diminution of the population ; and the 
result of the Act of 1801 being adverse to the opinions of 
those who had taken a gloomy view of national resources, 
insinuations were not wanting against the accuracy of the 
enumeration.' Rickman therefore carefully explains the 
machinery, proves the efficacy of the 1821 returns from 
their use in the debates on the Reform Bill, and goes into 
the whole question of parish areas. There is also a general 
statistical inquiry to produce data for the average expec- 
tancy of life, and finally a comparison of the vie moyenne 
(expectation of life at birth), as calculated from the ages 
of the deceased (1813-1830), with the percentage increase 
of the population during the years 1801-1831 in the several 
counties of England. 

By his labours Rickman earned a well-deserved reputa- 
tion, at home and abroad, as a statistician. He became a 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 43 

Fellow of the Royal Society in 1815, and in 1833 received 
the honorary membership of the Societ6 Fran9aise de 
Statistique Universelle. He contributed several articles 
on the probability of Life to the Medical Gazette between 
1835 and 1837, and translated Deparcieux's work on the 
Probabilities and Duration of Human Life. During the last 
years of his life he was working continuously on the returns 
for 1841, as he had obtained leave to ask for returns of 
births, deaths, and marriages from 1570 to 1750, where early 
parish registers were known to exist. The result of this 
inquiry appears in the preface to the census return of 1841, 
in the form of a table giving the calculated population of 
the counties of England and Wales at intervals between 
1570 and 1750. 

Rickman's work upon the census was in every way 
patriotic. He had to make headway against many oppon- 
ents, chiefly of the Malthusian school, and even in the last 
year of his life he had to defend himself in a letter to the 
Home Office against an anonymous attack. In this letter, 
extracts from which are given in the MS. memoir in the 
House of Commons Library, he proves that, though he 
received on an average five hundred guineas for each return, 
this payment was supposed to cover a number of other 
statistical labours hi intermediate years, and that on the 
whole, from the necessity of advancing immediate working 
expenses which could not be recovered, he was financially 
an actual loser. Such a result is hardly creditable to the 
governments he had served. For far less services than his 
men have been heaped with rewards, but it is probable that 
Rickman's uncompromising political views made it only 
too easy to ignore the just claims which he himself would 
have scorned to put forward. 



CHAPTER III 

1801 to early 1802 

George Burnett Rickman secretary to Abbot in Ireland Letters from 
Lamb G. D.'s rescue His letter ' Horse medicine ' for Burnett 
His * second birth ' and tutorship Lamb and the Morning Post 
Abbot appointed Speaker Rickman leaves Ireland. 

BY the summer of 1801 Southey and his wife had returned 
from Portugal, and were staying at Bristol with their friends 
the Danvers. Southey had a hope of returning to Southern 
Europe as secretary to a legation, which explains Rickman's 
allusion to his going ' cost free ' in his letter of July 13. 
This and the following letter contain Rickman's views upon 
the political crisis which followed the union with Ireland, 
when Pitt resigned, and was succeeded by Addington. His 
explanation of events is hardly one that can be accepted 
in view of our present historical knowledge, but these letters 
show that aversion to the Whig party and that readiness to 
believe the worst of them which is so strong in his later 
letters. The first mention is here made by Rickman of 
the unfortunate George Burnett, the friend of Southey, 
Coleridge, and Lamb, who finally died in a workhouse in 
1811. Rickman's letters enable us to fill up some gaps in his 
story, which has never been fully told, though his name 
appears in lives of Lamb, in Mrs. Sandford's Thomas Poole 
and his Friends, and in Crabb Robinson's Diary. He was 
the son of a farmer in Somersetshire, and was sent to Balliol 
with a view to entering the Church. Unfortunately for him 
for he was of a weak, vain character he met Southey, then 
in his most revolutionary mood. Coleridge's visit to Oxford 
in 1794 resulted in the scheme of Pantisocracy, which, as 
Southey told Cottle, was talked into shape by Burnett and 
himself. Burnett threw up all idea of entering the Church, 

44 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 45 

and devoted himself to this mad plan of settling a Utopia 
on the banks of the Susquehanna. He fell entirely under 
Coleridge's domination, and lived with him for a time 
during his honeymoon at Clevedon. When Pantisocracy 
died he seems to have studied surgery in Edinburgh, and in 
1798 he was a Unitarian minister at Yarmouth, where he 
became tutor to Southey's brother, and made the acquaint- 
ance of William Taylor, the translator of Goethe. It is not 
certain when he came to London, nor how he met Rickman. 
I suspect that Dyer, the self-constituted support of the 
needy, took him in hand and introduced him to Rickman, 
possibly at Southey's recommendation. He was a man of 
some talent, but absolutely unpractical, as we shall see. 
Lamb found in him a continual source of laughter, Rickman 
as continual a source of irritation. Rickman's appoint- 
ment as Abbot's secretary speaks for itself. It was the 
beginning of an official career which only ended with his 
death. So much preface was necessary to the following 
two letters to Southey : 

'July 13th, 1801. 

' I received an unexpected pleasure on my return home 
this evening in hearing that you once more retread your 
natale solum. I suppose you stand among the last of the 
English in Portugal ; your description of their campaign 
is exactly what I expected of these Lusitanian heroes. I 
am glad you are pleased with the appearance of Thalaba 
in his new dress ; for my part I like him better in print than 
I did in MS. : wherefore, I know not. ... I question 
whether you have not formed a wrong opinion of the new 
Ministry ; in as far as you seem to identify them with 
their predecessors. I don't think there is the least con- 
nection. There are mutual reasons for civility from Pitt, 
that he might escape a threatened impeachment, from them 
to gain the aid of his personal friends I should perhaps say 
political friends, since his cold heart can have gained no 
other. However he gave away much necessarily ; and 
while gratitude is extant, must therefore retain some in- 



46 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

fluence. There is some hope of the present Premier 1 ; 
I suppose that even self-love cannot whisper to him that 
he is a great man ; therefore he is the more likely to conform 
to the public wish, and builds his hopes of stability on a 
speedy peace on reasonable terms. That he is well affected 
to science and improvements, I am well assured. Pitt had 
genius without acquired knowledge ; whence his affectation 
of infallibility and all the woes of Europe. The King's 
influence has turned him out ; a good effect from a bad 
cause. I am concerned, though not surprised to find you 
a little embarrassed about the purse ; I wish common sense 
had been suffered to take its course in your brother ; I find 
Burnet is one of the delinquents there. But he is so ab- 
stracted and thoughtless of the future in his own affairs, 
that nothing but ignorance of the world is to be imputed 
to him there. I am trying to teach him the worth of money 
by making him live on two guineas per week. Incredible 
as it may seem, he has spent all his resources without an 
exertion at anything decisive. I wish that you may 
resume the Review, that at least you may leave it to him 
as a legacy at your next departure. After the respectful 
criticisms on Alfred, 2 you may do that with a safe conscience. 
I hope and am trying to secure him better employment 
when his present labour ceases. You know that he is a 
fellow workman with me on a tedious job ; made so by the 
incredible inaccuracy of the returns under the Population 
Act. I write hundreds of letters to little purpose, and have 
worked about 9 weeks without being able to say that any- 
thing is done. However, I have made interest to have 
the state of the business published that blame may be 
shifted from me to those who deserve it ; and that thereby 
they may be stimulated to activity. However my vexa- 
tion at this delay will be well repaid ; since I am to follow 
Mr. Abbot to Ireland as his private secretary ; when you 
know that he is to be the real Governor of Ireland, you 
will think this a post of some consideration ; especially as 
I understand he means to attend the English Parliament 

1 Addington. * Cottle's poem. Seo note p. 27. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 47 

annually, and must therefore leave important matters to 
his Suppleans. 

' I thank God the Irish parliament is annihilated by the 
Union ! No dirty business to manage with the vilest 
assembly under the sun ! So I have heard them described 
by some of themselves. I am told that I shall have no 
disagreeable business, and have no objection to labour for 
the improvement of Ireland. You may suppose that 
nothing can be more pleasant in prospect than experiments 
for the civilisation of the untutored Irish. I am to be in 
Dublin (if possible) by the first of Sepr., therefore should be 
glad to hear of you, how you apportion your nearest time. 
I am to be partly here, and partly in Hampshire till the 
time of departure ; and have a power of choice about the 
" when " if timeously informed ; so that I may have much 
of the pleasure of your society. Longman has twice desired 
me to say, that he hopes to see you whenever you come to 
town. I abjure all my little aversion to poetry in deference 
to your cogent reasons ; I only think poetry bad in a man 
who may be better employed : a toy in manhood. Only 
don't write for the Stage : I think I don't slide into too 
strong a phrase, when I say, that the success of good 
dramatic poetry is physically impossible in England, while 
the theatres are so enormous. When the audience can no 
longer hear, they must degenerate into spectators of scenery 
and pantomime. I hope soon to see you in town to hear 
from you again sooner. I knew not that Davy was hence 
till I learnt it from your letter. I daresay you find him 
well pleased with his change of situation. He will be a great 
man in this only theatre of greatness. Danvers too is busy 
a glorious thing for a commonsense man, like him. For 
my part I think in all men that science is a relaxation in 
business business in science ; so two good things go on at 
a time. I am near the end of my paper therefore dedicate 
it to send my remembrances to Mrs. Danvers, Edith, Davy 
and Danvers and to desire that I may hear of you again 
at your first leisure. When you see Mrs. Sou they mention 
me to her.' 



48 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' LONDON, July 24, 1801. 

4 . . . I was in a mistake about the rout of the English 
from Portugal ; and you about the rout of Pitt, for the same 
reason distance from the scene. You speak of the Catholic 
question as involved in the last affair. It was a mere 
excuse so compleatly so, that the titular Bishop (of Cork 
I think) the agent here for the Irish Catholics, had only to 
observe, when applied to by the Opposition, that his em- 
ployers in Ireland were well enough satisfied, as things are. 
And well they may be so, as what they call Emancipation, 
consists only in a right to sit in Parliament they already 
vote for Members, which Catholics in England cannot do. 
If the point were conceded, only four or five Catholics 
would be returned " Parturiunt montes." Here 's a plain 
tale ; the King quarrelled with Pitt about the rejection 
of an augmentation of Army pay and Army patronage for 
the amusement of young hopefull, the Duke of York. Pitt 
was in the right ; but in England the King's influence is 
omnipotent with the aid of the Opposition, which he would 
be sure of always against any Minister. So Pitt went out, 
and both parties had obvious reasons for a decent ostensible 
cause. 

1 1 am in intention of visiting Hampshire in the commence- 
ment of August, then come back to arrange the last of the 
Population returns, then for Ireland. I am much distressed 
about Burnet : I never saw so unconvertible talents as 
his. I puzzle myself in thinking what he can ever be fit for. 
He thinks too highly of himself for common purposes ; and 
God knows he is fit for no other. I am trying to starve 
him into common sense and moderate expectations but 

1 fear he is incurable. At present he is confoundedly out 
of humour with me for administering this horse medicine. 
Our Population business is so much beneath him, that he 
has not yet condescended to understand it, and does not 

2 hours work in a day. I must dismiss all who cannot 
employ themselves without leading strings when I go for 
Christchurch ; so that his unwilling occupation will cease 
on Saturday week. He might be assistant at Hackney 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 49 

School ; or at a private academy at Cork if he would ! but 
receives such proposals with indignation as a disparagement 
to his abilities. Yet, greater men than he, have submitted 
to this drudgery. I know not what to do about him. On 
some surgical whim he writes to you this week. I am con- 
vinced there is nothing solid to be expected by him on that 
speculation. A little clinical Edinburgh theory is not 
much to the purpose in London. I shall be glad to hear 
from you by August 1st before I depart hence/ 

On August 1 there is further news of Burnett in a letter 
written to Southey just before Rickman's departure from 
London. 

4 Burnet improves ; he has had a recommendatory letter 
from Norwich, from Mr. Taylor to Dr. Aikin. This letter 
extols the said Burnet as one of the first men of the 
age ; and has had the good effect thus to rouse him from 
his lethargy, and make him walk erect. Dr. Aikin will 
admit his productions into the Monthly Mag. and may 
perhaps get him some other literary employ. But at this 
Burnet can never thrive anything like a task scares him, 
and give[s] him the Blue Devils, during whose influence he 
is fit for nothing but pestering his friends with moping 
epistles. I am pleased that he will soon come to knowledge 
of himself, of what he can do. At present it is all in the 
strong box. I am already lecturing him on this text, " Now 
that you are sure your labour will not be wasted, why don't 
you begin to write ? " He intends it, he says, and will 
doubtless intend it, till he discovers that he is incapable of 
any steady exertion. In the mean time on my expostulation, 
he has at length consented to condescend to understand our 
present business ; therefore of course he stays to the end 
of it. Hitherto he has always said that there was nothing 
to understand ; and therefore would not attend to thought 
about it. He has carried his abstraction, or the affecta- 
tion of it, so far, as to have asked, oftener than once, for 
instructions what he should do, when he had copied any- 
thing wrong. The answer, " Scratch it out, and correct it " 

D 



50 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

did not disconcert him at all. His abstraction was to go 
for philosophy, and an indication of mental powers superior 
to the business-doing part of mankind. I begin to have 
hopes of him for all this, and as you may suppose, shall 
do for him as much real good as I can.' 

Of Rickman's departure Lamb wrote to his friend Manning 
on August 31 : 

' I have just lost Rickman, a faint idea of whose 
character I sent you. He has gone to Ireland for a year 
or two to make his fortune ; and I have lost by his going 
what seems to me I can never recover a finished man. His 
memory will be to me as the brazen serpent to the Israelites, 
I shall look up to it, to keep me straight and honest.' 

Lamb constituted himself the chief news-writer to Rick- 
man during his absence from London, and six letters from 
him during the autumn of 1801 begin the collection of 
twenty which Rickman preserved. These letters were only 
published in the last edition of Lamb's Letters by Canon 
Ainger (1906), so that they are little known. I am, unfor- 
tunately, prevented from quoting them. The first letter, 
dated September 16, is from Margate, and refers to a letter 
from Rickman containing an offer about Lamb's play- 
probably the offer which was repeated later to defray the 
cost of its printing. Lamb refuses, as he is expecting the 
repayment of a loan. He proceeds to relate the fact that 
George Dyer has introduced him to the Morning Chronicle ; 
that Burnett (whom Lamb nicknamed George n., the Bishop, 
and G. B.) has just finished a metaphysical essay, on which 
he humorously comments, and is in very comfortable rooms 
with the son of a wine merchant who keeps them in two 
sorts of wine ; and that Godwin is about to married, his 
second play having been refused. Lamb follows this with 
an inimitable description (on October 9) of a visit to George 
Dyer, whom he found very dirty and inconsolable because 
he had no tribute ready to the memory of Gilbert Wakefield, 
the editor of Lucretius, who was just dead. George Burnett, 
who was nearly well of his ' metaphyz,' had supped with him 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 51 

the night before, and Lamb gives the gist of his mad argu- 
ment about the ethics of prosecuting a highwayman when 
you had promised under violence not to do so. He also 
describes a visit from a needy visitor, for whom Lamb 
humorously asks Rickman to find a post. 

Rickman arrived in Ireland at the beginning of September ; 
Abbot, as we learn from his Diary, 1 having arrived in July. 
England was still at war, and there were considerable fears 
of rebellion and invasion at Dublin. The official life of that 
ardent reformer was highly strenuous, and we can be sure 
that Rickman, who makes little reference to his official 
business, had all the work he could desire. In October 
Southey joined his friend at Dublin. Through Rickman's 
influence he had been appointed private secretary to Mr. 
Corry, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer for 
Ireland. He held the post, which meant alternate residence 
in London and Dublin, for nearly a year. On October 16 
Southey wrote to his wife 2 : 

4 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 on it. 
He has astonished the people about him. The government 
stationer hinted to him 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 his own right way.' 

To his friend Grosvenor Bedford Southey wrote 3 : 

* I am reconciled to my lot, inasmuch as the neighbour- 

1 Diary of Lord Colchester, i. xiv. 

1 Life and Correspondence of R. S., ii. 168. 

Selections from the Letters of R. S. t L 176. 



52 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

hood of Dublin is very lovely, and in John Rickman's 
society I feel little want of any other. He and I, like a 
whale and a man, are of the same genus, though with great 
specific differences. If he lives long enough, I expect to see 
him one of the greatest and most useful men our country 
has produced. He bends everything to practice. His very 
various knowledge is always brought to bear upon some 
point of general importance ; and his situation will now 
give him the power of producing public benefit.' 

Early in November Lamb wrote again to Rickman. The 
following letter was found by Mr. Gordon Wordsworth, 
and by his permission and that of Mr. E. V. Lucas, who 
printed it in his edition of Lamb's works, I am permitted 
to reproduce it. It is one of the best Lamb ever wrote : 

' A letter from G. Dyer will probably accompany this. 
I wish I could convey to you any notion of the whim- 
sical scenes I have been witness to in this fortnight past. 
'Twas on Tuesday week the poor heathen scrambled up 
to my door about breakfast time. He came thro' a violent 
rain with no neckcloth on, and a beard that made him a 
spectacle to men and angels, and tap'd at the door. Mary 
open'd it, and he stood stark still and held a paper hi his 
hand importing that he had been ill with fever. He either 
wouldn't or couldn't speak except by signs. When you 
went to comfort him he put his hand upon his heart and 
shook his head, and told us his complaint lay where no 
medecine could reach it. I was dispatch'd for Dr. Dale, 
Mr. Phillips of St. Paul's Churchyard, and Mr. Frend, who 
is to be his executor. George solemnly delivered into 
Mr. Frend's hands and mine an old burnt preface that had 
been in the fire, with injunctions which we solemnly vow'd 
to obey that it should be printed after his death with his last 
corrections, and that some account should be given to the 
world why he had not fulfill'd his engagement with sub- 
scribers. Having done this and borrow'd two guineas of 
his bookseller l (to whom he imparted in confidence that he 

Phillips. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 53 

should leave a great many loose papers behind him which 
would only want methodising and arranging to prove very 
lucrative to any bookseller after his death), he laid himself 
down on my bed in a mood of complacent resignation. By 
the aid of meat and drink put into him (for I all along sus- 
pected a vacuum) he was enabled to sit up in the evening, 
but he had not got the better of his intolerable fear of 
dying; he expressed such philosophic indifference in his 
speech and such frightened apprehensions in his physio- 
gnomy that if he had truly been dying, and I had known 
it, I could not have kept my countenance. In particular, 
when the doctor came and ordered him to take little white 
powders (I suppose of chalk or alum, to humour him) he 
ey'd him with a suspicion which I could not account for ; 
he has since explained that he took it for granted Dr. Dale 
knew his situation and had ordered him these powders to 
hasten his departure that he might suffer as little pain as 
possible. Think what an aspect the heathen put on with 
these fears upon a dirty face. To recount all his freaks for 
two or three days while he thought he was going, and how 
the fit operated, and sometimes the man got uppermost, and 
sometimes the author, and he had this excellent person to 
serve, and he must correct some proof sheets for Phillips, 
and he could not bear to leave his subscribers unsatisfy'd, 
but he must not think of these things now, he was going to 
a place where he should satisfy all his debts and when 
he got a little better be began to discourse what a happy 
thing it would be if there was a place where all good men 
and women in the world might meet, meaning heav'n, and 
I really believe for a time he had doubts about his soul, for 
he was very near, if not quite, light-headed. The fact was 
he had not had a good meal for some days and his little 
dirty Neice (whom he sent for with a still dirtier Nephew, 
and hugg'd him, and bid them farewell) told us that unless 
he dines out he subsists on tea and gruels. And he corro- 
borated this tale by ever and anon complaining of sensations 
of gnawing which he felt about his heart, which he mistook his 
stomach to be, and sure enough these gnawings were dissi- 



54 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

pated after a meal or two, and he surely thinks that he has 
been rescued from the jaws of death by Dr. Dale's white 
powders. He is got quite well again by nursing, and chirps 
odes and lyric poetry the day long he is to go out of town 
on Monday, and with him goes the dirty train of his papers 
and books which follow'd him to our house. I shall not be 
sorry when he takes his nipt carcase out of my bed, which 
it has occupied, and vanishes with all his Lyric lumber, but 
I will endeavour to bring him in future into a method of 
dining at least once a day. I have proposed to him to dine 
with me (and he has nearly come into it) whenever he does 
not go out ; and pay me. I will take his money beforehand 
and he shall eat it out. If I don't it will go all over the 
world. Some worthless relations, of which the dirty little 
devil that looks after him and a still more dirty nephew, 
are component particles, I have reason to think divide all 
his gains with some lazy worthless authors that are his con- 
stant satellites. The Literary Fund has voted him season- 
ably 20 and if I can help it he shall spend it on his own 
carcase. I have assisted him in arranging the remainder 
of what he calls Poems and he will get rid of 'em I hope in 
another. . . . [Here three lines are lost in which Lamb makes 
a transition to George Burnett.] 

1 1 promised Burnet to write when his parcel went. He 
wants me to certify that he is more awake than you think 
him. I believe he may be by this time, but he is so full of 
self-opinion that I fear whether he and Phillips will ever 
do together. What he is to do for Phillips he whimsically 
seems to consider more as a favor done to P. than a job 
from P. He still persists to call employment dependence, 
and prates about the insolence of booksellers and the tax 
upon geniuses. Poor devil ! he is not launched upon the 
ocean and is sea-sick with aforethought. I write plainly 
about him, and he would stare and frown finely if he read 
this treacherous epistle, but I really am anxious about 
him, and that nettles me to see him so proud and so help- 
less. If he is not serv'd he will never serve himself. I 
read his long letter to Southey, which I suppose you have 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 55 

seen. He had better have been furnishing copy for Phillips 
than luxuriating in tracing the causes of his imbecillity. 
I believe he is a little wrong in not ascribing more to the 
structure of his own mind. He had his yawns from nature, 
his pride from education. 

' I hope to see Sou they soon, so I need only send my 
remembrances to him now. Doubtless I need not tell him 
that Burnett is not to be foster'd in self-opinion. His eyes 
want opening, to see himself a man of middling stature. 
I am not oculist enough to do this. The booksellers may 
one day remove the film. I am all this time on the most 
cordial supping terms of amity with G. Burnett and really 
love him at times : but I must speak freely of people behind 
their backs and not think it back-biting. It is better than 
Godwin's way of telling a man he is a fool to his face. 

* I think if you could do anything for George in the way 
of an office (God knows whether you can in any haste, 
but you talk of it) it is my firm belief that it would bo his 
only chance of settlement ; he will never live by his literary 
exertions, as he calls them he is too proud to go the 
usual way to work and he has no talents to make that way 
unnecessary. I know he talks big in his letter to Southey 
that his mind is undergoing an alteration and that the die 
is now casting that shall consign him to honor or dis- 
honour, but these expressions are the convulsions of a 
fever, not the sober workings of health. Translated into 
plain English, he now and then perceives he must work 
or starve, and then he thinks he '11 work ; but when he 
goes about it there 's a lion in the way. He came dawdling 
to me for an Encyclopaedia yesterday. I recommended 
him to Norris' library and he said if he could not get it 
there, Phillips was bound to furnish him with one ; it was 
Phillips' interest to do so and all that. This was true with 
some restrictions but as to Phillips' interests to oblige 
G. B, ! Lord help his simple head ! P. could by a whistle 
call together a host of such authors as G. B. like Robin 
Hood's merry men in green. P. has regular regiments in 
pay. Poor writers are his crab-lice and suck at him for 



56 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

nutriment. His round pudding chops are their idea of 
plenty when in their idle fancies they aspire to be rich. 

1 What do you think of a life of G. Dyer ? I can scarcely 
conceive a more amusing novel. He has been connected 
with all sects in the world and he will faithfully tell all he 
knows. Every body will read it ; and if it is not done 
according to my fancy I promise to put him in a novel 
when he dies. Nothing shall escape me. If you think 
it feasible, whenever you write you may encourage him. 
Since he has been so close with me I have perceiv'd the 
workings of his inordinate vanity, his gigantic attention 
to particles and to prevent open vowels in his odes, his 
solicitude that the public may not lose any tittle of his 
poems by his death, and all the while his utter ignorance 
that the world don't care a pin about his odes and his 
criticisms, a fact which every body knows but himself he 
is a rum genius. C. L.' 

This letter shows Lamb's solicitude for his ' ragged 
regiment ' of friends. That Burnett should have won 
his affection is sufficient proof that G. B. was not without 
many good qualities. He was at this time working for 
Phillips upon Dr. Mavor's Universal History, which appeared 
in 1802 a dull enough compilation in some twenty volumes. 
The date of Lamb's letter which Mr. Lucas gives as ' ? Nov.' 
is approximately settled by Rickman's letter of November 7 
(quoted below) enclosing it to Southey x together with the 
letter from George Dyer which Lamb mentions as about 
to accompany his own. Dyer's letter has been preserved, 
and is interesting from the fact that no private letters 
from the incomparable G. D. have ever been published. 
Southey had left Dublin to attend Mr. Corry in London, 
and had doubtless shown to Rickman the foolish letter 
written by Burnett, who had a mania for bursting out 
into tirades against his friends, especially Southey, for 
not making a better man of him. Similar outbursts to 

1 Southey must have sent the letter on to Wordsworth, in whose posses- 
sion it remained. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 57 

Rickman, as we shall see, brought down thunder upon his 
head in a very short time. His metaphysical essay does not 
seem to have been published. 

' DUBLIN CASTLE, 
' Saturday Night, Novr. 7th, 1801. 

' I have just received yours, from whence I gladly hear 
of your arrival in town. Your letter has arrived at a 
most awkward time for the immediate and solid answer, 
since the next post goes not till Monday night, and it is too 
late to procure English notes for transmissal. You would 
think me a little tardy in not being prepared ; but I had 
good reason for not moving in this business till necessary, 
since the exchange has been constantly more and more 
favourable, and I expect to transmit to you at 9J instead of 
13J, which I believe you paid. This will be 40/ in the small 
sum to be sent. You know 8J is par : and we are now 
exporting beef and corn so fast that it will be there soon. 
That you will be idle enough, i.e. that you will have much 
time at your own disposal under Mr. Cony, I did and do 
believe but I retract the idea I held about the non-existence 
of your office in peace, I have now cause almost to know the 
contrary. Be that as it may, so much the better for you and 
also so much the better for me. I like head work well, so 
that somebody follows science for me ; that is Irish science ; 
for I should be itching after some literary memory and 
tokens and monuments of the present Administration here, 
if I were alone, and perhaps itching in vain from over-much 
occupation, but if you will take care of that part of the 
business, I shall work on as comfortably and steadily as the 
dullest dray-horse. I have had divers letters from London 
since your departure, part of one packet I have remitted to 
you, and with this you receive the rest of it, except a letter 
of ineffable absurdity from G. B. to J. R. Lamb will shew 
you an extract speciminis ergo. The joke was going too far, 
and I have endeavoured to cure the man's insanity by a 
paper containing horse medicine : coarse in itself and rather 



58 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

caustic, but (as you say of cod-fish) a good substratum for 
medicaments of the best kind which you must administer. 
In his answer it seems that he still reveres honesty a good 
symptom. When you read his essay P. 25 push him 
once and again upon the consequences of that page : it 
contains the metaphysical gradations to determined villainy, 
stopping short of the mark which the writer could not see to. 
Nevertheless I am vexed that I cannot oppose anything to 
such arguments, but the old, true observation " By their 
fruits shall ye know them." If you can quash them better, 
and a priori, I reckon it a serious good. I send you herewith 
what I much value ; a letter from Lamb of exquisite, per- 
haps unparallelled description ; and of an interesting affair ; 
literally and seriously, of G. Dyer starving to death and 
rescued from that ruefull fate by the said C. Lamb. What 
strange men do we know ! Dyer who can starve to death, 
without knowing it, Lamb who can rescue him, and enjoy it 
as a joke, and Burnet of whom no mortal can make any 
thing : certainly most unaccountable of all. The Goule also 
must be put on your list of remarkables ; he is high on mine. 
If you see him not at Lamb's, call at the Cockpit ; if the 
Population gentry are at work ask for Mr. Beaumont and 
say who you are. If you converse with him three minutes, 
and in casting round your eyes in pursuit of ugliness you do 
not detect Simmonds, I pronounce you have no taste or nose 
for Goules. . . . 

' G. Dyer's letter lyes before me ; I must send it, garnished 
with mischievous scrawls. Give my compts. to Burnet the 
writer of his own times and tell him that his essay is, 
me judice, very good in choice of words, though tinged with 
what my brutal taste calls modern jargon. That it is 
commonplace, but very good commonplace and that I 
doubt no part of his ability to write his Introduction or 
future history, except his industry and perseverance of 
which no one can pronounce, as Solon I think said, before 
the end. That I have reced. his last letter, and am well 
pleased with it, though I think he ought to have been a little 
more angry, finally that I wish him well.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 59 

Here is Dyer's letter. The exclamations in parentheses 
are in Rickman's hand. 

' DEAR SIR, I am much obliged by your favour, and 
ought to have replied sooner, tho' indeed I have been lately 
so unwell, that I have been obliged to lay aside attention to 
letter writing. Yes, I have had a fever, and have been this 
fortnight past the guest, night and day with our good friend 
Charles Lamb ; his sister has been my kind nurse, and by 
help of her, and a physician I am brought right again. How 
dare you call me a railer at all Governments ? (Exquisite 
George ! ! ! ) My opinion is, I think both modest and generous, 
viz. : that some govern too much, and too much govern- 
ment, sooner or later, defeats its own purposes, and brings 
on troubles. Rulers therefore should be taught moderation ; 
and should understand, that if their interest, and the interest 
of the people are not the same, they are, so far, not standing 
on good and solid ground. I am glad you find employment, 
that you like, and I most heartily wish you could find some 
for Burnett. I begin very much to fear ; from what Lamb 
says, that he will succeed but poorly in authorship, for it is 
not for every one, even of talents, to live by authorship 
(climax here) ; and Burnett will not engage in tuition. In 
short, Rickman, I fear, if you do not stand his friend he is 
likely to fare but ill. I can render him, I fear, no service. 
His objects are out of my sight, and his wishes are beyond 
my reach. The truth is I can, now, render nobody any 
service, and must confine my attention to a very few 
subjects, and a very few persons : I shall be obliged to do so, 
as well from the weak state of my health, as from my total 
inability ; much seclusion, little company, and few anxieties 
I am determined to seek after, as the only means, that can 
now make me tolerably easy or render an existence for a few 
years either probable or desirable. So among other cases of 
distress I must give up Burnett, for, I fear his will prove one 
case of distress (G. Dyer still), unless you can find him some 
snug birth in Ireland ; you know the man. If I could 
render him service I should be happy : but things that I 



60 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

proposed to him he disapproves, and therefore I entreat you 
to think of him, for he seems to me to possess some good 
qualities (G. Dyer again), and if you could serve him, I 
think you would have no reason to accuse your own humanity 
only to cause you folly. I intend to have two volumes of 
poems out in the winter, and I hope they will be more 
readable, and appear in a more agreeable form, than my 
last, smaller size, better print, and paper, than the first. 
I shall always be very happy to hear from you. This is 
one of the first letters I have written this fortnight ; for 
Charles Lambe (I have not been able to write myself) has 
been condescending enough to be my scribe. So I may say, 
see how large a letter I have written with my own hand. 
Yrs. truly, G. DYER. 

' P.S. Lamb and sister unite in good wishes. Having 
filled my letter, I am obliged to make an odd bundle of a 
letter to put under cover to an M.P. I intended to have 
written to R. Sou they, by this conveyance, but was not sure 
he was with you ; and, indeed, he has been travelling so 
about, that I never knew where I could send to him with 
safety. I owe him a letter, which I shall be happy to pay 
him : have however written full enough for me at present/ 

The letter from Burnett to Rickman must have arrived 
late in October or early in November, for in a short, undated 
letter to Rickman Lamb alludes to his having received 
Rickman 's extract from it a demand for a place at six 
weeks' notice and takes upon himself the blame of having 
so addressed the packet that it cost Rickman seventeen 
shillings, a fact which added considerably to the latter's in- 
dignation. In this letter Lamb says that Southey is not 
arrived, which dates his own letter before November 7, 
though Canon Aingcr has wrongly printed it after Lamb's of 
November 24. A postscript to this same letter speaks of 
having received ' this moment ' a packet for Southey 
probably the letter quoted above. If so, Lamb's undated 
letter certainly should be dated November 9 or 10. As we 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 61 

shall see, Rickman's ire had also been roused by accounts of 
Burnett's laziness over the population business, and this, 
added to the fact that he received Burnett's letter after 
drinking claret, which (as he says) always put him in a bad 
humour, seems to have produced a downright anathema for 
poor Burnett, in which he was cruelly informed that both 
Rickman and Southey considered him a mediocrity. In 
his letter of November 24 Lamb says he has seen this 
' rouzing ' letter, and deprecates its harshness, while bowing 
to Rickman's better judgment. Southey's first letter from 
town, in which he begins by humorously describing his 
duties, 1 which he obviously found trivial and vexatious, 
makes no allusion to Rickman's 'horse medicine,' for he 
proceeds : 

'Nov. 20th, 1801. 

' . . . Burnett's essay may be entitled Much Ado About 
Nothing. It is well written in its way, but a damned ugly 
long way it is. These metaphysicians tease me wire spin- 
ning and gold beating their meaning they have to tell you 
the amount of ten times ten they take an hour in getting 
at the sum unit by unit. I am sorry you did not see his 
letter to me. That is curious. It is the history of his own 
mind the out-blaze of a vanity that has been smoking 
under green weeds for seven good years. Written with 
warmth and feeling, for the, subject was at his heart and in 
his heart, if he could but be as animated by anything else 
it would do. A fair trial of the trade will do him good. 
At work he is, and where no great despatch is needful George 
can work as well as any of Mr. Phillips' merry-men, when he 
has found out that his metaphysics are not saleable, that he 
has not quickness enough ever to acquire much knowledge, 
and that what knowledge he has is not ready at need, then 
I suppose he will condescend to the common employment of 
life. Poor fellow ! he would think himself degraded by 
giving to boys the elements of learning and yet he will 

1 The first part (which I omit) and the last part of this letter are pub- 
lished in Life and Correspondence oj R. ., u. 174. 



62 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

write for Mr. Phillips' hire, restricted as to subject and even 
as to pages and under Dr. Mayor's name ! If this be not 
great straining and camel swallowing with a vengeance ! 
he should be sowing the grain and he will be making the 
bread. 



Evprjica. Evprjrca. Evprjtca. 

6 You remember your heretical proposition de Cambro- 
Britannis that the principality had never produced and 
never could produce a great man, that I opposed Owen 
Glendwr and Sir Henry Morgan to the assertion but in vain, 
but I have found the Great man and not merely the Great 
man the Maximus homo the yiteytc-To? avOputiros, the 
fjueyio-Toraro^ we must create a super-superlative to reach 
the idea of his magnitude. I found him in the Strand in 
a shop window laudably therein exhibited by a Cambro- 
Briton, the Engraver represents him sitting in a room 
that seems to be of a cottage or at best a farm pen in 
hand eyes-uplifted, and underneath is inscribed, 

The Cambrian Shakespear. 

but woe is me for my ignorance the motto that followed 
surpassed my skill in language tho' it doubtless was a 
delectable morsel from that Great Welshman's poems. 
You must however allow the justice of the name given him, 
for all his writings are in Welsh and the Welshmen say he 
is as great a man as Shakespear, and they must know 
because they can understand him. I enquired what might 
be the trivial name of this light and lustre of our Dark age 
but it hath escaped me only that it meant, being interpreted 
either Tom a Denbigh or some such everyday baptismal 
denomination. And now am I no prophet if you have not 
before you have arrived thus far uttered a three-worded 
sentence of malediction. . . , 

6 To-day I go dine with Lord Holland. Wynn 1 is inti- 

1 Southey's friend, C. W. Wynn, M.P., who became President of the 
Board of Control in 1 822 in Liverpool's ministry. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 63 

mate with him and my invitation is for the sake of Thalaba, 
the sale of Thalaba is slow about 300 only gone. 

4 George Dyer has just been here, his disorder he said 
required a violent exertion to remedy it. Lamb has made a 
perfect cure. Thank you for that nonpareil letter. Edith's 
remembrance. Yours truly, R. SOUTHEY.' 

This letter and a shorter one, saying that Corry had hinted 
to Southey that he might write the history of the war in 
Egypt, were answered by Rickman in a letter of November 
26. 

' DUBLIN CASTLE, Nwr. 26th, 1801. 

4 1 am glad to learn by yours of the 21st inst. that 
the 40 arrived safe. The packet should have reached 
you the same day, and I suppose did so the next. I shall 
enquire the wherefore of the delay. In the meantime I 
am glad I sent the bill under a distinct cover, and put it 
into the Post Office myself. 

' I am amused by your no-occupation, and am well pleased 
to find that as I suspected the Chan. Exchequer seems 
to intend to retain you for purposes much to your taste. 
Were I asked to write of Egypt, I should fear that the 
official knowledge is rather dry and uncircumstantial. 
However Sir Sydney Smith can aid you much if he chooses, 
having (as I hear) brought over with him a copy of all the 
orders issued by Bonaparte while in Egypt. In doing 
justice to all parties, I do not think you will have occasion 
to displease Government ; you will find Bonaparte rather 
worse than at present you may perhaps suspect. Have 
you heard of his slaughter of 3500 Turks at Jaffa, who 
had surrendered on terms ? He drew them up in a line 
opposite to his armed troops, and gave the word, Charge 
Bayonet ! In fact, he seems something between Caesar 
and Alexander ; without the follies of the last, and (as 
I think) without so much solidity as the first. Which of 
the three be the greatest rascal, ajropa) ! All in their day 
the enemies of mankind ; Caesar and Bonaparte of their 



64 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

own country. Remember the Deux-Tiers affair ; which 
first raised the Frenchman into notice ; and remember his 
mean avarice of fame at the Bridge of Novi and at Marengo. 
What myriads were sacrificed in vain of those to whom 
he was military parent as General ! For management, and 
good fortune, he is surely eminent ; whether he has litera- 
ture, whether he likes it, or whether he thinks it good 
policy to seem to like it, is not clear I suspect the last 
but you know how much I detest the French I should 
hold the scales dangerously. Thank you for the Welsh- 
man, whom I commend to your better acquaintance, you 
must now learn Welsh of course, and translate his plays. 
Your picture of G. Burnett is very just. I am quite sick 
of him, longer connection naturally keeps him nearer you, 
and I should be sorry he were quite deserted. Additional 
to his silly letter (a place at six weeks notice) the same 
post brought me a letter of information about him, for 
which I had laid a train. As you have now learnt surely, 
I may tell you here. I left him a trifling task ruling 
certain lines in the Population books, merely to try his 
power of attention to anything like a fixed task. The 
unlucky wight who was to write in the said lines suffered 
for this, forced to go for the sheets one by one, to urge the 
gentleman daily for supply, sometimes finding him in bed 
at One, at other times at a stand on a plea of wanting ink, 
and finally by necessity the task thrown up in despair ! 
A good specimen of activity in business. I have done with 
him. 

' I wish I could lend you all I ever knew or thought about 
the subjects which you are to perpend. 1 There is some- 
thing about most of them in that Magazine, 2 which Lamb 
can lend you. I believe I can even rummage out some MS. 
on the subject, 2 or 3 years old. In your next (if you think 
of it) tell me whether that publication goes on. I suppose 
not at all, or most vilely. Tell Lamb I want to hear from 
him, and of his play. I shall receive money enough (from 

1 Cony had told him to read up corn law, finance, and tythes. 
1 Edited by Rickman in 1800. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 65 

the Population business) soon, and he may draw largely 
on that projected publication. Though as a play (in the 
abstract) it is not good, there is much too good to be lost 
in it, besides I wish to give the world one more chance of 
shewing taste/ 

Sou they meanwhile had written again. 1 

* 25 BRIDGE STREET, 
* WESTMINSTER, November 27, 1801. 

1 MY DEAR RICKMAN, This morning I called on Burnett, 
whom I found recovering from a bilious flux and in the 
action of folding up a letter designed for you. He then 
for the first time shewed me your letter and his reply. I 
perceived that the provoking blunder in Lamb's direction 
affected the tone of yours, and that the seventeen shillings- 
worth of anger fell upon George. Your caustic was too 
violent : it eat thro' the proud flesh, but it has also wounded 
the feeling and healthy part below. The letter which I 
have suppressed was in the same stile as his last. I pre- 
vailed on him to lay it up in his desk, because it was no 
use showing you the wound you had inflicted, and your 
time would be better anyhow employed than in reading 
full pages that were not written with the design of giving 
pleasure. That your phrases were too harsh I think, and 
Lamb and Mary Lamb think also 'twas a horse medicine 
a cruel doze of yellow gamboodge. 

* What I foresaw or rather hoped would take place is 
now going on in him. He begins to discover that hackney- 
ing authorship is not the way to be great, to allow that 
six hours writing in a public office is better than the same 
number of hours labour for a fat publisher, thac it is more 
certain, less toilsome, quite as respectable. I have even 
prevailed on him to attend to his hand-writing, on the 
possibility of some such happy appointment, and doubt 
not ere long to convince him, in his own way, of the moral 
fitness of writing straight lines and distinct letters accord- 

1 Selections from the Letters o}R. S., i. 181-183. 



6G LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

ing to all the laws of mind. He wishes to get a tutor's 
place. In my judgment a clerk's would suit him better, 
for its permanence. Nothing like experience ! He would 
not think its duties beneath him, and if he were so set at 
ease from the daily bread and cheese anxieties that would 
disorder a more healthy intellect than his, I believe that 
passion for distinction which haunts him, would make 
him, in the opinion of the world, the booksellers and himself, 
a very pretty historian quite as good as any of the Scotch 
breed. It puzzles me how he has learnt to sound his sen- 
tences so ear-tickingly. He has never rough-hewn any- 
thing, but he finishes like a first journey-man. 

' Write to him some day, and lay on an emollient plaister, 
it would heal him, and comfort him. A very active man 
we shall never have, but as active as nature will let him 
he will soon be, and quite enough for daily official work. 
If you could set him in the land of potatoes we should, I 
believe in conscience see the Historian of the Twelve Caesars 
become a great man. A more improbable prophecy of 
mine about the wretched Alfred has been fulfilled. 

' Mr. Corry and I have met once since my last, and no 
mention was made about Egypt. The silence satisfied 
me because Portugal is a better and far more suitable 
subject. It is odd that he has never asked me to dine with 
him, and not quite accordant with his general courtliness 
of conduct. Seeing little of him I have not formed so 
high an opinion of his talents or information as you had 
led me to conceive. Doubtless in his own department 
he possesses both, but on all other ground I am the better 
traveller, and he hardly knows the turnpike when I have 
beat thro' all the byways and windings and cross roads. 
I found it expedient to send him my sundry books in com- 
pliance with a hint to that effect. He called to thank me, 
and this dropping a card has been the extent of my per- 
sonal and avoidable civility. To my great satisfaction I 
have entire leisure that is to my jyresent comfort for it 
does not promise much for the future. . . . The Magazine 
exists, I certify its existence having seen one for this month 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 67 

in a window. The spirit having left it I suspect Vampirism 
in its present life. 

* Coleridge is in town, 1 you should commute your Star 
for the Morning Post, in which you will see good things 
from him, and such occasional verses as I may happen to 
execute. The Anthology is revivescent under the eye of 
blind Tobin, 2 to whom all the honour and glory and papers 
are transferred. There will be enough of the old leaven 
to keep up the family likeness to its half-brothers. Madoc 
is on the anvil slow and sure. I expect my Portugal 
paper this evening with my Mother and shall return with 
new appetite to my dear old folios. 

* The letter to which you referred in your money-letter 
as directed here, never arrived. You who have the Great 
Seal at command had better always write straight, and 
do give Burnett a line your letter was too hard and 
you would do a kind action by easing him of resentment/ 

The offer of money which Rickman made to Lamb 
through Southey was again refused in an undated letter, 
the sixth in the collection of Lamb's letters to him. It 
tells of George Dyer's dining regularly with Lamb and 
bringing his shilling ; of Burnett being ' much reduced,' 
and Coleridge's recommendation of him to the editor of 
the Morning Post, on which Lamb also hoped to get 
work ; of Southey and the impending death of his mother ; 
and of Lamb's friends Godwin, Fen wick, and Fell. 

On December 5 a short note from Rickman to Southey 
shows that he appreciated the humours of the Irish. He 
announces that he has just read Castle Eackrent, and ' can 
I be aisy again at all at all till I have put all my friends in 
possession of a bit of the bog of Allybally-carrickoshaughlin? ' 
He asks Southey to order six copies, four to be given to 
his cousin Beaumont, one to Lamb, and one to Southey's 

1 Coleridge was in London from November 15 till Christmas. 

1 Of Clifford's Inn, friend of Lamb and Coleridge. His brother was a 
dramatist. Lamb refers to him in his essay ' Thoughts on Books and 
Reading.* 



68 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

mother. He announces having written a penitent letter 
to Burnett, and ends : ' I wrote to Lamb the other day, 
and am quite pleased to think I have been accessory to 
the regeneration and first edition of my noble Margaret 
(the heroine of John Woodvil). I shall be desperately 
in love when I meet her counterpart.' In a second note 
he writes : 

4 Under a trivial Irish name of a place, Mr. A. has 
detected an Etymology which would enliven a whole page 
of any dull Etymologic : Magnum. 

' The Gentry about Dublin are in the habit of calling their 
country seats by outlandish names. Hence we have 
Marino, Belle-vue, Casino, etc. in the neighbourhood. 
In this taste a gentleman building a new house towards 
Drogheda christened it Bel-re tiro. 

4 1 charge you to pause three full minutes before you turn 
over ; and guess at its present trivial Irish name. 

BALLYRUDDERY. 
300 Copies. 

Chear thee, Chear thee, Thalaba. 
A little yet hold on. 



Criticum Britannicum ipse vidi. 
Splash ! Splash ! Splash ! 

' J. R.' 

Southey's answer soon followed. 

'Friday, December 11, 1801. 

* Yesterday (the day after your letterling reached me) 
I journeyed to Johnson's for my friend Thady. 1 You 
were mistaken in supposing I could get them at the trade 

1 Thady Quirk, the narrator of the story in Castle Rackrent, which Miss 
Edgeworth published anonymously. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 69 

price. I cannot even get my own books without paying 
the full charge. There were no copies ready else I should 
have dropt one with Mary Lamb, and introduced myself to 
Mr. Beaumont with the others. Of course they will arrive 
to-day. 

* Mr. Corry has found out an employment for me to 
go with him and his son to Walker's lectures and sit two 
hours every other morning hearing what I have known 
God knows how long. 

' Burnett has a situation which he cannot keep ! It is 
only to make up matter for the Courier from the French 
papers and from Peltier's * Paris, after the news has been 
taken from them, mere child's work : for two or three 
columns a week he receives a guinea and a half while on 
trial, two guineas if he continues ; his sawneying and un- 
teachable indolence almost surpasses belief. He is totter- 
ing now in Coleridge's leading strings. I know not what 
can become of him. He is in deep water, and will neither 
strike out hand or foot to save himself. Bless the news- 
papers ! Lamb also has an engagement with the Morning 
Post. He will be eminently useful there, and will I doubt 
not make it a permanent source of income. . . . 

' London robs me of all leisure. One calls and another 
calls, and if I have not those interruptions, the incon- 
venience of one only sitting-room effectually prevents 
continuous attention to any subject. At the year's end 
I shall not be richer than if this connection with the Irish 
Chancellor had not existed. True that the salary is gained 
without effort, and so much exertion ^aved, should be 
accounted gain ; with the year it must end, and my ulti- 
mate gain will be what little knowledge of Ireland may be 
acquired in the next visit ; it is worth a year's hard travel- 
ling to see a floating Island. 

1 Thanks for the etymology ! 



1 A French refugee who edited a paper called Paris in London. His 
attacks on Napoleon were made a subject of complaint by the Emperor to 
th British Government. 



70 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

c I enclose a second note with great pleasure to an- 
nounce the real and true second birth of George Burnett. 
He has found out his blunder, and actually discovered to 
his own downright conviction, that he is not fit for an 
author. His eyes are opened upon his own ignorance. 

' Conveniently I believe that he is enough awake now 
to discharge the manual duties of any situation in which 
you could place him. Do not now curse him for the re- 
collection of the Cock-pit, for that recollection has risen 
in him like an evil conscience. For George Burnett I have 
an habitual feeling of affection, as you know they have 
never blinded me to his faults. I will make a report of his 
progress in the next week. Think of him in any but a 
claret-humour. Farewell. R. S. 5 

At the beginning of 1802 Southey was tired of his secretary- 
ship, and depressed at the illness of his mother, who was 
dying of consumption ; and Lamb had begun to write for 
the Morning Post, a fact at which Rickman rejoiced, so 
much so that he ordered a subscription to be taken out in 
the name of his father at Christchurch. Burnett had been 
appointed tutor to the two sons of Lord Stanhope, the 
democratic peer. He had finished his introduction to the 
Universal History. These facts explain Rickman's letter 
which follows : 

' DUBLIN CASTLE, January 5lh, 1802. 

c . . . I am a little out of intelligence from London ; (save 
from the Cockpit) last I heard of G. Dyer, who printeth 
but hath not begun his Vita Authoris schemed for him by 
Lamb's ingenuity. Lamb also printeth, to better purpose, 
he has pruned Margaret, he says, into my shape and con- 
ception of things. I hope carefully, since certainly I know 
not much of the drama ; nothing beyond instinct. 

4 1 receive the Morning Post and search it diligently ; he 
owneth certain theatrical reports, and I find jokes besides. 
I think they will have an interest in paying him very hand- 
somely. When daily papers run against one another in 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 71 

peace, in times of no intelligence, where can such an aid 
be found as Lamb ? I have heard wit from him in an 
evening to feed a paper for a week. I am much pleased 
that Burnet is well placed, it was an arduous task to do so, 
and may be esteemed a resurrection from the dead. From 
his last to me I calculated on his despair. I think he will 
do well for instilling the languages into the young nobles. 
Lord Stanhope is an acute man, and will instil other things 
himself, and Burnet will have leisure enough. I should 
like to see the famous preface, which must have almost 
worn out the anvil, the arm and the hammer. It is for his 
future health of soul, that he discovered that authorship 
is not a resource to the idle, before this lucky hit put him 
beside the acquisition of that knowledge ; were I to name 
hard work, it would be that work and followed as a book- 
making trade it is not glorious to write per sheet soon 
resolves itself into not writing per excellence. I admire 
your task, and do more than suspect a semi-tutorship. I 
did not know of the young Chancellor, till from you . Mr. C.'s 
particular wish for regular education, and knowledge of the 
classics is now better explained than it was. I was puzzled 
at it. What the devil has Greek to do with taxation, and 
amounts and loans ? I wonder with you that you have 
not dined with him, the more as I used to dine with him 
so often here that I was ashamed of it. I imagine your 
connections with the opposite people bears a little upon this 
point. But while you have leisure, it is of little consequence. 
Ddbit Deiis his quoque finem. We shall see some sequel, 
if you [do your] part, you will be sure of his interest for 
other purposes at all events. I hope you [will get] a certain 
popular knowledge of the knowledge of the day by your 
tarrying in town. I thank you for the book-commission 
executed. I read 10 pages of Miss Hannah Blagden, 1 and 
saw wit, and I concede a little religion to my female friends 
and relations. I desire my best respects to all your ladies, 

1 i.e. Hannah More. The allusion is to the * Blagdon controversy ' 
which raged round the school founded by her at Blagdon in Somersetshire 
from 1800 to 1802. The schoolmaster was accused of holding a conventicle. 



72 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

among whom I see on your list Mrs. Lovel, 1 whom I re- 
member with pleasure. Does Mrs. Edith S . like town or not ? 
Coleridge seems to have done much good in town to Burnet 
Lamb etc. What is he doing himself and what is Davy 
doing ? Do you assail him ? Do his Meta Meta Meta- 
physicks succumb ? I suppose you attend his lectures 
occasionally. . . .' 

Three letters from Lamb come in here, written on January 9, 
January 14, and January 18 respectively. They speak of 
his work for the Morning Post, of Dyer's bringing the eccentric 
Earl of Buchan to see him, and of Burnett's arrival late as 
usual to take up his appointment. On January 17 Southey 
philosophically enough announced his mother's death, with 
some gossip about Cottle. On February 1 Rickman received 
a characteristic account from Lamb of the elopement of 
Burnett's two pupils. Their mother's family had probably 
enticed them away, fearing the democratic influence of 
c Citizen ' Stanhope, so ' George n.' remained with his em- 
ployer as secretary instead of tutor. Rickman was now 
very busy, as Abbot had gone to London, leaving his secre- 
tary to represent him. By the courtesy of the present 
Lord Colchester I am able to reproduce in part one of 
Rickman 's official letters. It refers among other matters 
to the death of Lord Clare, the Irish Lord Chancellor, 
which, says Abbot in his Diary, delivered the Irish and 
British Governments from much trouble. He was a violent 
and overbearing man, whose authority had been weakened 
by the Union. A special inquiry was subsequently made 
into the Board of Works, of which Rickman speaks so 
feelingly. 

'DUBLIN CASTLE, Feby. 1, 1802. 

' SIE, Having considered that Sunday is the quietest day 
for recollecting the occurrences of the week, I propose to 
dispatch the weekly letter by Monday's mail, if you see no 
reason for preferring any other day of the week. 

1 Sister of Mrs. Southey and Mrs. Coleridge. Lovell was also ono of the 
Pantisocrats. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 73 

' The occurrence which has filled every one's thoughts is 
the death of the Chancellor ; all consider the loss irreparable. 
I have heard of no new speculations about a successor ; the 
old speculations are still heard, but with diminished con- 
fidence. 

* The public are much gratified by the propriety of His 
Excellency in putting off the intended drawing room which 
was appointed for the evening of Thursday. As it was 
known that the present Government here, and the Chancellor 
were not cordial, the attention shewn was unexpected and 
made the greater impression on the public mind. 

* Mr. Grattan is reported to have said, on occasion of the 
Chancellor's death, that as the race of wolf dogs in Ireland 
soon became extinct, when no wolves were left, so the 
Chancellor has not long outlived the ruin of his country, 
viz. the Union, caused chiefly by his means. An ill-natured 
allusion, and not very happy ; if the quarrelsome, snarling 
harpies of the late Irish Parliament were made to stand for 
the wolves, the comparison had been more compleat ; but 
could not have proceeded from the mouth of Grattan. . . . 

' I have commenced the Excise returns ; because Dublin 
Port which would naturally stand first in the Custom retn. 
is not arrived yet. I suffer some interruption by letters 
and visits from the gentlemen on the medical staff ; I cannot 
blame them, neither can I hope to be clear of this nuisance 
till the Admr. furnishes the account, which he promises 
daily. I hope then to put the business in such train, that 
no more trouble shall occur. 

* I have explained your wishes about ascertaining the 
number of Holyhead passengers for the last 11 years to 
Mr. Lees, who promises to do all he can. . . . Mr. Lees 
talks of you in the usual manner ; his applause you do not 
consider as very sincere ; I confess I incline to Mr. Marsden's 
opinion of the old gentleman ; that he is a political Swiss, 
\vho is really the very faithful and devoted servant of every 
successive Government, and that he may perhaps feel a 
trifling preponderance to see Ireland well governed. . . . 

* The Board of Works go on as might be expected ; all 



74 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

confusion ; three days since Mr. Woodgate brought me 
an Order issued to him, that he should forthwith inspect 
and examine the mass of their old Accounts. He said to 
me, that then it must of course be impossible for him to 
go on with his other duties. I told him to say to them as 
of himself, that he did not conceive his instructions war- 
ranted him in such application of his time, and that he 
feared he might displease Government in so doing there- 
fore declined the task. 

4 The Secretary has become visible ; but disclaims per- 
formance of any duty, beyond writing his signature ; he 
says he is not used to such things as taking minutes, draft- 
ing official papers, etc. In truth to work with such an 
awkward tool as the Board of Works seems a great waste 
of exertion. Besides ignorance and inaptitude for any real 
business, they seem to exhibit some presumption, in ap- 
pointing Mr. Spear Pro-Secretary, and in refusing a room 
for an Office. . . / 

Rickman had requested both Lamb and Southey to 
compose an epitaph on a Miss Mary Druitt who died at 
Wimborne. Lamb's lines are among his poetical works, 
and Southey hi a not very interesting letter of February 6 
refused the task. On February 14 Lamb informed Rickman 
of his break with the Morning Post, and of his inability to 
work to order. He alluded to Abbot's elevation to the 
Speakership, which took place on February 10, to Dyer's 
being kept from starvation by a committee of friends, and 
to Burnett's self-importance at being sent on any trumpery 
errand. On February 17 Southey wrote again, asking if 
Abbot's elevation would bring Rickman to London as 
Speaker's Secretary. He continued : 

' . . . You have received " John Woodville." I retain my 
first opinion. It is delightful poetry badly put together. 
An exquisite picture in a clumsy frame. Margaret is a 
noble girl. The other characters not so well conceived. 
A better imitation of old language I have never seen, but 
was the language of the serving men ever the language of 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 75 

nature ? Lamb has copied the old writers, I expect that 
they did not copy existing characters. Those quaint turns 
of words and quainter contortions of thought never could 
be produced by ignorant men. The main interest of the 
play (the discovery) is too foolish. The effect produced 
too improbable. Withal so beautiful is the serious dialogue 
that more than redeems the story. Most I like the con- 
cluding scene. 

' I am half amused and half provoked by the civilities 
which my Secretaryship procures me, and receive them with 
an accurate sense of their value. I on my part also am 
more civil perhaps than usual. My wish is to get abroad, 
and I am old enough never to kick away the stone which I 
may want to step upon. Abroad I must go so says my 
head and my whole intestinal canal and my inclination. 
Lisbon of course is the place desirable. I would com- 
pound for Madrid, it is a hateful city, and only its books 
can atone for a bad situation both as to earth and heaven. 
If in October however I see no near chance of a legation 
southward, as the world will be before me, I shall seriously 
think of taking root in Portugal, and seriously labour to 
get money enough for a land journey from Bilbao to St. 
Sebastian thro' Biscay to Madrid, and thence elbow out 
of the straight road to Toledo and Cordova. These plans 
you see are post-obit speculations, for the natural death of 
my office may be calculated upon. 

' Did I tell you how Burnett's tutorship is like my 
Secretaryship a happy sinecure ? that his pupils have 
both eloped, and that he receives his salary for eating and 
drinking with Lord Stanhope, and talking late after supper ? 
The Historian's ambition is gone by ; a passion for the 
utilities has succeeded, and we have given him the new title 
Professor of Mathematics. The Lord who is not only a good 
man, but a very clever one, has many mechanical inventions 
to bring forward, of which I suppose some one will fall to 
the share of Burnett, and so make him lazy for life by a 
valuable patent. He is as happy as the Great Mogul. 
Of the other George I have more doleful tidings. Mary 



76 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Lamb and her brother have succeeded in talking him into 
love with Miss Ben jay or Bungey or Bungay ; but they 
have got him into a quagmire and cannot get him out again, 
for they have failed in the attempt to talk Miss Bungay or 
Bungey or Benjey into love with him. This is a cruel 
business, for he has taken the injection, and it may 
probably soon break out in sonnets and elegies. . . .' 

The curious story of Dyer's being persuaded into losing 
his heart is quite new. Lamb makes no mention of it. 
The lady in question was Miss Elizabeth Ogilvy Benger, 
an author who wrote a biography of John Tobin, the 
dramatist. Madame de Stael described her as the most 
interesting woman she had met in England. Miss Benger 
was a friend of Sarah Wesley, John Wesley's niece, who 
was herself a friend of Coleridge. It was through Miss 
Wesley that Lamb met Miss Benger ,who was a thorough blue- 
stocking. He describes the meeting to Coleridge in a letter 
of April 1 800. Charles and Mary Lamb went to her lodgings, 
and were frightened out of their wits by her solemn priggish- 
ness. Lamb said he was preparing for the next meeting by 
reading all the magazines and reviews of the last month, by 
which means he hoped to cut a ' tolerable second-rate figure/ 
I suspect that the Lambs' persuasion of Dyer into love with 
her was only a joke. Rickman answered on February 23, in 
a letter which announced his near return to London as 
Speaker's Secretary ' at some diminution of income, but 
immense increase in happiness.' He was very glad to 
leave Ireland, and had refused a permanent appointment 
there worth 800 a year. On Southey's story of Dyer he 
comments : ' Poor Dyer in love ! That cannot hurt him ; 
he may love in sonnett, while he eats Lamb's beef. Take 
away starvation and he will live like the Kings of Persia 
for ever.' Within a month he hoped to be in London. 



' 




w 



- c 



CHAPTER IV 

1802-1805 

Secretaryship to the Speaker Bag and sword Thomas Poole George 
Burnett again G. B. quarrels with Southey Lamb's opinion of it 
Southey's first visit to Rickman Poole and Poor Laws Another 
letter from G. Dyer His * patronage ' of Lamb Burnett's letters 
Rickman's temper Coleridge Rickman finds him a ship His 
letters Ned Phillips Overwork An unromantie marriage. 

* I DID not gain much, indeed was rather out of 
pocket at the end of the first half-year [i.e. of the Irish 
secretaryship] when Mr. Abbot became Speaker of the 
House of Commons ; but I was offered good office (800 a 
year) if I chose to settle in Ireland. This I declined from 
attachment to England or to a young lady at Chidham, 
and became Speaker's Secretary, an office producing about 
300 annually and moreover about 1000 or 1200 in an 
election year, which occurs about once in five years, and 
was to happen by necessary dissolution of Parliament in 
1802. I was expected to inhabit an official house adjoining 
the Speaker's and the Exchequer in the corner of Palace 
Yard, and for so doing, accepted as a useful inmate a maiden 
Aunt Beaumont assisted by a maid servant, and I paid 
200 for the articles of furniture left by my predecessor, 
a man of some fortune and good taste.' 

This is Rickman's account, written to his daughter in 
later years, of that move which was in a sense the last move 
of his life. The Speaker's Secretary was, and still is, one 
of the officials of the House of Commons. His duties are 
to attend the Speaker on all official occasions, besides 
fulfilling the ordinary functions of a private secretary. 

77 



78 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

He was then paid, as were most of the officials of the House 
at that time, by fees which were charged upon every con- 
ceivable proceeding of Parliament. Until the strenuous 
inquiries of the reformed Parliament into official salaries 
began in 1833, the only salaries fixed by law, as far as the 
officials of the House were concerned, were those of the 
Speaker and of the Clerks at the Table. 1 At that period 
election petitions were many and costly, and the fees 
brought profit to others besides the Speaker's Secretary. 2 
The days of the unreformed Parliament, as far as salaries 
are concerned, may well be regretted by the permanent 
officials of to-day. 3 Besides his fees Rickman, as Speaker's 
Secretary, enjoyed another privilege. All letters and 
packages could be sent to him free under a cover addressed 
to the Speaker, though this privilege only held good while 
Parliament was actually sitting. Rickman profited by it 
all the years that he was Speaker's Secretary, and so did 
his friends ; but, as we shall see, both Coleridge and Poole 
brought down wrath upon their heads by making the 
Speaker an intermediary between themselves and some other 
person than Rickman. He was also able to obtain ' franks ' 
for sending letters from the Speaker, though it was not until 
he became Clerk Assistant that Rickman had the power of 
franking his own letters. It was a power which was in some 
ways irksome to its possessor, for all his friends expected 
him to send them ' franks,' or letter-covers signed with 
his name. Of Rickman's other emolument, his official 
house, I shall say something in the next chapter. There is 
abundant proof in the letters that he found his work at 
Westminster distasteful. He became used, indeed, to 
wearing the ' bag and sword,' which was in itself an innova- 
tion to one whose dress had formerly been so rough that he 

1 The Speaker's salary was fixed by an act of 1790, those of the Clerks 
at the Table by an act of 1800. 

2 But the Speaker's Secretary profited very largely from them, because 
so many documents requiring the Speaker's signature were necessary, on 
each of which the Secretary received a fee. 

3 See my article on The Officers of the House of Commons ' in Black- 
wood 1 a Magazine for March 1909. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 79 

once narrowly escaped being seized by the Press Gang l ; 
but what annoyed him chiefly was having to spend so much 
of his time in details of routine, which were of small import- 
ance. He found himself too busy to read or to devote 
himself to what he considered useful studies and meditations. 
If he had not wished to marry it is possible that he might 
have given up official life, but marriage made a fixed salary 
necessary. Nevertheless, if his work was dull, the political 
life, of which he was a spectator, was interesting enough. 
The House of Commons has never been more brilliant than 
it then was, and feeling ran high. Abroad Napoleon, 
about to break the peace of Amiens, dominated the 
horizon ; at home, the quarrels of George ni. and his son, 
and the intrigues of the various parties, charged the political 
atmosphere. The ministry of Addington was a failure, 
and when war broke out again Pitt was obviously wanted 
at the helm, but Addington's pride, the King's dislike of 
Fox, and the disunion of the Whigs generally, caused a year 
to be spent in schemes and parleyings before Pitt again took 
office. Rickman did not consider that his position debarred 
him from commenting strongly upon these political events 
from a Tory point of view. 

When the new Speaker's Secretary entered on his duties, 
his friend Southey, to his regret, left London. The 
secretaryship to Mr. Corry, which had become a kind of 
tutorship to his son, wearied Southey, who returned to 
Bristol, and refused to entertain a definite offer of a tutor- 
ship. He had thoughts of looking out for a house at 
Richmond, but his joint occupation of Greta Hall with the 
Coleridges, at first not a wholly satisfactory experiment, 
proved to be a settlement for life. The correspondence 
between Southey and Rickman, which it is impossible to 
reproduce in full, was frequent and copious. Southey's 
projected history of Portugal, his reviews, his translation 
of Amadis, requests for books to be sent, and other literary 
matters fill up a good deal of the space. Rickman was 

1 Southey's letter to W. S. Landor, Life and Correspondence of R. S. t 
iii.215. 



80 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

always ready to put his information at his friend's service. 
One letter contains a long disquisition by him on currency, 
and in several others there are discussions of the etymo- 
logy of words. Rickman's project of translating the 
Septuagint, the troubles of Southey's brother Tom and the 
escapades of his brother Edward, the prospects of George 
Fricker, 1 whom Coleridge had brought to London, a quarrel 
between Godwin and Southey, and a visit to Edinburgh 
are other topics. The name of Captain (afterwards Admiral) 
Burney, the historian of the South Seas, often occurs, and 
there are several letters in his hand to Southey. 

Two other friends came into correspondence with Rick- 
man at this time. Coleridge he already knew, though not 
very intimately. Coleridge's letters of 1804 were written 
when he was in London looking for a ship to carry him to 
Malta. It was Rickman who found him the vessel. The 
other correspondent was Thomas Poole of Nether Stowey, 
Coleridge's friend, of whom Southey said that he was more 
akin in mind to Rickman than any man he knew. Mrs. 
Sandford in her memoir of Poole says that Coleridge intro- 
duced him to Rickman in January 1802, when they went 
up to hear Davy lecture at the Royal Institution. This 
cannot be so, for Rickman was at that date in Ireland. 
Southey must have engineered the first introduction through 
Davy in June 1802, as his and Rickman's letters in that 
month show. The common interests of the two men in 
economic subjects drew them together. Both had strong 
views upon the Poor Laws, so that when an act, introduced 
by George Rose, M.P., was passed in 1803 providing 
that all parish overseers should make returns as to the 
condition of the poor in their parishes, Rickman, whose 
assistance Rose had requested, offered to Poole the task 
of supervising hi London the administration of the act, an 
offer which Poole at once accepted. An office and lodgings 
were found for him in Abingdon Street, Westminster, and 
several clerks were put under him. In a letter to Coleridge 
Poole spoke of his gratitude for Rickman's friendship anc 

1 Brother-in-law of Southey and Coleridge. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 81 

* flattering partiality ' in the matter. His labours took 
him nearly a year, during part of which Coleridge stayed 
with him at Abingdon Street ; but the friendship with 
Rickman, though rather formal, continued to show itself 
in a correspondence which ranges over ten years. 

For the greater part of 1802 I shall only take short 
extracts from Rickman's correspondence. On June 2 
Southey wrote from Bristol : 

' I met Poole here on his way to France, and desired 
that he would make Davy take him to you. He is a man 
you will like to converse with, for his pursuits have been 
chiefly agriculture and political economy.' 

Rickman answered on June 12 : 

' I have seen Mr. Poole, and like him well. A little 
dogmatic, from the nature of country contemplation, which 
is so undistracted that a man must hug the bantling which 
has cost him brain-sweat. But we were all so once ; and 
I verily believe that the literary dissipation of London 
can by no means suffer original thought to flourish. . . . 
Davy is working hard and usefully. I reckon it a great 
gain to myself and the world that he has become anti- 
gallican, and has now seen enough of the great and the 
famous to have learned quantum est in rebus inane. . . . 
His present foible is the undue exaltation of science into 
authority, where her investigations have not been most 
perfect. . . . However all will be right with him in time. 
Excuse a distracted letter by Saturday post. Dyer who 
dines with me has been running about the room looking at 
the lettering of your books, which he pronounces a fine 
collection, not knowing ten of them in all.' 

Later in June Rickman makes the first mention of 
Captain Burney, who became a great friend of his, and on 
July 2 he observes : 

' We have sent off the Parliament at last to my great 
joy, being heartily sick of the misery of dressing daily, 
and of doing nothing to any purpose. ... I suppose 

F 



82 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Dyer sent you his Poems with his letter. Could any body 
but Dyer have been so simple as to inscribe a poem, The 
Padlocked Lady ' ? 

On August 5 we hear of unexpected political activity 
on the part of Dyer, who, says Rickman, ' has lately been 
very profitably employed considering his office of Cancel- 
larius Magnus. He has been on Sir Francis Burdett's 1 
committee, reckoning himself and Sir F. allied, because 
the said Sir F. talked about the Bastille, and G. D. wrote 
a book intituled the Complaints of the Poor.' 2 

In the autumn the wretched George Burnett again began 
troubling his friends. He had left Lord Stanhope, who 
had paid him a full year's salary of 200, and had resumed 
his literary vagabondage. He had also taken to opium, 
probably from Coleridge's example ; and, as usual when 
he was particularly down on his luck, he laid all his troubles 
at Southey's door. On October 14 Southey writes of his 
being at Bristol : 

' Burnett God knows why thinks my acquaintance 
beneath him, and talked so very absurdly about me 
to Danvers, that Danvers made him answer, " George 
Burnett, if I had a horsewhip, and we were not in the street, 
I would lay it over you as long as I was able." Poor fellow, 
an envy of which he is too proud and too self-satisfied to 
be conscious has refined into dislike, and will end in hatred. 
I am really sorry, for you know what a bottom of affectionate 
good-will there has been and is in all my feelings respecting 
him. He talks of a pistol, and will talk of it till pure shame 
forces him to play the fool with it, because he is laughed 
at for his cowardly bravados. God Almighty must have 
designed him for a gentleman at least, if not for higher 
rank, he is so utterly unfit for any earthly employment.' 

Rickman, who never suffered fools gladly, for all his 
desire to help them, replied by return : 

1 The reformer, for many years M.P. for Westminster. 

1 Complaints of the Poor People of England, published in 1793. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 83 

* I did not suppose the Bishop would have been so 
very silly as you mention, and I no longer repent of 
that caustic I once applied to his overweening folly. He 
envies, it seems ; why does he not emulate ? Whom 
does he see succeed in any thing by yawning and meta- 
physics ? Does he see you idle ? Does he see me idle ? 
Did he see even Lord Stanhope idle ? . . . I believe there is 
no fear of his using a pistol, but it might be well if in an 
absent fit he should walk over the edge of the quay. So 
would the aliment be bestowed on some more profitable 
animal, which is now consumed by him. As a cosmopolite, 
it is moral to wish him dead/ 

A few days later Burnett had come to London, having 
refused a tutorship offered him at Bristol, and the benevo- 
lent Dyer was trying to find him work : a ' characteristic 
situation/ says Southey. Rickman's letter of December 16 
deserves longer quotation. Besides the mention of his 
friends, it contains the first hint of his thoughts of 
marriage. It must be confessed that they were unromantic 
enough. 

' NEW PALACE YARD, December 16^, 1802. 

* ... I begin to become less irritated with the daily 
nonsense of Bag and Sword, and have reduced the ceremony 
of dressing in costume down to 7 minutes undressing 
2 minutes. I have a wig to which the bag is appended, 
and as to the lower part of my dress, that goes through 
the day. So that I shall go on not displeased with my 
situation immediately ; especially as the first year or two 
of Parliament doubles the income : the election petitions 
being great plagues, but some profit. I have not yet 
become satisfied with house-keeping ; indeed it has been 
managed badly, and much illness of my aunt, and some of 
the maid servants, has annoyed me not a little. I begin 
to think that at last I shall be forced to find out a wife, 
and though I am rather past falling in love, I daresay I 
should not chuse the more unwisely for that. However 
this matter is sub judice ; it still appears to me a perilous 



84 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

engagement and something of constraint. A man cannot 
strike his tent so speedily, and want of rapidity in that, 
is bad in warfare. I think I ought in conscience to keep 
myself among the light infantry ; for I want to do so 
many things before I die, that time seems hardly sufficient, 
husband it by not being a husband, as much as I may.* 

' George the first dined here to-day, coming in very 
orderly and comfortably about dinner time. I like to see 
him happy ; I question whether anybody, with the same 
scanty means, ever created so much happiness to his 
numerous friends as he. He now pretends to be a little 
castigated as to the generality of his benevolence, and 
immediately recommends two or three " ingenious young 
men " for divers purposes. Lamb met George the second 
a day or two since. The gentleman looked wildly, talked 
of desperation etc. In fact he takes opium, and I suppose 
will some day muster up courage to take a potent dose of it. 
I have no objection to his doing so. Lord Stanhope gave 
him so fair a chance in giving him 200, and that fair chance 
has been so completely thrown away without effort or device 
for permanent subsistence, that I deem the moon-struck 
man as a hopeless case. . . . 

' * N.B. Lamb supped with me last night. Infection ! ' 

The first news of 1808 is of Burnett, \vho had again gone 
to pour out his wrath over Southey. Southey describes the 
scene on January 12 : 

' George the second has quarrelled with me in the oddest 
of all possible ways : he says I treated him with neglect 
and contempt in London, and that another person saw it 
as well as himself. There is reason to believe he means 
Lamb, and if it be so, Burnett has been making some mis- 
take about him as well as me, taking jest perhaps for sober 
earnest. This however is the least part of my offence. I 
and Coleridge he says have been the cause of all his un- 
happiness, and what he justly calls idiotism : we never 
treated him properly. Now treated is here used in the dis- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 85 

pensary sense of the word. " Every human being can 
influence the mind of another human being if placed near 
him, and upon this great truth all the principles of education 
depend." The second George laid down this proposition 
in Bristol streets at noonday, speaking so loud that every 
body might hear him, and rolling his eyes to see who listened. 
Well now for the minor : " but you and Coleridge did not 
properly influence my mind," and so the syllogism was to 
end in a quarrel, that is he gravely desired never to see me 
while he was in Bristol. His mind was not healthy enough 
to form a sound result (tho* he was sure he was right), and 
if on his recovery from a stomach complaint he found out 
that he had been mistaken in thinking thus harshly of me, 
why he would let me know. All this is truly absurd, but 
certain old habits of affection make me sorry for it. Damn 
his fool's head, he has been feeding upon Scotch meta- 
physics ... he walks tiptoe and talks of his high moral 
views of things and principles of action above those of 
common men. " Common men ! " By God he is an un- 
common one, mad as ever was Don Quixote or Loyola, and 
precisely from the same cause, exclusively reading what he 
did not understand.' 

In answer Rickman remarks : 

'I understand that Burnet was much worse than ever 
before, and it seems that Bristol does not agree with him, 
nor I think will any part of this planet of ours : would he 
were departed from it ; a wish conceived in charity to him.'' 

And in postscript to a letter of February 1 : 

4 About George n. : Lamb indeed thinks that you and 
Coleridge did mischief to the man by your notice and 
society : but does not therein find fault with the agents but 
with the patient. The fool always thought himself a wit 
doubtless ; which was a mistake : and after you noticed him, 
an eminent wit ; which was a greater mistake. But only 
the material was to blame ; what had been polish to a 
firmer substance was dissolution to his flimsy skull.' 



86 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Lamb was a keen judge of men. 

In March comes Rickman's first letter to Thomas Poole. 1 

' March 23rd, 1803. 

' MY DEAR SIB, I saw your friend Mr. Coleridge on 
Monday, and learned from him that you were returned to 
England after having attained the objects of your pere- 
grination very fully. I enclose with this letter a few pages 
to be bound up with the Popn. Vols., which I believe you 
have, though for my soul I cannot recollect in what manner, 
yet I am sure I sent them to somebody who was to send 
them to you, I think to Chancery Lane. If you have them 
not, write to enquire thereof your French house. 

' I understand from Mr. C. that you are working hard at 
the Poor Laws (that are to be), and I long to know the 
result of your speculations therein, depending on it that 
something very practical and therefore useful will be 
produced by you on that subject. But what will you do 
with town poor ? My wish sends all London miserables 
to Primrose Hill to grow vegetables for us, out-door work 
seeming desirable, and the workhouses in town miserable 
gaols to the inhabitants, and unwholesome for the whole 
neighbourhood. However, in the winter my ragged colony 
(that is, redeemed from rags. Am I in Ireland again ?) may 
pursue many other manufactures, which may require most 
manipulation. For the country poor I desire only a com- 
pulsory law that parishes shall provide certain ground for 
those thought worthy of indulgence, and the rest would soon 
become worthy. 

4 You see how freely I write my rambling ideas, hoping 
to receive something valuable in return. You must know 
I take you for a sort of cosmopolite, willing to apply all 
things to the best purpose for the general benefit of man- 
kind. Looking upon you as a machine of some value in 
that behalf, I would desire you to consider whether you 
ought not to spend a year or two in London for your im- 
provement. I know that the country produces or fosters 
1 Quoted in Thomas Poole and his Friends, ii. 107. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 87 

genius beyond the town, but of knowledge, not so. I think 
that a man's store must have many chasms in it who is not 
conversant with the Catalogue Men who know something 
of everything and prate like parrots what they have heard 
of others. They serve for vehicles of knowledge, though 
one cannot hold them very high, and I think you would 
gain much by being in the way of all the modes by which 
knowledge here approaches to general knowledge more or 
less. How often have I spent my brain in considering and 
labouring certain points in the country and afterwards 
found all the world has long since perfectly known and 
agreed in the result of my lucubrations. It is provoking 
so to waste one's self, but I think it must happen sometimes 
in the metropolis as well as in other countries remote. I 
suppose I have an inclination that you should be here for 
the pleasure of seeing you sometimes. I am sure, however, 
that is not my first motive, for I, too, in my degree of 
affectation at least, chance also to be a cosmopolite, and 
therefore (among better reasons) your friend and servant.' 

The next letter to Sou they shows how great was Lamb's 
attachment to Rickman. During Mary Lamb's attacks of 
insanity he used to cut himself off from all but the very 
closest friends. 

< March Wth, 1803. 

* ... Yesterday evening or rather afternoon, C. Lamb 
came in somewhat abruptly, and at sitting down, shed some 
tears. The cause is distressing ; inasmuch as his sister is 
again seized with an unhappy derangement ; and has been 
therefore compelled to go into custody, away from home, 
but as she has usually recovered in about two or three 
months, we may hope the best. Poor Lamb recovered 
himself pretty well towards night, and slept at my house : 
he dines with me to-day, and then hopes that he will be 
steadied. He desires me to thank you for the wish you 
expressed of his spending some time with you in his next 
vacation. Write to him just to amuse him, he feels dreary, 



88 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and would like a letter from any friend. I believe Coleridge 
is going to chum with him some time for company's sake. 
. . . Mr. Poole of Stowey has returned from the Continent, 
as I hear, full of information about the poor of all places. 
He is a solid thinking man ; and his subject of contem- 
plation and enquiry well chosen very useful and very 
practicable, as I take it. Quaere Whether a Beguinage 
story may not make an appendix to anything he may think 
of publishing concerning the poor in general. 

* I learnt of this gentleman's return from Coleridge, 
whom I have seen twice. I am a little annoyed by a habit 
of assentation, which I fancy I perceive in him ; and cannot 
but think that he likes to talk well, rather than to give or 
receive much information. I understand he is terribly 
pestered with invitations to go to parties, as a singer does, 
to amuse the guests by his talent ; a hatefull task I should 
think : I would rather not talk finely, than talk to such 
a purpose. . . .' 

Rickman had heard a rumour that Southey intended 
visiting London to complete some business with his pub- 
lishers. In a letter of April 4, asking him to stay, Rickman 
makes a characteristic comment : 

' I understand Longman and Rees affect to furnish tea 
and toast once a week to hungry Literati. A blessed 
society it must be, considering the fashionable sort of con- 
versation among that class of beings ; abstraction of all 
sorts ; information of no sort ; envy, murmurings and 
meanness. The day of little men is come ! ' 

Southey's visit occurred in June. It was the first of 
many occasions when he stayed at Westminster with 
Rickman. Writing to W. S. Landor in 1809 1 Southey 
thus describes his welcome : 

4 His manners are stoical ; they are like the husk of 
a cocoanut, but his inner nature is like the milk within 
its kernel. When I go to London I am always his guest. 

1 Life and Correspondence of R. S., Hi. 215. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 89 

He gives me but half his hand when he welcomes me at 
the door, but I have his whole heart, and there is not 
that thing in the world which he thinks would serve or 
gratify me that he does not do for me, unless it be some- 
thing which he thinks I can as well do myself.' 

I will also quote here Southey's description of another 
visit in 1806. 1 It is to his friend Danvers. 

' So I passed much of my time, that is at Rickman 's, 
and usually got to bed at my own right reasonable 
hour, as soon as the clock struck ten. ... I was left 
at perfect liberty, and no difference was made in the 
domestic arrangements whether I dined there or abroad. 
John the boy, the happiest of all boys in London, was at 
my service, to light a fire for me in the little parlour below 
stairs whenever I chose, to bring me biscuits, cheese, and 
ale when I was hungry, and to run errands for me when- 
ever I was pleased to call him from running after a butterfly 
in the garden, picking snails, playing with the cat, or 
quarrelling with the maid, who is an ogress, and beats 
him with the fire-shovel.' 

It was during this visit in 1803 that Southey, Rickman, 
and his sister went with the Lambs to Sadlers Wells to see 
some absurd plays. The excursion is mentioned in a letter 
from Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth, 2 who says that 
while Charles and Miss Rickman laughed the whole time, 
Southey and Rickman went to sleep. Southey at this 
time also made an arrangement with Longmans to edit 
Bibliotheca Britannica on a large scale. Rickman was 
to do articles on Bacon and others. The scheme, however, 
fell through. 

In July Rickman made his offer to Thomas Poole to 
supervise the administration of the new Poor Law Act, 
which was accepted with alacrity. The correspondence 

1 Selections from the Letters of R. S., i. 374. 

Published for the first time by Mr. E. V. Lucas, Works of C. and M. 
Lamb, vi. 275. 



90 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

on the subject during the next few months is quoted by 
Mrs. Sandford. 1 Meanwhile, George Burnett had, in a fit 
of repentance, sent a circular round to his friends (which 
Southey mentions) announcing his recovery from * mental 
distortion,' and asking Rickman for a place under the 
Government. Rickman's comment to Southey is that 
he wishes to have nothing to do with him. He cautions 
Southey against telling him of Poole's prospective employ- 
ment, because he would rather lose his right hand ' than 
be accessory again to his [Burnett's] ruining office business 
with his yawning presence : it was moral turpitude in me 
to suffer him so long on a similar occasion ; he stopped 
positive work in others to the amount of treble his own 
negative idleness and unconscionable sloth.' 

It is probably to this circular letter of Burnett's, which 
Southey also mentions, that Lamb alludes in the short 
note to Rickman dated July 16. 

' DEAR RICKMAN, I enclose you a wonder, a letter from 
the shades. A dead body wants to return, and be inrolled 
inter vivos. 'Tis a gentle ghost, and in this galvanic age 
it may have a chance.' 2 

Lamb proceeds to mention that he and Mary are setting 
out for the Isle of Wight, and on July 27 he and Captain 
Burney sent a very humorous joint letter from Cowes 
describing their mode of life. 3 

But soon a fresh scheme was on foot for Burnett's regenera- 
tion, into which Southey and Rickman threw themselves 
with a will. On July 28 Southey announced that Burnett 
wished to become a naval surgeon, and asked Rickman 

1 Thomas Poole and his Friends, ii. 109-113. 

1 In his note on this letter Mr. E. V. Lucas ( WorJcs of C. and M. Lamb, 
vi. 278) says : ' I cannot explain the reference to the dead body. . . . 
I have no real theory to put forward ; but it once occurred to me that 
the letter from the shades was from George Burnett, who had quarrelled 
with Rickman, and had now possibly appealed to his mercy through 
Lamb.' 

* This was published in Ainger's edition of the Letters, ii. 253. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 91 

to do what he could. ' Poor devil,' he concludes, ' if he 
should one day cut off a leg above the tourniquet by mistake, 
God forgive me if he should. But what can be done, for 
he will neither drown nor turn Methodist parson ? ' Rick- 
man, though unwilling to come into direct communication 
again with George n., replied that he would give every 
information. The result was that Burnett shortly appeared 
in London, where Carlisle (afterwards Sir Anthony), the 
surgeon, gave him hospital practice free. The even tone 
of the correspondence of Southey and Rickman was broken 
by the sad news of the death of the poet's daughter. 
Southey 's letter is very touching. 

'August 24, 1803. 

* You have probably heard how my home comforts have 
been cut down to the ground. My little girl was laid by 
the side of Mrs. Danvers yesterday. She was the little 
wonder and favourite of the neighbourhood. I loved her 
better than man ought to love anything of such uncertain 
existence. 

' We are going to Keswick, the best place for poor Edith, 
she is almost heart-broken. Hers are all chronic feelings, 
and it will be long before she recovers. As for me sup- 
pression is so much my habit and system that a stricture 
ought to be my natural death. I work double tides, work 
bodily at packing, talk, eat, as I should do. I am resigned 
and shall soon be contented cheerful and even joyous 
but happy as I have been to that full extent and with all 
that full knowledge of my own happiness, that cannot be 
till I have another child, if it please God to give me another, 
nor even then unless it shall be such as the one we have lost. 
God help you, R. S.' 

On November 9 news came from Rickman of a jibbing 
disposition on Burnett's part. 

* George n. works on pretty well at the W. [West- 
minster] Hospital. I have not seen him often ; but the 



92 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

last time he visited me (three days since) he exhibited 
rebellious symptoms against the navy, and threatened that 
he would go into the militia as a more genteel situation. 
I told him that I wished the navy for him, not as a school 
of manners or society, but as the most likely cure for his 
disease, which is yet so strong upon him, that (inter 
oscitandum) he held forth for two hours about the action of 
mind on mind ; of the peculiarity of circumstance which 
has induced his former imbecility ; of the particular 
attention he ought to pay to a person of so much value as 
himself ; of not embracing any offer of service which 
might in the event lead him into any dangerous climate, 
etc., etc. I look upon it, that the army is a service tending 
to cause such a disease as his ; and that his longing for it 
is a mark that he is incurable. If so, he may as well saunter 
and yawn with a red coat on his back as any other colour.' 

On the same day Rickman, obviously being in a trenchant 
mood, gave his opinion to Poole of the British Government. 1 

' ... It would be very pleasant if we could make 
Englishmen a little better informed than they are. Whether 
this can be done by any Government I know not, but feel 
uncomfortably certain that such an attempt will never be 
made by our Government, the distinguishing character of 
which seems to consist in being more backward in proportion 
to the intellect of many of its subjects than any Government 
in the world. What think you of the manner of distributing 
schedules throughout the Kingdom ? As it might have 
been done in the days of Alfred. The institution of the 
Post Office bestows no facility, because Government have 
never thought it worth while to establish agents through 
the country for the purpose of internal regulation and 
information. I fear we shall never see our Government 
worthy of our country. They make loans and new taxes ; 
both badly, and that is the sum total of their exploits in 
the last century.' 

1 Quoted in Thomas Poole and his Friends, ii. 113. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 93 

A week or two later Rickman received a characteristic 
letter from George Dyer. 

21 November 1803. 

' DEAR SIR, I understood, at the time I wrote this 
letter, that you was not returned : a person by the name of 
Stow was to call on you, whom I recommended to you as 
a writer, a man of good character, and who, as a writer, 
will be able to give a good account of himself to you. I 
have another case to mention to you ; if you have room 
for more writers, there is a person of Clifford's Inn, who is 
of (sic) admirably qualified, for quickness, elegance etc. 
etc. Indeed he is qualified to possess a much higher 
situation has himself been in one and will be so again 
soon. In the mean time, he is now in great want of a 
situation for a few months, and it would be great kindness 
to find him employment. I am not personally acquainted 
with him myself. But my laundress is his laundress, and 
from what I have seen of his writing, and know of his 
character and situation from Mrs. Devonshire, I know you 
could not have a more proper person to copy for you. 
He would I know much rather have the writings to his 
own rooms to copy ; and that perhaps, might suit you as 
well. But of this you will judge. If you wish to know 
more, pray favour me with a line or call, or write to or call 
on " Mrs. Devonshire, Clifford's Inn." This woman is kind 
and good to everybody, and keeps his rooms for him, etc. 
for at present he is not in chambers. The gentleman's 
name is Marrill. I do not spell his name right ; but that 
is no matter. If you write to Mrs. Devonshire, or call 
upon her, you will either hear from, or see him immediately. 
This vile weather, conspiring with my vile complaint, pre- 
vents my calling on you ; but I will the first opportunity. 
Yours truly, G. DYER/ 

This letter was sent by Rickman to Southey on Decem- 
i with a delightful commentary. 

1 ... Geo. i. is relapsed into the full enjoyment of 



94 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

petty patronage and blind benevolence. He went to Lamb 
the other day, and put 1/6 into his hand, explaining that 
he had prevailed on somebody to buy the unfortunate 
Jno. Woodville at that half price (he Geo. i. not having 
been desired to have anything to do with the sale of the 
book). Lamb pocketed the 1/6 with due complacency, 
and G. D. concluded his exploit with saying, how little he 
could now do for those he wished to serve ! I also send 
you herewith a recommendatory letter from the said Geo. i. 
which you may place in your Museum Curiosum : the 
man thus recommended, turns out to be a spendthrift, 
whose friends being weary of paying his debts, he is forced 
to keep close. 

' Geo. n. is unus and idem. He discovered that a sea- 
life and sea-companions are very unworthy of his high 
moral views and intellectual enjoyment, and moreover 
said he, I may be ordered to the W. Indies, and then the 
yellow fever ! Said I, Why are not you to take your chance, 
as do other men ? You talk in the second person, said 
Geo. n. So his maritime views are abandoned, and he has 
got some appointment in a militia. For this he wants 
money, and wrote a begging circular to all he knew ; and 
thinks himself justified in being sulky with all who did not 
chuse to aid him in his militia scheme. I understood from 
Carlisle, that he had properly stuffed him with surgery 
for the occasion of some subordinate examination ; which 
passed, Carlisle wished him to expend the rest of the 
stuffing on the Surgeons' Hall Examination, which is final 
for H.M. Service. George n. pleaded want of cash, 3. 
This appearing a usefull expence, I sent the needfull to 
Carlisle, and wrote to B. accordingly ; but true to himself 
he refused the exertion, so that now if promotion in the 
miserable militia, should be offered him, he must again come 
to town, again study, and be examined at last. I have 
private intelligence that W. T. [Taylor] of Norwich has been 
very munificent to this poor useless lofty wretch. . . .' 

The incorrigible G. B. had taken the opportunity, on 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 95 

passing his minor examination, of trying to raise loans 
from all likely persons. Sou they was annoyed because 
Burnett had applied to his friend May for 30, without 
even knowing him, and Poole, who was a near neighbour 
of Burnett's in Somerset, received the following letter, 
which he preserved : 

' MY DEAR SIB, I doubt not you will be surprised to 
receive a letter from one of whom you possibly have not 
even heard for some years. I have learned from Mr. 
Rickman the circumstance of your being in town, as also 
your place of abode. The subject of my present address 
will perhaps still more excite your wonder. But I will 
not take up your time by needless apologies, indeed my 
only excuse for troubling you is that of necessity. 

* I have lately procured an appointment as assistant 
surgeon in a Militia regiment, but the expenses of equipment 
are far too considerable for my purse, which in truth is 
exhausted. As the regiment is in barracks, and bedding 
etc., in addition to regimentals, must be found by the 
officers, I have calculated, or rather it has been done for 
me, by the person I am to succeed, that not less than 40 
will be required to furnish the perquisites to my entering 
upon duty. I know not any one among the number of my 
friends who both can and will advance me such a sum. 
Indeed I have already made some ineffectual applications. 
Would such a favour too far exceed the limit of your 
generosity ? My means of repayment are these : My 
pay will be 2 a week, exclusive of the Mess dinner, and as 
the regiment is in barracks my other expenses may be 
comparatively trifling. Surely I may save half my pay 
and devote it to the liquidation of my debt, which I should 
prefer doing by instalments as 4 or 5 a month. In the 
course of a twelvemonth at any rate the whole may be 

liarged. 

* I have moreover a prospect of obtaining some literary 
job from Phillips when I know what exercises of this sort 
will be compatible with the above-mentioned situation. 



96 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

On this source of repayment however, you perceive, I do 
not rely. 

c I have set my heart on this situation, not only because 
it seems to be my only present resources for a mainten- 
ance but because I feel a confidence that it will rouse me 
from that joyless torpor into which I have been long 
sunk. It is of little consequence whether the situation 
be desirable, absolutely considered, it is enough that it 
prove good as a mean. The enchantment of Pantiso- 
cracy threw a gorgeous light over the objects of life, 
but it soon disappeared and has left me in the darkness 
of ruin ! 

4 Allow me to request a speedy answer. I have written 
not with the expectation but only with the hope that your 
kindness will oblige. Your obedient servant, 

' GEO. BURNETT.' 

Poole apparently showed this to Rickman, who was very 
incensed with Burnett for refusing to enter for the final 
Surgeons' Hall examination. He forwarded Burnett's reply, 
with a note of his own, to Poole. 

' SIR, The now or never do not appear to me the only 
possible alternatives. Should I hereafter determine to 
look forward to advancement in His Majesty's service it 
would perhaps be advisable to take out my diploma. This 
expense would be considerable and I should have an 
objection to incurring what I should deem an unnecessary 
obligation. I thank you however for your good inten- 
tions and remain, yours, etc. 

* Was ever before such an animal extant ? He lives at 27 William 
Street if you chuse to give him a drive. J. R.' 

Poole seems to have urged Burnett to do as Rickman 
wished ; whereupon he received the following pompous 
communication : 

1 SIR, I have now scarcely a doubt remaining that 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 97 

shall be able to accomplish my own object. If therefore 
an examination at Surgeons' Hall should hereafter be 
thought necessary it will be easy, at any time during the 
ensuing winter to get leave of absence for a few days, and 
to come to town for that express purpose. In this case I 
shall incur no obligation. 

4 You say that in submitting myself to an examination 
at the present time I shall oblige Mr. Rickman. Surely 
in a matter which concerns my own happiness only I have 
a right to choose. Whether Mr. Rickman designs me any 
future good is a question impossible for me to decide. He 
has never treated me with sufficient respect and confidence 
to declare any intentions he might possibly have formed 
respecting me. For this reason only therefore it behoves 
me not to look to him for any future elevation. I have 
moreover his positive declaration that I am to expect 
nothing from him under any condition. Besides I had 
lately a note from him in which he trusts I shall look 
forward to advancement in the army or navy only for 
my future means of support. Hence, unless there be 
nothing in words and declarations, I have nothing either 
to hope or to fear from Rickman. If the promises he has 
given me be just, I have shown it would be vain to hope, 
it would be in like manner absurd to fear, because I am 
too insignificant a personage to be thought worthy even 
of Mr. Rickman's contempt. 

c Your note evidently proceeds on the supposition that 
my means of going into the Militia will fail me. Allow me 
also to add that your plans, if such they may be called, as 
well as those of Rickman, rest on the opinion not only of 
my present incapacity but on the assumption likewise of 
paulo post future incapacity. This may be the case ; per- 
haps it is likely it will, still I cannot help thinking that 
such an inference is not perfectly logical. It is now about 
five years since all enjoyment of life, that deserves the 
name of enjoyment, has to me been annihilated. This is 
a tyranny of condition which withers the soul more than 
can be imagined by those whose situation in life has been 

o 



98 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

different. Yet I own that myself am chiefly to blame. 
As soon as I suffered anxiety to make me idle I grew con- 
tinually worse and worse till from failure of memory I 
had lost the power of self -improvement. Latterly I have 
been gradually rising again, and I trust that as soon as 
I have a definite situation I shall be once more restored 
to health, to confidence and hope. But I forget that I 
am trespassing upon your time. Yours etc.' 

Meanwhile Rickman had been showing Poole one of his 
worst characteristics a harsh temper. Poole's friend, Tom 
Wedgwood, who was an invalid, had twice sent letters 
addressed to Poole under cover to the Speaker, in spite 
of one warning. On the second offence Rickman breaks 
out : 

'December 3rd, 1803. 

' SIB, I see a letter at the Speaker's directed to you 
which I believe came under cover to him by yesterday's 
post. I am sorry to believe that the hand-writing is the 
same as the former letter imperfectly addressed to me, 
and on the receipt of which, (if my message was not imper- 
fectly delivered) I requested you to write instantly to 
stop any further such unpleasant occurrence. I request 
to know of you at what post town this letter was probably 
put in, that I may enclose it with a note to Mr. Freeling, 
and desire him to charge it properly. Before these instances 
I never heard of any person sending under cover to another 
without permission, and much less to one so much unknown 
to you and your correspondent as is the Speaker, who in 
common decency is not to be made a letter carrier. If 
you can give any explanation which may take away from 
you any blame in these two instances, I shall be very glad 
to receive it, when you send me intelligence of the post 
town of this letter. Both for public and private reasons 
I shall be very sorry to be compelled to think ill of your 
delicacy, but I must beg that you do not attempt? to 
me until you have sent this explanation.' 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 99 
Poor Poole answered at once : 

4 1 have this instant received your letter and I can 
easily imagine good reasons for the warmth with which 
it is written, and as easily convince you how little of that 
warmth ought to light upon me. In the early part of 
our own correspondence you desired me to address your 
letters and any papers which I wished to send you under 
cover to the Speaker, which I of course invariably did. 
When you were in Hampshire you wrote me a letter advis- 
ing me to be in town in a few days and at the same time 
proposed to me to request some friend to take lodgings 
for me by the time I came up. I wrote and requested 
lodgings to be taken, but there was not time before it was 
necessary that I should leave home for me to receive an 
answer informing me where these lodgings were. I knew 
my business in town would lead me immediately to you, 
and I knew too that you would know where I was, and I 
was not certain that any other friend of mine in town 
would for some days know this fact. When I came to 
Bristol I met with Mr. T. Wedgwood. He asked me where 
a letter would immediately find me in town, as he thought 
he should be obliged to write to me the next day requesting 
me to go to the War Office concerning a Volunteer Corps 
which he was raising in Westmorland. I told him I did 
not know where I should be, but that Mr. Rickman would 
know, and that a letter under cover to him would certainly 
find me. I added, and Mr. Rickman's address you may 
put under another cover to the Speaker. On the very day 
on which I received that letter, agreeably to your message 
to me and certainly to my own feelings I expressly informed 
i that my address was now No. 16 Abingdon Street. 
How he omitted to attend to this I am at a loss to imagine, 
unless I may suppose that he had mislaid my letter and 
forgotten the address which it contained, and yet, wishing 
to write to me, had repeated his former mistake. I need 
not say that I will write to him expressly on the subject, 
so soon as I receive the letter which you say was received 



100 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

yesterday by the Speaker, and will take care that no repeti- 
tion of the circumstance occurs. 

4 You have now the sum of my offence, and will appre- 
ciate it as you think proper. I leave it to your discern- 
ment to ascertain the want of delicacy in my conduct 
and to determine how far I was actuated by the desire of 
saving postage. You do not yet know me, and your letter 
was written hastily and with unnecessary asperity.' 

Rickman's answer to this very fair excuse was grudging, 
to say the least of it. 

' December 5th, 1803. 

4 MY DEAR SIR, I send you the Bristol letter which I 
have released from durance by reading your explanation 
to the Speaker. He had already sent to No. 16 Abingdon 
Street to enquire for his new acquaintance, and was to 
keep the letter till applied for. You do not know how 
much jealousy this affair of franks necessarily exists under ; 
I myself remember once to have opened a large packet in 
Ireland supposed to be a Government despatch, which 
contained a quantity of smuggled muslin for a maid-servant 
at the Castle. 

4 1 am sorry that I cannot see your justification in the 
same light that you put it, since I think that the Bristol 
conversation with Mr. W. was rather imprudent than 
blameable, and not worth notice, and that the blame alto- 
gether rests on your neglect of not distinctly desiring your 
friend not to direct under cover again when you found that 
you had brought my name in question in so disagreeable 
a manner. As to giving your own direction, that had no 
reference to my desire nor to a remedy of the evil com- 
plained of. 

4 1 shall not notice this provoking affair any further, 
there are reasons enough of all sorts why nothing more 
should be said about it.' 

Poole's dignified answer seems to have healed the breach. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 101 

' 1 cannot describe to you, my dear sir, the pain 
which the business of franks and letters has given me within 
the last two or three days. When your harsh letter of 
Saturday arrived I was extremely ill, and little wanted 
the assistance of mental irritation to render me incapable 
of fully and properly stating what I had to say in mydefence. 
I was conscious that I had not swerved from all the feeling 
of honour and of delicacy which I had been able to collect 
by the limited correspondence which I had had with the 
world. I contented myself therefore with stating the 
simple facts on which by some means or another originated 
my conduct and left it to your own clear discernment to 
deduce my justification, or at least with an excuse which 
would satisfy one whom I thought a familiar friend. And 
now what was my offence ? It was taking a liberty with 
you which though it afterwards by W/s mistake turned 
out to be taking a liberty with the Speaker, yet I was 
utterly unconscious that such would be the event. I 
took this liberty with you unthinkingly, it was the only 
result of the kindness and confidence with which you had 
treated me. I considered (if I considered at all, or rather 
I felt without thought) that it would be a sort of affecta- 
tion to have a letter directed to your house without its 
being under cover to the Speaker, so much had I been in 
the habit of addressing everything which was to come to 
your hands under his name, and after all is not this view 
of the subject very analogous to the common one which 
is made of franks ? When a man gets a frank, does he 
not make what use of it he pleases ? Does he not, (the 
man of the nicest delicacy) transmit in it the letter of one 
friend and of another, all perfectly unknown to the member 
who gives the privilege, and what is the difference ? Only 
that the one is going to the member, the other is com- 
ing from him. The accommodation to the person who 
gives is the same, the effect on the public revenue is the 
same. 

* As for the subsequent mistakes of the last two letters, 
I am surprised at them. I am sure from the tenor of my 



102 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

conversation with Wedgwood he was to direct to you only 
till I could ascertain my fixed abode in town, and my fixed 
abode I expressly mentioned to him in my first letter from 
town, but God forbid I should cast any weight off my 
shoulders, merited or not, to throw it upon his which can 
so ill support it. It would make him miserable if he knew 
what I had suffered on this occasion. He is already pressed 
down with calamities which are almost too great for human 
nature to bear. His case, considering his character, is one 
of those which tempt one to rail against providence, and 
to doubt the justice and benevolence of God. I know not 
that I can say more ; perhaps you will think I have already 
said too much. . . '. 

' I have now but one thing to add which I feel of great 
importance. It is that you will obtain my pardon from 
the Speaker, and make every due apology to him for my 
having in a manner so improper, though certainly not 
intended, obtruded myself on his notice. With this may 
all end, and I trust that we shall be better friends, if better 
could be, than ever.' 

Early in 1804 Coleridge came up to London on his way to 
Malta. He stayed for a short time with Poole at Abingdon 
Street, and then migrated to Tobin's house in Barnard's 
Inn. Rickman writes to Southey of him and others on 
February 28. 

' Poor Coleridge suffers from the absence of steady 
work ; and as far as I can perceive labours under a disease 
(which is not the Nostalgia) from that cause only. Homer 
talks of persons in grief " eating up their own hearts " 
KTJP <f)t,\ov egeSwv and I think a man of vivid genius, 
idle in the country, must always do so, to the no small 
annoyance of himself and co-habitants. This word reminds 
me of George 2nd, who, having reached his regiment, im- 
mediately discovered that it was not worth while to retain 
a situation " which he might get any day." So he returned 
without having purchased regimentals, and now feeds on 
money procured by his mendicant circular. Quaere, Is 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 103 

not this to obtain money on false pretences : uncourteously 
termed in the vulgar tongue, swindling ? I understand that 
he thinks, or pretends to think, that he is going with a Polish 
nobleman to Poland, to take care of some books there. . . . 
Poole works on pretty well : except that vanity in his em- 
ployment has overset him more than could have been 
expected. But the thing will be pretty well done.' 

Of Poole's little weakness Rickman says in another 
letter :- 

' His friends are all invited to disturb the office that 
they may see his greatness in it, and he writes long useless 
letters continually to the Under Secretary of State, or any 
other great man he can find pretence to address. In the 
mean time his handwriting and his verbose indirect style 
equally unfit him for official correspondence.' 

During February and March Rickman, who had under- 
taken to find a ship for Coleridge, received nine letters 
from that wayward genius. All are not of equal interest, 
but four are worthy of publication. It will be seen that 
Coleridge too had some little trouble about a frank ; but 
Rickman must have refrained from hurting Coleridge's sen- 
sibilities, for, in addition to the warm expressions which 
Coleridge uses, he says in another farewell note that he 
will think of Rickman wherever he is ' in simple nakedness 
of heart.' 

'Feb. 18, 1804. 

* MY DEAR SIR, You were so kind as to express your 
intention of gaining some information for me from the 
gentleman, whom I was so unlucky as to miss meeting. I 
am not quite certain whether or not I distinctly stated the 
desiderata : 1. Are there any vessels likely to go to Malta 
or Sicily ? And when ? Is there a King's ship going, with 
other, or by itself ? And what chance have I of procuring 
a passage on board it ? My object is to reach Catania as 
shortly and inexpensively, as I can and I suppose, that my 



104 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

only, or best, way is to be landed at Malta, and thence to 
Syracuse in a (by me unspellable) Spallonieri, which is but 
six hours voyage. I am at present lodged at Tobin's : 
wholly disengaged, every day but Friday next, and so I shall 
keep myself. If you should happen to have even only an 
hour or two of any of the intervening evenings, before we 
meet at Tobin's, it would be a pleasure to me to be with 
you if you would let me know what time you are even 
likely to be at home, and really have the time quite ad 
libitum. Of course, I should not take the liberty of saying 
this but that it will not give me the least pain, if your time 
should be wholly pre-engaged tho' it will give me pleasure 
if it should be otherwise and if I did not know enough of 
you, and hope that you know enough of me, to believe that 
you will use no sort of ceremony whatsoever ; indeed, if I do 
not hear from you, I shall take it for granted that your time 
is anticipated. I met G. Burnet this morning. It made 
my heart feel almost as if it was going to ake when I looked 
at his eyes they seemed so thoroughly those of an opium 
chewer Heaven be praised, if I am mistaken but he 
talked so nervously and stated his plans so very, very 
helplessly. He is going to Poland with no French in the 
power of his tongue, and much less, than he himself supposes 
in the power of his eyes and as to looking into a Sclavonic 
or German Grammar why, yes he had been thinking of it. 
Your's my dear Sir with unfeigned esteem, 

' S. T. COLERIDGE. 

* I had an excellent letter yesterday from Southey. I know 
no instance of greater prospects made in vigor of mind, in 
robustness of understanding, than that made by our friend 
in the last two or three years/ 

' Tuesday Morning [Feb. 25]. 

' MY DEAR SIR, I have been day after day about to 
answer your kind and to me very interesting note. I had 
called on Mr. Welles, long long before Southey's letter 
indeed as early as was necessary. But the general remark 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 105 

has truth in it, but not as a short [? word omitted] of my 
original nature, neither does there exist on earth a man 
more joyous, more various, in my enjoyments of retired 
life, than I am. I have not been for some years without 
great objects and my indolence has almost altogether 
arisen from my having been too constantly forced off 
from these objects but enough ! You will forgive me this 
little escape of feeling I have felt in your society a feeling 
of confidence which I never felt in so short an acquaintance, 
even in my younger days a feeling arising, no doubt, in 
great part from the familiarity of your name to my ears, 
from Lamb and Sou they, the two men, whom next to 
Wordsworth, I love the best in the world. I have said this 
even to you and fearless : indeed, I apprehend that we 
seldom fear to say anything that we can say with the whole 
heart. I have sent you some essays written at different 
times in the M. Post but the best are unfortunately not 
there, especially the character of Pitt and one on Lord 
Grenville's Politus, which I have never been able to think 
meanly of, and (shame on me, if I speak with any affected 
humility) to think meanly of what I have written, almost 
immediately after the hot fit of composition, is ever a 
disease of my mind. Those, I suppose that will stand the 
best chance of interesting you are [on] Mr. Poole's Defence 
of Farmers. 

* As soon as my Volunteer Essays, and whatever of a 
Vindiciae Addingtonianae I can effect by simple attacks 
of the antagonists of [that] Minister, are published, they 
shall be sent to you without fail. If you have heard any- 
thing of the ship for Malta, you will be so good as to give 
me a line from 9 in the morning till 4 o'clock. My beet 
address is, Mr. Coleridge, Courier Office, Strand. After that 
time No. 7, Barnard's Inn, Holborn. . . . Believe me, dear 
Sir, your's very sincerely, 8. T. COLERIDGE. 



' 1 spent yester-evening with Lamb and shall be there 
this evening sans fail.' 



106 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

1 Wednesday, March 14, 1804. 

' MY DEAR SIR, I thank you for your kind note. I 
received the letter duly. To-morrow I must dine with 
Stuart, 1 as I shall be at his office arranging my own concerns 
till the very hour of dinner ; but I will be with you by a 
quarter before 7 infallibly, and Mary with Lamb will come 
with me. ... The East India House has very politely 
made me a present thro' Mr. Charles Lamb, an Eminent in 
the Indian Service, of a hundred or so of pens ; and if the 
H. of Commons would do the same, with a stick or two of 
wax, in short, any little additament that might be made 
instrumental in the service of G. Britain by spreading and 
increasing its literary action upon the world, I should 
consider as a flattering mark of respect from that Honor- 
able Assembly and should prize it considerably more than 
ever a Vote of Thanks and recommendation for a title 
unless a good warm salary or estate were the gilt lace to my 
Coat of Arms. Yours, my dear sir, with affectionate well 
wishing and sincere esteem, S. T. COLERIDGE/ 

* 7, BARNARD'S INN, TOBIN'S, 

' Monday, March 26, 1804. 

' MY DEAR SIR, I have crawled hither, and having 
crawled on to the Strand, to Stuart's, I must be carried 
back. I have again been miserably ill ... but I am 
literally sick of thinking, talking, and writing about my own 
miserable carcase. I have received orders from the Captain 
instantly to take my place for Portsmouth, at the latest 
to be at Portsmouth by Wednesday early-morning. Ac- 
cordingly, I have taken my place by the Tuesday's evening 
Mail. So much of myself. As to the pacquets the greatest 
part by far of my suffering arise from my imagination 
having conjured up very livelily the possibility of your 
having been placed in an uneasy situation in an indelicate 
one for you, and there seemed such a dreadful unappropri- 
ateness in your character to the very pretence of such a 

1 Editor of the Morning Post. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 107 

thing, that I at first and till I received your letter, fretted 
about it. My dear sir ! I am on the point of leaving my 
friends, children, country and in a very weak state of 
health, and that my mind is rather in a sad and somewhat 
solemn mood, will appear to most people no other than 
natural. Whether I return is to my own feelings uncertain. 
If I had stayed, I know that I should have had your friend- 
ship, if not in the highest, yet definedly not in the common- 
place sense of the word, for I should have appeared to you 
finally as I am, and of the sum-total of that I am not ashamed. 
Of yourself let me say a few words to you, at a minute, 
when I am incapable of even thinking a thought not accorded 
to by my earnest conviction. I had been taught to form 
a high opinion of you by two men, whom I love and know, 
and I leave you with a far higher. All your habits both 
of action and feeling, your whole code of self-government 
would to God I could but imitate them as entirely as I 
approve of them ! If I had written, admire them, you ought 
not to have been disgusted, for approbation accompanied 
by a sense of the difficulty would make no very bad de- 
finition of admiration. But I am as weak at heart as in 
body and must have . . . [illegible]. If I see anything 
in Malta or Sicily likely to interest you, be assured, that all 
my habits of indolence will not be strong enough to prevent 
me from communicating them to you. I inclose W. Taylor's 
letter. It is a very sensible one every one must have his 
prepossessions. My coolest retrospects do not furnish me 
with anything decisive in favour of Mr. Fox, either as a wise 
or a good man. God bless you, my dear Sir, I shall ever 
remain, with affectionate esteem your friend and present 
well-wisher, S. T. COLERIDGE.' 

On Coleridge's departure Rickman comments thus to 

1 hey : 

1 Mar. 26tA, 1804. 

' 1 have just heard from Coleridge, that he goes for 
Portsmouth to-morrow evening. He is very unwell in 



108 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

body and his mind very depressed, and very excitable 
by objects to other men scarce visible or feelable. Your 
prudence will not tell this to his fireside, and the voyage 
may cure him. If he dies, it will be from a sulky imagina- 
tion, produced from the general cause of such things ; i.e. 
want of regular work or application : which is great pity. 
Happening to look into the Lyrical Ballads the other day, 
there was (under the title " Lines left on Seat under a Yew 
Tree ") an account of somebody so written as to be very 
evidently a self-portrait Wordsworth's I believe ; and the 
same would not be very un-true of Coleridge. It is certainly 
to admire Nature in the country too much, when it leads us 
into final Evil, and self-discontent, so founded as those 
lines demonstrate to be felt, and justly felt, can hardly be 
denied. Why should not the beauties of Nature be to a 
grown thinking man, what play hours are at school ? 
Then no harm would be done, and the world would not 
lose men capable of being the most usefull members of 
society. Miserable contemplations these ! ! ! Farewell ! 
Let us not cease to work, and let imagination work only 
when it will work/ 

Two letters of this summer, written to Southey and 
Poole respectively, show Rickman's opinion of the new 
Government of Pitt. To Southey : 

May tih, 1804. 

' . . . Perhaps you will expect that I should say some- 
thing of the expected new Administration ; but it is not 
out yet ; and I rather think Dominus Rex holds out. It 
is said, that his royal stomach can digest one disagreeable 
morsel, but that Pitt and Fox at once are too much for him. 1 
In the mean time this is so compleatly rumour, that I myself 
do not happen to believe that Fox will be proposed to him 
at all. I like Fox better than I did, for having joined his 
ancient foe Pitt on the needful! occasion of ousting such 

1 This was, of course, the case. The King expressly refused to admit 
Fox. 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 109 

disgraceful! and dangerous fools and Court-favourites as we 
have now been governed by a long three years. Our nation 
was approaching vilification at a great rate. I hope that 
we have seen the last experiment of Court appointment 
of an Administration. Messrs. Addington, Yorke, 1 and 
Hobart a at London, and Mr. Drake 8 at Munich ! Tpi<r- 
neyia-Toi Humes ! It is a load off the mind, to have been 
lightened of such pitifull, mean, sneaking, shuffling fellows. 
They just went out in time to prevent the P. of W. putting 
in for a large share of power. That virtuous character is 
not now likely to gain anything by his policy and 
machinations, which have been incessant lately. If the 
new Ministry should be, what it may by possibility be, 
we shall not for some time have to fear this man, even 
though he should become King/ 

To Poole : 

1 August Uth, 1804. 

* Your letter has followed me into Sussex where I am 
trying to be as idle as I can for a week or two. I desire 
among other things to see the harvest, but the sight is bad 
and the prospect not very good, for the present weather is 
unfavourable and the blight you speak of very visible here. 
I think Billy Pitt will be glad that the Corn Law No. 1 was 
lost, else he would have heard more than he wished of it 
at Xmas. That the natural rise of price had actually pre- 
vented export would have aided him little with the mob, 
whose opinion and that of the House of Commons are the 
only opinions he cares for. Your friend Mr. Giddy published 
a short pamphlet about the Corn Law as now passed. If 
there are people of good sense on both sides of the question 
we have the better chance for improvement in knowledge 
if not in practice. Indeed that may be further off, the 
Government of Britain not being yet civilised enough to 
have advanced beyond temporary considerations and 

Charles Yorke, M.P. for Cambridge ; then Secretary at War. 

* Lord Hobart, ex-governor of Madnw ; Secretary for War and Colonie* 
in Addington's ministry. In 1804 be became Earl of 

* Britkh envoy at Munich. 



110 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

imperfect shifts in everything. I am sure our country will 
be ruined before the benefit and indeed present necessity 
of official government and comprehensive arrangement of 
our mighty power and capabilities be enforced. A sleepy 
Government of Quietism will not be safe again until France 
by some accident becomes once more badly, that is in- 
efficiently, governed. . . . 

' At present I am much dissipated in mind. Wanting 
to write something of some half dozen things I write nothing, 
chiefly because I know not which to begin with, and partly 
because, though sure of my foundations I have not had 
time so to establish each particular part as to be fit for 
examination. I have a great mind to write of many things 
just as far as I know them and just as I talk of them, and 
then see if the medley seems worth mending. When I 
have made up my mind about this you shall know that you 
may see I am not unwilling, but much more really unable 
to do well what much wants doing. Be sure I have a keen 
appetite to methodise, or at least to point out methods for 
the good management of our noble country in many reforms 
of our neglected Government of the interior ; a waste of 
half our national energy/ 

In May Southey came to London, where he met Captain 
Burney at Rickman's. The first letter after his departure 
contains a passage characteristic of Rickman's utter dis- 
belief in the honesty of all reformers. 

' Do you think that the verminous Wilberforce really 
expected to carry through his Slave Trade Bill ? 1 Or 
that he introduced it so late in the Session that he might 
augment his odour of sanctity and philanthropy etc., 
among his devotees, and yet the slaves might still be carried 
to the W. Indies ? You will observe that, had he intro- 
duced it directly after Xmas, it might ere now have been 
law. Oh ! Smithfield and fiery faggots for that Holy Man ! 
I would willingly exalt him into a martyr.' 

1 It passed its third reading in the Commons on June 27, but was thrown 
out in the Lords. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 111 

The only other news of 1804 was that Burnett really 
did go to Poland, and earned for himself the nickname of 
Count Bu met ski. He was for nine months a kind of 
private secretary to Count Zamoyski at his country estate. 
The result of this voyage was a series of letters to the 
London Magazine, which appeared in 1807 as a book 
entitled A View of the Present State of Poland. The reader 
of this book, knowing Burnett's character, will be surprised 
at the sanity and vividness of his writing. It is a most 
lively description of social life in Poland, which shows that 
Burnett, in spite of his faults, was truly a man of parts. 
In October 1805 he returned to England, violently in love 
with a Polish princess, as Southey told Rickman. This was 
probably Princess Czartoriska, of whom there is a glowing 
portrait in the book. For a few years after his return 
Burnett lived quite an exemplary life of labour. He pro- 
duced his best known work, Specimens of English Prose 
Writers to the End of the Seventeenth Century, in 1807, and 
in 1809 a new edition of Milton's prose works. Both of 

~e books show considerable erudition and acuteness of 
criticism. 

During 1805 there are several letters from Rickman 
to Poole, who had left London, having completed his task. 
Besides his own extra labours the secretaryships to two 
Royal Commissions for constructing the Caledonian Canal 
and for building roads and bridges in the Highlands of 
which I shall say more anon, and a few allusions to politics, 

chief subject was one Phillips, who had been employed 
by Poole as a clerk on the Poor Law business, and who 
was now in debt. Rickman took up with regard to him the 
same attitude of stern benevolence that he did to Burnett. 
He was willing to help him on the condition that no sen- 
timental friends interfered, and that Phillips worked out 
his own salvation. Ned Phillips was a friend of Lamb, 
and we know from Lamb's letters that he was disappointed 
a few years later of some official post in the employn 
of the Royal Society. But his salvation came in 1814, 

'n he succeeded Rickman as Speaker's Secretary, a post 



112 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

in which he continued certainly till 1833. 1 Lamb com- 
mented on this change of fortune with great joy to 
Coleridge in a letter of August 13, 1814. This particular 
passage is only newly discovered, and is printed by Mr. 
Lucas (Works of C. and M. Lamb, vii. 972). Lamb 
says that ' poor, card-playing Phillips,' who was always 
hopelessly in debt and down on his luck, can hardly believe 
his good fortune ; so much so that cribbage has lost its 
interest for him, since he no longer plays for to-morrow's 
dinners or the price of necessary clothes. The one condition 
imposed was that he should remain single. ' Here,' says 
Lamb, ' I smell Rickman,' for Phillips had already made 
one most unfortunate marriage. 

It must have been gratifying to Rickman after his failure 
with Burnett to find his caustic methods succeed with 
another ne'er-do-weel. 

The first letter to Poole in 1805 is dated May 12. 

1 . . . I am obliged to you for hunting country materials 
for my purpose, and that you write with satisfaction at your 
own. I am sorry to think that I shall have little opportunity 
of communing with you here about that or anything else, 
I shall be so painfully busy for the next three weeks. The 
Caledonian Canal and Scotch Roads both now claim an 
annual report of me, and the materials of the labour have 
been expected in vain for three weeks. When they come 
(tomorrow I hope) I must set to work for ten hours a day 
for some time. . . . 

' I am almost low spirited at thinking of the threatened 
pressure of labour before me, but suppose that as usual 
when at it I shall forget that sensation in my eagerness and 
haste. However you must not say anything of brain 
work to me till I have accomplished my task. Highland 
improvement is a good thing, but not for my conveni- 
ence. . . . 

' Southey's Madoc has been out some time ; a bad book ; 

1 He made a return of his salary to the Committee on the Offices of 
House of Commons which sat in that year. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 113 

I cannot read it through, and as I dislike to tell him so it 
will be long ere I write to him about it. 

* Politics go on badly ; Pitt stays in because the King 
and most of his subjects are afraid of Bonaparte's friend 
and advocate, C. J. Fox. The Catholics petition tomorrow. 
Impudent slaves of the Pope to ask for more than Protestant 
Dissenters have. They will have their one answer I trow/ 

Rickman did tell Southey. His criticism is contained 
in a long letter of June 27, in which he says : 

* About Madoc : I am very glad to hear that the world 
admires it and buys it ; though in reading it I confess I 
cannot discover that it is in any degree so good as your 
two former poems which I have read lately by way of 
comparison. . . . The Virgilian Preface very oddly (as I 

ik) sets forth the planting of Christianity in America. 
It is in the license of poetry to vary circumstances 
and to insert incidents, but surely not to predicate a 
result notoriously false. . . . Besides this, I much dis- 
like the sort of nameless division you have adopted, and 
the want of numbering the lines. . . . Neither do I like 
the metaphysical kind of preachings produced by your 
Welshmen for the instruction of savages. . . . There are 
many sparkling well-finished passages, most of which I 
had seen before ; the rest seems filled up with a very ill- 
assorted betweenity.' 

Southey, it must be said, took this very well ; he knew, 
of course, that Rickman was no judge of poetry. 
Poole's next letter is wholly of Phillips. 

4th July, 1806. 

* I write chiefly because you write as pleading for Phillips. 
The truth is that neither you nor anybody can be. or 
can make me, better inclined to serve him than I am ; my 
little pettishness does not interfere with serious calamities. 

I, that nothing can be done, not that I am unwilling to 
do all in my power. Who can serve him, who heedlessly, 

H 



114 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

or, as you better say, through languor in money matters, 
travels the road to ruin ? Alas ! the end of that road is 
not difficult to reach ! I am very glad, however, to know 
of the debt to you and Dalton ; there is not the least occa- 
sion that you should mention the intelligence to Phillips, 
but I wish you would desire Purkis to pay me 16 less than 
50 equal 34. In a better posture of his affairs I should 
have great reason to be angered with Phillips for contract- 
ing debts with anybody whom he knows only through me. 
In such case though one's name is not used the influence is 
felt, and I am extremely glad not to have that kind of half 
debt (so incurred for me without my knowledge) on my 
mind. I hope Dalton will lend him no more. I am not 
surprised that I never knew the extent of Phillips' embarrass- 
ment, but I am truly surprised to find now, that after he 
was sensible I was near upon breaking with him at his 
wife's death for sending her 60 miles in a hearse, and after 
his protestation then given to a common friend that his 
wife's mother was not to be any kind of expense to him, 
to find that the woman remained a burden on him to her 
death, and incredible ! that he sent her down when 
dead 60 miles after her daughter ! I detested this vulgar 
old woman because she conveyed to Phillips his wife's 
desire to be buried at Towcester. If his wife did so desire 
(which I believe not) the mother should have stifled such 
a heinous folly uttered in the half delirium of approaching 
death ; if the wife did not so desire, what a horrid fiction, 
big with ruin to the man who with romantic generosity 
married a woman distressed, who had been refused to him 
till that happened. I write myself into a passion thinking 
of this low-lived creature. 

' The sum total of evil (so far as I can collect) is that to 
do any good to Phillips 200 down and 200 a year is the 
lowest reasonable computation ; this being out of the 
question, he must cease to consider himself as capable of 
relief, and I think should enter himself as a marine ; for 
that is the best service for a man who cannot dig or beg, 
and whose imprudence has made him incurable, and must 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 115 

keep him so. Prevent Dal ton from lending him any more 
and do not throw away any money in vain yourself.' 

On August 21, in a letter to Poole which alludes to 
the party negotiations of Pitt, who had been having 
trouble in his Cabinet since the vote of censure on Melville 
(at which Rickman's * chief ' gave the casting vote), 
the Secretary grows melancholy about his own labours. 
He complains that he has been wasting precious hours doing 
work ' not above the capacity of an attorney's clerk,' and 
continues : 

4 1 heartily wish you were not in a mistake about the 
possibility of my doing any part of my business by proxy. 
So very small a portion of it could be so done that the 
attempt is hopeless. Of course I am much discontented 
at this and since the prorogation have discovered myself 
to have been most basely and injuriously treated where 
it was least to be expected, but I am caught in a net from 
which I do not see the term of my liberation. My vexa- 
tion at this and other things has been very heavy upon 
me lately so that I am scarcely fit for anything, and you 
must accordingly excuse any seeming inattention. Say 
nothing of this to anyone, nor notice it to myself/ 

The chief event of 1805 for Rickman was his marriage, 
ugh he would not have his friends consider it so. The 
lady of his choice was Miss Susannah Postlethwaite of 
Halting in Sussex. Rickman had intended to marry her 
for some time, but he speaks of what was, in many senses of 
the term, a happy marriage in a most obstinately matter-of- 
fact spirit. In September 1804 he had written to Southey : 
' I have some intention of writing into the country for a 
wife ; but have not quite made up my mind about it ' ; and 
he spent Christmas of that year at Halting, as the addresses 
on his letters show. The truth was that he was tired of 
being uncomfortable with * Aunt Beaumont and a maid,' 
he was in a permanent and honourable position with a 
certain income, and his friends, as he told his daughter in 



116 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

after years, thought the time had come to marry ; and 
so he did, not without misgivings. On October 23, in the 
course of a letter to Southey, he says : ' You will find here 
an additional person to welcome you, as I lately imported a 
wife from the country by way of experiment : I think it 
will answer : we shall see. I know you are on the side 
of matrimony.' His announcement of the ' experiment ' 
to Poole is lost, but Poole seems to have replied with 
congratulations a trifle too sentimental for the sturdy 
Rickman. I close this chapter with Rickman's reply. 

' 30th October 1805. 

6 1 ought to notice your last letter first and very heartily 
thank you for the good wishes it contains, as does the 
lady who shares in them. You seem to think I have had 
various speculations or intentions in the affair of marriage, 
but it is not so, for I have done it quite in commonplace 
way, except it may not be common, that the main ingredient 
determining my choice was not love or gain but an esteem 
of very long standing having been well acquainted with 
the lady who has consented to migrate hither rather more 
than a dozen years, and having always perhaps had so 
much influence over her as to cause her, sensibly or insen- 
sibly, to do and to think very much after my own taste. 
So that when you come to town you may expect to see a 
person not much unlike myself, abating that portion of 
violence or eagerness which I would not encourage in petti- 
coats. As to reasons for marrying now and not before, 
they have chiefly been founded on not having been at all 
satisfied with my vile employment in the House of Commons, 
and reckoning myself therefore but a sojourner in this 
house, which otherwise seemed to ask for a mistress from 
the day I took possession of it. At last I thought that 
half the age which David assigns to us permitted not pro- 
longed delay, and I have taken the chance of events, only 
unwillingly as feeling myself hereby rather more fastened 
to the House of Commons, because every woman loves to 
remain in a good house, and the lady in question has im- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 117 

ported a country taste for plants and a neat garden which 
can be indulged here. You perceive by all this that I 
have nothing to say of marriage in general, much a creature 
of circumstance I should think and I daresay, knowingly 
or not circumstance has chiefly made you think of it. It 
seems to me a comfortable thing, but I have not so much 
to say of rapture as you seem to expect and heartily glad 
am I of that having a more permanent possession in a 
more lasting affection from sources of slower growth and 
slower decay than that. . 

4 Public news 1 God help us decision against indecision 
has had the usual success 1 and the mighty coalition of 
mighty powers stai Nominis Umbra \ You know I think 
not the term of our national existence very long, unless we 
most unexpectedly I had almost said impossibly alter 
our deliberative form of Government. The continental 
vortex is enlarged and no Government but an absolute 
Government can oppose absolute power now organised 
into the machine of a large French army in which tem- 
porary derangement causes little defect whose temporary 
success ensures future success ad infinitum.' 

1 Rickman obviously refer* to Ulm, and ignores the effect* of Trafalgar. 



CHAPTER V 

Family life at Westminster A stern father The houses in Palace Yard 
Church parade Late dinner The Burneys and other friends 
Lamb's Wednesday evenings Driving in the gig Telford Rick- 
man's official work. 

RICKMAN'S marriage practically closed his chapter of adven- 
tures. The few chances and changes of his uneventful life 
the choice of a career, the first census, the Irish secre- 
taryship were over ; the great friendship of his life had 
been firmly wrought ; he had won the affection of Lamb, 
Coleridge, Poole, William Taylor, and the Burneys. It is 
possible that Westminster, with its ' bag and sword ' and 
all that they implied, would not have kept him long had he 
remained a bachelor. He wished himself, and his friends 
wished him, in a more efficient position. But marriage 
made a permanent income necessary ; it was the anchor 
which held him to his official life ; so that, during all that 
period of our history which was disturbed first by war 
with France, then by agricultural distress and riots, and 
finally by the agitation for Parliamentary reform, Rickman, 
however agitated in mind, however fearful of a revolution 
more terrible than the French, however infuriated against 
rabid Whigs and weak Tories, however oppressed by 
accumulating labours, passed the remainder of his days in 
the outwardly tranquil enjoyment of a stable and assured 
position, which he held even till his last breath. I have 
therefore thought it permissible to depart for a moment 
from the historical order of events which the sequence of 
letters forces upon us, and to give a general picture of 
Rickman's domestic and social life at Westminster between 
the time of his marriage and the burning of the Houses of 
Parliament in 1834. 

118 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 119 

The entirely unromantic marriage was, BO far as can 
be judged from letters, a most successful 'experiment.' 
Mrs. Rickman was obviously content to be under her hus- 
band's thumb and to be patronised as the weaker vessel 
domestic happiness would have been otherwise impossible 
for the masterful Rickman though no doubt she was not 
blind to his faults nor averse to leading him with tact. 
She bore him four children, three girls and a boy, and she 
died in 1836. The daughter Martha died young in 1810, 
but Ann and Frances and William, the son, outlived their 
father by many years. Mrs. Rickman seems to have been 
favourably received by the friends of her husband's bachelor 
days, though in November 1810 Lamb wrote in a letter to 
Hazlitt : * One or two things have happened . . . which 
. gesture and emphasis might have talked into some 
importance. Something about Rickman 's wife for in- 
stance : how tall she is and that she visits prank'd out like 
a Queen of the May with green streamers a good-natured 
woman though, which is as much as you can expect from 
a friend's wife, whom you got acquainted with as a bachelor.' 
Here lies the germ of Elia's essay, ( A Bachelor's Complaint.' 
But both Lamb and Southey seem to have got on very well 
with Mrs. Rickman ; they were ready to entertain her, and 
to be entertained by her, as they were, with unfailing kind- 
ness. Southey always sent some courtly message to her 
in his letters, and was glad to allow his daughter Bertha to 
stay more than once with the Rickmans. 

It is evident that Rickman was sincerely attached to his 
children, but he was a formal and severe parent. Some 
light is thrown upon this side of his character by the MS. 
reminiscences of his daughter Ann (Mrs. Lefroy). A ' black 
rattan ' was always hanging by the side of the drawing- 
room chimney, and at least one occasion is recorded of its 
use. But what is more remarkable in Rickman 's family 
relations is their old-fashioned punctilio. He almost always 
referred to his daughters as ' Miss A.' and ' Miss Fr.,' and 
to his son as W. C. R., even in family letters. He was 
anxious for them to acquire knowledge, which he looked on 



120 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

as supremely useful for its own sake, and Mrs. Lefroy records 
the fact that they were accustomed to ask for their dessert 
in Latin. At the same time, to use her own words, ' Papa 
looked down on any routine of teaching and discipline, " no 
one should be pressed to learn there were plenty of books 
(folios) in the shelves for Miss Ann to read if she cared to 
do so." In truth I did not care, and I am very sorry that 
I had no stiff training. I generally was occupied, seated 
*' square " before a sheet of " Pot paper," copying out some 
official paper, circular or otherwise, or drawing papers from 
beneath Papa's hand, just so exactly that he could go on 
signing paper after paper without any pause, to the number 
of 500 perhaps.' Rickman was no slave-driver in education, 
but the following letter will show his views and his character 
better than anything I can say. It is a letter which Jane 
Austen would have treasured. Poor sixteen-year-old Ann ! 
It must have caused her bitter tears, but she preserved it 
nevertheless. Its date is 1823. 

4 MY DEAR CHILD, I write to you, lest from what passed 
yesterday morning you should feel yourself precluded from 
dancing at Mr. Williamson's tomorrow evening ; for al- 
though it is necessary in common civility that those who 
dance in domestic parties should enable themselves to play 
to others, yet I do not wish your defect, and my opinion 
of it, to become very public. Dance therefore Tuesday 
evening, and afterwards practice quadrille musick till you 
have mastered it. You are not aware (I daresay) that you 
expressed your own general defect in every thing, when you 
alledged as an excuse for not being able to play, " that it 
was very difficult to do so." And pray, what part of know- 
ledge, or what acquirement, is meritorious, unless it is 
difficult ? Because even that kind of knowledge which can 
be derived from books, and even from conversation, is 
difficult and even impracticable to those who cannot give 
their fixed attention to any useful information which is 
open to them. Much less of course can they hope to attain 
that dry kind of knowledge which is only such as being 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 121 

introductory to larger sources of knowledge : I speak of the 
rudiments and phraseology of languages, which cannot be 
acquired without willingness and determination of mind 
in the learner, after the tender age in which authority and 
compulsion can be exercised is passed away, as in your case. 

4 You will err, if you suppose what I have said to be a 
preface to any endeavour to force you for your good to be 
attentive to your Lati o any other useful study; 

quite the contrary ; because I believe that your backward- 
ness and inattention is caused by your reliance on me, that 
I shall be able to make you learn without any labour of 
your own. But I beg to decline the task of feeding a per- 
son who has no appetite, and for the future it will rest 
entirely with yourself, whether you chuse to remain among 
the vulgar and the ignorant, or to acquire laboriously the 
degree of knowledge which becomes your station in life 
and your relationship to me, whom you very well know to 
have benefited largely by cultivating the talent which you 
seem to undervalue. 

* Considering that no expence is spared for your grati- 
fication, no opportunity of giving you pleasure preter- 
mitted, I am not sure whether morally speaking you have 
any right to remain in ignorance contrary to the wishes of 
those who shew you so much favour ; but I do not insist 
on this, and leave you to your own reflections, and your 
own resources, always willing to instruct you whenever 
you shall bend your mind on improvement, but not willing 
to accompany you as now stationed for about three yean 
upon what is called Pons Asinorum, that is, the difficult and 
disagreeable part of study which is introductory, and where 
by relying on me instead of yourself, you seem in a fair way 
to remain always, forgetting exactly as much as you learn 
for want of attention and strenuous effort. Remember 
that in future you rely on yourself ; I cannot afford in my 
hours of relaxation to be distressed by seeing and knowing 
that A of your gaiety and happiness is obscured by a con- 
sciousness of not having done what is required of you for 
your own benefit. Knowledge I have found to be a good 



122 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

thing in itself ; and the increasing fashion of education 
places all young persons virtually in one vast school, where 
all other rank is superseded by acquirements which thus 
become necessary not only to him that would rise, but to 
him who is unwilling to sink from the station in which 
Providence has placed him. Radix Doctrinae acerba, 
fructus dulcis. 

' I should here finish this letter, but for one thing which 
will very soon be of importance in our domestic life. I am 
not without intentions of a large investigation in etymo- 
logies, if I am destined to a long life ; and it would have 
been in progress before now with your assistance, had you 
not so unexpectedly failed in acquiring this preliminary 
knowledge necessary to make you useful as a scribe and 
assistant in that purpose. But there is another young lady 
(Miss Fr. Rickman) of whom I ought not [to] despair without 
fair trial ; and though I give you permission to be as ignor- 
ant as you please, you will not I am sure expect that in 
compliment to your choice of that negative quality, I am 
to abstain from cultivating her taste for reading, and I 
hope for knowledge. I mean by this that you ought to 
prepare yourself for the possible event of her surpassing 
you in what you do not seem to value, and that it will be 
very unreasonable hereafter for you ever to interrupt her 
in her future studies ; and still worse to suffer any sinister 
feelings to intrude into your mind, if by chance I should 
succeed with her better than I have with you. I shall not 
insist further upon this point, because all the consequences 
will be quite as obvious to your mind upon consideration as 
to me. Guard yourself and prepare yourself accordingly. 
I shall attempt Frances the sooner perhaps from having 
thus committed you to your own care, as to all matters of 
study : in which however I hope you will yet do well. 

' I write no further, nor desire any answer to this, which, 
as all other letters which you receive or write, you are 
to communicate to your Mama, and on other occasions not 
to forget to show her due deference. Farewell, my dear 
child. Your affec. father, J. R.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 123 

It is to be feared that Frances equally failed to become 
the desired amanuensis. Rickman's hobby for etymology 
never resulted in any published work, and his loose papers 
have now been lost. The second daughter came in for her 
share of fatherly admonition after her marriage, when she 
and her husband wished to enlarge their vicarage, as he 
thought, imprudently. The long account of his own life 
and finances from which quotation has already been made, 
and will be made again 1 was written solely to dissuade 
her from a course of action which, as it appears from a 
second letter, turned out exactly as he foretold. An in- 
>r architect was employed who both did the work badly 
and exceeded the estimate. Rick man generously put his 
hand in his pocket, but treated his daughter to some very 
salutary advice, and sketched out a budget to which he 
desired that she and her husband should adhere to make 
good the losses. It is plain that the Rick man of the fireside 
WEB the same man that Lamb and Southey knew exceed- 
ingly generous, unsparing of his own time in helping, im- 
proving, or teaching others, but impatient of carelessness 
and weakness, judging the capacities of all by the standard 
of his own strong self. 

The Rickmans lived in the precincts of the Palace of 

Westminster till after the fire of 1834. People of to-day, 

> are accustomed to the uniform Gothic building designed 

by Barry, have little idea how different Westminster Palace 

looked less than a hundred years ago. Westminster Hall 

is the one visible relic (from the outside) of the past. 

The rest of the buildings, including the beautiful old St. 

Chen's Chapel, were a collection of different styles and 

periods. Where gazers from excursion steamers now see 

Terrace, there were then only roofs of different heights, 

many back windows, the east end of St. Stephen's, and a 

garden or two to be seen. New Palace Yard was not the 

railed-in space, jealously guarded by policemen, that it now 

is. In front of Westminster Hall was a wide expanse 

paved with cobble-stones ; on each aide of it there were 

80* pp. 20, 21, 24. 77. 125, 127. 



124 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

quite low houses, some of red brick, some of stone. On the 
eastern wing of the Yard, now occupied by officials' houses 
and terminated by the Clock Tower, there was only a portion 
of the old Exchequer Buildings, which included the famous 
Star Chamber, at the northern end of which was a water- 
gate (I must mention for it is perhaps only fully realised 
at sunrise after an all-night sitting that the river at West- 
minster runs north and south). From 1802, till he became 
first Clerk Assistant in 1821, Rickman lived in the official 
house of the Speaker's Secretary, next to the Speaker's 
house, which stood opposite the east side of Westminster 
Hall, farther south than the present Speaker's house. ' Our 
house,' says Mrs. Lefroy, ' was in a small court, entered by 
two archways ; the " Speaker's Archway " we called one, 
which looked rather new and well stuccoed, and the Speaker's 
carriage always drove in and out of that, and in doing so, 
passed under a buttress which belonged to the east side 
of Westminster Hall. Our front door was in an old stone 
wall opposite to the Westminster Hall wall with a small 
bricked up old Gothic arch in it ; we were close to the other 
archway entrance to the court ; this was very old and shabby 
without any architectural merits, and dark to pass through, 
60 or 70 feet in length. Close to our door, and closer to this 
arch, was a narrow door and passage which led into a 
garden in which were laburnum trees and a lawn : this was 
Mr. Wilde's garden. The passage passed under some 
official rooms of the Exchequer, an old wooden building 
of Queen Elizabeth's time, standing on wooden legs. Mr. 
Wilde held the office of Keeper of the Exchequer . 
house] stood so close to the river Thames that at spi 
tide there was great pleasure to us children in dipping 
our fingers down into the water from the sitting 
windows. . . . 

' How much better our house was than Mr. Wilde's 
because it was at the beginning of the garden, so we had 
a bright, pleasant piece of ground, with a terrace and 
to the river, and the roses and other flowers grew luxuriantly, 
and against the end of Mr. Wilde's house on the terrace thei 





23 









! - 



. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 125 

was a Hamboro' grape ; and we had gooseberries too and 
a Morella cherry besides a very pretty Bird cherry tree . . . 
and there was a corner and a mound to bury the kittens 
and canaries in, and a place where we all dug. ... It was 
a very smooth lawn, and in the centre a round border, with 
some shrubs and a hedge of white jasmine. . . . Papa very 
often in warm weather stretched himself down on the 
slope of turf that formed the terrace, in the centre of which 
were four stone steps : he generally went to sleep, and we 
made daisy chains to dress him up, and looked at his pig- 
tail, but we never quite made up our minds to pull it.' 

An idyllic pleasaunce indeed, which the officials of to-day 
may well envy. Rickman, in his own account written to his 
daughter, gives some details of the interior. The living- 
rooms were on the first floor. The best of these had three 
windows looking on the river, and was called the ' sitting- 
room ' : here the family lived entirely when alone. The 
other room was called the ' book-room,' though it was used 
as a dining-room when guests were present, and was prob- 
ably the one consecrated to Sou they 's use. The terms 
1 drawing-room ' and * dining-room ' were purposely avoided, 
lest they should lead to a style of living incommensurate 
with income. 

When Rickman became first Clerk Assistant he moved 
into a red-brick house in New Palace Yard, which occupied 
the whole space between the two archways to the Speaker's 
Court, the site of the present members' entrance. I repro- 
duce a water-colour sketch made by Mrs. Lefroy in 1831. 
The front door was in a corner facing west, and on the right 
stood the old Star Chamber. There was an old watchman 
there, and also a Speaker's watchman, according to 
Mrs. Lefroy, who carried a lantern and wore a heavily 
caped coat. He called out : ' Twelve o'clock and a cloudy 
night ' in the traditional style, for in those days there was 
only a little oil lamp, trimmed daily by the lamp-lighter. 
Opposite this house stood the 'King's Arms,' the hotel 
where the Westminster Committee held their turbulent 
meetings for Sir Francis Burdett. 



126 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Life at Westminster was not dull in those days. When 
Parliament was sitting Palace Yard was full of bustle with 
members arriving in their carriages. The Westminster 
elections were a continuous riot, and there were several 
special occasions which Mrs. Lefroy records. She saw 
Queen Caroline driving every day to her trial, and the 
coronation of George iv., which was celebrated with un- 
exampled splendour. The special stable for the Champion's 
horse was in front of Rickman's house, and it was near by 
that the Queen alighted when she tried to force her presence 
upon the King. ' From above,' says Mrs. Lefroy, ' we could 
plainly see her and hear her say aloud " Show me to my 
husband," whereupon the large porter in scarlet slammed 
the door and locked it a terrible moment for everybody.' 
The new Lord Mayor brought by water in his gold barge, and 
the Bang's Birthday procession, were annual sights. Other 
excitements were the Panorama, Miss Lin wood's exhibition 
of needlework, a voyage by water to the Royal Academy 
at Somerset House, Braham singing and fireworks at Vaux- 
hall, and ' Astley's ' across the river. I cannot resist closing 
this paragraph with Mrs. Lefroy 's account of the official 
church parade in those days. First ' the Speaker and his 
wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abbott, [in] her bright emerald silk 
pelisse trimmed with deep ermine, a muff as large as a 
pillow with deep cuffs and a long tippet en suite. The foot- 
man behind her with her prayer-book ; Mr. Abbott with 
pig- tail and broad-brimmed hat, a black swallow-tail coat, 
tight grey pantaloons and Hessian boots rather short with 
a tassel in front. Our Father had much the same dress, but 
his boots varied, and sometimes had a straight rim and no 
tassel, but there was a pig-tail. Mamma had sable en 
suite, her pelisse was " Waterloo blue " silk. . . . Then came 
Mr. and Mrs. Dyson [the deputy-Clerk and his wife] . . . 
he in country gentleman costume, the pig-tail, white stock- 
ings with short nankeen gaiters, and the short knee breeches 
of light drab or nankeen, a striped linen waistcoat, white 
cravat, and a coat of snuff brown cloth. . . . Then Mr. 
and Mrs. Wilde, she in black and black lace ... he with 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 127 

black silk stockings and shorts buckled to his knees, high 
shoes tied in good bows by his daughter, a large silver headed 
stick, . . . and a very important pig-tail under his large 
hat.' 

Though he was fond of society, Rickman purposely 
avoided dinner-party intercourse, as he called it, from 
considerations of economy. As he told his daughter, he 
4 attained to this needful economy by an oval dinner table 
made for six, but capable of holding eight persons well 
packed, and two dishes of meat and fish, two of vegetables.' 
When he became Clerk Assistant he invested in a table 
which would accommodate ten. He was conservative in 
his tastes. As he remained faithful to the old-fashioned 
stock and knee-breeches, so he adhered to four o'clock as 
the hour for dinner. Late dinners found no favour in his 
sight, as we may gather from a characteristic passage : 

4 It has occurred luckily I think in modern society that 
a late dinner hour infers luncheon which you bestow on 
morning visitors, and which renders dinner company really 
injurious to rational intercourse ; which is much better 
attained by your friends having really dined with or without 
their children at two o'clock, and visiting you at tea-time, 
their stomachs hi a much better state than when distended 
with a second feed and half a dozen unnecessary glasses of 
wine, which separate the sexes very ridiculously during the 
best hours of the evening.' 

But Rickman was by no means a hermit, and Mrs. Lefroy 
has preserved many memories of his friends. There was 
Captain Burney, 1 whom we have met already, with his wife 
and daughter, and his friend Colonel Phillips, who was 
with Captain Cook when he was murdered at Otaheite. 
Captain Burney was an * odd fish,' who kept his daughter's 
wardrobe very limited, and Colonel Phillips always had a 
4 schism between his waistcoat and his trousers.' Madame 
d'Arblay was also a friend of the Rickmans, and the second 

1 He accompanied Cook on his second and third voyages, and after- 
wards wrote A Chronological Account of the Discoveries in the South Seas. 



128 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

daughter was christened after her. The Burneys were a 
very musical family, and Mrs. Lefroy records a meeting 
at her father's house of a string quartet. It is a pity that 
we have no record of Rickman's views on such music. We 
may imagine that his ' cosmopolite ' scorn, which made him 
regard poetry as a ' toy in manhood,' would have found still 
more contemptuous phrases for an art that has so little 
semblance of utility, in Bentham's sense of the word. 
Another pair of musical friends were Mr. and Mrs. Ayrton. 
Ayrton was Lamb's ' my friend A ' in the essay ' A Chapter 
on Ears ' : Mrs. Lefroy says he was ' rather a fine gentle- 
man, and a joke with the set in rusty waistcoats,' among 
whom she instances Charles and Mary Lamb. They ' often 
came upon the scene, he so very thin and black, thread lace 
stock quite as " Elia " should be, rather the air of a dissent- 
ing preacher, underhung, and making a pun in a low voice 
in a distant corner of the room, where he generally seated 
himself. His good sister Mary Lamb, a stout, roundabout 
little body, with a turban, and a layer of snuff on her upper 
lip. She was so good-natured and had a gruff kind of 
voice.' 

Lamb's famous Wednesday evenings began in 1806, and 
at them Rickman was a regular guest, he and Captain 
Burney being two of the players in the game of whist which 
always began the evening, before the punch came in and 
tongues were loosened. It is evident Rickman was one 
of the more serious set of Lamb's friends, whose influence 
opposed that of the more dissolute Fell, Fenwick, and others, 
who encouraged Elia's taste for alcohol and wild extrava- 
gances. ' There was R.,' said Leigh Hunt in the Examiner, 
'to represent among us the plumpness of office and the 
solidity of government ' ; and Talfourd in his Final 
Memorials called him ' the sturdiest of jovial companions, 
severe in the discipline of whist as at the Table of the House 
of Commons.' He was noted for his taste for argument, 
so much that, writing to Sarah Hazlitt in 1810 of Hazlitt 's 
absence, Mary Lamb said : ' Rickman argues and there 
is none to oppose him.' Hazlitt, speaking of these evenings 




> fa 
r 1 o 

!! 



* H 



3 

s K 

H 

# Q 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 129 

in his essay ' On the Conversation of Authors,' gives a good 
description of Rickman's conversational propensities. 

' There was Rickman, who asserted some incredible 
matter-of-fact as a likely paradox, and settled all contro- 
versies by an ipse dixit, a fiat of his will, hammering out 
many a hard theory on the anvil of his brain the Baron 
Munchausen of politics and practical philosophy.' 

Crabb Robinson, 1 who does not seem to have known 
Rickman intimately, often mentions his presence at Lamb's, 
and records an after-dinner visit to his house at West- 
minster in 1813 with Lamb and Burney. It was there 
that Lamb made his famous pun on Chatterton's Rowley 
poems. Rickman showed a manuscript in which there 
were seventeen kinds of e's all written differently. ' Oh,' 
said Lamb, ' that must have been modern written by 
one of " the mob of gentlemen who write with ease." 

After 1814 Rickman's duties at the House must have 
kept him away from Lamb's whist-table, and I suspect 
that he found Lamb an uncomfortable guest to entertain 
at Westminster. Nevertheless, the friendship did not die 
out, though it was a little tried when Rickman found it 
necessary to dismiss first Tom Holcroft son of Lamb's 
friend the dramatist and then Martin Burney from clerk- 
ships he had given them. Crabb Robinson records both 
these incidents, and how upset the Lambs were. On the 
latter occasion Mary Lamb went to plead in person, and 
told Robinson that both Mr. and Mrs. Rickman had given 
her a most kind reception, and that Rickman had walked 
with her as far as Bishopsgate Street. Martin Burney was 
not reinstated, but Lamb's Latin letter to Rickman in 1828 2 
about Burney's prospects in the profession of law shows 
that no rancour remained ; and in a letter of the following 
year Rickman tells Southey that Lamb is staying with 

1 In his Diary, a selection from which is published. 
a Printed in Canon Ainger's last edition of Lamb's Letters, and trans- 
lated by Mr. E. V. Lucas for his own edition. 

I 



[30 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

him during Mary Lamb's convalescence from one of her 
periodical attacks. 

Rickman was not one who found it necessary to divert 
his ever active brain with such harmless amusements as 
sport or theatre-going. Many of the hours which were 
free from professional work were devoted to the considera- 
tion of certain subjects which were his hobbies. Chief 
among these were etymology and architecture. His re- 
searches upon these subjects were sometimes printed for 
private circulation. Most of his pamphlets and papers 
are lost, but there is a thin little volume, a copy of which 
is in the British Museum, entitled Historical Curiosities 
relating to St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, which is a 
description of the windows, the beadle's staff, and the bas- 
relief over the altar. It was printed at the private press 
of an invalid friend of the family. Out of doors, as well 
as indoors, Rickman made his recreation serve a practical 
purpose. During the Parliamentary recesses, particularly 
in the summer, he used to make long tours in order to see 
places of interest, and the journeys were always minutely 
recorded in letters home which have been preserved. Un- 
fortunately, the extreme dryness of Rickman 's epistolary 
style to his family makes these letters unsuitable for quota- 
tion. His tour in the Netherlands with Southey and Henry 
Taylor (the author of Philip van Artevelde) was the subject 
of a very long letter to Lord Colchester the former Speaker 
Abbot which has the same literary defect. But the 
holidays which Rickman most enjoyed were spent in driving 
tours about England. The first of these took place in 
1814, when, foreseeing his elevation to the Table of the 
House, he bought a horse-chaise and one horse, and drove 
all over the north of England, seeing the cathedrals and 
other sights of interest, with a visit to Southey at Keswick 
by the way. Little Ann, who was then six years old, 
accompanied her mother and father on this tour, and she 
was able in later years to give some account of it. The 
gig, she says, ' was a comfortable large yellow affair on 
two wheels, with hood to move up and down, and a pro- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 131 

jection behind called " the sword case " ; in this I made 
many long journeys with papa and mama, seated between 
them on a high mahogany box, with stuffed green baize 
on the top. ... I think we went about 24 miles a day, 
resting always on Sunday. . . . Behind our feet was a 
small long narrow box which held the shoes, the seat box 
on which papa sat held his toilette, my little baize box 
hid our Sunday bonnets, and the box under the seat took 
all the rest. . . .' I believe when I was eight years old 
I had seen every cathedral in England and Wales. . . . 
There were no railways then, the good old days of fine 
turnpike roads and fine inns, with old-fashioned landlords, 
great civility almost friendship shown, and the waiter 
relating the sights of the town, as he brought in the dinner, 
with perhaps the special fish of the river.' The chaise 
was soon succeeded by a four-wheeled gig which held all 
the family, and when Rickman succeeded to the Clerk 
Assistant's post, he bought two horses. With these the 
children used to come up and down from Epsom, where 
Rickman rented a villa. In 1830 he made a special tour 
to the antiquities round Salisbury, Silchester, Stonehenge, 
and Abury, an account of which he communicated to the 
Society of Antiquaries. Also, he made more than one 
tour in Scotland in company with Telford, the famous 
engineer, whose acquaintance he gained through his secre- 
taryship to the Commissions for the Caledonian Canal and 
Highland Roads . Telford and Rickman became fast friends, 
and worked in complete unanimity, Telford doing the con- 
structive, Rickman the business and diplomatic, parts of 
the great work. When Telford died in 1834 Rickman 
edited his autobiography, supplying notes, a preface, and 
a supplementary account of his personality. It is interest- 
ing to notice that Rickman ascribed Telford 's early demo- 
cratic views to the influence of the republican tendencies 
in the Greek and Latin classics which that remarkable 
man found time to read while he was only a hard-working 
young mason. It is doubtful whether the liberal bias of 
the great writers of antiquity would nowadays seem a 



132 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

sufficient argument for the retention of compulsory Greek 
in the eyes of modern reformers. 

Having spoken of his diversions, I must give some 
account of Riekman's work at Westminster. As Speaker's 
Secretary his duty was to attend the Speaker on all official 
occasions in ' bag and sword,' to answer letters, and assist 
the Speaker in searching for precedents or answers to other 
special questions. The work was tiresome rather than 
arduous, and we have seen that Rickman often found it 
very distasteful. But few who have begun an official 
career ever, give it up, and Rickman was no exception. 
His average salary, produced by fees, was about 300 a 
year when he entered upon his duties, with the expectation 
of another 1000 or 1200 in any year of election petitions 
on the sitting of a new Parliament. Rickman was for- 
tunate in seeing four years of election petitions, out of 
which he made 3800. In 1801 Telford made a survey 
of the Highlands, and the result of his report was the 
appointment of the two Commissions, which I have already 
mentioned, for constructing the Caledonian Canal and for 
building roads and bridges in the Highlands. From these 
joint secretaryships, which he held till 1829, Rickman earned 
another 400 a year. From 1825 to 1831 he was secretary, 
at 100 a year, to another Commission for building churches 
in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. These secre- 
tarial posts were no sinecures. A considerable amount of 
opposition had to be encountered, and there was a great 
deal of correspondence and balancing of accounts, while 
the production of the annual report often cut Rickman's 
hours of sleep down to three hours a night for a week 
or more. Telford testifies to his unfailing zeal and per- 
severance ; and it is indeed fortunate for Scotland that 
these two men continued together for so many years. 
It was in no spirit of self-laudation that Rickman told 
Southey that the death of either Telford or himself would 
have been most disastrous, especially for the Caledonian 
Canal. 

When Rickman became second Clerk Assistant, the 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 133 

salary of that post was 1600, and the salary of Clerk 
Assistant, to which he succeeded in 1820, was 2500. 
The character of his work changed entirely upon his 
translation. The duty of the Clerks at the Table was 
very much the same then as it is now. They are bound to 
be in their places whenever the House is sitting except 
that the Chief Clerk is absent when the House is in 
Committee and they keep a record of the actual business 
done, which serves as a basis for the Votes and Proceedings 
and for the Journal which are compiled by the clerks in 
the Journal Office. They are also the chief authorities upon 
procedure, and are continually consulted by members 
throughout a sitting. During a session of Parliament the 
hours of duty are in general long and wearisome, especially 
when all-night sittings are frequent, and the ventilation 
of the old House must have been considerably worse than 
that of the present one, which is by no means ideal. 
But besides this ordinary official work, which, it must be 
remembered, was combined with constant and, at times, 
overwhelming work upon the population returns and for 
the two Commissions, Rickman found time to do other 
signal services for the House of Commons. In 1817 he was 
very largely responsible for the introduction of a new and 
more expeditious method of printing the Votes and Proceed- 
ings. Before that year the Votes which record the pro- 
ceedings of the House in a less elaborate form than the 
Journal were not published till three or four days after 
the transaction of the business which they recorded. 
Rickman drew up a memorandum which explained the 
advantages of an improvement, which was chiefly to be 
made by shortening entries and omitting unnecessary 
items. His scheme was approved by a committee, and the 
form which is used to-day is practically the same as that 
then introduced, its advantage being that the Votes can be 
published soon enough to reach members early the next 
morning. The change was not made without considerable 
labour on the part of the three Clerks at the Table, and it 
was necessary for Rickman to remain in the office for two 



134 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

or three hours after the adjournment of the House, till 
things ran smoothly. In 1818 he indexed the Statutes, 
having made a new index to Hatsell's Precedents and 
Proceedings the year before, and in 1825 he busied himself 
over the indexing of the Journals. In 1829 he produced a 
catalogue of the House of Commons Library. From 1816 
to 1839 he was occupied annually with making various 
returns of local taxation, which were of the highest use for 
the first Poor Law Act of the reformed Parliament. Not 
content with all these official labours, Rickman was ever 
amassing information in economic subjects which he was 
ready to put at the disposal of a committee or a friend, no 
matter how much labour it cost him. His letters to 
Southey nearly all contain answers to questions which 
had arisen in the course of Southey's literary work, and in 
many cases four or five closely written folio pages followed 
almost by a return some query from Keswick. Of the 
article in the Quarterly for April 1818, which was nominally 
the work of Southey, I shall speak in a later chapter. 

Rickman 's unprinted pamphlets and papers have all 
been lost, though a complete list of them is given in the 
memoir by his son. He published pamphlets on Poor 
Law amendment and the Poor Law hi Ireland in 1832 and 
1833 respectively. His only other literary work was to 
edit Lord Colchester's speeches, delivered when he was 
Speaker, conveying the thanks of the House to the military 
commanders between 1807 and 1816. The volume is en- 
titled Military Thanks, and is prefaced by a biographical 
sketch of Lord Colchester. 

I hope that I have managed to convey some general idea 
of Rickman's social and family life, his amusements and his 
labours, and that this digression will explain, without need 
of further comment, many allusions in the letters which 
follow. 









CHAPTER VI 

1806-1816 

Political letters to Southey and Poole The Friend The Regency Bill 
The Quarterly Review Burnett's death Coleridge on Lamb's weak- 
nesses Shelley Murder of Perceval Coleridge on ' Remorse ' 
Rickman's good advice to Southey Southey Poet Laureate His 
truculence curbed by Rickman Waterloo Rickman the consoler 
Economic distress in the country Rickman on ' Mock Humanity ' 
and the Press. 

THE period of eleven years, from 1806 to 1816, was a most 
momentous one in English history. Home affairs were 
completely overshadowed by the progress of oui armies 
in the Peninsula and of Napoleon's armies on the Continent. 
Southey, having twice visited Portugal, was particularly 
interested in the Peninsular War, and few letters passed 
between him and Rickman which did not contain some 
allusion to the campaigns or criticism of the strategy. 
They paid less attention to Napoleon's victories in Prussia, 
though they rejoiced over Moscow and Waterloo. To the 
war with America there is no reference, and what is still 
more strange is that the economist, Rickman, never remarks 
upon the continental system or the Orders in Council, 
though these measures and counter-measures affecting 
trade were of vital importance to the protagonists in the 
great struggle. The deaths of Pitt and Fox, the various 
changes of Government before Perceval's assassination, 
and the intrigues which centred round the Regency drew 
comments from Rickman, though his more intimate con- 
nection with the Parliamentary debates only began in 1814, 
when he came as a Clerk to the Table of the House. The 
subject, perhaps, which most engaged the attention of his 
leisure hours was the condition of the poor, and the generally 

135 



136 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

unsatisfactory economic conditions which prevailed in 
England during the later part of this period. Most of the 
evils he assigned to the bad administration of the poor 
rate and want of education, refusing on theoretical grounds 
to admit that the undoubted excess of manufactured com- 
modities over the demand, due to mechanical inventions, 
was anything but a sign of prosperity. A great deal of the 
correspondence with Southey was concerned with Southey's 
literary work, the discussion of books, and family details 
(Rickman's children were all born during this time) which 
are to-day hardly of compelling interest. 

In the early part of 1806 Rickman discussed with Southey 
some of the questions raised in the poet's Espriella letters. 
In particular, the sturdy Rickman objected to any criticism 
of pugilism, contending that it was a convenient safety- 
valve for violent passions. In April Southey came to 
stay at Westminster and make the acquaintance of 
Mrs. Rickman. However, the chief letters of interest for 
this year are those from Rickman to Thomas Poole, to 
whom he paid a short visit in August. The selections 
which I have made chiefly refer to politics. In January 
Pitt fell mortally ill, and died. After some negotiations 
between Grenville, Fox, and the King the Ministry of All 
the Talents was formed, which included Lord Ho wick 
(afterwards Lord Grey) and Lord Henry Petty (afterwards 
Lord Lansdowne), as first Lord of the Admiralty and 
Chancellor of the Exchequer respectively. The King's 
known dislike for Fox caused the wildest political rumours 
to circulate as to the terms which had been agreed upon, 
and it may safely be said that Rickman's story in the first 
letter about the Duke of York is false. When Colonel 
Wardle caused an inquiry to be made into his conduct in 
1809, it was proved that his hands had been entirely clean, 
however injudicious he had been in allowing the notorious 
Mrs. Clarke to use illegitimate influence on behalf of her 
admirers. The five letters to Poole explain themselves for 
the most part, so that further preamble is unnecessary. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 137 

' 3lst January 1806. 

4 . . . The political world is very busy, but I remain 
indifferent and uninterested as usual, thinking evil more 
radical than to be cured by any men shackled with certain 
deliberative bodies. Perhaps you do not know in the 
country what made G. R. agree so soon to receive men he 
hates so thoroughly and eternally. The Duke of Y. was 
so terrified at the expectation of impeachment for dis- 
posal of commissions in the army gazetted " without 
purchase " that he prevailed on his father to make his 
own non-impeachment the only stipulation. The wretch 
is frightened out of his little wit and is said to have 
threatened self-murder if Fox came in without that bargain. 
The P. of W. was understood to be the chief mover against 
his rascal brother, ipse pejor. . . .' 

The army reform mentioned in the next letter was left 
to be carried out by Castlereagh in the Portland admini- 
stration of 1807 : the measure passed in 1806 only made 
further provision for the training of the militia. The 
* Duke of York's Council ' was the advisory council advo- 
cated by Grenville to control the Commander-in-Chief, 
but the King's opposition to the scheme caused it to be 
given up. Lord Moira was Master of Ordnance ; Alexander 
Davison was the Government contractor, Nelson's friend, 
who was convicted in 1808 of charging buyer's commis- 
sion for goods supplied by himself as merchant ; Colonel 
(afterwards General Sir Herbert) Taylor was then the 
King's private secretary ; Sir Robert Calder was the 
admiral who was court-martialled and severely repri- 
manded for his failure to follow up a victory gained off 
Cape Finisterre in 1805 against the French and Spanish 
fleets. 

1 IM March 1806. 

* I am glad to learn by yours of the 18th February that 
your benevolent efforts go on favourably. I do not see much 
good likely to be done here in the large ivay, and can tell 



138 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

you nothing at all about the intentions of the new Ministry 
from whom I do not and did not hope much ; the evil is 
more radical, 1 fear, than anything so trifling as this or that 
Ministry can cure. I believe the present people cannot 
at all agree among themselves even about the army reform 
so much talked of by themselves before they were in. Yet 
there is good room for easy improvement ; above two and 
a half millions thrown away at present upon volunteers 
would maintain about seventy thousand regulars, and the 
unofficered militia swallows up about three and a half 
millions which would maintain almost a hundred thousand 
men. As to the Duke of York's Council I believe it is 
given up and his promise of amendment accepted. It is 
sufficient sign of assentation and compromise that he 
remains at all, and perhaps he may not lung, as the Court 
at Carlton House is against him. The new Ministry have 
done infinite harm to themselves by suffering the inter- 
ference of the P. of W. to such an extent. He has been 
appointed to most of the great offices ; the ordnance is 
all his own and figures away accordingly ; Lord Moira is 
a mere Don Quixote and of Alexander Davison (alias in 
the House of Commons Trotter) what can be said but 
that the salary of the Treasurership of the Ordnance pays 
interest for a sum of money lent by him to Carlton House ! 
I do not know much of Colonel Taylor ; by a report he is 
a man of remarkably good abilities especially as a linguist. 
As to Reform of Parliament (Jrey ] lias told the applicants 
" this is not a proper lime." Pitt said so once before and 
for the same reason. I should reckon Reform of Parlia- 
ment certain ruin to an old shattered edifice very unsafe 
for its inmates already. By these I do not mean the House 
of Commons but the people whom it governs ; which is 
much worse. As tor Fox lie too has discovered " that 
this is not a season for the Catholic claims." And all of 
them have discovered " that Lord Wellesley has been 
quite right in the East, though the Commerce; of the E. I. 
Company is ruined by his extravagance," chiefly by his 

1 Charles Grey; he succeeded to the title of Lord ilowick in this year. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 139 

personal extravagance. 2,300 boats to escort him on the 
Ganges ! I question whether any tea can be bought in 
China this year. But Lord Wellesley is a friend of Lord 
Grenville's. I suppose St. Vincent's command will disgust 
the whole navy. The hoary tyrant now domineers from 
the Mediterranean to the North Pole. The lately pub- 
lished life of Nelson proves that the action which gave him 
fame, a title and a pension ought to have given him a halter 
for his base desertion of Nelson, who fought the whole fleet 
of the enemy but whose name is not mentioned in the de- 
spatches of St. Vincent ; the omission, I understand, was 
at the suggestion of Calder, another worthy who has lately 
escaped hanging (or rather shooting) by the kindness of 
the late Admiralty in keeping back both charges and 
evidence. . . . 

' Captain Burney is well and just about to produce his 
second volume. . . . 

' P.S. The Army estimates are voted for 2 months only, 
so that within that time the mountain is to bring forth. 
Do not let anyone see this letter.' 

The impeachment of Lord Melville, the passing of the 
motion for which in the Commons so distressed Pitt, re- 
sulted in his acquittal. The charge was of misapplication 
of public money when he was treasurer of the navy. 



April 1806. 

4 1 am just escaped from Westminster Hall leaving our 
people and the House of Lords busy there on Melville's 
impeachment. Whitbread opened yesterday, making a 
tolerable exordium but nothing good afterwards : his 
speech being very much the same thing as an appendix 
to one of the naval inquiry reports. I suppose somebody 
has told him that his savage spirit has been rather too 
manifest in some of his proceedings, so he made a long 
distinction between persecution and prosecution, showing 
that this trial was of the latter kind. This tenor of his 
mind had a ridiculous effect throughout his speech. Now 



140 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and then out popped something " with a damned deal of 
the Brewer in it," and when he became conscious of this 
he tried to repair it by extravagant encomium on the party 
aggrieved, so that in the course of his speech you learned 
that he thought Pitt had been a sun in the political firma- 
ment and lamented his death as a deep national loss. After 
he had talked coarsely of Lord Melville as a man who had 
affirmed and even written direct falsehoods he paid him 
for this unnecessary insult by calling him a man of the 
greatest ability, of most generous spirit, of the loftiest 
contempt of pecuniary gain, admitting the propriety of 
the personal attachment of his many friends. Melville 
seemed to eye him with sour contempt, not at all receiving 
this kind of expiation as an amende honorable. I do not 
see, after this kind of absurd encomium with what pro- 
priety punishment can be urged, surely such a man has 
sustained more than punishment enough already. Whit- 
bread himself would doubtless suck his blood to the last 
drop, but I imagine nobody else cares a farthing about 
him ; this is a good symptom that the trial will not be 
protracted. The accusation of the man made way for the 
change of administration ; without it Melville had now 
headed the Pittites instead of sitting on a lowly stool at 
the Lords' Bar. It is curious that the thing now praised 
in him, the abolition of fees at the Navy office, is the worst 
thing he ever did in his life. The effect of it has been that 
the clerks are doubled in number and all business of account 
in long arrear. You will understand this if you personate 
for a moment a purser, or even an officer about to receive 
pay ; formerly you said to any junior clerk that you desired 
the thing to be done, and, a fee of a guinea being under- 
stood, the clerk worked for you till the thing was done. 
At present the same fee is received for the public under the 
name of a fee fund and the clerks, having no power of thus 
augmenting their scanty income by fair labour bestowed 
for applicants at the office, slumber over the desks and 
duly depart at four in the afternoon. For this reform 
Melville receives applause ! And no officer receives his 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 141 

pay, or purser settles his accounts, without ruinous delay, 
though he pays as much as before. A curse on all re- 
formers ; the few that do good bear no proportion to those 
that do mischief a bad breed who might all be hanged 
with national benefit. 

' Charley Fox eats his former opinions daily, and even 
ostentatiously, showing himself the worst man but the 
better minister of a corrupt Government where three 
people in four must be rogues and three deeds in four bad. 
To-day we have the new Army Bills debated. I see little 
to care about in them, except the gradual abolition of the 
militia which seems intended. It was foolish in Windham 
to talk of the volunteers as almost enemies of their country. 
There is much offence given by this, and to-day we shall 
have his apologies under the title of explanation I suppose ! 
He has praised the Duke of Y. egregiously. The Irish 
Population Bill is dropped, why I know not. I took the 
trouble to correct it for the muddy-headed man that brought 
it in, and I believe my observations on his errors and 
blunders disgusted him. I am glad it is dropped, expect- 
ing to see it in better hands next year. . . .' 



June 1806. 

' . . . You may well depict the conduct of the vaunted 
Whigs. You know how little I expect from any Ministry 
while a Ministry has so little free will, but I did not expect 
what I may venture to call an ostentatious dereliction of 
all the principles produced in his long political life of C. Fox. 
He takes a manifest pleasure in publishing his own apostacy. 
He should have died for his fame a little sooner before 
Pitt. Now he is likely to die within a fortnight and may 
have such an epitaph as fair Rosamund. The probable 
speculation is that at his death the Whigs and the Adding- 
tons go out and Lord Grenville takes the Pittites into 
partnership. Indeed if Fox lives the same thing may 
possibly happen. He is said to be imperious and conse- 
quently odious in the Cabinet. Windham is unfit for 
business though not a Whig. Lord St. Vincent and Lord 



142 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Howick may be reckoned the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor 
in partnership at the Admiralty, having nothing remark- 
able but ill-nature and ill-manners. Lord Henry Petty 
has been produced too soon, he should have been a recipient 
(as you call him) ten years longer. He will soon sink en- 
tirely at the end of his taxation before he gets through one 
budget, a percentage on the assessed taxes being manifestly 
a last resource, and what a resource ! Mr. Rose has pretty 
well expounded his Public Accountant scheme to be a 
patronage scheme. 1 There is a proverb about setting a 
thief to catch a thief, but this is sparring without mufflers 
and will enlighten the public too much. Heretofore there 
has been an understood caution not to call the mysteries 
of our Government by coarse names, which must soon 
destroy its reputation even with the vulgar. . . / 

' August 3lst, 1806. 

4 1 found your letter awaiting me here and now thank you 
for your hearty invitation, which you find I acted upon by 
the spirit of prophesy, or, in profaner language, of antici- 
pation. I assure you I am exceedingly pleased with the 
mode and capabilities of your hospitality, and enjoyed 
myself even more than I expected, though I had before 
no mean opinion of your fertile county or of its inhabitants. 
My sister too desires to offer her best thanks for your 
attention to her. 

' We had a pleasant journey homewards, the rain being 
trifling, you sent us one long expected scud from Bridgwater 
to Polsden Hill which made us stop under shelter of a hedge 
for ten minutes. 

* We saw Glastonbury Ruins and Wells Cathedral and 
reached Frome at 6 o'clock. The city of Wells seems to 
me the most comfortable looking town I have ever seen. 
I suppose the real or prepared residence of the clergy adds 
many good houses to it. I was quite in a monastic humour 

1 This refers to a measure passed for consolidating the Boards of Com- 
missioners for auditing Public Accounts. The Commissioners were to have 
large salaries, the chairman 1600, and his colleagues 1200 each. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 143 

before night, being always sufficiently disposed to think 
with regard of the religious institutions abolished by the 
rapacity of a detestable tyrant whereby fox-hounds and 
country squires have since been maintained instead of 
educated men and respectable women whereby too, mark 
me, the evil of the Poor Laws was first established. . . . 

' Coleridge is in town ; he is said to return poor, and says 
that on some occasion he was forced to throw over-board 
his MSS. intended for publication. Perhaps these were 
MSS. he had intended to write. I do not forget the story 
of the two quartos ready for publication which he talked 
of before he commenced traveller. . . .' 

It is perhaps not quite easy to explain Rickman's objec- 
tion to Fox's ' apostacy,' though it is to some extent 
explained in the following letter to Southey. The fact 
was that Fox loyally continued Pitt's policy of resistance 
to Napoleon by means of alliances on the Continent, and 
recognised that it was not the time for pressing his former 
views of peace and Parliamentary reform. Rickman had 
no desire for peace or reform, at any rate, and he does not 
specify what measures would have commanded his admira- 
tion. Perhaps he was secretly longing for a despotism. 



. 29, 1806. 

4 . . . Lately we have had good specimen of this most 
politic indecision : people begin to say that we pay too 
dearly for the pleasure of having a Government composed 
of checks, that is, of low clashing interests, which makes 
our colossal strength ridiculous rather than efficient. What 
a whimsical negotiation we have had ! Says Geo. m. to 
Mr. Bonaparte " I must have my dear Hanover." " Cer- 
tainly," says Mr. B., " because England will always remain 
my slave while I can always threaten to seize it ; and there- 
fore, you, Mr. King of Prussia, must give me Hanover, that 
I may give it to England, as an equivalent for some share 
of her colonies and commerce : and I must also have an 
open road to this Hanover, that I may be able to take it 



144 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

without discussions with you about my march thither ; 
therefore, good Mr. King of Prussia, I must have your East 
Friesland of you too." This K. of P. (who had made so 
great a mistake as to suppose he had a good army, for no 
better reason than because he had never tried it) expressed 
his rage at being likely to be pillaged of his pillage, earned 
by so many lies and base condescensions. So he fought, 
and was conquered in about half an hour, with this appro- 
priate aggravation of his misfortune, that he feared to tell the 
real cause of the war, so implicated is he in French politics. 
I am heartily glad at the rupture of the negotiation with us. 
Who can tell the mischiefs of a peace founded on the adop- 
tion of Hanover by C. J. Fox, and to be perpetuated only 
by condescensions to our mortal enemy, on account of that 
Hanover ? Soon it would have been obvious to the very 
Vulgar that the interest of the nation had been sacrificed 
to the King's private partialities, and that in fact he had 
delivered us bound into the hand of France ! . . .' 

The correspondence between Rickman and Southey during 
1807 was mainly occupied with the details of Southey 's 
history of Brazil, on which he was busily engaged. There 
were one or two allusions to Burnett's improvement, and 
one letter from Southey contains a strong animadversion 
on Coleridge's separation from his wife, in which he declared 
that Coleridge's habits were ' murderous of all domestic 
comfort.' Rickman replied in much the same spirit, saying 
that he had heard Coleridge called for brandy in the morn- 
ing ' without respect of persons.' In this year, too, Southey 
received a proposal to write for the Edinburgh Review, upon 
which he consulted Rickman, finally refusing the offer. 
The Ministry of All the Talents, after passing the abolition 
of the slave trade to which Rickman does not refer fell 
in March, owing to Ho wick's moving for leave to bring 
in a bill opening all commissions in the army and navy 
to Roman Catholics. The King refused his sanction, and 
required his ministers to give him a written pledge never to 
urge concessions to Roman Catholics upon him. This they 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 145 

refused to do, and resigned. The nominal head of the new 
Government was Portland, but Perceval was the real leader. 
The following is an extract from a letter to Southey : 

' 26 March, 1807. 

* High hustle we are in here with the change of admini- 
stration, a great evil ; because now again nobody in office 
will know his business for three months ; anarchy all. Who 
has done this ? The Catholic Bill gave Geo. in. opportunity, 
which, by the advice of his sage sons, he has not neglected, 
and now we are to have apparently a short lived admini- 
stration, and perhaps a new Parliament. The very mob will 
be let into the secret that without forbearances and cour- 
tesies and understandings the English form of supposed 
government is no govt. at all. I am glad you are agt. the 
Catholic Military Service Bill. I am so, taking that to be 
the common-sense side of the question. If one made them 
M.P.'s and magistrates, it would be said, this is dangerous, 
chiefly because it may introduce them by successive indul- 
gences into the army and navy. But this bill began with 
the greater mischief, by some infatuation of Grenville and 
Ho wick. It would have produced a Roman Cath. Chaplain 
into every ship of the Navy, in its immediate operation. 
Would not the ships soon put into Brest ? At least we 
should look for mutinies out of number, when there was a 
Holy Legate over the Captain of the ship. . . .' 

A letter to Poole expresses very much the same opinion. 

< 8th April 1807. 

' ... As to politics all bad I do not see how they 
can help uncovering the nakedness of our venerable form 
of Government, and the old lady so treated will I fear look 
very ridiculous ! If the present Government stands, the 
King is an absolute monarch ; if they do not stand and the 
Grenville and Howick people come in again, it seems we are 
to be plagued with the Catholic question. I have not seen 
in the newspapers Sheridan's witticism " that he had heard 



146 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

of people running their heads against a stone wall, but never 
before of their building a stone wall for that purpose." This 
seems very just of the exit of the late Ministry, and to this 
hour is a most incomprehensible thing to me, how they 
could commence their meditated indulgence to the wild Irish 
by admitting their religion into the army and navy. In 
immediate prospect the Bill permitted an R.C. Priest in 
every ship of war. Who would be Captain then ? If not 
the R.C. Priest, the ship would be in a mutiny and sail for 
Brest. I am sick of all politics. To-morrow at this time 
there will be a fine battle in the House of Commons. 1 A 
game of skittles in a china shop, a battle for pillage in a 
shipwreck. 

' I have not heard of the opinion of the Prince of Wales' 
speedy decease, but have no great objection. It is said that 
the royal Dukes have much to do with present politics. 
For my part I shall think nothing of any Ministry who 
permit such a wretch as the Duke of Y. to remain at the 
head of the army. For this thing, inter alia, I despised the 
late Administration heartily. But one cannot live so near 
the House of Commons without becoming cynical towards all 
who figure there. It will not much improve my respect 
for them if the new men have a majority tomorrow. I 
hear that the parties are numbered to be within 20 of each 
other. Even so there must be a good crop of apostacy. 

' I conclude this odious subject with my old opinion that 
with many changes our Government is nearly a nonentity, 
and a habit of that sort will soon destroy it totally. Shall 
we live to see an embassy to France to send over somebody 
to govern us ? . . .' 

The only other extract for this year is from a letter to 
Sou they giving Rickman's opinion of Perceval. It proves 
that his estimates of ability were as fallible as those of most 
partisans. It will be seen that by the time of Perceval's 
death he had virtually recanted his harsh judgment. 

1 On April 9 there was a debate upon a motion that it was wrong for 
ministers to constrain themselves by any kind of pledge not to give advice 
to the Crown on any subject, 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 147 

'May 23, 1807. 

' . . . Another month peoples the Ho. Commons again, 
with the same breed doubtless, but more in favour of the 
present Ministry than was expected even by themselves. 
They have made a worse administration than was neces- 
sary. How could they think of disturbing the dotage of 
an approved fool, and of making Perceval Chanr. of the 
Excheqr. ? I suppose he never learned more than the four 
first rules of arithmetic, and has not practiced one of them 
for 20 years last past. A polite scholar, and a generous 
man but as Chancr. of the Excheqr. ! Alas for England ! ' 

The years 1808 and 1809 produced no very striking letters. 
The birth of Rickman's daughter Ann was the theme of a 
humorous letter from Southey on the superiority of girls 
to boys. Literary matters and the Peninsular War were the 
chief topics of correspondence : Rickman gave criticisms of 
a new edition of Southey 's ' Cid/ and of Coleridge's paper 
The Friend, in which Southey assisted. In 1808 Southey 
again stayed with Rickman, who returned the visit in the 
succeeding year. Of the three extracts here given from 
letters to Southey, the first is to show that Rickman's view 
of the power of the House of Commons differed materially 
from that which he expressed in 1831 and 1832, when the 
Lords were presenting a stiff front to the passage of the 
Reform Bill. 

'June 22, 1808. 

* ... Tomorrow Perceval is such a blockhead as to 
intend to move for a deviation from the usual manner of 
putting all the grants of the year in one Appropriation Act, 
and this for fear the Lords should throw it out ; as both he 
and they would both rather do injustice to Palmer than 
not worship the former opinions of Billy Pitt, the Talker. 
If Mr. Perceval does this, which is nearly equivalent to 
moving for an abolition of the power of the Ho. Commons, 
he will raise a flame which will consume far beyond himself 
and his associates.' 



148 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

The next extract refers to the foundation of the Quarterly 
Review, of which Southey became one of the pillars. The 
scheme of publishing a counterblast to the Edinburgh 
Review was started in 1808, and in a letter to G. C. Bedford 
Southey had already suggested that Rickman's name should 
stand on the list of contributors instead of Malthus. 
' Rickman,' he said, ' has tenfold his knowledge and abili- 
ties. There is no man living equal to Rickman upon the 
subject of political economy. He, too, is a Crusader as to 
this war. Malthus will prove a peacemonger.' 

But Rickman had some insuperable objection to obtaining 
notoriety by writing. In spite of his obvious qualifications 
and his burning interest in many questions which such 
a review would discuss, he could not bring himself to write 
for the Press. He therefore wrote : 

' Feb. 6, 1809. 

* . . . I write in furious haste, or I would say something 
about a Quarterly Review about which Mr. G. Bedford 
talked to me the other day ; he says you are concerned to 
help it, and that you wish me to help, which I do not know 
that I can do. If you really care about it, I daresay that, 
interposing you as a shield from notoriety, I could find time 
for such few books as you might think fit. However I 
gave the said G. B. little encouragement, not expecting the 
Review likely to be the better for his being suffered to 
write in it.' 

The following extract speaks for itself ; I include it to 
show that on occasion Rickman could translate the tender- 
ness of his heart into the written word : 

'Aug. 11, 1809. 

' . . . See the instability of human affairs ! I, who 
talked of going to Keswick, am now at Christchurch, sum- 
moned to attend the funeral of my good Father, who is 
to be gathered to his ancestors at Milford . . . tomorrow. 
His illness was short ... so that he has died, as desirable, 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 149 

at a good old age, and without the sting of mortal disso- 
lution. Peace be with him ! A man of milder temper and 
of more general benignity never lived. In the peacefull 
qualities of the mind, a better man than his son : in activity, 
perhaps in utility, inferior. You knew him, and I think 
held his countenance and his heart to be in happy unison.' 

The end of 1809 was notable for the unfortunate 
Walcheren expedition, the duel between Castlereagh and 
Canning, and the subsequent collapse of Portland's Cabinet, 
which was shortly followed by Portland's death. After 
considerable negotiation between the King and various 
parties, Perceval became Prime Minister, Grenville and 
Grey having found it impossible to accept office. The 
year 1810 opened with great public discontent over 
the Walcheren failure, and excitement was deliberately 
fomented by Cobbett, Sir Francis Burdett, and other re- 
formers. The famous arrest of Burdett, which caused 
serious riots, took place in April, but the unrest subsided 
before Parliament adjourned. The best letter of this year 
is to Thomas Poole. 

* 17th January 1810. 

' ... It seems high time that Parliament should meet, 
that it may not be supplanted by the rival legislation 
of linen drapers and shopmen at Guildhall. If their 
impudence were not dangerous it would afford amusement 
to think of these fellows bullying the poor old King to 
receive personally their address, differing only by the 
insertion of a little insolence from one received by him from 
the Corporation of London a few days before. I have not 
read Cobbett 1 for some time, but suppose this must be 
thought a very patriotic impudence in the Livery by him 
and his adherents. True it is however that the original 
weakness and unlucky dissention in the present administra- 
tion affords dangerous encouragement to the malcontents 

1 Cobbett's Weekly Register. 



150 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and I believe it is fit that a prudent lover of his country 
should rather wish for new faces at the helm. This too 
seems very likely to happen, and it must be allowed that 
Lord Grenville and Lord Wellesley with Canning and 
Huskisson, for a financier a Vansittart, would form a 
stronger Government than we have now, however short of 
what might be wished. The M. of Wellesley is said to 
treat his present colleagues with intolerable hauteur, and 
I suppose will find it very difficult to drop his so long 
assumed character of an Eastern despot. This man has 
abilities, I think, of acting with decision, orator he is not, 
and of wealth and Parlimentary strength in boroughs has 
little or nothing. I do not understand why he and his 
brothers are so much courted. The Opposition say that 
they can bring 240 votes into the field next week, and I 
think they will really produce full two thirds of that number, 
or even 180. This will look much like a new administration, 
and I suppose if the Rump Whigs get in again they will not 
ruin themselves by vainly expecting to last for ever, as 
certainly they expected after Pitt's death, and provoked 
the nation rather to repose in the present feeble hands. 
Grenville, I hear, retreats considerably from his designs 
against the Irish Protestants since he has been elected 
Chancellor of Oxford, and if he moderates at all I do not see 
what more he can desire for the Catholics than they have 
already. I am in hopes that Grey will not come in if the 
Ministry changes, and I reckon that Whitbread will by 
choice stand aloof from any possible administration, and 
this always that he may be able to continue his delectable 
occupation of finding fault without pointing out a remedy. 

' I do not ask whether you read the Friend with attention, 
as I believe I perceive that you occasionally furnish matter 
for it from your cabinet of letters from C. [Coleridge] when 
he was in Germany, also I guess you supply part of the 
ways and means, as I understand that Mr. Ward's 1 brother 
is appointed receiver. When I call and pay for the 20 
numbers I will introduce myself to him. Coleridge to be 
1 Thomas Poole's partner. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 151 

sure is strangely unlucky in his Pay-Day No. 20, 1 which 
appears entirely unreadable. He should have reserved 
Mr. Wordsworth's crude didactics for another time if he 
must needs insert such mountain lore. 2 It seems to me that 
Wordsworth has neither fun nor common sense in him. 
He soars far above both, and in my notion makes himself 
disagreeable and ridiculous accordingly. Of Coleridge 
however I think the better for his friendly productions, 
there is writing of a high order thickly interspersed and 
putting aside any expectation of method a fulfilment of 
his frequent promises ; it must be owned that he often 
develops sentiments which few have elevation enough to 
cogitate. As usual in his conversation, so in his writing, 
he does the devil's dirty work flattery, without hope 
of reward and now we are to expect a grand batch of it, 
in the promised eulogy of Sir Alexander Ball 8 a man with 
whom he parted on the worst terms, on a mutual notorious 
hatred of each other. To be sure Sir Alexander's family 
will be astonished at a panegyric from S. T. C. Yet there is 
room for panegyric, and if C. had begun with saying, " Such 
is the infirmity of human nature that personally I could 
not endure this man, yet will I try to do justice to his merit," 
this had been well. The contrary is not very much unlike 
falsehood and partakes of the old failing, flattery without 
benefit to himself. 

* I have asked you about the Poor Laws and you ask 
me the subject is too large for a letter : the outline of 
any conclusion is, that the poor rate is a great evil, more 
in the trouble it gives than even in the expense and I 
much question whether it does any good at all. As to 
building and managing workhouses, I look upon it to be a 
radical and universal absurdity to expect maintenance so 
cheap or work so productive from persons under coercion 

1 The scheme for subscription to the Friend was that payment should be 
made after the twentieth number. 

2 The article by Wordsworth was * Reply to a letter by Mathetee.' 

* Coleridge's Friend contains a most fantastic and exaggerated eulogy of 
Sir A. Ball, the famous admiral and friend of Nelson. 



152 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

(I do not quite venture the parallel of slave labour) as from 
those who are struggling to maintain themselves, and to 
improve their condition in life. I am surprised at myself 
for having been so long blind in this. I do not mean 
that I was ever an -advocate for workhouses, but I never 
scouted them as I ought always to have done. True, I 
never thought much about the matter. I think I could 
make (or will you say feign ?) a splendid representation of 
what England would have now been uncursed by poor 
laws. You know I do not hate a thing by halves. Also 
I begin to suspect that, from the perversity of human 
nature, there is quite as much village learning now that 
it must be bought as there would be if it were given gratis. 
Has not every village a dame's school and most villages a 
writing master ? ' 

The correspondence with Southey during this year 
turned chiefly upon literary matters. The name of George 
Burnett occurs several times. In February Rickman in- 
formed Southey that he had had ' two or three begging 
letters from that wretch Burnett, but his misery is so 
entirely self-acquired, his view of benefit from any largess 
so absurd, and his morals so shattered, that it is not worth 
while to pay for the right of giving him advice.' In March 
Burnett stood for the post of assistant librarian at the 
London Institution, and Rickman wrote a commendation 
for him, but in May told Southey that he had failed as 
usual through his own absurdity, and now said that he was 
starving. Rickman wished him to return to his home at 
Huntspill. The following passage from a letter to Southey 
refers to the debate upon November 15, after the final 
relapse of the King into insanity and blindness, on the 
question of adjournment for a fortnight. It appears from 
the list of the minority in Hansard that some of the official 
Opposition, including Tierney, voted with Burdett and the 
other Radicals. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 153 

Nao. 19, 1810. 

' . . . What a stupid debate had we the other night ! 
The Ho. Commons seemed to imitate the soap-suds of 
Lord G. When the King is in health, the whole current 
of debate rolls upon the theory, that every act of Governmt. 
is not the King's but his Ministers'. When the King 
is ill, the State is in danger from the want of its Chief 
Magistrate even for a fortnight ! Precious and beautiful 
art of debating ! Ponsonby was rather too late in bringing 
down word from the Ho. Lords that no division was in- 
tended, for just before he came, Tierney (the usual watch- 
word of the party) had given word for a division. So they 
were oddly mixed with the Burdetters. The Prince of 
Wales affects to be a good boy on this occasion, and this 
I suppose curbs the Talents a Little in their indications.' 

The Regency Bill raised very high feelings, the limitation 
of the Regent's powers by Act of Parliament being much 
resented by the Prince of Wales and his friends. But 
Perceval had the precedent of 1788 before him, and was 
able to pass the bill as he wished it in February 1811. 
The Opposition hoped for a change of ministry, and the 
Whig Lords Grenville and Grey, after private com- 
munications with the Prince, drafted a speech for him 
to deliver to an address from both Houses preliminary to 
the Regency Bill. This draft displeased the Prince, who 
adopted another composed by Sheridan . Grey and Grenville 
thereupon addressed a haughty remonstrance to him, and 
he decided to keep Perceval in office. This will explain a 
rapturous letter from Rickman to Southey. 

' 3 February 1811. 

4 So the Scoundrels (as I told you to expect) are not to 
be our masters : Settled at Windsor on Saturday and 
yesterday the P. W. gave them their conge" at Carlton Ho. 
Furious they are at him and we may sing, Tantarara ! 

* The P. W. was so ignorant of the nature of the Govern- 
ment that he expected servants, and they undeceived him 



154 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

in the speech which Lords Gr. and Gr. wrote for him in 
answer to the Resolutions. Sheridan swore he was ruined 
for life, if he insulted Parliament in his first intercourse, 
and, drunk as he was, wrote the answer finally sent. Where- 
upon Lords Gr. and Gr. sent in an humble Remonstrance, 
that they could be of no service to His R. H. if he varied in 
anything from their advice. The P. W. then went and tried 
Lord Holland, but he said he was not able to carry 
majorities ; then the Prince returned to Gr. and Gr. for a 
few days, but new experiments of their humble advice dis- 
gusted him again. Huzza for Old England ! 

< 4 Felry. 

' The Pangs of the M. Chronicle are delicious. 
' I send a copy. Canting Villain ! ' 

In 1810 Southey had undertaken to write a yearly survey 
of current events for the Edinburgh Annual Register, and 
he was also reviewing for the Quarterly a book upon the 
British army by a Captain Pasley, which he made the peg 
for a vigorous attack upon the Government generally. In 
both of these tasks Rickman gave him invaluable assistance, 
as appears from the correspondence. Not only did he 
collect and send him all kinds of Parliamentary papers, 
but also frequent accounts and commentaries written by 
himself for Southey to remodel : their breezy character 
may be imagined from his asking Southey to allow for his 
exasperation in seeing the c villains,' Burdett and others, 
so often. Among other matters Rickman discussed the 
currency question, which attracted considerable attention 
during 1810 and 1811. 

Southey made such good use of Rickman 's material in 
his review for the Quarterly that he scandalised Croker and 
Gifford, the editor, who refused to print the article with- 
out considerable mutilation. Southey was much annoyed, 
and had thoughts of throwing all the material Rickman 
had sent him into an anonymous pamphlet. A letter of 
Rickman 's makes some observations on the incident. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 155 



* I had no idea that the Quarterly Review was ministerial, 
that is, in avowed communication with them and it is 
entertaining to see Gifford fathering an objection upon 
them, instead of their using such a man for purposes of that 
kind. It is amusing to me who know Croker, to imagine 
him sitting in judgment upon anything you or I may say or 
think. Not that he is not a sharp fellow ; but that it is 
as impossible as it is against fact that a man of Irish habits, 
till within about two years, should know anything of 
English affairs. Their Government anterior to the Union 
was rather municipal than national, the question of taxation 
the only one they had to discuss in their Parliament, save 
when they once appointed the Pr. of Wales Regent. As to 
external policy they had nothing to do with it, and their 
ignorance of all things necessary to it is remarkable beyond 
credulity. The commonest knowledge of geography and 
history they really seem to have abjured in a body, and 
by common consent. . . . 

' The Speaker has desired to enquire on behalf of some 
friend of his, what three months are the best for Laking in 
Cumberland ; what the best residence from whence to 
wander occasionally for that purpose, including the con- 
sideration of being able to hire a house entire, and fit for 
residence of a small family. And whether the place recom- 
mendable with their views, be also a post town ? Answer 
this question or questions in a separate note, that I may 
give it him in original. Yours, J. R. 

* Of Burnet I understand he died of a rapid decline, 
and in an hospital where he had due attention. I knew not 
why the thing was represented worse than this ; and I can 
tell you, that the over-acted sorrow of C. [Coleridge] has 
been very mischievous. Would to God he had not come to 
London/ 

Rickman's postscript, referring to George Burnett's 



156 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

miserable end, was in answer to a passage in a previous 
letter from Southey, in which he said : 

' Your Greek tells me the end of a dismal history. It 
shocked me the more because I could not but think it was 
quite as well for the world that he was out of it, and better 
for himself. Poor fellow, in an evil hour did he become 
acquainted with me, and yet had he always listened to me 
he might at this day have been a happy and useful member 
of society.' 

Burnett died early in March in a workhouse infirmary. 
Crabb Robinson's diary has an entry for March 6 : ' After 
dinner called on C. Lamb ; heard from him that Geo. 
Burnett had died wretchedly in a workhouse. Hazlitt and 
Coleridge were there and seemed sensibly affected by the 
circumstance ' ; and a commentary on Rickman's reference 
to Coleridge is to be found in the entry for March 8 : ' Learnt 
that Miss Lamb had had a renewal of her attack. H. [Haz- 
litt] thinks that Burnett's death occasioned the present 
relapse. . . . H. thinks that poor Miss L. as well as her 
brother is injured by Coleridge's presence in town, and 
their frequent visits and constant company at home which 
keep their minds in perpetual fever.' Coleridge was then 
in town negotiating about the delivery of a course of lectures, 
and his extravagant lamentations over a ruined career, for 
which he was more to blame than Southey, were calculated 
to upset a less excitable mind than that of Mary Lamb. 
It is interesting, therefore, to find that he was still on friendly 
terms with Rickman, and in his confidence with regard to 
Lamb's convivial habits, as the following letter from him 
shows : 

' October 1811. 

4 DEAR SIB, On Tuesday next Mr. Morgan 1 and myself 
will avail ourselves of your kind invitation. I was (and 
am) in town on the arrival of your letter. I have this 
moment received it. My business has been to bring about 

1 With whom Coleridge lived at Hammersmith. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 157 

a lecture Scheme the prospectus of which I shall be able 
to bring with me on Tuesday. Re the subject of dining with 
Lamb I had a long conversation with him yester-evening 
and only blame myself, that having long felt the deepest con- 
victions of the vital importance of his not being visited till 
after 8 o'clock and then, too, rarely except on his open 
nights, I should yet have been led to take my friend M. 
there, at dinner, at his proposal, out of a foolish delicacy 
in telling him the plain truth, that it must not be done. 
I am right glad, that something effective is now done tho' 
permit me to say to you in confidence, that as long as Hazlitt 
remains in town I dare not expect any amendment in 
Lamb's health, unless luckily H. should grow moody and 
take offence at being desired not to come till 8 o'clock. It 
is seldom indeed, that I am with Lamb more than once in 
the week and when at Hammersmith, most often not once 
in a fortnight, and yet I see what harm has been done 
even by me what then if Hazlitt as probably he will- 
is with him 5 evenings in the seven ? Were it possible 
to wean C. L. from the pipe, other things would follow with 
comparative ease, for till he gets a pipe, I have regularly 
observed that he is contented with porter and that the 
unconquerable appetite for spirit comes in with the tobacco 
the oil of which especially in the gluttonous manner in 
which he volcanizes it, acts as an instant poison on his 
stomach or lungs. Believe me, dear Sir, yours with affec- 
tionate Esteem, S. T. COLERIDGE.' 

During 1812 the correspondence between Sou they and 
Rickman was mainly concerned with the war and the poor 
laws, on which latter subject Sou they, instructed by Rick- 
man, was preparing an article for the Quarterly. Another 
subject was the financial misfortunes of William Taylor of 
Norwich, who had lost a large sum of money, and wrote to 
Rickman asking about a vacant post at the Museum. 
Rickman wrote him a most sympathetic letter, beginning : 
' Your letter . . . cuts me to the heart,' but was obliged 
to announce that the post had already been filled. Perhaps 



158 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

the most interesting letter of the year is Southey's descrip- 
tion of Shelley's sudden departure from Oxford. 

' January 6th, 1812. KESWICK. 

' ... Do you know Shelly the member for Shoreham ? 
(not the Lewes Member). His eldest son is here under curi- 
ous circumstances. At Eton he wrote poetry and romances, 
went to University College, and not liking Oxford society 
amused himself with studying Hebrew, metaphysics, 
and Godwin's original quartos. What may become of the 
Hebrew remains to be seen, what came of the metaphysics 
was the usual result, followed however by consequences not 
quite so usual, for the youth happened to have an excellent 
heart, high moral principles, and enthusiasm enough for a 
martyr. So he prints half a dozen papers which he entitled 
The Necessity of Atheism, prefixed a short advertisement 
requesting that any person who felt able would publish a 
reply to it in the same brief clear and methodical form, 
folded up one of the pamphlets with this taking title, and 
directed to Copplestone. 1 Copplestone either tracing the 
handwriting, or finding out the author thro' the printer 
(for he printed it at Worthing), sends the argument to the 
Master of University. He calls for Shelly, and asks if the 
argument be his, which the philosopher of course avows. 
Dr. Griffiths then offers to pass it over if he will recant his 
opinion. A Christian might do that, was his reply, but 
I cannot. Expulsion of course followed instanter. Away 
goes Shelly to a graduate (a friend of Hannah More's) whom 
he had been zealously helping to raise a subscription for 
some protegee, to settle this business with him, tells him 
for what he came, and that the reason was that he was 
about to leave Oxford having just been expelled for atheism, 
at which terrific word the man absolutely fainted away ! ! 
Poor Shelly a little astonished at finding himself possessed 
of this sort of basilisk property, used his best endeavours 
to recover him, lets him out into the garden, and had the 
farther pleasure of hearing himself addressed, as soon as 
1 The famous tutor of Oriel ; afterwards Bishop of Llandaff. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 159 

the Evangelist recovered his speech in these charitable 
words, I pray God, sir, that I may never set eyes on you 
again. 

' Well, the story does not end here. My philosopher, feeling 
how much better he himself was made by his own philo- 
sophy (which in truth he was for he would have been burnt 
alive for it as willingly as the Evangelical would have burnt 
him), thought it incumbent upon him to extend the benefits 
of his saving anti-faith, and after the examples of Mahomet 
and Taylor the Pagan began with his own family. Of his 
father and mother there was no hope, but he had a sister at 
school who was old enough for an example. Accordingly 
he writes to her upon this pleasant subject. The corre- 
spondence is forbidden, but as she loved her brother dearly, 
means are found of carrying it on thro' a Miss Westbrook, 
her schoolfellow and esteemed friend. This is discovered 
at last. Miss W. gets miserably tormented (I believe the 
school was an Evangelical one) becomes very unhappy 
in consequence, dreads the thoughts of returning to this 
place of suffering after the holydays, and he to deliver her 
proposes a journey to Gretna Green, he 19 she 17. His 
father has cast him off, but cannot cut off 6000 a year, 
tho' he may deprive him of as much more, her's allow them 
200 a year, and here they are. The D. of Norfolk is trying 
to bring about a reconciliation. I, liking him as you may 
suppose the better for all this, am in a fair way of con- 
vincing him that he may enjoy 6000 a year when it comes 
to him, with a safe conscience, that tho' things are not as 
good as they will be at some future time, he has been mis- 
taken as to the way of making them better, and that the 
difference between my own opinion and his is that he is 
19 and I am 8 and 30. No other harm has been done than 
the vexation to her from her family, for as for the early 
marriage I consider that rather a good than an evil, seeing 
as far as I have yet seen that he has chosen well. If 
you know the father well enough to speak upon such a 
subject endeavour to make him understand that a few 
years will do everything for his son which he ought to wish. 



160 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

He is got to Pantheism already, and in a week more I shall 
find him a Berkeleyan, for I have put the Minute Philosopher 
at his hands. He will get rid of his eccentricity, and he 
will retain his morals, his integrity and his genius, and 
unless I am greatly deceived there is every reason to believe 
he will become an honour to his name and his country. 
No possible chance have thrown him in the way of a better 
physician, nor of one who would have taken a more sincere 
interest in the patient. God bless you, R. S.' 

On May 12 the Prime Minister, Perceval, was assassinated 
in the lobby of the House by a madman named Bellingham. 
His death broke up the Government, and after fruitless 
negotiations with Wellesley on the one hand, and the 
Grenville party on the other, the Regent entrusted affairs 
to Lord Liverpool, who formed that Tory administration 
which lasted fifteen years, always harassed, but never dis- 
lodged. Rickman's letter to Southey upon Perceval's 
death is characteristically vigorous. 

' Wth May 1812. 

* ... What shall I say of the unhappy event which has 
happened here ? I expected Mr. Perceval to be murdered, 
but I had expected it from the Burdetts, and other vermin 
rendered infuriate by the weekly poison they imbibe from 
16 Newspapers emulous in violence and mischief. In 
reading your little book about the rogue Lancaster, 1 I do 
not find that you discuss the main question, whether the 
mob can be conveniently taught reading while the liberty 
of the Press exists as at present. Every one who reads at 
all reads a Sunday newspaper, not the Bible ; and if any 

1 Joseph Lancaster was a young Quaker who in a pamphlet drew 
attention to the use he had made in a London school of Dr. Bell's Madras 
system of mutual education. A dispute arose between him and Bell, 
which became, in fact, a dispute between the respective upholders of secular 
and Church education. Southey took Bell's side in the Quarterly, and 
published his article in 1811 as ' The Origin, Nature and Object of the New 
System of Education.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 161 

man before doubted the efficiency of that prescription, the 
behaviour of the mob upon Mr. P.'s death, may teach them 
better knowledge. The assassin's is really a respectable 
character (doing a strong deed, upon what appeared to him 
a great injury) compared to those who, when the horrid 
deed was done, applauded it, and collected here to encourage 
and rescue the assassin, who was necessarily conveyed away 
through the Speaker's House to avoid them. At Notting- 
ham the temper was yet worse. Poor Perceval breathed 
his last on the green table in my Ho. Commons Room, which 
you may remember : but I was at home, and saw none 
of the tragedy. After he was shot he walked on but 6 or 
7 steps, as if unconscious, and so much in his usual gait 
as to be recognised by it through the crowd, when he 
approached the door of the Ho. Commons, he struck both 
his hands upon his breast, and fell prostrate. Who the 
Administration are to be, nobody knows ; I hope the Oppo- 
sition will not profit by the murder. Their Morng. Chron. 
distant apologies speak as if consciously of having instigated 
more mischief than they now think may be convenient to 
any future Ministry, even to themselves. Rascals ! Who 
never thought but of their disappointed ambition ; and 
would overthrow England, if they cannot govern England. 
' Lord Wellesley and Canning would probably be the best 
Administration ; but if the present men can get a Debate 
in Ho. Commons they mean it is said to recollect the 
Dionysian policy of not stirring till dragged out by the heels. 
Poor Perceval used very unfairly to be forced to speak for 
all the departments of the Government. He has rest from 
his labours, and you and I, and England, and Spain, and 
Europe still have cause to rue his death ! ' 

The only other letter of interest for 1812 is one from 
Coleridge. 

' Friday, 17 July 1812. 

' MY DEAR SIR, I well know, how little time you have 
to throw away and Mr. Morgan and myself have therefore 

L 



162 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

long struggled with the desire of inducing you to dine and 
spend the evening with us, and one or two intelligent friends 
at 71, Berner's Street. But Mr. Morgan has requested me 
to ask you, whether it is in your power or plan of time to 
mention any day in the next week, or the week after, which 
you can afford and if there were any chance of Mrs. Rick- 
man and your sister's favouring us, Mrs. Morgan would 
not only be most happy to see them, but would previously 
call on Mrs. R. to make a personal invitation. 

* In whatever part of Christendom a genuine philosopher 
in Political Economy shall arise, and establish a system, 
including the laws and the disturbing forces of that mira- 
culous machine of living Creatures, a Body Politic, he will 
have been in no small measure indebted to you for authentic 
and well guarded documents. The Prel. Observv. 1 inter- 
ested me much in and for themselves and as grounds 
or hints for manifold reflections they were at least equally 
valuable. I am about to put to the press a second volume 
of The Friend, and in all points but one, treated of in the 
work I seem to myself to be in broad daylight, but in that 
one, perplexed and darkling and dissatisfied. The subject 
is the constitution of our Country and the expediency ? 
and (if expedient) the practicability ? of an improvement 
(for Reform is either a misnomer or a lie to all our history) 
of the House of Commons. A series of weak Ministries ; 
the strange co-existence of little knots and sub-parties in 
the legislature ; the strength of the stronger party to do 
harm and its weakness to effect, even what they themselves 
consider, good, upon any system ; and above all, the rapid 
increase both of inorganised and of self-organising * power 
of action throughout the kingdom ; make a deep impres- 
sion on me as far as the wish for some improvement goes, 
while the general laxness and almost flaccidity of intellectual 
manhood, the scarcity of true virile productive strong- 

' * Wens, Hydatids etc., under the name of Societies, Committees, 
Associations etc.' |Coleridge's note.] 



1 i.e. to the census returns for 1811. 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 163 

sense, renders me despondent even as to the formation in 
Parliament of any grand outline. Where shall we find 500 
better ? or if I reply the very same men would be better 
if sent into Parliament by better means, then comes the 
yet harder question What are the means which, effect- 
ing this one end, would not at the same time reduce the 
Peerage of the Realm to a puppet shew, and the Ministers 
of the Crown to a Committee of Public Safety reporting 
to the National Convention ? If I have been rightly in- 
formed, there never was a House of Commons that contained 
so large a number of men without estates or known pro- 
perty as the present. Most certainly there never was one 
so cowardly plebicolar. I fear, I fear, that it is a hopeless 
business and will continue so till some fortunate Grant- 
mind starts up and revolutionises all the present notions 
concerning the education of both gentry and middle classes. 
While this remains in statu quo, I expect that good Dr. 
Bell's Scheme l carried into full effect by the higher classes 
may suggest to a thinking man the image of the Irishman 
on the bough with his face toward the trunk sawing himself 
off. Excuse my garrulity and believe me, my dear sir, 
your's with affectionate Respect, S. T. COLERIDGE.' 

The first letter of 1813 is from Coleridge, describing the 
rehearsals of his tragedy ' Remorse.' In 1797 he had 
written a tragedy, called ' Osorio,' at Sheridan's request, 
but it had been rejected on the ground of obscurity. In 

1812, through the influence of Lord Byron, this play, 
rewritten under the title of * Remorse/ was accepted by the 
Drury Lane Committee. It was produced on January 23, 

1813, with great success, and ran for twenty nights. From 
the receipts Coleridge received 400, besides his profits 
from the sale of a published edition. It will be seen from 
the letter that Rickman had offered some judicious criticisms 
which were accepted. The prologue to which Coleridge 
refers was by Charles Lamb, while the epilogue was by 

himself. 

1 See note to p. 160. 



164 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' Monday night, 25 January 1813. 

' MY DEAR SIB, Having stayed at home this evening 
from that persecuting stomach and bowel faintness of mine, 
and alone too (a delightful feeling now and then, even 
when those, who are for a few hours absent, are dearly 
loved), for Morgan, and the women, both parlourtry and 
kitchentry, are at the theatre, I have time to thank you 
for your kind gratulation, and still more for your remarks, 
the greater part of which coincided with my own previous 
judgments, and the rest produced instant conviction. All 
were acted upon this morning, except that I could not 
persuade either actor or manager to give up Isidore's 
description of Alvar 's Cottage and the Dell, and in truth 
it was somewhat odd, as the world goes, to have the writer 
pleading strenuously for more and more excisions, and the 
actor (and in one or two instances the manager) arguing 
for their retention. Indeed it has been so far from escaping 
notice, that Arnold 1 and Raymond, 2 I hear, have given me 
the name of " The Amenable Author" But then with Sir 
Fretful Plagiary in The Critic " I will print every word of 
it." Tho' that is not true either, for many of the omis- 
sions have improved the piece no less as a dramatic poem 
than as an acting tragedy. 

' By the bye, that most beastly assassination of Ordonio 
by the Moor, that lowest depth of the ^to-^reoz/, was so 
far from being a deed of mine, that I saw it perpetrated 
for the first time on Saturday night. I absolutely had 
the hiss half way out of my lips and retracted it. ... 
It is, perhaps, almost the only case in which scenic life 
is the same as real life. We can as little endure the 
imitation of absolute baseness, as we can its reality. It 
is now altered, or rather reformed to my original purpose 
and so as to obviate your very just objection to Alhadra's 
Sneak-Exit. After the words " These little ones will crowd 
around and ask me Where is our Father ? I shall curse 
thee then ! ! ! ! " the cry of rescue " Alvar ! Alvar ! " and 

1 Manager of Drury Lane. 2 Stage-manager. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 165 

the voice of Valdez, is heard from behind the scenes and 
Alhadra with these words 

" Ha ! a rescue ! and Isidore un-revenged ! 
The deed be mine ! (Stabs Ordonio.) 
Now take my life ! 
ALVAE. Arm of avenging Heaven ! etc." l 

' I had never once attended the rehearsal of the last 
act, the bowel-griping cold from the stage floor and weari- 
ness from cutting blocks with a razor having always sent 
me packing homeward before the conclusion of the fourth. 
They attempted to justify it by the death of Coriolanus ; 
but in the first place Shakespear is borne out by the historical 
fact, in the second place the mode of the murder (in Shake- 
spear at least, for I never saw it acted) is quite different ; 
and lastly, in Morgan's copy of Shakepear's works I had 
some three weeks ago expressed my incapability of explain- 
ing the character of Titus Aufidius consistently with the 
re-creating psychologic (if not omni-, yet) hominiscience 
of " The Myriad-minded " Bard. This, my only word in it, 
puts me in mind of the Prologue, of which I have yet 
nothing to say in addition to your remarks. I am a miser- 
able coward when pain is to be given I hesitated and 
hesitated, till (had I even plucked up fortitude enough to 
have declined it) I had no longer time to substitute a better. 
It is hard to say which was worse, Prologue or Epilogue, 
videlicet, as Prologue and Epilogue to this particular 

1 The passage ran as follows in the published edition : 

AXHADRA. Those little ones will crowd around and ask me, 

Where is our father ? I shall curse thee then ! 

Wert thou in heaven, my curse should pluck thee thence ! 
TERESA. He doth repent ! See, see, I kneel to theo ! 

O let him live ! that aged man, his father 

ALHADRA. Why had he such a son ? 

[Shouts from the distance of, Rescue ! Rescue ! Alvar ! Alvar ! and the 

voice of Valdez heard. 

Rescue ? and Isidore's spirit unavenged ? 

The deed be mine ! [Suddenly stabs Ordonio. 

Now take my life. 

ORDONIO (staggering from the wound). Atonement ! 
ALVAB. Arm of avenging heaven, etc/ 



166 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Tragedy. Only the Prologue, because it was Pro, did 
harm, and the Epi no good. However, I shall begin to 
brave Nemesis by a full joy, if all go off as well to-night as 
it did on Saturday. With best respects to Mrs. Rickman 
and to your sister I am, my dear Sir, with unfeigned 
esteem and regard, your S. T. COLERIDGE. 

' P.S. If it would amuse Mrs. R., Miss R., or you deem 
it right to let little Anne see the Pantomime at so early 
an age, I have half a dozen box tickets at their service for 
any day of this or the next week, should " The Remorse " run 
so long. I have not yet read what the remorseless critics 
of the " ano abstersurae Chartae " say of the play, but I 
know that Hazlitt in the Mforning] C[hronicle] has sneered 
at my presumptions in entering the Lists with Shakespear's 
Hamlet in Teresa's description of the two brothers : when 
(so help me the Muses) that passage never once occurred 
to my conscious recollection, however it may, unknown 
to myself, have been the working idea within me. But 
mercy on us ! Is there no such thing as two men's having 
similar thoughts on similar occasions ? To all poetry 
primaeval revelation, as I have sometimes laughingly 
asserted of good jests, that the very same, mutatis para- 
phernalibus, are to be found in all languages, and were 
revealed for the amusement of Noah and his household 
during their year-long see-saw on the 5 mile deep inunda- 
tion, which accounts for every phenomenon in geology, only 
not for that miraculous olive tree, the leaf from which 
the tame pigeon (pigeon or raven) brought back to the 
Jewish Ogyges. This woundy long letter will, I fear, 
remind you of another over copious correspondent but it 
is one advantage (postage out of the question) that letters 
have over conversation, that a man may shut his eyes, 
but has no ear-lids, and may burn an epistle, when neither 
to that or to other more economic uses, he would or could 
employ a talker/ 

In 1813 Sou they was working on his famous Life of 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 167 

Nelson, which was one of the chief subjects of correspondence 
with Rickman, whom he informed that he was to have 105 
for the first edition. Other details mentioned in the 
letters were the death of George Fricker, Southey's 
brother-in-law, from consumption, the finding of a man 
hanged in Coleridge's shirt, and the phenomenon of a 
horsehair turning into a worm when left in water, by 
the accretion or growth of animal culae. This scientific 
wonder was discussed by the two friends with the keenest 
interest, and in one letter Rickman devoted two pages to it. 
After the battle of Vittoria had been fought, Rickman sent 
Southey a plan of it drawn by himself. Southey's article 
on the poor appeared in the Quarterly for December 1812, 
and as it was a violent attack upon Mai thus, it was after 
Rickman 's own heart. The letter of March 12 gives his 
comments thereupon. A brief word is necessary upon the 
other matters mentioned by Rickman. In the new 
Parliament of 1813 the affairs of the East India Company 
occupied a great deal of attention. The whole House sat 
in committee on the subject, and an act was finally passed 
renewing its charter and confirming its privileges, but 
with great restrictions. From April 10, 1814, the India 
trade was thrown open, and the charter made terminable 
on three years' notice after 1831. A committee was also 
appointed, on Grattan's motion, to consider the claims of 
the Roman Catholics, but no bill was passed. The Princess 
of Wales sent a letter to Parliament at the beginning of 
March complaining of certain proceedings of the Privy 
Council. Brougham, who entered Parliament in 1810, 
was her adviser till her unfortunate attempt to be present 
at the Coronation in 1821. 

12 March 1813. 

4 ... I have read your article on the poor with good 
satisfaction, for the abundance of wit it contains, and the 
general truth of its statements and reflections. With some 
things you know I do not agree, for instance not in your 
dislike of manufactures to the same degree, especially I 



168 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

do not find them guilty of increasing the poor. For instance, 
no county is more purely agricultural than Sussex (as I 
perfectly know) where S3 persons, parents and children, 
in 100, receive parish relief : no county more clearly to be 
referred to the manufacturing character than Lancaster, 
where the persons relieved by the parish are 7 in 100 not 
a third part of the agricultural poverty. An explanation of 
this, not in a letter, will perhaps lead you to different 
views of the poor-rate plan of relief, which in agricultural 
counties operates as a mode of equalising wages according 
to the number of mouths in a family : so that the single 
man receives much less than his labour is worth, the 
married man much more. I do not approve of this, nor of 
the poor laws at all ; but it is a view of the matter which 
in your opinion (more perhaps than in mine) may lessen 
the amount of their mischief. 

' Of these things and others we may talk in May ; but I 
am afraid nothing will settle my mind about your wide 
education plan, a great good, or a great evil, certainly, but 
which, I am not sure, while the liberty of the Press 
remains. I believe that more seditious newspapers than 
Bibles will be in use among your pupils. 

' We are going on badly in the Ho. Commons, the 
contemptible state of the Administration, and the more con- 
temptible state of the Opposition is, taken together, very 
odd. The Ministry consider nothing forsooth as a Cabinet 
Question ; that is, they have no opinion collectively. I 
cannot imagine any thing in history more pitifull than their 
junction and alliance with the high and mighty mob against 
the E. India Company, an establishment second only, if 
second, to the English Government in importance to man- 
kind. As to the Catholics, they will gain little from the 
Ho. Commons, and nothing from the Lords ; and the issue 
of the attempt I hope will be to place the Catholic orators 
in no pleasant situation, and to open the eyes of the rest 
of the world as to the placable conciliating disposition of 
the Irish Catholics and rebels. 

* The Princess of Wales, the most shameless of her sex, 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 169 

seems determined to push her case into public discussion, 
and as the days of beheading are past, I suppose we shall 
in due have an Act of Attainder to send her into durance, 
or out of England : I care not which. Brougham allows 
himself to be her adviser generally ; but not of her late 
letters. I believe however he wrote the first half of the 
first letter, which he thus disowns because nobody thinks 
well of it. It is whimsical to see the natural attraction 
between B. and Her R. H. The two persons eminently 
farthest removed from bashfulness in this realm. But I 
think Jupiter may stultify more extensively than he has 
done before we are overset. Besides if chance is some- 
times against us, it is sometimes for us. Witness the stupid 
presumption of the Gre Gres 1 a year ago. Their refusal 
of power which, misdirected as it was in 1806, would have 
dispirited Russia into peace and subjection when Alexander 
was wavering, and have altered the whole destiny perhaps 
of Europe for ages to come. . . .' 

Later in the year comes a letter from Rickman which 
shows how fearless and sensible he was in giving literary 
advice to Southey, whose revulsion of feeling since his 
revolutionary ardours led him to use exaggerated language 
in praise of those who withstood Napoleon, and, as we shall 
see, in execration of Napoleon himself. 

< 20 November 1813. 2 

4 ... I have not read any of your annual Regr. very 
lately, but I remember some of my former mental criticisms 
upon it, which I know you will have no objection to hear ; 
be they right or wrong, valuable or worthless. 

4 In the first place, I who yet am no Puritan, can never 
read sacred epithets applied to human actions without a 
little shuddering ; involuntarily I believe I refer all political 

1 The name Rickman and Southey used to designate the Grenville and 
Grey party. The conditions they sought to impose upon the Regent in 
1812 made it impossible for him to give them office. 

1 In Selection* from the Letters of R. ., ii. 337 ?., extracts from this 
letter and Southey's answer are given. 



170 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

feelings to morality (high or low as the case may be) never 
to religion. Thus I would dignify the obstinate resistance 
of the Spaniards by any epithets denoting the steadfastness 
of their patriotism, and their heroic suffering ; but I do 
not class this kind of merit, nor any not of Gospel creation, 
as holy or righteous : two words which I seem to remember 
often in your historical style. The founder of our national 
religion said his Kingdom was not of this world, and his 
Quaker precepts are utterly incompatible with national 
existence, if literally followed. If you would drop all 
religious epithets, you may be sure your style will still have 
strength enough left ; and there is another branch of the 
same question, which may best be prefaced by asking, 
do you approve of the annual Church fasts and occasional 
thanksgivings in war time ? I confess I do not, thinking 
either that the God of all may not much prefer one nation 
of his creatures before another, or that it is impertinent to 
offer our opinions or wishes to him, in his government of 
mankind. Here we come to the large question of a 
particular providence or not. I happen to believe that the 
Creator constituted the earth and all creatures in it in the 
best manner for their well being ; but that he interferes 
no farther ; careless (so to speak) of the individual, even 
sometimes of a whole species of animals (the mammoth for 
example), careful only to insure general results. The old in- 
stance of the weather as well as any other may serve to refute 
the notion of a particular providence. We see often enough 
that " He maketh the rain to fall on the just and on the 
unjust." The hitherto prosperity of the devastator of 
Europe is quite as strong an instance, and if he should now 
be destroyed particular providence could not be the less 
disgraced hi the mischief he has been suffered to do. I do 
not mean by this that the disbelief of a particular providence 
is to be professed ; but I think it should be the esoteric 
belief of an historian. 

' In another view of the same subject, we ought not to 
forget, that however severe the process of conquest, without 
it, the world could never have been civilised. The little 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 171 

petty tribes, created by family connection, would still have 
wandered over the earth incapable of any acquirement 
beyond rude subsistence. The consolidation of large 
kingdoms mainly results from the successes of some 
conqueror, and we must suffer the end to sanctify the 
means. In my creed this is universally true in politics ; 
as universally as it is untrue and unallowable in private 
conduct. Doubtless some conquests have introduced 
slavery and barbarism, and I mourn such instances ; but 
the Corsican Adventurer (for his own purposes indeed) by 
loosening all attachment to reigning families and by con- 
founding territorial limits in Germany, has taken the only 
practicable mode of the resuscitation of that people of 
mighty name, but for many centuries of feeble means, for 
want of some such sweeping generalising conqueror as the 
man they are now roused to resist. Even Italy, and perhaps 
Switzerland, has profited in this way, and, the renovation 
of Europe accomplished, we shall have to own that no less 
severe a visitation could have sufficiently loosened ancient 
privileges and prejudices. This you see is a further 
argument against any particular providence in this or that 
battle or accident favourable to Spain or England ; and, 
though I allow Bonaparte no more merit in the final good 
which he may do, than Judas Iscariot on another occasion, 
yet I would have the tone of a serious history restrained 
by such considerations, and when holding out for worthy 
imitation the deeds of patriots and of heroes. 

' You know very well how far I am from the sickly 
liberality, which seems likely to blight every noble motive 
of action, and which has grown to such a pitch, that it is 
almost forgotten of ancient selfishness, that all the things 
which we valued most in the world have sprung and must 
for ever spring from that aboriginal but disgraced quality. 
A book which should settle the just points between selfishness 
and liberality would be a grand performance, though I 
suppose the author would be abused for a Mandevilian. 

'Thus much have I scribbled in a winter evening. 
Fruere ut libet. .' 



172 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 
Southey replied on November 30. 

' Thank you for your letter. It cautions me well against 
the indiscreet use of words which ought to be reserved for 
great occasions, and I do not discover that we differ in 
opinion when we understand each other. I see as you do, 
and surely have often expressed, that the whirlwind of 
the Revolution was necessary to clear away the pestilence 
of the old governments, and think as you do that in the 
moral government of the world and of the universe general 
results are those which are contemplated, and that to these, 
individuals, species, and nations will sometimes be sacrificed 
The belief that Good is stronger than Evil sets all right 
upon the great scale, and all is set right for individuals 
also in a future state. Certainly I do not believe that God 
can prefer one nation to another. But in cases like the old 
Dutch war against Spain, and the present struggle against 
Bonaparte, the struggle is between good and evil, and the 
contest is actually what the Crusades were only erroneously 
called a Holy War. However I shall be sparing of such 
epithets.' 

At the end of the year the Poet Laureateship fell vacant. 
The post was offered to Sir Walter Scott, who retired in 
favour of Southey. The new Laureate's first work was 
to write an ode upon the war, which he sent to Rickman 
in manuscript with the following letter : 

'Decembers, 1813. 

' Verses which are to be printed have a certain flavour in 
manuscript analogous to the sweetness of stolen water, and 
the pleasantness of bread eaten in secret, a pleasantness, 
by the bye, which I do not understand, having no taste for 
a crust in a corner, nor for dry bread at any time. Mrs. R 
may peradventure like to cast her eye over the Laureate's 
first performance. I send it therefore unwafered. When 
she has read it, consign it to the twopenny post, that it may 
find its way to the Row. 1 . . . 

1 i.e. Paternoster Row, where Longmans' office was and is. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 173 

' If you ask me why I call it Carmen Annuum not in 
imitation of Carmen Seculare (which however justifies the 
title) but because I can hit upon no suitable English appel- 
lation. An Ode it is not, because of its length : so at least 
I think, and Carmen is a general word. 

4 My next appearance in my new character will be with 
a series of Inscriptions upon the event of the peninsular 
war, as far as the British Army has been concerned. God 
bless you, R. S.' 

Southey's poem, however, seemed to the judicious Rick- 
man too truculent for an official effusion, and he replied with 
a long letter of general criticism from which I take these 
extracts : 

' . . . I am not sure you do not forget that office imposes 
upon a man many restraints besides the one-day Bag and 
Sword at Carlton House. Put the case, that through the 
mediation of Austria we make peace with Bonaparte, and 
he becomes in course a friendly Power can you stay in 
office, this Carmen remaining on record ? I would say 
more with this view of the matter, did I not suppose that 
before the Carmen is publicly seen, Mr. Croker will see it, 
andhecan jud^e the degree of official reserve necessary. . . . 
In reading this I see that the stanzas which mention France 
and the French Emperor in so truculent a manner are not 
so many but that the Carmen might be long enough without 
them, if by Mr. Croker's judgment to be in prudence omitted. 
I confess I should be very sorry that you should print 
without his approbation of them ; for as Laureat official, 
I think you should . . . identify yourself very much with 
the government. Be as ample in praise as you please, but 
do not treat an enemy as though never to become a friend. 
If you did not know me for as desperate an antigallican as 
yourself (I wish the French one neck and a hatchet in my 
hand) I should not have spoken so freely of official reserve 
towards them : but I know you will take all in good part. 

' I assure you I only dread your being superseded in 
your office, whenever a small sacrifice may in the chance of 



174 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

events be to be made to Bonaparte and the vile Whigs. . . . 
As to the Whigs, it will be said, whatever they deserve, yet 
not rebuke from your hand, who apparently received favour l 
from their Administration. I grant you it was only apparent, 
but as you could not give the explanation, you could not 
repel the charge of ingratitude, which will be made if you 
lacerate them too cruelly.' 

This letter was followed by another enclosing some proofs. 

' 15 December 1813. 

' Too late for post time to-day, was brought a proof of 
the Carm. Ann., about half of it. I inclose it ; also a letter 
from your brother. 

c I don't think that I have anything to add to what I said 
before. . . . 

' If you choose to call Bonaparte a tyrant, you will say 
Hiero was called so : but the assassination finale you must 
not venture on. Indeed the stories you bring in aid of your 
exhortation, are not well authenticated. Toussaint's and 
Capt. Wright's tortures I believe, but do not know. Piche- 
gru's murder I do not believe in any further than that he 
murdered himself. The D. of Enghien you i Hist remember 
chose to station himself close to France to foment disturb- 
ances ; and as to all Governments, good or bad, the right of 
self-preservation indefeasibly pertains, I am not sure that he 
was ill-used. I know I would willingly do the same favour 
by torchlight or day-light could he be seized in Ireland and 
brought here for that good purpose. Palm and Hofer I 
grant you were bad and notoriously bad affairs.' 

The good advice of Rickman and Croker was taken by 
Southey, who cut out the dangerous passages, and published 
the poem next year as ' An Ode written during the Negotia- 
tions with Bonaparte in January, 1814.' 

During 1814 and 1815 the correspondence between Rick- 
man and Southey turned chiefly upon political affairs and 

1 A Hinull pension was given to Southey in 1800. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 175 

Southey 's official poems. Most of the letters are from 
Southey, and there is one congratulating Rickman on his 
appointment to the Table. 4 You used,' he says, * to notice 
a sort of entailed longevity belonging to parliamentary 
offices : may you keep up the custom, and live to a better 
old age than your predecessor.' The joke about ' entailed 
longevity ' is still a good one in the Civil Service, though 
a statutory age limit has robbed it of some of its point. 
It was in the autumn of 1814 that Rickman made his first 
driving tour. For these years I only give two letters, the 
first from Southey to Rickman on Napoleon's abdication, 
the second from Rickman to Poole. 

April 11, 1814. 

' MY DEAR R., So it is over, dating from the destruction 
of the Bastille, a tragedy of five and twenty years ! During 
two and twenty of which I have borne a full share of interest 
in all the events. 

4 1 am glad that the French have given fresh proofs of 
their baseness ; this gratifies my English feeling. And I 
am satisfied with Buonaparte's fate, for this upon con- 
sideration gratifies my vindictive principle. Three likely 
terminations had suggested themselves to me : that he 
would find enough followers to die game ; that he would 
kill himself ; or that he would abscond and be lost. I did 
not suspect that he even he was mean enough to be 
pensioned off, and retire to hear the execrations of all 
Europe, to read his own history, and taste of damnation 
drop by drop, before the Devil drenches him with it from 
a cup like the widow's cruise. (1 Kings, 16.) 

' If I knew Whitbread, I should like to give him joy upon 
this occasion.' 

The letter to Poole mentions the com laws. Owing to 
the fluctuations in the price of corn during the war, a select 
committee of the House of Commons was appointed to 
consider the question in 1813. This committee reported 
in favour of a sliding scale, and a bill became law in 1815 
which prohibited the importation of foreign corn, so long as 






176 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

wheat did not rise above eighty shillings a quarter. When 
that price was exceeded, it might be imported free. To 
understand Rickman's strictures on the mob, it must be re- 
membered that the Luddite riots had already occurred, and 
that the London mob grew very fractious over the Burdett 
case in 1810 and over the contested Westminster elections. 

* 16^ February 1815. 

* MY DEAR SIR, I have received yours and am glad your 
desires as to the property tax and corn laws are likely to be 
effected. I have not the least objection to abolishing the 
one, or amending the other, but as I happen to think we 
live under a Government too much influenced by the mob 
(the ignorant vulgar) I go over to the other side always, by 
way of helping the vessel against such shifting ballast. For 
fear of this same mob I suppose we are to legislate rapidly 
as to the corn laws lest we should be overwhelmed with 
ignorant petitions as last session. This is our doing or not 
doing or undoing anything Vox Populi, Vox Dei the 
mob is to be chiefly regarded. About the endeavour to 
enlighten this said tyrannical mob, I shall not pretend to 
argue, as it is one of the few subjects upon which I have not 
made up my mind. I suppose that whatever sum total of 
knowledge is to be produced in society, it will still be con- 
venient that the wisest should legislate for the rest. My 
feeling is against the modern rage for education, because 
it savours of the mock philanthropy and liberality which 
during my time have been the curse of Europe, and the 
tide is not yet turned. Scoundrels are to be well lodged and 
well fed at the expense of others while in prison, and criminals 
are to be pitied and protected instead of the society they 
injure. Debtors, poor men ! are not to pay their debts ' 

The first letter for 1816 is another instance of Rickman's 
excellent sense. 

' 15 January 1816. 

' MY DEAR SOUTHEY, G. Bedford called here four days 
ago for a frank, and under great uneasiness lest you should 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 177 

publicly gainsay all the English authorities for calling the 
Battle of the 18th June after the name of the English head 
quarters at Waterloo. I who know how strongly you feel 
on that subject, should hardly venture to ask you to change 
your intention of not calling it the Battle of Waterloo ; but 
are you bound to call it by any name ? If you are writing 
sub specie of a New Year's Ode that will be the title, 
and you need not make yourself a martyr for the sake of 
propriety of a name : for I verily believe the indignity so 
pointed at the Duke's silly indeed disgraceful misnomer 
would be resented deeply, and to your serious injury, which 
would be the more vexatious, as the shrewdest people who 
have traversed the field of battle, at present allow your 
Quarterly Review narrative to be not only the best, but 
better than themselves could compile. So that being on 
the plus side with regard to that famous field, it will be the 
more vexatious if you pass over to the minus. 

' Morally speaking too, I am of opinion we have no right 
to be prudent in such a case ; the name and the reputation 
of the Duke of Wellington is a very solid possession, valu- 
able to England, and to Europe while he lives, even to 
history afterwards ! Surely we are not bound, by any 
superlative or hyperbolical taste for justice, to drag any 
of his failings into the light. Let us grieve for them in 
private as much as you please ; but not pamper French 
rivalry by displaying them. As for changing the name 
of the battle, that is impossible abiit in morem the 
Waterloo Men cannot be made to change their cognomen 
so well earned, and you must allow that it is public mischief 
because inconvenient to all to have contending names 
of any thing. I suppose the execrable French will name 
the Battle Mont St. Jean they are welcome, so the Russians 
tutored by Laharpe ; the Prussians, Belle Alliance, but 
the latter came into battle very late in the day too late 
almost for any impediment to explain, and evidently too 
late in their own opinion, since they think it worth whilo 
to err three hours at least in the date of their appearance. 

* Pray let history speak of the Battle of Waterloo, not 

M 



178 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

because it is the best possible name, but because it is become 
the name. For yourself I hope you can avoid any endeavour 
to assign any particular name, if you cannot endure to 
countenance the new popular misnomer.' 

There are many allusions to Waterloo in the correspond- 
ence of 1815 and 1816, for in the former year Southey had 
gone to survey the field of battle in person. He had 
written an account of the battle in the Quarterly Review, 
and was meditating a poem, for which Rickman sent him 
some further information. In the spring of 1816 Southey 
was struck down by the greatest sorrow of his life : his 
son Herbert, after a decline of some weeks, died in April of 
an affection of the heart. In spite of his philosophical 
reserve in letters to his friends, it is quite clear that he was 
heart-broken by the death of the boy he so passionately 
loved. The letter announcing the news to Rickman was 
only a short note. 

'Ap. 19, 1816. 

6 1 was prepared for the worst, and know how to bear it, 
having much practical philosophy and much real religion 
which stands me in better stead. Time will do the rest. 
My bodily frame is sorely shaken, but this will soon be 
remedied. Much happiness is left me, more than falls to 
the lot of most men, and I never can be too thankful for 
having so long enjoyed that which is now lost.' 

Rickman replied with a letter which shows the imper- 
viousness of his nature to emotion, and will strike most 
readers as rather over-philosophic in tone, however kindly 
it was meant. 

' 23rd April 1816. 

'MY DEAR SOUTHEY, I have just read yours of the 
19th, having been in the country on a melancholy errand, 
the burial of Mrs. Rickman's mother, who died 10 days 
since. Mrs. R. had sufficient notice of her illness, as to 
go down two days before her decease, which was very 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 179 

fortunate for the feelings of the now dead and of the living. 
I have just brought back Mrs. R. and our young gentleman, 
who was staying with the good old people. 

' So much of this affair ; an extremely light loss com- 
pared with yours. That an old lady should sleep in peace 
after a blameless and happy life past " Threescore years 
and Ten " is much in the order of things, but that a youth 
destined to renew in himself what his parents were, who 
now outlive him, is very melancholy in all cases, and pecu- 
liarly so in yours. But we must not think too much on 
the aggravations which might be enumerated. I have to 
recede from high hopes which I had begun to form from 
your late accounts of his habits and of his mind. 

* I am very glad though much surprised that you can 
even speak of patience on this occasion, for in truth I feared 
as much for you as for the youth a fortnight ago. You 
have said too that Mrs. Sou they bore up during the illness, 
but I always calculate that women will do so ; men are 
overset sometimes by the many reasons they have against 
giving vent to their feelings.' 

Of the other letters from Rickman to Southey during 
1816, the first, which gives the writer's views on his own 
work, explains itself. The pessimistic tone of the others 
is accounted for by the depression and discontent in the 
country. The end of the war had brought down prices 
with a run. There was a glut of British commodities in the 
market, and corn was as low as fifty-two shillings and six- 
pence a quarter. There were many bankruptcies, labourers, 
and workpeople were turned adrift, the ranks of unemploy- 
ment were swelled by the disbanded soldiers all this, added 
to the fact that trade conditions were still not properly re- 
adjusted after their disturbance, due to the advent of factories 
and machinery, and that the price of bread was kept high, 
produced intense misery among the people, with its usual 
result of turbulent meetings and rioting, in which the 
desire for relief was mingled with the wild clamour for 
Parliamentary reform. The harvest of 1816 was a failure, 



180 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and bread riots ensued. The Government, though dis- 
credited in the popular view by its refusal to abolish the 
income tax, by its abandonment of the malt tax, and by 
its opposition to Parliamentary reform, was not blind to 
the situation. Schemes for the relief of pauperism were 
widely discussed, and considerable attention was drawn 
to the scheme introduced by Owen at Lanark for the 
common holding of land. At the same time, those in 
authority, with the lesson of the French Revolution before 
them, cannot be wholly blamed for their determination 
to take strong measures against sedition. The misguided 
violence of such men as ' Orator ' Hunt and William 
Cobbett, who deliberately fostered discontent by dangling 
before the eyes of the common people the wildest schemes 
of democratic reform as panaceas, led the Government 
not unnaturally to consider the advisability of more stringent 
measures against seditious meetings and the licence of the 
Press. These reactionary tendencies came to a head in 
the ' six acts ' of 1819. Rickman, it must be admitted, 
took an excessively doctrinaire view of things. Because 
the population was increasing, and because goods were 
plentiful, he persuaded himself that the cry of general 
distress was a falsehood of those whom he called the ' mock 
humanity ' men. Like Southey, he was a violent partisan 
on the side of order and authority. 

In 1816 Southey was summoned by Lord Liverpool, as 
the former told Rickman, to consult with him on some 
scheme for opposing ' pen to pen.' The idea seems to 
have been either to found some Government newspaper 
to combat the Radical Press, or to publish a book giving 
the Government view of the situation. It will be seen 
that Rickman strongly urged Southey not to become a 
journalist in the pay of the Government. But Southey 
had no desire to go to London, and as there seemed nothing 
particularly advantageous in the proposition, he refused 
the interview. So much will explain the allusions in the 
remaining letters of this chapter, all from Rickman to 
Southey. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 181 

22nd July 1816. 

4 ... Scottish affairs all, of which, contrary to expecta- 
tion and probability, I have had a more oppressive load 
during the last Session than ever, but I hope at this expence 
I have secured a lighter load in fitiurum, but I wish even 
that could be laid on somebody else ; no payment can 
compensate such a tantalising quantity of work, yet from 
this I cannot escape without the art of brain transfusion 
could be discovered, and all my memory of the subject 
placed on another man's shoulders. But this cannot be, 
and for 3 years more I must drudge on. Yet on the bright 
side of the subject, I ought not to be dissatisfied at having 
been the instrument of trying a new experiment, which I 
myself much distrusted originally, and trying it success- 
fully ; I speak of the aid given to Highland roads, and of 
the other affair the C. [Caledonian] Canal ; I ought not 
to forget that it is of unexampled dimensions, and conse- 
quently of much originality in its details, that my history 
of it in the Annual Reports is the first regular history of 
the formation of a canal, and a history, which with the 
adaptation of the appendixes, those of workmen and of 
amounts, I do not fear will ever be equalled. We must see 
this canal next year, taking Telford with us (or find him 
there) whom I think you may have seen here a very able 
and very liberal man, whose plainness you will much like, 
an early friend of T. Campbell the Poet, and of Colonel 
Pasley proof of his good taste ; both of them respect 
him highly, and in his unostentatious manner I doubt not 
his friendship has served them much. . . .' 

' 7 September 1816. 

' . . . As to the schemes of cultivation by paupers, even 
colonists, ardent colonists, never have succeeded in working 
for a common fund, which is an insuperable premium held 
out to idleness. You have read more than anybody of 
the practical efforts of such a scheme in the early history 
of Virginia and the colonies. Nothing can counteract it 



182 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

but tyranny in every domestic and personal circumstance, 
nor perhaps even tyranny unless aided by some religious 
delusion the confessional of the Moravians and Methodists 
superadded to the scourge of the task master. Alas ! 
What is human nature and human liberty doomed to suffer 
from those who mean best for both ! Habits and forms 
of society have formed themselves not on argument or pre- 
conceived advantages, but gradually by practice, and no 
speculator in dangerous novelties opposed by such experi- 
ence ought to think his chance of being in the right above 
1 to 1000. Such diffidence however is unusual. I almost 
forget that the Jesuits in Paraguay and in California have 
taught us what kind of human beings, men children 
may be produced labouring and feeding in common. They 
too had illusions like Owen of Lanark, and the feeble- 
minded idiots paraded too in processions. But I shall tire 
you and myself. One thing I wish to say as to an opinion 
which you seem to entertain as to the well-being, or rather 
ill-being of the poor, that their state has grown worse and 
worse of late. Now if one listens to common assertion 
everything in grumbling England grows worse and worse ; 
but the fact in question (the belief in it) is even a curiosity. 
Human comfort is to be estimated by human health, and 
that by the length of human life. Now I imagine I have 
proved in a very unexceptionable manner, (see p. xxii. of 
my population Preface) that since 1780 life has been pro- 
longed as 5 to 4, and the poor form too large a portion of 
society to be excluded from this general effect ; rather 
they are the main cause of it, for the upper classes had 
food and cleanliness abundant before. I wish I had time 
to make a few more observations in your poor laws treatise, 
which is very good in the main. The Bedford lace makers 
and straw platters do not enter into the computation of 
agricultural net produce, which is reckoned according to 
rent and tythe : they increase neither of these. 

' How many theories of yours and mine have we not to 
talk over next year ! and if you lead me to Lanark, and I 
you to the Caledonian Canal, we shall not lessen the number. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 183 

I hope all this will happen. I am in a bad state of mind, 
sorely disgusted at the prevalence of that mock humanity 
which is now becoming the instrument of dissolving all 
authority, Government, and, I apprehend, human society 
itself. Again we shall have to go through chaos and all 
its stages. It is of no use to think, or to try to act for the 
benefit of mankind, while this agreeable poison is in full 
operation as at present. I retire hopeless into my own 
nut-shell, till I am disturbed there, which will not be long 
if the humanity men prevail. The revolution will not I 
expect be less tremendous nor less mischievous than that 
of France, this mocking humanity being only a mode of 
exalting the majesty of the people of putting all things 
into the power of the mob. I wish I may be wrong in my 
prognostic on this subject. In the mean time, Farewell ! ' 



' 24 September 1816. 

' I have received yours, and I ought not to delay writing 
when such a subject is on the anvil. It has conquered my 
growing apathy, proof that the same thing would happen 
to others, were the standard of resistance widely displayed. 
For your own particulars, it is enough for you to say that 
you expect no reward, but pray never say needlessly you 
will decline any. How long has it been that the workman 
in a good cause is bound to decline what is due to him ? 
If nothing due, it can only be that he is an inefficient work- 
man. Pray avoid superfluous liberality, the growing vice of 
the age ; and much connected (as I suppose I could prove) 
with the mock humanity of the day the most powerful 
tool at present of the anarchs. Justice as a general rule, 
liberality as a rare exception, for if not rare it supersedes 
the rule, so that the good are not protected, and the bad 
not restrained. Be sure that a great deal more selfishness 
than either you or I have, is but justice. Why postpone, 
R. S. or J. R. to the rest of the alphabet ? Why not accept 
what in another's case you would be first to give, because 
most justly : so far in defence of you against yourself, and 



184 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

be sure if you come to town, you do so at the expense of 
the secret service money. 

'As to book or journal, a book certainly first, and let 
circumstances settle about the other, in which I should be 
sorry to see you responsibly concerned, not only from the 
obvious meanness of the occupation, connected as it must 
be with private intelligence, and other necessary evils, but 
much more from the total absorption of all time ; so that 
as an author who writes per sheet, soon thinks most of 
finishing the sheet, a journalist would soon be worried out 
of all high principle, and mainly consider the easy completion 
of the daily task. 

' Besides, connected argument is wanted. The book 
must pass whole and undivided in every one's hand, and 
become the standard of the party, who must be banded 
against the anarchs or the latter must needs conquer, 
by repetition of attack of an undefended post, or defended 
only by political Quakerism. 

1 A book too, if written with the understood countenance 
of Government, but not at their dictation, would do the 
more good, because they want many lessons which they 
could not consent to promulgate themselves. Even high 
interests must be attacked, in case a cyclopaedia of good 
salutary measures is to be attempted, and the book would 
have the more weight and reputation for that degree of 
independence, which every single man in office would allow 
to be good except where it touched himself. The first 
being that nothing is more injurious than their tenderness 
(mock humanity again !) to each other. No man is turned 
out for inefficiency, or for non-attendance in his place in 
Parliament this last is an especial evil. How often were 
the Gt. beaten last Session because their troops did not 
appear so punctually as their opponents ? And how should 
they be brought down to the H. C. from their business or 
their dinners when such a Creature as A. 1 is the Secretary 
of the Treasury intrusted with the important management 
of the H. C. ? The members both hate and despise him, 

J Charles Arbuthnot. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 185 

for his silly vanity and coxcombry, and so little is he 
informed of what it is his peculiar business best to know, 
that on the evening of the Income Tax defeat, 1 he assured 
1 1 is employers they would carry the vote by thirty and 
upwards. And yet this man still smiles and simpers in 
office. You may imagine he is not the only instance of 
such ill-judging tenderness, but the most flagrant and the 
most dangerous of course he is. No session can pass 
without defeats very discouraging to the friends of Govt. 
and good order, till he is ousted. 

' Your book ought to take a large range. Let Mrs. S. 
have the custody of this Letter, and all that relate to it, 
that in case of need she may destroy all trace. Finis. 9 

' November 25th, 1816. 

* I send . . . the Police Report which has been procured 
for me. If you read it, reflect that it is one of the maladies 
of the age to abuse everything enormously which is not 
quite perfect, and this confusion of various degrees of com- 
parative merit with the blackest crimes is one of the bad 
symptoms of our time : induced like most of our other 
evils by the licentiousness of the Press, the effect of which 
makes one doubt (I do very sincerely) whether the no- 
information of former times or the mis-information of the 
present, be the greater evil. Knowledge does not appear 
to me to have increased during the period of my observa- 
tion, and the gross ignorance which has been and is 
manifested in the popular disputes regarding com laws 
on both sides the most absurd proposals makes me more 
lowly in my opinion of the reasoning people of England. 
True, Parliament is full enough of really wise men on this 
subject and most others. But the better part of wisdom 
is (really in legislators) discretion. And thence they dare 
not tell the disputants, infuriated by the newspapers, 
that agriculturists have been injured only by their own 

1 The Government wished to diminish the tax from 10 to 5 per c 
but Brougham, who proposed ita abolition, carried the vote against them. 



186 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

extravagant expectations and consequent expences, and 
that the rest of the nation are not injured at all, nor could 
now be thought to be in " distress " unless the said news- 
papers had said so, and thus encouraged every man who 
is lazy or profligate to talk loudly of general distress. And 
in truth, besides these gentlemen who are distressed through 
their own demerits, there must always be a large quantity 
of real distress in a large nation, but there is no more now 
than usual. Somebody has told us, that Dr. Stoddart 1 has 
lately discovered (perhaps puts his opinion in print ?) that 
we labour under the evil of too much population. Now 
the following facts are indisputable : houses more than 
find tenants : warehouses full of clothing, more than can 
be worn ; corn and cattle (last year throughout) more than 
could be eaten. Even wool and hides almost unmarketable. 
We are distressed through our own superabundance of 
maintenance, and then hear of too much population. Pray 
destroy this folly, and shew that an industrious race of 
people cannot be too populous, that their number only 
makes them more and more independent of foreign markets 
for their products, manufactured and otherwise. Were it 
not for the maintenance of our navy by means of the 
carrying trade, I should not be afraid of going to a 
Chinese, nay Japanese extent in this case as far as national 
wealth is concerned. But there is no fear I believe of 
our not having most of the commerce of the world for the 
next half century at least, for what nation or people can 
go on so well without us, as we could without them ? This 
is conclusive. 

4 The last Edinburgh Reviews I see have a last article 
about as dull and stupid as your last of the last Quarty. 
is spirited and well informed. The rascals think they have 
offended their spurious allies the democrats, by their not 
going all lengths in Parliamentary Reform in the preceding 
number, and now seek as bastard a conciliation. They 
do not know how to steer between their own Opposition 
tenets and the principle of the anarchists ; between the 

1 Leader writer on the Times. In 1817 he started the New Times. 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 187 

no-principle and the principle of mischief. There is no need 
to observe much upon this feeble diatribe, except only that 
the admission or audience at the Ho. Commons and con- 
sequent publication of debates is a weight ten-fold heavier 
on the side of liberty than all the petty encroachments of 
the Crown, which they alledge, and falsely alledge two 
thirds of them. Certainly our Parliament ought to have, 
that is, to exercise the same complete right of occasional 
exclusion as is exercised in democratic America ; and the 
want of that occasional practice is ten millions a year against 
us in war time. . . . Demolish all this nonsense and preach 
stoutly upon the parodied text, " that the power of the 
populace has increased, is increasing, and must be 
diminished " or a revolution must move. 

' The article on the liberty of the Press is dull enough, 
but not so absurd ; I have no objection to submitting the 
question of the truth of a libel to the jury, but would add by 
way of rider to such a bill, that all public libels should be 
punishable in your manner, and that no public meeting 
should be held unless convened by the Lord Lieutenant, 
or Sheriff, or three magistrates in a Corporate Town : and 
that the moment such convening officers or magistrates 
absent themselves, the meeting becomes illegal ; and 
rebellious after the first half hour. What but arms have 
been wanting to this quality in some of the late meetings 
in Lancashire ? what at Nottingham ? The laws which 
protect and thereby encourage constables in keeping the 
peace ought to be published by Government on a half 
sheet and disseminated. But they are asleep : so are not 
you, and even my quietism is stirred a little. Farewell.' 



CHAPTER VII 

1817-1829 

Southey's ' Wat Tyler ' Rickman's views on poor law reform His article in 
the Quarterly A letter from Luke Hansard Rickraan's depression 
Letters to Lord Colchester Scottish tour with Southey The model 
bbguinage Depression again Rickman on Canning Opening of the 
Caledonian Canal Bertha Southey Roman Catholic relief Rick- 
man's part in Southey's essays State of Ireland Catholic Relief 
Bill passed Co-operation Rickman Lamb's ' friend ' in 1829. 

FROM 1815 onwards the correspondence between Rickman 
and Southey, with the exception of three letters to Lord 
Colchester, is the only source on which we can draw, but that 
is a plentiful source. Between 1817 and 1832 the political 
interest of the letters grows till it reaches its climax in 
the almost weekly interchange of views and opinions on the 
subject of the Reform Bill. During 1817, though Rickman 
was overwhelmed by an ' unexpected gale of work '- 
probably the stress was due to his superintendence of the 
new system for printing the Votes and Proceedings, his 
work for the two Scottish Commissions, and the abstraction 
of poor returns the letters were fairly frequent. One of 
the incidents of the year which closely affected Southey 
was the illicit republication of his ' Wat Tyler ' poem, which 
was written in the days of his revolutionary ardour. It 
was no small scandal that such a youthful indiscretion 
should be revived against the Poet Laureate and the 
sturdy pillar of the Quarterly Review, at a time when there 
were riots in England and the Habeas Corpus Act was 
suspended. Southey applied ineffectually for an injunc- 
tion against the publisher ; and the matter was made worse 
when Mr. William Smith, the Liberal M.P. for Norwich, came 
down to the House with ' Wat Tyler ' in one hand and the 

188 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 189 

Quarterly in the other, to read out conflicting extracts 
from the pen of one whom his party held to be a renegade 
and a time-server. But Southey's part was warmly taken 
by his friends in the House ; he was defended in the Courier 
by Coleridge ; and he himself ended the matter in his 
* Letter to William Smith, Esq. M.P.,' which was a 
vigorous and fearless attack upon his unworthy opponent. 
Rickman alluded to the scene in the House in a letter 
dated March 17. 

' 17 March 1817. 

4 ... Oddly enough, as you have seen, W. S. seems to 
have suffered B. [Brougham] to have put a brief in his 
hand against you. But however this happened, you may 
congratulate yourself on the venom being spit, so entirely 
without effect, or rather with favourable effect to yourself, 
every body seeming to cry shame on the malice of the thing, 
and nobody almost applauding except B. with a few of the 
most deeply infernal toned Hear, Hear ! that I ever chanced 
to hear. The said B. seems to recognise you as his anta- 
gonist, and thus expresses his unfeigned esteem. Mr. W. W. 
[Wynn] defended you very well, and after his saying that 
you were not above 19 when you wrote Wat Tyler, W. S. 
began to wriggle in his seat and half apologise by gestuiv. 
afterwards by words, for so strangely lugging in so strange 
a criticism in so strange an assembly. Wat Tyler may now 
do his worst, which will be little. B. made a long speech 
on the distress which he has created, stuffed with the usual 
ingredients ; upon the faith, no doubt, of the Ministry in 
their timidity not chusing to answer much that was answer- 
able. Yet they answered enough to make him retract 
half, under the accustomed form, that he could not have 
meant the things he had said with high emphasis. Yet 
the emphasis goes forth, and recantation is confined to the 
Ho. Comm. For all this he was very poorly answered, 
though it is plain enough that things are coming round so 
far that a fortnight hence his speech of distresses could not 
be uttered. Had there been no such birds of ill-omen to 



190 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

fright commercial credit and enterprise, no distress what- 
ever would have existed. At last the fact is working off 
the sophism, and the market is glutted with the money 
which should have [been] employed in the proper channels 
had the Messrs. B. and Co. permitted. Farewell.' 

The country was still in a very disturbed state 
owing to economic distress. In December 1816 the Spa 
Fields riot had occurred, and in the spring of 1817 the 
Manchester Blanketeers began their abortive march upon 
London. The minds of all thinking citizens were turned 
upon some means of remedying the social evils of destitution 
and crime, and one fact which was prominently brought to 
light was the unsatisfactory state of the poor law. The 
whole system of poor relief was founded upon an act of 
Elizabeth's reign, which threw upon parishes the responsi- 
bility for relieving the infirm and setting the able-bodied 
to work. This, together with the law of settlement, passed 
in the reign of Charles n., was the cause of the chief evils. 
The settlement law caused an excess of labour to accumulate 
in parishes, for which they had to find employment. The 
labourers became idle and improvident, and were made 
more so by the tendency of the preceding century marked 
particularly in Gilbert's Act to make relief accessible to 
as many as possible. The stress of the war with France 
increased the laxity of poor-law administration. What 
Rickman with some truth called ' mock humanity ' resulted 
in the almost universal application of poor rates in aid of 
wages, especially when the excuse could be made that by 
such means the families of those who shed their blood for 
the country were being kept from want. The poor rate 
therefore increased with alarming speed, without conferring 
any great benefit, for the system kept wages low and en- 
couraged idleness. In 1801 the poor rate was 4,000,000 
for a population of nine millions, in 1813 it was over 
6,500,000, in 1818 it was 7,870,801, or 13s. 3d. a head 
for the whole population. In 1817 a committee to inquire 
into the poor laws was moved for in the House, the mover 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKA1AN 191 

being Mr. Curwen, who recommended making the poor 
rate a national charge to be levied on income. The com- 
mittee sat under the chairmanship of Mr. Sturges Bourne, 
and made its report in July. The actual proposals made 
were so inadequate that no legislation resulted, but the 
publication of the report first brought the enormity of the 
abuses before the public. For this committee Rickman 
abstracted the poor rate return of 1748-1750 and of 1816- 
1818. After that year he abstracted the return annually 
for seventeen years work for which he received no re- 
muneration. But the poor laws, ever since his association 
with Poole, had been a favourite study of Rickman 's ; and, 
not content with statistical labours, he urged Southey to 
write upon the subject in the Quarterly, undertaking to 
supply him not only with all Parliamentary papers, but 
also with his own views and deductions in manuscript. 
It is with this subject, therefore, that most of the letters of 
1817 are concerned, for Southey embraced the scheme 
warmly. The first letter which I quote from Rickman 
contains suggestions for an article on which Southey was 
engaged early in the year. The castration of this article 
by Croker and Gilford aroused Rickman 's and Sou they 's 
great indignation. 

Feb. 1817. 

' . . . Pray mention another quality of our friends the 
newspapers, the power of creating a newspaper distress, as 
it is at present in great measure. But this must be said 
not as if of the present moment, but generally that they could 
do so, and must have done so, because the prosperity we 
now are instructed by them to look back at in the war, they 
always called adversity. See how their cursed venom 
operates. Every instance of unlucky speculation is pub- 
lished with comments and exaggeration, any profitable 
speculation kept snug among the merchants for future use ; 
so that we, having more mercantile misfortune, as we have 
more shipwrecks (because we have more ships than all the 
\\ orld together), may always seem to be as unfortunate as 



192 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

we please, by enumeration not comparative or proportion- 
ate. So of the landed interest : a man who reads that 
nobody can pay his full rent certainly will not pay his. A 
lazy fellow who likes begging better than work easily joins 
into the general opinion that no work can be had, and begs 
or goes to the parish. Thus the newspapers create 100,000 
beggars, by making it seem necessity not crime. See how 
largely this tells upon the profligate in all degrees, making 
each more profligate, because more excusable, as children 
are set to rob lately by the mock philanthropist humanity 
of no punishment. In the aggregate the good people of 
England are always to be kept discontented and unhappy 
by the cursed newspapers, who with as much influence as 
erst the R. C. religion enforce the belief of a transubstantia- 
tion of happiness and prosperity into its opposite.' 

The next letter refers to Curwen's speech on the motion 
for the poor law committee. 

' 11 March 1817. 

c . . . Curwen again will be the ruin of any poor law 
improvement. Such an ignorant long-tongued man to be 
chairman of a committee, after having in two following 
years showed different degrees of palpable ignorance in the 
speech moving for such a committee ; and who will work 
in it under his name and banner ? Yet many members are 
very eager and very well informed : but Curwen must ruin 
r*J You touch on a vexatious subject, the cowardice of 
the Ministry, which I anticipated but too surely. They 
have passed an act for the safe custody of Cobbett, and 
Hunt, and now are afraid to act at all, thus damning their 
own proceedings and furnishing innumerable arguments 
to the Opps. Where was the necessity of such a Bill, in- 
active ? It irks me to think of these feeble creatures.' 

The following letter gives a fair indication of Rickman's 
very level-headed views on the poor law question. If he 
was unduly sanguine of the success of individualism in 
dealing with the question, he was perfectly justified in his 



LITE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 193 

condemnation of parish officers and magistrates, and in his 
demand that thrift and industry should be encouraged by 
making relief unwelcome to those who could work. 

'8 M ay 1817. 

* I can hardly express how much I desire to write to you, 
but the days and nights are so occupied that all good things 
of even half an hour's cost must be omitted. 

' As to the poor rate question, pray prepare a good 
common place in praise of selfishness, the only mover of 
large beneficial action, because general, and from it I would 
deduce that no one man shall undertake to understand 
another's affairs, nor provide for his wants, real or pre- 
tended, upon an investigation ruinous of valuable time, and, 
from many causes, ineffectual, or worse, to its aim. No parish 
officers therefore or magistrates to scrutinise, and exercise 
either their ill humour against the poor, or their facility 
against their neighbours. A rule of reasonable duress must 
be general, mere sustenance of the cheapest kind, and 
nothing better by law, whereupon in walks industry, care 
and thrift in the poor ; genuine humanity, alms judiciously 
bestowed circles of endeared dependents, active and pas- 
sive happiness to the rich. The poor must thus attain good 
character or fall upon the legal sustenance, which very 
soon none would fall upon, because they who had not 
friends (which yet is next to impossible in case of good 
character) would find establishments in aid of the friendless, 
and those behaving well would attain friends. The world 
would all be bound together by the mutual tye of good 
character, and our English age would assure the purity 
which our degree of civilisation would then be the measure 
and indication of, instead of the antagonist. But you must 
steel your soul for a short time for future good. Bread and 
water and straw for all who have not character to elicit, or 
industry to acquire, better maintenance. That each man 
shall take care of his own peculiar affairs, and that no man 
shall have a right to demand another's property beyond the 
civilised propriety of not being starved, must be the begin- 

N 



194 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

ning of future good ; and I hope my hurried exposition of 
what would take a just volume, will enable you to look far 
into the matter ; which yet do not mention till we have had 
opportunity, travelling in the Highlands, to discuss diffi- 
culties and look to consequences. I feel convinced, and if 
I can put into you a temporary severity for final good 
purposes, we will overthrow all the evils of human society, 
by abolishing poor rates, and introducing universal good 
character instead. Charity in the large sense, shall then 
be at least as wide as England. Perpend. Farewell, and 
prosper in your journey.' 

In the autumn Rickman took one of his driving tours 
in the north. He visited Southey at Keswick, and went on 
to stay with the Words worths. 

' Tuesday, 23 September 1817. 

' For many reasons I write sparingly when not at home, 
but as to our proceedings I must inform you that we en- 
countered Miss Wordsworth in our road to Ambleside, 
and made an appointment to drink tea with her, where we 
saw the Rydal waterfall, and we were not too late to admire 
the views, near and distant, from Rydal Mount. But 
indeed the whole ride to Ambleside, especially the repose of 
Grasmere, cannot be surpassed for beauty. I was sorry that 
W. Wordsworth was absent from home in Furness, and if 
I had seen him I believe I should have touched upon the 
subject of the good and evil principles, which have to fight so 
great a battle in our time, if we live many years. Hitherto 
the good principle has eminently prevailed in England, as 
is evident in the superior degree of civilisation we enjoy, 
and the majority of well meaning people is as great as ever, 
but their good meaning must be out on its guard and into 
activity, or the mischievous minority, with their mighty ally 
the Press, will revolutionise everything, by way of sop 
till they can dare a general assault. I will read what 
Mr. W. has said as to the advantage acquired by wickedness 
in every contest, and I should expect that if he can con- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 195 

descend to detail, nobody could better place in view this 
momentous danger. But I will say no more on this subject 
at present. . . .' 

The following letter was aroused by the fate of Southey's 
article : 

' 8 October 1817. 

' . . . I heard yesterday that Mr. Gifford is dangerously 
ill of a fever ; as far as the Review is concerned, his death 
would be a good thing, if he be indeed the cause of the 
miserable servility which goes not an inch beyond or an 
inch short of the feeble and frightened Administration : 
but I fear Murray himself, instigated or controlled by Mr. 
Croker, chooses to keep in that narrow path. There is 
good apology for the conduct of the Administration, who 
have suffered the mob to encroach upon them in Parliament 
and out of it, that the great cause of Europe might not be 
interrupted ; at least I give them credit for such motive 
in late years, and now they cannot retrieve their steps 
till some revulsion (God send it) shall happen. You may 
give them credit for this in the exordium of your 
Peninsular History. But why should Murray keep his 
Review in such a servile state, a cock boat in tow of a first 
rate, instead of a consort aiming at the same good end, 
but by a more direct course than allowable or possible to 
Government, and by a course much more consistent with 
the professions of independence which all publications 
affect to make on fit occasions ? Can Murray be so blind as 
not to see that in point of interest he would thus attach a 
large party, and a very growing party (from the weakness 
of Government becoming more and more obvious daily : 
a species of weakness and confusion which must bequeath 
weakness to all future Administrations :) so that a sect of 
Ultras must spring up ii: jelf -defence, and what were more 
noble or more profitable than to lead them, and to embody 
them ? . . .' 

It was not till late in October that Rickman got to work 
upon his poor-law reflections for Southey. 



196 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' 29 October 1817. 

' Herewith you have Brazil, the first sheet I see of Vol. m. 
Success to its progress through the press, and in the world 
afterwards. 

* I thought I might have written before now to you about 
the poor laws, or rather the abolition of them. But lo ! 
I am called upon to make an index to the new edition of 
Mr. Hatsell's Precedents ; four vols. ; and the former 
index being quite worthless is no aid. The vols. too are 
very full of Ho. Commons matter, which I am supposed to 
understand, and must try to do so on this occasion. So 
I have stuck to it closely for the last fortnight, and have 
sent to the press the index of one volume, but next month 
will close before I have finished the rest, after which (my 
other opera, which you wot not of, being now in train) I 
shall begin to pour out my concocted animosity against 
the poor laws. Will this suit your order of battle ? Pray 
store up ammunition in the mean time, as occasion offers 
for reflection. But we must contrive the explosion typo- 
graphic to take place by the meeting of Parliament, say the 
20 January. I do not know that I say any more than 
already voiced in the following sketch. 

4 Human civilisation is founded on the sacredness of 
private property, which is enormously trenched upon by the 
poor laws, which take it from one person and give it to 
another, who has had nothing to do in acquiring or realising 
it. The poor in fact are authorised to plunder the rich by 
law, when in time all must become poor and barbarian. 
Never was so unjust an agrarian law. 

' Liberality (which means the transfer of property 
without legal compulsion) if carried to excess is the same 
in operation and effect as the poor laws, but it depends 
upon volition and fashion of the age, and is not capable of 
gaining so far. It goes much too far however, and must be 
proved to be a question of degree, and a question of justice, 
inasmuch as you cannot be liberal on most occasions without 
being unjust to other claims. As a king cannot be liberal 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 197 

of the money of his subjects ; he only takes from some, 
for the pleasure of giving to others. 

* The poor then have no right to relief, they must be made 
to ask and to demand it ; and in case of bad character, the 
overseer, if confirmed by the decision of the magistrate, 
shall be enabled to refuse it, and send the poor man of 
lazy habits to the workhouse ; thus to be fed on the lowest 
species of fare that any working man in Great Britain eats. 
On oatmeal, potatoes, and water, till he thinks it worth to 
deserve a better character. Under such a law, it is safe 
to limit the poor rates so as to decrease 1/10 each year, 
which would leave about 330 per Ann. out of 1000 in ten 
years, and we might then see whether farther diminution 
proper. Volunteer cavalry must be maintained in such 
proportion as to check all Jaquery and in time all men 
would acquire industrious habits and good character, and 
almsgiving would resume its proper function, peace and 
goodwill spreading away thro' all the various orders of 
society. 

* The details are infinite under these heads, the episodical 
openings many and tempting ; and if we begin, the difficulty 
will be to compress the exuberant material.' 

Rickman's progress was not quite so fast as he expected, 
but the material which he sent to Sou they was so good, 
as the letters plainly show, that his paper was almost un- 
touched and sent to the Quarterly, where it appeared in the 
number for April 1818 under the title ' The means of 
improving the People.' ' Your labours have given me a 
sort of holiday from the review,' wrote Southey, who held 
over the material which he himself had prepared till the 
autumn number. The authorship of Rickman's article was 
well concealed ; in fact, it seems to be still a secret, for the 
editors of Southey's letters do not publish those in which 
he admits that he only grafted about two pages in all 
upon Rickman's, and softened the roughness of his style. 
The article itself is a sensible discussion of the poor law 
question on Tory lines, strong and straightforward : the 



198 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

author points out as evils the decay of the old system of 
apprenticeship, the excessive issuing of liquor licences, 
the want of severity in dealing with crime, the insufficiency 
of education, especially of religious education. I suspect 
that the insistence of the value of catechising and of firm 
religious convictions was Southey's handiwork ; for Rickman 
never abandoned his somewhat matter-of-fact deistic beliefs, 
and there is a clause in his will expressing the wish that 
his son should not take orders. The remedies which 
Rickman suggested were savings banks, which were then 
being instituted, a system of general co-operation in villages 
and towns, the better regulation of prisons, and the aboli- 
tion of excessive legal penalties for misdemeanours, on the 
ground that they only defeated their own end. Of the 
subsequent publication of this essay with Southey's essays 
something will be said below. In the first letter of this 
year, ' E. B.' (Bennett), W. Davison, and W. T. Courtenay 
are the authors of three books upon the poor, the titles of 
which appeared at the head of the essay in the Quarterly. 

' January 6, 1818. 

' Since I wrote to you another funeral interruption has 
delayed my attention to the P. L. The Marchioness of 
Ormonde having died, and appointed me one of her extors., 1 
I was under the necessity of going into Kent with the 
funeral, instead of coming here to quiet labour ; and to 
send Miss A. R. under other convoy to spend her Xtmas 
with Mrs. R. and her brother and sister. All are well, 
and here I am much at the service of the P. L. and even 
with practical people about me ; who like very well to be 
talked on the subject. My head is become so well loaded 
by thinking at intervals that I shall find ease by scribbling 
such sheets as now I enclose. But I must expound ; 
what you have now is not only to follow the commonplaces 
which you may perhaps have prepared, but the article must 
begin with a sketch or catalogue of the evils of the P. L. 

i See p. 22. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 199 

and an exposure (brief as possible) of all the quacking which 
at different times has been applied to the subjects, work- 
houses, cow-cottagers, 1 and the like. What I send is the 
back-bone of the new principle, strong enough I think, 
and excellent you shall soon hope for receiving other bones, 
and joints, and muscles ; these come next, and you shall 
receive them in as tolerable order as I can put them 
together. With them you will not have much trouble 
beyond copying with amendments my scribble ; but the 
main principle now inclosed ought to be quite re-written 
I think in a careful manner, and in your strong style. I 
have here the E. B. and W. Davison, the first is contemptible 
as might be anticipated ; the latter is very respectable, 
and in some parts eloquent and impressive. As to his 
schemes, I shall speak hereafter. W. T. Courtenay's book 
is not sold, and I cannot ask for it without giving cause 
of suspicion of what I am about. So you must cut the 
stitches of your copy, and put in the post under 2 oz. 
packets. ... I find difficulty and restraint in writing without 
using the first person ; if I do that, can you turn it into 
reviewer's plurality ? 

c If you are pressed for the article, tell of what importance 
you think it, or communicate the important sheet when 
re- written. Say also that at the meeting of Parlt. returns 
will be presented, without the use of which a series of poor 
rate information, necessary to the strength, or rather the 
research of the article, cannot be obtained. This is true, 
much beyond what can be supposed, but at present a 
secret : and you may promise all the article about this 
day month, which I if err not, will put out the next No. at 
a three month period. But of course you will insist upon 
your convenience as strongly as you please, or as strongly 
as W. Gifford's occasions of illness or leisure sometimes 
do. I am quite vexed at having him so inevitably and so 
repeatedly pushed away from the subject in question, but 
now I hope to stick to it. Farewell. 

1 There were schemes put forward for providing the poor with cottage* 

and cows. 



200 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' I hope you keep Twelfth Night ; our young ones are 
looking out for a cake to -day.' 

' 10 January 1818. 

* I send you 3 or 4 sheets of MS. Two or three more 
will lead me to the close of the article, but I can prefix to 
what you now have, a history of poor rates, catalogue 
raisonne of the abominable effects of the poor laws, ex- 
pose of the injudicious quackeries which from generation to 
generation have made bad worse. Of all this, or these large 
subjects, you shall have quant, suff. for prefixing to all 
an honourable mention of the article in a late Edin. Review 
(by Dr. Campbell the popular preacher it was written), 
and thus tormenting these northern revolutionists into 
co-operation with the good instead of the bad in the poor 
law question. How they will curse their own independence 
in having committed themselves on the right side of a 
question, and will they not writhe and twist to escape such 
a misfortune ! You may even call upon the Parly. Oppn. in 
the same strain, and their feelings and conduct will not be 
dissimilar. Pray soften my abrupt straitforward style, 
and do not let a word or a phrase remain in compliment 
to me, who shall feel the more out of sight by it, and the 
more comfortable. Farewell I turn to my work.' 

On the same date as the above a letter was written by 
Southey to Rickman, which shows his decision to use 
Rickman's article entire. It is to be observed that he 
made no offer, as far as can be known, to pay Rickman any 
of the proceeds of the article ; however, Rickman would 
have most certainly refused any such offer. 

' 10 January 1818. 

' MY DEAR R., I send you Courtenay's letter ; he is a 
worthy and well-meaning man, who has all the disposi- 
tion for doing good, if he had but the ability. 

' I have done a good deal, and altho' what I have done 
should not prove to be amalgamable with your communi- 
cations, there will be no labour lost, for all that is not 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 201 

relevant to the thread of your argument may be set aside 
to form a separate paper. It is evident that you have a 
clear and connected whole in your mind, bearing as it 
ought to do with full weight and force upon one point : 
two head pieces might interfere with each other, so I will 
act as mouth piece only. I had been spinning perhaps an 
over-fine thread, partly for want of straightforward matter ; 
and partly to take off common attention from the main 
argument, by the garnish with which it was drest up, like 
gilding a pill, or sugaring the cup from which a child takes 
bitter physic. Not that it is mere garnish ; on the con- 
trary, it may make a wholesome and substantial dish by 
itself in a following number. 

' So I shall make Murray wait, and go to work upon your 
papers in good hope that they may be found materially 
instrumental in forwarding a great work. God help you.' 

On March 1 1 Sou they wrote : 

* Your finale is very good, and cannot I think be improved. 
Indeed the whole paper carries such weight with it, that 
surely some of the truth must make its way.' 

In spite of his humanity Rickman was a firm opponent 
of Romilly's criminal law reforms, on the ground that they 
tended to increase crime, and were the result of exaggerated 
complaints on the part of prejudiced people. Thus he 
writes : 

25 March 1818. 

' . . . I send the 2d. Police Report ; what is in it, I know not, 
but know its final aim to be the impunity of crime. This 
is pursued by the anarchists with a long train of mock 
humanity men at their heels, and is perhaps the most 
dangerous as being the most thriving pursuit of the anarch- 
ists. You remember Sir S. R. [Romilly] began many years 
since, and that W. Frankland gave him an answer. He has 
persevered however, and will persevere till unmasked. For- 
bearance towards him has gone too far. Since that we have 
heard of the ill usage of prisoners, who yet have been better 



202 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and better treated continually (usque nunc) to the enormous 
expence of the counties, i.e. of the public who are not in 
the habit of gaol-occupancy. Then gaolors were attacked 
because the great Finnerty 1 was confined for a libel at 
Lincoln, and a Commission appointed to examine that, 
Lancashire, and I think another gaol or two. They re- 
ported all excellent in care, kindness, and regulation. Of 
course such a report was unnoticed, and slander continued. 
Then visitations of the gaols here by our deluded Commons 
(led by an anarchist) and last autumn rebellions by the 
injured prisoners, in direct consequence. At four prisons 
in one month I believe last autumn much damage was 
done, paid for by the city, and no punishment possible of 
the offenders. Now another gaol Commn. is about to 
cause the do. repeated. So much for the terrors of im- 
prisonment. Then the police officers are attacked, with 
a cry of blood money, of course ascribed to all, if any one 
or two guilty, and lately on the simple assertion of a con- 
demned felon, long examinations of a meritorious officer 
to the same end. So that the officer, not the thief, or 
equally with the thief, is to be questioned by Mr. Thief 
and associates in crime, whose testimony well managed 
must be decisive. After disposing of the police, the judges 
are to be slandered into insignificance; and as to juries, 
they are sacred and right just when and where and so long 
as they are with the populace, and the Press which leads 
and follows the mob for its weekly and daily bread. I 
write in great haste but you will perceive the largeness of 
the conspiracy, and the effect already is a vast increase of 
crime, and of the expense of conviction, and as to injustice, 
we know that the slightest question of a good man's char- 
acter and conduct is worse to him than the Old Bailey 
trials of a rogue, each a triumph to be boasted of. Is the 
Quarterly brave enough to enter upon this theme ? and 
the liberty of the Press which must soon govern or be 
governed ? 

1 A quite unimportant person, who brought certain charges against the 
gaolers at Lincoln. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 203 

4 The second Rept. on education herewith ! Mr. Brougham 
was busy or on a journey or -- and contented himself 
with proposing a Commn. in 1817, which afterwards he 
forgot I believe, till the last day almost of the Session. . . .' l 

The next letter is from Southey, ainmum -ing the good 
effect of Rickman's essay on Murray, Croker * (the grand 
Castrator '), and Bedford. 



' If the paper makes as much impression abroad as it 
has done upon Murraymagne, the Grand Castrator and 
G. C. B., it will do its work in the world. The latter, 
whom I desired not to speak of the article as mine upon 
the pretext that it was well not to be marked as the writer 
in case of any mobs upon the business (a valid reason, tho* 
I had a better motive for caution), replies that it will not 
be recognised for mine by the style ; and then he praises 
the style very properly as right good English, and me 
not quite so properly for having divested myself of 
all mannerism. This will amuse you. The odd thing is 
that he has not the slightest suspicion of my real ignorance 
on such subjects as are there fathomed, nor, what is more, 
of my incapacity for them. . . .' 

Rickman replied on April 26. 

' I inclose you another invigorating proof sheet. You 
know my canon of criticism, that nobody writing a book 
in one language has a right to expect any other language 
to be understood by his reader. I speak of the text, not 
of notes or authorities, which must have full licence. 

* 1 am amused as well as pleased with the blindness of 
G. B. [Bedford]. I had proof enough of it here, as he brought 
me one or two of the proof sheets himself, and swore specially 
to your hand-mark as to the fling at Malthus, (by the bye 
a very odd inconsistency to let it stand so soon after the 

1 Brougham's commission on education resulted in the establishment <f 
the Charity Commission. 



204 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Malthus review probably written by himself or some of 
Edin. Review friends). G. B. also recognised you in 
every phrase as to the city of Ely, and only wondered that 
you could possibly talk of self concealment as author of 
the article. For certain I did not discourage this, and 
when he asked me why I did not wish to be supposed to 
correct the notes or to have furnished any of them, I told 
him I could not be known to have done so without becom- 
ing the common referee of all M.P.s whether ignorant or 
knowing ; and that in this shape I could not consent to 
incur such danger. This suited his notion of Pandemonium 
very well, and though I daresay he did not think the reason 
hindered him from telling Asm[odeus] G. [Gifford] who cor- 
rected the notes, he also gave him the above reason for such 
a trifling point of knowledge going no further. I think I 
saw in G. B. that so much of communication was needful 
to keep the Gr. Castrator from exercise of his talent. Alto- 
gether our harmless conspiracy has been very successful. 
The Poor Law Commn. have proposed feeble Bills, and if 
I mistake not symptoms, the leading members are annoyed 
and tired by the incessant applications of all possible parish 
officers and amateur magistrates ; and besides much dis- 
satisfied to find that in their own heads they can only find 
that they have found nothing effectual, though after taking 
much thought, they will soon become ridiculous, if not 
enlightened ab extra, as soon may happen, though the 
Quarterly is slow in coming out a bad thing when an affair 
in motion is in question. Already the Commn. have fore- 
sworn some things for which they are therein praised, 
introduced an enormous imprudence there deprecated. 
But such accidents cannot be avoided.' 

This political correspondence during the early part of the 
year was diversified by a pleasing interchange of letters 
between Southey and Rickman upon the prospects of a 
young man called Robert Lovell^a common friend of them 
both who had come to London to earn his living as a 
printer. He was a modest, industrious person, whom 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 205 

Rickman took a pleasure in helping. Accordingly when 
Hansard, his employer, mentioned to Rickman that he 
thought he could promote him in the office on account of 
superior education, if Southey would testify that he was 
so qualified, Rickman wrote asking Southey to do so. 
Southey expressed all willingness, but the good designs 
were partially hindered by LovelTs modesty in doubting 
his own efficiency as a corrector. Rickman, however, 
overrode his objections, and sent the recommendation, 
which drew forth the following letter from Luke Hansard, 
the original publisher of the Debates, the style of which, 
says Southey, is ' truly Hansardic.' 

' (Mch. 1818.) 

* Mr. Hansard has perused and reperused with much 
pleasure Mr. Southey's classical and biographic sketch of 
Robert Lovell ; a sketch equally honourable to the gentle- 
man by whom it is drawn, as it is creditable to the gentle- 
man who is the subject of it. 

' So far as can at present be observed of Robert Lo veil's 
progress in the printing-office, Mr. Southey's interesting 
trait is not overdrawn ; and if the young man perseveres 
in the variety of trying scenes ever attendant upon a parlia- 
mentary business late and early, chiefly early hours, some 
cram-full to overflowing, then standing still (but yet in 
awaiting) and then to another overflowing of diversities, 
still waiting and giving instant attention Mr. Hansard 
will then have fair opportunities even though Lovell be 
but a young man and a new hand but just come into camp 
Mr. Hansard will have fair opportunities, which he shall 
gladly seek for and as gladly embrace, of coming up to 
Mr. Southey's and Mr. Rickman's kind and solicitous 
wishes.' 

The beginning of 1818 had been quieter, but before the 
end of the year there was a strike of cotton-spinners at 
Manchester, which led to many deeds of violence. The 
agitation in that city culminated the next year in the 



206 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' Peterloo massacre,' at which the soldiers charged an 
enormous crowd that had met in St. Peter's Fields. This 
revival of agitation seems to have depressed Rickman con- 
siderably, as the two following letters prove. Southey at 
the time was occupied in fulminating against Brougham 
hi Westmorland. Rickman's depression, which recurred 
more violently a few years later, was perfectly genuine, 
but it may be suspected that overwork had a good deal to 
do with it. 

' 5 Sept. 1818. 

' . . . I confess that my hopes do not improve, quite the 
contrary, and if I do not write often, I am afraid you must 
ascribe it to worse spirits than ever I felt before in my life. 
But do not mention this. 

' It is singular that the most likely to be questioned point 
of the poor law review, the reprobation of friendly societies, 
should so soon have found ample justification at Manchester, 
where the lower order of human society is rotten to the 
core. In 1816-17 they set out for the metropolis (in 
imitation of the Marseillais) because they had no work. 
But the then cheapness of labour renewed the suspended 
export of cotton goods : that reacting raised the price and 
demand for labour. Instantly a portion of that price was 
vested in friendly society funds for the sake of future 
mischief now in progress. The spirit which could pre- 
meditate to this degree of self-privation for 20 months 
will succeed in time if not now ; and the staring absurdity, 
that, the price of labour raised, all commodities must 
rise in price, will convince no mechanic that the 
Manchester rebels are not in the right. I doubt not 
they have the majority of every town and of most villages 
in England in their favour. Still it is better that the 
rebellion is not political in its rise pure accident this, 
but a lucky one, for their higher allies would have joined. 
As it is, the Manchester rebels, I hear, damn the reformers, 
their former leaders in the Blanket campaign.' 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 207 

2nd Oct. 1818. 

1 Your notes are quite a comfort to me in my depression, 
to see how vigorously you are employed. ... I don't 
know when I shall be so much my former self as to think 
to any purpose ; at present I see in prospect a jacquerie 
aided by the scarcity of next winter, and the anarchists of 
higher order all agreeing in effort to depreciate and destroy 
whatever is established, if but because it is so. In this 
they act together by an instinctive worldly wisdom, while 
their opposers, having conscience, disagree in the pointe 
each would defend, and will make a feeble stand accordingly. 
I am vexed at seeing this, without seeing remedy. We 
shall not even have a fair field for the mortal combat.' 

Rickman was accustomed to write accounts of debates 
in the House of Commons to his old chief, Speaker Abbot, 
who had now become Lord Colchester. A few of these are 
printed in Lord Colchester's Diaries, and two of them come 
in opportunely for the early part of 1819, when the cor- 
respondence between Rickman and Southey is scanty. The 
first is a criticism of Vansittart's methoo!s of conducting 
business. A dissolution was due in June, and Rickman's 
prophecies so far came true that the Opposition gained 
several seats. 

' March, 1819. 

* MY LORD, ... I am afraid I have been inattentive 
in not answering your Lordship's late letter, but, in truth, 
our work at the House of Commons costs full twelve hours a 
day, and I am forced to apologise to my own conscience for 
as many defaults as well as I can. . . . 

' The Chancellor of the Exchequer fulfils the semper 
idem which was applied in the feminine gender to Queen 
Anne. He went into the Committee of Supply (miscel- 
laneous services) with thirty-seven M.P.'s behind him ; 
among them one Lord of the Treasury, not one of the 
Admiralty ; the Opposition mustering about fifty in front 
of him. When they came to the Caledonian Canal, I 



18 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

remembered that poor Mr. Arbuthnot, in his distress, 
once referred to me in the debate, so I prudently left the 
Committee in care of Mr. Brogden l and Mr. Ley, 2 and 
retreated to one of the Serjeant's dog holes, where I heard 
quite enough. However, the grant will be had hereafter ; 
no thanks to the generalship of Mr. Vansittart and his 
aide-de-camp, Mr. Arbuthnot, who is in himself quite 
enough to overset any Administration. Equal in small 
things as in great, having moved an Irish writ a day too 
soon, he forgot it for a fortnight, and, I think, has not 
moved any writ this session without some blunder. . . . 

' I think the Opposition has a good chance to come in, 
at least if it be considered that they will always be sure of 
the support of the friends of the present Administration 
in the impending battle between the mob and their betters, 
the newspapers and Parliament ; and that themselves and 
the mob, in spurious alliance, can and will hasten that 
crisis. I do not see how they can fail to arrive at this. 

' To be sure there will be an awkwardness in their turning 
short about to oppose Reform of Parliament (now in com- 
mencement at Penryn 3 ), and Juries (as now in practice 
of usurped power) and the liberty of the press (incompat- 
ible, as now practised, with the liberty of any other thing, 
and already more powerful than Parliament) ; but all this 
will be done with effrontery enough doubtless, and good men 
will have to rally under the guidance of the incendiaries 
when all is in flame. 

4 Mr. Brougham does not show himself much ; but, in 
fact, he is ill, low-spirited. . . . His absence, however, 
keeps concord as yet undisturbed among the Opposition. 
They muster well. Lord Castlereagh, in passing Mr. 
Tierney the other evening, said, " I should like to learn 
the secret of your association." The Opposition has, I 
think, gained in number many more than the Government 

1 Chairman of Committees. 

2 Clerk Assistant. 

8 Disfranchised in 1828, after motions for its enfranchisement had been 
made every year for several years. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 209 

will allow, and gained much more in M.P.'s who always 
attend. . . . 
1 Always your Lordship's most obedient servant.' 

The second letter describes the debate on Grattan's 
motion for an inquiry into the laws affecting the state of 
the Roman Catholics. 



, 1819. 

'MY LORD, I fear the election petition business of the 
morning will allow me but a few moments to tell our last 
night's history. 

' Mr. Grattan made his last speech ; so he said before the 
day came. Mr. Croker made an odd speech, blaming 
oaths because not enacted at once. He ought to have a 
code in reward of his ingenious perversions. These spoke 
two hours each ; afterwards Leslie Foster an hour ; others 
brought it to twelve o'clock ; then Mr. Lamb, Mr. Peel, 
and Mr. Plunkett, all charged and primed, reserved their 
fire for half an hour, mutually wishing the others to speak 
first, till the gallery and under it were pretty well cleared 
(for the popish priests, in both places, exhibited the silent 
impudence and perverseness of so many Quakers on this 
occasion). The Opposition had directed an assemblage at 
twelve, it appeared ; so that all those of the other side, 
who expected a late division or adjourned debate, were 
absent. After one negative voice given, Plunkett pretended 
that he wished to speak, but this Mr. Wynn's solitary point 
of order withstood, and it was not permitted. The division 
took place : Opposition 242, Anti-Catholic, 248. And from 
the surprise practised, some of the last (sent for in haste) 
came in while the dispute about Mr. Plunkett lasted and 
the door opened to let out some of the most tardy of the 
Papists. Then all M.P.'s were directed to state whether 
or not they were in the House when the question was put, 
which had been done at twelve ; disputed if final till half- 
past ; put finally afterwards : so that what their statements 
referred to no man could tell. A fine confusion, which 

o 



210 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

terminated at half-past one. Ayes, 241 ; Noes, 243, as 
corrected. 

4 The Opposition counted 252 instead of 242, and were 
sadly chagrined at finding themselves in a minority, after 
a thousand congratulations inter se, wagers won and lost, 
and the supposed decision reversed, etc. . . . Yours most 
obliged.' 

During the autumn Southey accompanied Rickman and 
Telford on a tour in Scotland, which he described in a long 
letter to his friend Neville White. The party, starting 
from Edinburgh, went by Loch Katrine and Dunkeld to 
Dundee, thence up the east coast to Aberdeen, Banff, and 
Inverness. They proceeded to follow the Caledonian Canal 
to Loch Lomond, and ended at Glasgow. Southey had 
many pleasant recollections of this tour, and his recollections 
were transcribed for the benefit of Rickman's family. A 
pleasing sequel to this tour was that, after computing 
Southey's share of the expense next year, Rickman asked 
his friend to consider that he had repaid the money by 
devoting it to paying the fees for the honorary degree of 
LL.D. conferred on him at Oxford in 1820. Two political 
letters to Southey end the year. The first describes the 
debate on the second reading of the Seditious Meetings 
Prevention Bill, one of the so-called ' six acts ' which the 
Government considered it necessary to pass for the repres- 
sion of disorder. 

' Friday Evening [Dec. 3, 1819]. 

* To-night we have holiday from debate ; Brougham's 
indisposition which made him speak 2J hours after mid- 
night was rather tiresome this morning. Lord Palmerston 
who said a few words afterwards (in notice of some of B.'s 
personalities) made a laugh by assuring the House he was 
himself in perfect health and therefore they might dread 
from him another speech of 3 hours. Brougham has quite 
fallen off from all logic or argument ; this second long speech 
of his like the first contained nothing of either, dextrous 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 211 

personality and misrepresentation made the sum total of 
both. Yet this noisy adventurer is likely soon to take the 
post of Leader of Opposition, Mr. T. [Tierney] being very 
sick of it. I am much afraid that the Administration is 
about to relapse into liberality ; that they will make the 
Bill temporary to save a few hours debating, and in that case 
the Opp. will have to boast they were right in opposing the 
Bill before it was so modified. So again will they be able 
to raise their heads which at present lie in political perdition, 
or at least in the slough of despond. The mania for 
opposition to Government in England is stronger than the 
very Opps. themselves reckoned upon. Only 30 less vote 
with them now than on the dry party qn. of last year, 
the pitched battle which Mr. Tierney had cause to remember. 
And their steady phalanx of 150 is no more than they 
expected at the beginning of the Session. They lost indeed 
22 last evening, and as Lord Darlington begins to discover 
that his Durham friends are rather dangerous to his lord- 
ship, the Opps. who draw more from his purse and politics 
than from any other source want to escape from contest, and 
in proportion to their wish for escape will be the folly of 
the Government, if they permit it. The Bill which is to 
curb the press is ridiculously feeble compared to the disease 
so I expected, but as I see no good done without a direct 
censorship, I am not likely to be satisfied till better times 
come. I called on Dr. Stoddart since my return to feel how 
bravely his pulse beat. Slop ; slop, slop, was the response. 1 
He praised his own prudence in not too rashly applauding or 
justifying the conduct of Government in dismissal of Lord 
F. 2 though he said he was desired to do this. Charm- 
ing neutrality ! of which I in my rashness comprehend 
neither policy. He should take decided part for his own 
sake.' 

1 Stoddart, editor of the New Times, was nicknamed ' Dr. Slop ' by his 
contemporaries. 

2 Lord FitzWilliam was dismissed from the lord-lieutenancy of Yorkshire 
for taking a prominent part in a meeting held to pass a vote of censure on 
the conduct of the Manchester magistrates in the ' Peterloo ' affair. 






212 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' 11 Dec. 1819. 

' I see the patriotism of the Oppn. is nearly weary, and 
they begin to leave town, after having given up a large 
fortnight of their time to the brave Radicals ; so that we 
shall be able to adjourn at or soon after Xtmas. The worst 
feature of our proceedings or rather of intended proc. 
has been the actual design of granting to Mr. Bennett l a 
committee To enquire into the state of the Manufacturing 
Districts as if the effect of such a comm. would not have 
been many times worse than any other sort of parly, enquiry 
that could have been devised. Luckily Mr. B. prefaced 
his motion with a speech which fairly displayed his inten- 
tion of leading his comm. into a wide field of political 
enquiry. Whether the violence of his temper or his per- 
sonal disinclination to sacrifice his holidays induced him to 
this declaration, I know not ; and I cannot conceive that 
Govt. can be ignorant, that had his comm. been granted, 
nothing could have hindered him from collecting all his 
Radical allegations now extant, and a large crop which 
would have sprung up for the occasion, and this would 
have been printed with the apparent sanction of the Ho. 
Commons. Of course all persons who have conspicuously 
resisted the Radicals, especially the Manchester magis- 
trates, would have been summoned, or would have appeared 
without summons before this comm., and what sort of 
treatment they would [have] had before a court constituted 
of Mr. Bennett solus, or supported by Burdett, Lambton 
and the like, Ministers ought to have considered : but they 
are infatuated, or could not have adopted the liberal in- 
tention of committing all things to a comm. of this kind.' 

The interest of 1820 is again mainly political. The Cato 
Street Conspiracy to assassinate the ministers was the first 
excitement of the year. Then the King died, and was 
succeeded by George rv. Finally, the whole nation was 
set in commotion by the so-called ' Queen's trial,' which 

1 A prominent reformer. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 213 

won the Queen the highest popularity and resulted in a 
virtual defeat for the Ministry. Rickman seems to have 
continued in rather low spirits, and told Southey that 
he was meditating a list of words by misapprehension of 
which the world was governed badly, and a plan by which 
a book of several chapters might be so made. Southey, 
who was hard at work on his Peninsular War, was moved 
by political events to begin his Colloquies, which finally 
appeared in 1829. Of the four letters from Rickman to 
Southey which I give for this year, three are on current 
politics, and one (the third) gives Rickman's own imaginary 
scheme for his beguinage, a Utopian dream of which he 
never tired. 

' 10 January 1820. 

4 Our Parliamentary campaign was sharp though short, 
and left me some accumulation of various business chiefly 
Highland, and now I must work hard at a Road and Bridge 
Report till Parlt. meets, and in the appendages till Easter 
I suppose. In fact the history of proceedings is more to 
me than the business itself a necessary evil however, and 
one of which I now see the termination. Part of life has 
been well spent perhaps in starting well such a novelty in 
the government of civilised nations as the half contribu- 
tion scheme pursued in the Highland improvements, and 
on similar occasions, if ever they occur, the managers will 
perceive that it is possible by care and attention to pro- 
duce a satisfactory result. It has been lucky that Mr. 
Hope, Mr. Telford, and I have all lived 17 years, as the 
death of any one of us would have produced a terrible 
derangement De hoc satis. 

' The laws that have been passed, especially those which 
strike at the liberty ! of the Press, seem to me good, as a 
necessary preface to better, when they are found to be 
ineffectual. Have you seen the impudent declaration of 
the hell-hounds of the Press, which puts the matter fairly 
enough at issue, as a question of domination ? I inclose 
it, copied from a famous caricature libel of theirs, which 



214 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

probably has reached you. The two worst things the 
Session has produced are the proof of the amazing blind- 
ness of Lord C. [Castlereagh] to the effect of Mr. Bennett's 
Commns., and still worse the apparent concession to the 
Whig scheme of Parly. Reform, which the self complacent 
little M.P. for Tavistock * introduced, and which ought 
to have been answered : Yes, provided we begin with the 
independent borough of Tavistock. For the plan cannot 
but extinguish all boroughs in succession ; the witnesses 
being forced to speak out as to all past transactions, and 
as to the general character and custom of the borough. Yet 
I am afraid both Lord C. and Mr. Canning are not unfavour- 
able to an experiment, which very experiment will take 
away all ground of argument against going farther, and 
will soon produce revolution and thereby in succession a 
military government of course. 

'Unless the text I mentioned be openly and convin- 
cingly insisted on, this cannot be prevented, especially as 
the other source of revolution, an unbridled press and the 
number of readers increasing geometrically, cannot so exist 
without the same result. Dr. Bell's scheme seems to sup- 
pose a censorship of the Press, or its omnipotence. Now 
I confess it to be a sort of government I had rather not 
exist under. I feel half a slave already, I wish to throw 
off my chains. . . .' 



10 February 1820. 

' Oddly enough I was taking a sheet of paper to write 
on to you when yours of this day's arrival made its appear- 
ance. I was ruminating on your present task, and think- 
ing the occasion good for clearing away the villainous mist 
of prejudice and misrepresentation which by agency of 
the oligarchs of the Oppn. Press prevents the nation from 
recognising the indubitable signs of the unexampled pro- 
sperity of the last J of a century, and this due under Pro- 

1 Lord John Russell. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 215 

vidence to an unavoidable war and peculiarly to the very 
attack made on our commercial prosperity by Napoleon. 
Our taxation has been enough perhaps, but certainly not 
more than enough to draw forth our energies (as an un- 
certain northern climate has made us improve in agriculture 
and grow more corn than the countries round the Medi- 
terranean where our corn is indigenous) and there can be 
no real doubt (I don't include Opp. doubt) that we are 
more able at the accession of Geo. iv. to make national 
exertions if needed, than at any past time. The technical 
question about our finances and national debt is a low 
one, fit for Opp. The Chancellor of the Excheqr. may 
be perplexed in finding unexceptionable machinery, but 
after all a man is not the poorer for being indebted to 
himself: the two sides of a ledger, merely phantoms of 
Dr. and Cr. and so it is with old England and her bugbear 
debt. 

* And who would not extol what George rv. our Regent 
has performed by his perseverance in the late war ? For 
that was personal, because the devolution of power into 
the hands of those early friends(\), who would not have so 
persevered, was practicable and even tempting to the 
Regent if but to avoid or preclude the incessant malice and 
mud that he was sure enough these early friends of his 
would favour him with, and if he broke from their factious 
trammels, that is, declined persevering in a conspiracy 
against himself, his future crown and dignity, he must 
have been a fool indeed not to have foreseen the conse- 
quences of still remaining a modern Whig (though indeed 
these early friends did once build a stone wall for their own 
purposes in that taste, and ran against it to the lasting 
benefit of John Bull). Thank God their late sneaking, 
denied, allowed, rejected, alliance with the Radicals has 
sunk them low enough ! Did you see the pitiful answer of 
the high Whig Lord Fitz. 1 to the address of the Yorkshire 
Whig Radicals the other day ? The subdued tone is very 
satisfying. 

1 FitzWilliam. 



216 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' You are in good order (by favour of Coxe) for a com- 
parison of the D. of Marlborough and the English exploits 
of that age in the same scenes of action (France excepted !) 
with the D. of Wellington and our own age. I cannot 
execrate the Opp. spirit sufficiently, when I perceive that 
their perseverance working on English feelings (always 
querulous, and captious of public men) has not only dis- 
guised from the nation the magnitude and importance of 
military exploits of the Regency, but even prevents myself, 
without argument and induction, and comparison historical, 
from feeling the new glories of my country. To what 
extent must that misrepresentation (both in quality and 
quantity) be which shall habitually influence the feelings 
of the man who sees and complains of it the very anta- 
gonist power of truth which sometimes exaggerates, is 
palsied ! Frightful ! ' 

1 20th February 1820. 

* ... My notion of a female establishment is, that any 
benefactor erecting a set of chambers, shall thereby acquire 
a right (alienable by will, gift, or sale, like other property) 
to place inmates there on certain conditions, such as that 
security shall be given that each enjoy a competent income 

not less than while she resides there ; that she shall 

be bound to the necessary rules of female decorum on 
pain of instant expulsion, and to such other rules as are 
indispensable to the well being of the community. But 
that nothing like common meals shall be proposed, the 
ladies to choose their own mutual society, of which there 
would be enough, and to make all minor arrangements 
among themselves. I believe for external appearance, to 
prevent expence and vanity, and to restrain the number 
of idle applications, a uniform dress would be proper ; 
and for many purposes, such as prayers, bad weather and 
peripatetic exercise, a large room would be a respectable 
adjunct to the edifice, and for which the fundatores might 
be taxed a per centage upon their several chambers. 

' Under such easy laws as these, and considering how 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 217 

fashionable and how laudable is the appetite for virtuous 
patronage, I do not see how there should be failure among 
the female nobility and thousands of other opulent females 
so to invest part of their money. None of it could be spent 
more for their own reputation and respectability, and 
considering that the individuals admitted would not of 
necessity (nor usually) be maintained by the foundress of 
the chamber, but recommended to her by those who might 
have interest or gratification in giving security for the 
maintenance of the inmate, I cannot but think that the 
foundress, who might even let or sell an admission, the 
immediate patron of the admitted female, who might thus 
exonerate himself from care and anxiety were better motive 
wanting, and the admitted female, whose maintenance for 
life, or at least for a specified term of years, must be secured 
before her admission, would all find motive enough for 
falling into a plan simple and unambiguous in its arrange- 
ments, and (if not woefully mismanaged) of the highest 
respectability. 

4 1 do not know whether you are prepared to agree with 
me as to the necessity of a secured income to each female, 
but I have enquired enough in and about such female 
societies (such there are for clergymen's widows at Branley, 
at Winchester, at Froxfield, at Lichfield, and I daresay 
elsewhere) as to be fully convinced that respectability 
cannot otherwise be maintained. You cannot hope to 
keep poverty and meanness apart, even dishonesty and 
sordid habits too often accompany it, and if a female is 
poor and friendless she is not for that the better or more 
worthy, in short there must be a classification of relief, 
and I treat of the upper class : observing only, that many 
would be exalted into that upper class were the means of 
so exalting them easy, and obvious to the wealthy. Few 
wills would be without bequests of the competent annuity 
to some humble friend. Various societies would be at 
various rates. I should say from 60 to 100 per annum, 
or some such minimum and if a wealthy foundress resided 
herself, she would have larger facility for beneficence than 



218 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

display. Her love of the community (so conspicuous 
among monks in former times) would found libraries, 
plantations, walks, cloisters, gaudy days (whether obit or 
birthday), medical attendance, a chaplain perhaps, Creados 1 
sufficient for the garden, the porter's lodge, for watch and 
defence and for government the foundress must legislate, 
the inmates elect their executive among themselves. . . .' 

< 6 March 1820. 

1 . . . The Opps. would be in a doleful plight, did 
Governmt. stir a finger in its own behalf ; but that I suppose 
is become unlawful, and I really believe that the zeal of 
the hell hounds, few and contemptible as they are, will 
cause the Opps. to profit by the new election in spite of the 
manifestation of the outward and visible effect of Oppn. 
patriotism. Yet I do not despair of reaction hereafter. 
The Liberals are uncloking apace ; Germany, France, 
England 2 have seen the commencement of assassination 
already, and the mass of mankind cannot much longer be 
blind to its origin : and if we can abolish the hellish Press, 
I do not despair of human society, founded on more bland 
principles than individual independence, which is become 
a power of misbehaving without punishment, and conse- 
quent mob-government.' 

In 1821, the year of the coronation, at which the Queen 
made her ill-advised attempt to be present, Rickman was 
very busy in compiling a very long Highland Roads and 
Bridges report, a Caledonian Canal report, and the popu- 
lation returns. His letters were, therefore, few. How- 
ever, the following fragment throws an interesting light 
on Rickman 's early character : 

' 6 Nov. 1821. 
' I have been much edified by reading your Cromwell 

1 Presumably Rickman means criados= servants (Spanish). 

2 Rickman refers probably to the respective assassinations of Kotzebue, 
the Duo de Berry, and Perceval. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 219 

in the Q. Review. I even allow that the Peninsular War 
ought not to grumble at such Remorae. When I was 
young, no book was more in my hand than Rushworth, 
so I became learned in the histy. of his time, and am agree- 
ably surprised to perceive that you know more about it 
than I do. ... I was such an Oliverian in my time at 
Oxford as to have obtained the agnomen of Old Nol : but I 
believe half my zeal was feigned to tease certain Royalists. 
Here I am working hard at the Population Abstract into 
the preliminary observations of which I think I shall be 
able [? to insert] some matter, which will put to flight for 
ever and aye the Distress of the Times in past history 
with good inference when the Opps. raise that cry again.' 

The quarrel between Southey and Byron, which after 
the publication of Southey's Vision of Judgment late in 
1821 became acute, had its echo in the correspondence 
with Rickman, who sympathised entirely in the Laureate's 
attack on the ' Satanic School.' Politics, however, were the 
subject uppermost in his mind. At the beginning of the 
year, Liverpool, who had already secured Wellesley and 
Peel, tried to strengthen his party by attracting some of 
the Grenville following. Grenville himself refused office, 
but Southey's friend, Charles Wynn, became a cabinet 
minister. Rickman, however, did not regard affairs in a 
much brighter light. The prospects of the Caledonian 
Canal, for instance, were viewed by him with undue 
pessimism. On April 30, 1822, he wrote to Southey. 

' 30 April 1822. 

' . . . We continue to be much obliged to you for your 
kind communication of northern remembrances. I am 
sorry to say that the Caledonian Canal is a tender subject 
at present. It is come to the birth, but whether strength 
will be afforded in this economical year to bring it forth 
to open it throughout I am not confident, so that I am 
ill at ease on any allusion to a subject which but for this 
ought to be most pleasing to me, and I am exceedingly 



220 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

overwhelmed with the Population Abstract and other 
business at present. After the Session I hope to recover 
from a sort of depression thus occasioned. . . .' 

Later in the year, in the course of a long letter com- 
plaining of very heavy work, he addressed Southey in 
desperation. 

' 2nd July 1822. 

* ... Political affairs are tending fast to dissolution 
of Government, unless, when all see that, a revulsion hap- 
pens ; we shall have a chance to witness the result. At 
present the country gentlemen half of them vote against 
the Administration because corn is cheap ; not seeing with 
whom they therefore vote, of course with the anarchists. 
Practically I suppose the Ho. Commons will be the scene 
of the impending dissolution of the English constitution, 
as it is called. The Opps. have at this moment an un- 
questionable and practical veto, somewhat acquired by 
insolence and perseverance, more by the liberality (God 
help the word) of the Administration, who act too without 
concert and in disgust (natural enough) of the degraded 
state in which they collectively feel themselves. Do you 
not observe that we have been doing nothing for more than 
two months, that is, nothing but listening to opposition 
speeches, and resisting their motions ? Defensive war 
must be successful in the sequel : already the friends of 
Government are gone to their country seats, and a compact 
squadron of Radicals prevent all business by clamour, or 
on pretence of a late hour, or the absence of somebody who 
takes interest in the proper business of the evening. In 
fact half the supplies of the year and the most disputeable 
are not yet granted, nor have the Govt. been able to go 
into the Co. Supply since Easter, though it has been specially 
appointed, and notices of motions in it given by the 
Treasury oftener than once a week. But the Opps. have a 
complete veto. Whether this Session (as is likely) may 
disclose this irresistably, or whether they have so much 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 221 

mercy in their own conscience as to defer the result, I know 
not, perhaps care little, for such a contemptible state of 
things is not agreeable, and this mode of destruction is 
inconvenient to us of the Ho. Commons, the wear and tear 
of endless debates, or to no purpose but to prove the un- 
checked insolence of the Opps., and of an interminable 
Session being a melancholy mode of extinction of mind and 
body. And now the habit has been established by the 
oscitancy of the Govt., the Press will not permit recovery 
of power. In that mob-engine is no slackness, and con- 
cession is never regained from it, the result of which two is 
certain : what always advances, never recedes, must arrive 
at its own end, at sovereignty, sooner or later, unless the 
eyes of the stock-holders and of country gentlemen are 
opened by some outward and visible sign of what they 
cannot see without some violent process. It is quite 

I comical (if not of such serious import) that they continue 
to be lookers on of the contest between the Govt. and the 
Radical squadron, as if it were a game for their amusement. 
You will not wonder if I am fatigued and disgusted at what 
I must see, and cannot help to remedy, an essential neutral, 
like the inhabitants of the seat of war. No comfortable 
situation ; I see no chance of the Session ending till the 
middle of August. 

' Farewell Mrs. R. desires her remembrances. I shall 
be much gratified, if I ever exist again for rational purposes, 
to see your colloquies.' 

During the session Peel succeeded Sidmouth as Home 
Secretary, and on August 12 Castlereagh, who had lately 
become Marquis of Londonderry, committed suicide in 
a fit of morbid depression. In March Canning had accepted 
the governor-generalship of India, and was preparing to 
depart when Castlereagh died. It was felt that Canning 
was the only possible successor to the position of Foreign 
Secretary, but it took some little time to overcome the 
King's dislike for him. So on September 7 Rickman told 
Southey ': 






222 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' At present Canning or no Canning is the question. An 
intriguing man ever, and from one of his intrigues a 
Queenite. Yet such is the state of things that the Ho. 
Commons business cannot be carried on, without quite 
so much as his help, and Governmt. without him will 
expire from lack of physical force.' 

Canning was appointed on September 9, and Rickman 
again vented his dislike to Southey. 

< ISth September 1822. 

* ... Are we all to travel through anarchy to despotism ? 
I fear it must be so, and I take the cause to He in the one 
simple aim of the wicked, against the divided opinions of 
their opponents. Mr. Canning, for instance, strenuously 
resists reform of Parlt., but is an advocate for at least the 
present degree of the liberty of the Press, though nothing 
can be more evident than the misnomer, it is indeed domina- 
tion, and of a kind held intolerable by all men except in 
this instance, power without responsibility, and irresistable 
in its incessant encroachments, while it so remains. I 
do not think the Ho. Commons will be the death of Mr. 
Canning, because I expect he will be assassinated before 
that happens. His wit and eloquence when often exerted 
in behalf of the established order of things, will be felt too 
severely, when it is also felt that nothing stands in the way 
of the dissolution of the British Government if he can be 
removed ; for in that case the present Administration must 
succumb from mere inanition, and the reign of the Whigs, 
intolerable to the monied interest, could not last three 
months unless in revolutionary form, in concessions to the 
Radicals An unpleasant prospect ! . . .' 

Canning was a prominent supporter of Roman Catholic 
relief, and, while he was still out of office, had brought 
forward a bill to enable Catholic peers to vote in the House 
of Lords. Southey and Rickman felt acutely on the ques- 
tion, and on Southey's having informed Rickman of a 
reported plan of Canning's to oust certain opponents of 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 223 

Catholic relief from the Cabinet, Rickman replied on 
December 20 : 

' I have to thank you for your letter of political intelli- 
gence, none of which had reached me, beyond a general 
intimation that Canning was at his old sport intrigue 
from which he will never refrain till at the head of affairs. 
... I should not be surprised if Mr. Canning and some 
other seeming friends of the R.C. should really like a 
rebellion, which would get them out of the scrape which 
their liberal absurdity has placed them in. While cheap- 
ness of provisions prevails, the Radicals of England are 
powerless, and a religious war in Ireland will place matters 
in a clear point of view.' 

The beginning of 1823 saw the appearance of the first 
volume of Southey's Peninsular War, upon which Rickman 
wrote him a generous appreciation, though he could not keep 
politics out. ' One cannot/ he says, * in imagination picture 
a more contemptible animal than a Whig Radical.' Never- 
theless, he had more pleasant thoughts to fill his mind, 
connected with the opening of the Caledonian Canal. 
Sou they, fired by his tour in 1819, wrote three inscriptions 
to be put up at Clachnaharry, Fort Augustus, and Banavie 
respectively. These lines were carved on stone at Rick- 
man's direction as a surprise for Telford. The following 
letter refers to this pleasant incident. 

' 4th April 1823. 

* I am much obliged to you for sundry letters, which 
ungratefully or from my daily living I have not answered, 
but this is the Easter week ; I have cleared away arrear 
of business, and am paying my debts of private corres- 
pondence. 

' You have been so good I know to write inscriptions ; 
et his similia, of and concerning our Highland works. All 
is well there, now ; the Canal open and becoming popular, 
and I foresee I shall conquer the absurd reliance which the 
semi-barbarians have imbibed, that they are not to pay 



224 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

for the maintenance of their roads. They have been in- 
dulged so much as to believe, that they do me a favour in 
suffering me to repair those roads, but it is come to such a 
pass this, that I have turned upon them sharply enough 
to convince them of their error, and all will be well. They 
are spoiled children learning to kiss the rod, so that on the 
whole you may celebrate in prose or verse, all our exploits, 
with great safety, and I wiU support you, if needful, and 
therein myself. . . .' 

In April there comes an interesting letter from Rickman 
to Lord Colchester, describing the debate on Plunket 's 
motion for Catholic relief. The Radicals seceded owing 
to the high words that had arisen between Brougham and 
Canning, Brougham having accused Canning of deserting 
the Roman Catholics on taking office ; Plunket was then 
left in a considerable minority. The first part of the letter 
refers to a charge which was brought against Plunket of 
unconstitutional procedure as Attorney-General for Ireland. 

< April 18, 1823. 

4 MY LORD, . . . We go on in the House of Commons 
very well as to the Catholics. Plunkett, in the anguish of 
an evil conscience, and terror of disgrace, was so imprudent 
as to defend himself by criminating others on notoriously 
false evidence, I am told, and this is capable of proof. The 
Administration, it is said, will resist Sir F. Burdett's motion 
on Tuesday next for inquiry into facts. If so they will be 
sure of defeat. All the Opposition with all the Protestants 
on the Ministerial side of the House being quite enough to 
overwhelm them, even if Plunkett should be so indecent 
as to vote against inquiry himself. 

' Last night we had a curious scene as to the Catholic 
question. The Catholics being certain of defeat, and many 
of the Opposition hating Plunkett as a rat, accused him 
of bad faith, and the Radicals (about a dozen) seceded on 
that pretence, to disguise the majority which they antici- 
pated against the Roman Catholics. At half past twelve, 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 225 

nobody offering to speak, the gallery was cleared for a 
division. To prevent which Sir John Nugent moved an 
adjournment, because, he said, strangers were excluded. 
It was of no use to say that it could not be otherwise when 
the debate was over, and all sorts of adjournments were 
proposed to prevent any division upon the real question, 
in which the Roman Catholics would have been beaten by 
about three score. . . . Yours truly.' 

In connexion with the year 1823, it must be noted as 
rather remarkable that no allusion was made in the corre- 
spondence between Rickman and Southey to the unfor- 
tunate incident between the latter and Lamb. Southey 
had mildly censured the Essays of Elia, in an otherwise 
favourable Quarterly review, for want of religious feeling. 
Lamb replied with a very strong letter in the London 
Magazine, which wholly took Southey by surprise. He 
wrote a tactful private letter to Lamb, who dissolved into 
penitence at once. Perhaps, however, the absence of 
reference in the letters is explained by the fact that in 
December Southey was in London. 

During 1824 the two friends were knit together by a 
new bond. In April Southey's daughter Bertha came to 
stay with the Rickmans for fourteen months as a com- 
panion to Ann Rickman, and to acquire some accomplish- 
ments which were not possible in remote Keswick. Rick- 
man's letters upon Bertha are truly precious pieces of 
comment. 

' Gth July 1824. 

* Miss Bertha S. I assure you improves fast, both in 
her good looks, and strength of both kinds. As to the 
timidity, which you speak of as her characteristic, no more 
remains than the playful memory of it. Upon receiving 
your last, I thought of a good experimentum crucis. 
W. C. R. has just come home for his holidays. He was 
to see the representation of the battles of Ligny, Quatre 
Bras, and Waterloo at Astley's the best spectacle ever 

p 



226 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

produced, the actors being Waterloo men mostly of the 
Guards, above 100 infantry ; the Cavalry 50 of the 
equestrian troop, and plenty of artillery. The actions 
being fiercely contested, there is much gunpowder spent, 
even cannons fired on the stage. All dreadful to Bertha, 
when she saw it by some chance, a month since. So I told 
W. C. R. to choose his party, and said nothing, beyond 
asking at dinner time, who was going ? And among the 
volunteers was enumerated Miss B. S. who enjoyed it as 
much as anybody, and said, " She saw it all." Moreover, 
as she had professed her dread of going in a boat on the 
Thames, I gave her the option of so moving to St. Paul's 
this morning ; and heard not a word of repugnance or of 
terror. If at St. Paul's she did not go up to the ball, so 
did not Miss A. R., and they are both too tall for the 
experiment, which cannot be achieved, without aid for 
guiding the feet from below. She is not very fond of being 
taught musick and dancing, but submits with a good grace, 
and improves in both. 

' We go from London to-morrow to stay a fortnight at 
a farm-house and afterwards in the island of Portsea 
the first of the time including hay-making and the cherry- 
season. 

' Miss B. S. anticipated (as well as journeying in the 
abstract,) with much pleasure, and I doubt not will like 
Portsea equally well afterwards. Farewell, I am busy 
enough packing necessaries, and writing letters and leaving 
instructions on departing, but could not go with a clear 
conscience without saying thus much of Bertha, who is a 
favourite with everybody.' 

The second letter contains the announcement that 
Rickman was building himself a country house near 
Portsmouth. His first place of villeggiatura had been 
Epsom, where a house had been taken annually since 
Willy had suffered from the croup. They had also fre- 
quently visited the farm belonging to Rickman 's brother 
at Chidham in Sussex. Thenceforward, all holidays were 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 227 

spent at Portsmouth, where Rick man found it very con- 
venient to retire, even in winter, to recover from the effects 
of overwork. 

' CHIDHAM, Sth September 1824. 

* We are not at Portsmouth yet, but are to be there early 
next week. I do not know whether you are aware of 
part of our projected occupation, the fitting up a house 
now in shell (as the builders speak), for I find by experience 
that my autumn half-year cannot be spent in desolated 
Westmr. nor elsewhere with satisfaction, unless in so 
fixed a place, as to find my books etc. about me ; and all 
things are disregarded at Westmr. (except the purpose of 
business) during the Session ; therefore, and for other causes, 
I have built me an house, and we are going to reside next 
door to it. Not that it stands in a street, but in a shady 
lane, on an half acre of garden ground, for fruit trees and 
flowers. This you will think well, and Bertha will tell 
you more about it soon, she being endowed with a due 
share of enquiry and observation. Financially speaking, you 
are to understand, that the interest of money has so fallen 
as to render house-building not imprudent. For instance, 
if I spend 3000 in house and furniture, I am but 100 a 
year poorer, and save more summer house rent than that. 

* Of our tarrying 8 or 9 weeks, we are at Mrs. Rickman's 
birth place, guests of her brother, who now cultivates as 
much of his father's land as is near the house : with what 
effect, Bertha's inclosed MS. will inform you. Large 
inferences are deducible, as you will see, but the facts were 
put together for Bertha's use, she having full experience 
in hay-making, and harvest (just finished) and acquaintance 

11 the cows, calves and pigs. To the latter especially in 
the form of bacon and pork, she seems most partial. 
Besides this knowledge there is a poney absolutely without 
volition, who goes just as fast and just as slow as the rider 
pleases, and starts at nothing. By means of this animal, 
Bertha has practised riding enough to go through life with 
her, and as she and A. R. are fond of this exercise, which 



228 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

puts to flight head-ache, the poney (hight Victor) goes to 
Portsmouth with us. We live here with somewhat of 
the ancient frugality of the farm house "Waste not, 
want not," a good ingredient in the happiness of future 
life, which Bertha will not let escape her ; she being as 
Milton said with other meaning, in polemic pun very 
morigera and is become I daresay very rich in country- 
life imagery, for after use ; so that the time here has been 
well spent, though so much of it was not intended to be so 
appropriated. At Portsmouth other points of knowledge 
may be pursued with advantage ; ships and fortifications 
we are sure of, society of all sorts q.s., and they say a good 
drawing master. In musick Miss B. S. is much improved, 
and she holds herself erect at all times as much as Mrs. R. 
desires. Of course, you expect her to be liable to innocent 
impulses. I do not know that I can say anything unfavour- 
able of her, except perhaps in a point of every day good 
manners. I am not sure she would not in after life lessen 
kind feelings and intentions sometimes, by not seeming to 
thank cordially for any little proffered kindness for which 
she has not at the moment occasion, or will to avail of it. 
Thus far of the new house of Chidham, and of B. S.' 

These kindly remarks were duly forwarded by Southey 
to Miss Bertha, with injunctions to mend her manners. 

In 1825 the question of Catholic relief, which has already 
appeared more than once in Rickman's letters, became 
really acute. Since Pitt's resignation in 1801 the cause had 
been resolutely pushed by its supporters. From 1805 
onwards motions in support of the Catholic claims were 
frequently made in both Houses ; Grattan, Grenville, 
Burdett and Canning were the leading supporters ; Eldon, 
Peel and Wellington were in opposition. In 1812, after 
Liverpool had succeeded Perceval, though the question 
was left open hi the Cabinet, Canning carried a motion 
pledging the House to consider the question in the next 
session ; and in 1813 a bill for the removal of Catholic 
disabilities passed its second reading. It was, however, 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 229 

wrecked in committee by the opposition of Speaker Abbot. 
In 1817 the motion for relief was discussed at some length, 
and defeated by twenty-four. Two years later Grattan, 
after a great speech, reduced that majority to two. 
Finally, in 1821, a comprehensive measure for Catholic 
relief passed the Commons by a majority of nineteen, 
though the uncompromising hostility of the Duke of 
York and Eldon ruined its chance in the Lords. From 

1821 onwards, therefore, it was known that it was only 
the Lords from whom successful opposition was to be 
feared. An important factor in the question was the 
disturbed state of Ireland since the Union. The Habeas 
Corpus Act was suspended in 1803 after Emmet's 
rebellion, and in several years before 1817. Violence and 
outrage were common, and it was probably this state of 
things which prevented the cause of the Catholics becoming 
a really popular cause in England. Of Canning's bill in 

1822 enabling Catholic peers to vote, of the quarrel between 
Canning and Brougham, and of Plunket's fiasco in 1823 
I have already spoken. In 1823 the Catholic Associa- 
tion, which practically usurped the functions of government 
in Ireland, was founded by O'Connell and Sheil. This 
Association was not suppressed by Lord Wellesley, the 
lord-lieutenant, but that it should be suppressed was 
strongly held in the House. A bill for its suppression was 
introduced in 1825 and commanded large majorities in 
both Houses. Burdett, nevertheless, moved a new resolu- 
tion for Catholic relief on March 1, which was carried by 
a small majority. A relief bill was promptly introduced 
and read a second time. This was the position when on 
April 4 Rickman wrote to Southey. His eighteen months 
in Ireland had engendered a firm hatred in his Saxon mind 
for all things Irish, as will be seen. 

4 April 1825. 

' . . . I think if the R.C. do not carry their point this 
year they will in the next Session. There is a kind of 
\\carisomene8s in being always on the defensive, modern 



230 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

liberality not permitting the use of such weapons as cut 
deep, unless on the liberal side of the argument. Hence 
it is that Brougham does prudently in venturing to use his 
tomahawk without means of self-defence. It is not per- 
mitted to say that you do not oppose the Irish R.C. quasi 
R.C. simply, but as barbarians, and therefore under the 
domination of their priesthood as much as Europe was in 
the time of the Crusades. Not as R.C. simply, but as 
savages who less than 30 years since commenced a massacre 
with as hearty a good will as did their forefathers in 1641, 
and who give proofs from time to time that they are not 
unready for another when occasion shall serve. To me 
it is strange that nobody observes in a lucid manner, that 
liberality, not being justice, must always be injustice, when 
it steps beyond the disposal of your own individual property 
or rights, because what is given to one must be taken from 
another, and you have no right to give away what you 
cannot give without first taking from A. to give to B. 
This no trustee or extor. is ever expected, as not empowered, 
to give, but we surrender one thing after another till we are 
already on the brink of merging our national Church, as 
Pope did in the universal prayer, and we are approaching 
the glorious time when it will be every man's interest to be 
a felon. No man forsooth is to be decerned other than an 
innocent till found guilty, and then the judge, prosecutor, 
etc., are all to conspire for. remission of punishment. Some 
time since I read in a newspaper, that a woman who stole 
cheese in the neighbourhood of Co vent Garden, was taken 
to a police officer by the shopman, who said his master lost 
too much not to make an example. But the woman 
pleading hunger, etc., which every thief pleads in the case 
of eatables, the magistrate was shocked at the inhumanity 
of the cheesemonger, and the said cheesemonger hastened 
to town, disowned in the police office the deed of his trusty 
shopman, and found it prudent to give the woman five 
shillings because she had been caught in robbing him ; 
so the woman was sure of cheese, or money, or both, in 
doing that for which in better times she would have been 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 231 

pilloried or whipt at the cart's tail, and imprisoned. But 
real punishment is obsolete 1 ' 

Burdett's bill was carried by a majority of twenty-one 
on May 10 ; Peel at once tendered his resignation to 
Liverpool. Two days afterwards, the Duke of York made 
a sensational and unconstitutional speech, in which he 
attributed George m.'s madness to agitation on the Catholic 
question, and avowed that he would remain by his principles 
till his last moment * whatever might be his station in life.' 
In spite of a furious counter-attack by Brougham, the bill 
was thrown out in the Lords by forty-eight. 

In the summer Southey made a voyage in Holland, 
where a festered foot kept him longer than he expected in 
Leyden. He described his sojourn there, and his acqua 

o with the old poet Bilderdijk, in more than one letter 
to Rickman. On Rickinan, meanwhile, another burden 
was laid, the secretaryship to the Commission for building 
churches in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. He 
acted in this capacity, in which he was again associated 
with his friend Telford, till the final report of the Commis- 
sion in 1830. As he said to Southey, he was 4 cruelly 
oppressed ' with work, and in the late autumn he endea- 
voured to find relief in a tour in Normandy to view, among 
other things, the Bayeux tapestry. Rickman 's account 
of this tour has been preserved in part, and it shows with 
how little ease he took relaxation. His love for precise 
information led him ceaselessly to make notes and collect 
measurements and tabulate details of all that he saw. 
For him the real joy of indolent, restful travelling was an 
impassibility. He kept a precise journal, \\hirh was tran- 
scribed later and sent to Southey as a return for the latter'* 
'northern remembrances.' In spite of his voyage, thr 
next year only found Rickman more depressed, and Southey 
urged him in three consecutive letters to take a rest. The 
following are extracts. 

30JforcAl826. 

4 1 hope the Easter holydays have been, in the language 



232 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

of the Saints, improved by you, that is that you have 
profited by them to get that refreshment which green 
fields and an open sky afford after long and close attention 
to business in London. How you stand such perpetual 
wear and tear of intellect is to me marvellous. I have a 
reputation for hard-working, but had this head of mine 
been worked half as much, or half as intensely as yours, it 
would have been under the sod long ere this. My bow is 
never kept strung, and half its time only with a loose string, 
which just serves for letting fly a fool's bolt. Idleness and 
mirthfulness have done much towards keeping me in work- 
ing trim.' 

1 10 April 1826. 

' I do not doubt that over-tension of mind has been the 
primary cause of the evil, and probably some obscure 
bodily derangement the proximate one. The remedy is 
to be sought in change of circumstances, scene and air. 
. . . Take a journey as soon as Parliament breaks up. ... 
You want change and sunshine, and open air, and motion, 
and that sort of occupation which is amusement, and 
which can in no other way be so surely attained as by travel- 
ling in a foreign country.' 

<W April IS26. 

' . . . You have had more than your share of this world's 
business. I doubt whether any other man who has worked 
so hardly, has worked so continuously and so long. Our 
occupations withdraw us all too much from nearer and 
more lasting concourse. Time and nature especially when 
aided by any sorrows prepare us for better influences, 
and when we feel what is wanting, we seek and find it. 
The clouds then disperse, and the evening is calm and 
clear, even till night closes. . . .' 

The result was that in June Southey, Rickman and 
Henry Taylor, the poet, took a short tour in the Nether- 
lands. Of this tour Rickman compiled a laborious account 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

\\liich he sent as a letter to Lord Colchester, but it is such 
an uninspiring document, that I shall do best service to 
his memory by refraining from quotation. Sou they, 
during his absence, was elected M.P. for Down ton by the 
influence of his unknown admirer, Lord Radnor. As he 
1 a pension during pleasure, and, further, had no pro- 
perty qualification, his election was void. Nevertheless, 
his friend, Sir Robert Inglis, offered to purchase him a 
landed estate yielding 300 a year, if he would consent to 
sit ; but after due deliberation Southey wisely decided to 
remain at Keswick, aloof from the busy world. 

In February 1827, Lord Liverpool was stricken by a 
fatal illness, and for nearly six weeks there was no Prime 
Minister. The Cabinet was split into two parties led by 
Canning and Peel respectively, and a conciliatory premier 
of Liverpool's stamp was not forthcoming. Finally the 
King, irritated by the refusals of Wellington and Peel, 
decided to send for Canning. His short-lived ministry 
was not a happy one. He was in failing health, and 
all his Tory colleagues but Huskisson deserted him. The 
general opinion, as may be seen in Colchester's Diary, was 
that Canning would fail to form an administration : that 
which he did form came in for unsparing criticism, and the 
session ended in dissension and dispute. The following 
letter, written by Rickman to Southey just as Parliament 
met, contains an unwarranted accusation, for Burdett had 
moved his Catholic relief motion before Canning took office, 
and Canning had violently attacked the Master of the Rolls, 
Copley, who opposed the motion. 

3 May 1827. 

' . . . Certainly we have now plenty of explanation from 

ex-Ministers, in which they successfully repel all the 

nuations cunningly thrown out against them. The 

result of the change, as far as the R. Catholic Qn. is < 

cerned, is curious. Its supporters, being in office are not 

i ir in it nor to be urged to it. Mr. Brougham says, he 

t be an enemy to his country who brings it into agita- 



234 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

tion at present during the Reign of Geo. iv., I suppose ; 
and the Protestants having the dangers visibly before 
them, with Mr. C. at the head of a R. Catholic Cabinet, 
must now become zealous. The danger was in the state 
of things which liberally permitted organized sedition in 
Dublin and outrage in Ireland to the R.C. and on the 
Protestants imposed silence and endurance. The R. 
Catholics, I expect, will be furious when they understand 
the effects of their friends being in office, and they will 
find out how little Mr. C., Mr. Brougham, or Sir F. Burdett 
really care about them. A vexatious opposition would 
soon kill Canning, especially as he retains no Cabinet 
Minister in that Ho. Commons to answer for him in his 
absence. He has made a mistake we suppose in sending 
Mr. Robinson (Lord Goodrich) to the Ho. Peers. . . .' 

On August 8 Canning died, and the political sky seemed 
to clear for a moment, for Goderich managed to form another 
Ministry of compromise with Wellington, Huskisson, 
Herries and Tierney. But for the moment a different 
subject occupied the attention of Southey and Rickman. 
A letter from Southey gives the details. 

' 15 Aug. 1827. 

4 1 am about to reprint in a separate form such of my 
stray papers as are worth collecting from the Q. R. etc. . . . 
Shall I print with these your remarks upon the Economical 
Reformers in the Ed. Ann. Register of 1810 and your 
paper upon the poor laws ? Certainly not, if you have any 
intention of collecting your own papers, which I wish you 
would do. But if you have no such intention, or contem- 
plate it at an indefinite distance, then it would be well that 
so much good matter should be placed where it would be 
in the way of being read ; and there I should like it to be 
as some testimony and memorial of an intimacy which has 
now for thirty years contributed much to my happi- 
ness, and in no slight degree to my intellectual progress. 
In this case I will take care to notice that the credit of these 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 235 

papers is not due to me, either specifying whose they are, 
or leaving that unexplained as you may like best. . . .' 

He followed this by another letter which I do not quote 
giving particulars of the papers which he proposed to 
republish. Rickman's reply was one of complete acquies- 
cence. Peel's bill, to which he refers, was for the resump- 
tion of cash payments for notes in 1823. This date was 
anticipated by the Bank of England by two years. 

' 13 September 1827. 

' I am much obliged to you for your letter of 27th August 
explanatory of your intended publication, of the success of 
which there is good hope, everybody seeming to concur in 
their approbation, I may say admiration, of your prose 
works, so that collecting scattered parts together will 
confer enlarged benefits. I agree with you that there is 
no occasion to alter any of your opinions in the papers of 
which you give me a list. Crazy politics are perhaps some- 
what dormant at present, which I attribute to the cowardly 
sort of compromise whereby the Parly. Opposition have 
been kept comparatively quiet during the last 8 or 10 years, 
the first very remarkable instance being the sudden con- 
version of the Bullion Commees. of both Houses, I believe 
in 1819, when Mr. Peel, the Chairman of the Ho. Commons 
Commee., brought in the Bill which the Bank of England 
Directors afterwards outran in their natural eagerness to 
escape the imputations current against them. The Whigs 
were consistent enough in hating paper currency, without 
the domestic use of which in England their idol Bonaparte 
might perhaps have prevailed ; but the Ministry should 
not have gratified them by turning off so useful a servant 
li disgrace ; and it is curious that the absurd rfwcourage- 
ment of what ought to be left to regulate itself, the exist- 
ence of one pound notes, or any sort of currency which the 
public like, and which is so clearly proved on investigat 
to have been the source of the prosperity of Scotland, that 
the grand general principle of the Whigs cannot bo car 



236 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

into effect there ; although if it be not good as a general 
principle, it must needs be good for nothing. . . .' 

Southey's Essays, Moral and Political, appeared in 1832, 
but they contain no acknowledgment of Rickman's work. 
I have already shown * that the essay on ' The means of im- 
proving the People ' was almost entirely Rickman's work. 
But Southey, in his letter of August 27, also refers to two 
other passages for which he was indebted to Rickman, both 
of which appeared in the Edinburgh Annual Register. 
The first passage from the Annual Register, vol. ii. part 2, 
pp. 288-294, is incorporated in Southey's essay on Sir Francis 
Burdett's motion for Parliamentary reform. It is a spirited 
diatribe against pure democracy, and against the reformers 
for being purely factious when opportunities for so much 
peaceful social reform lay ready to their hands. The 
second passage, from the Annual Register, vol. iii. part 2, 
pp. 211 sqq.,is incorporated in the essay ' On the Economical 
Reformers.' It is a defence of sinecures and high salaries, 
on the ground that they attract good men, and it contains 
some characteristic paragraphs upon the better results of 
paying civil servants by fees rather than by fixed salaries. 
The germ of this argument we have already seen in one of 
Rickman's letters to Poole (see p. 140). It is curious that 
this very question arose in 1833 when a committee inquired 
into the offices of the House of Commons. The old clerks 
all concurred in their evidence that the subordinates worked 
better when paid by the piece than at fixed rates. On this 
point, however, Rickman's evidence was not taken. In these 
essays Rickman's rugged style was polished by Southey, but 
it is possible to recognise its craggy outlines in a passage, 
which I have taken from Southey's third essay : 

' No good can ever be effected by appealing to evil 
passions. He who would benefit his country, instead of 
fostering the discontent of the public and pimping for their 
suspicions, should address their generous feelings, encourage 

1 See pp. 197-203. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 237 

their national spirit, and exalt their hopes. The methods 
of reform . . . are these. Institute parochial schools, . 
extend your system of colonization, . . . establish the 
principle of limited service in your fleets and armies, and 
make the reward of service adequate and certain . . . Carry 
on the war with all the might, all the soul, and all the strength 
of this mighty Empire ; you will then beat down the power 
of France ; and then, and not till then . . . the public 
burden may be lessened.' 

It is curious that Rickman refused, as he must have done, 
to let Southey make the slightest public acknowledge 
of his assistance. It is also interesting to see what an 
effect Rickman's depression had upon his convictions. It 
would seem from the extract below that he had come round 
to a melancholy justification of the views on population 
propounded by the execrated Malthus. 

1 21 Nov. 1827. 

' . . . I find that if I add annotations to the Poor Law 
essay, they will be of hopeless character, as my reflections 
have led me to a conviction, that the increase of poor rates 
took place from increase of kindly feeling towards the 
lower classes, which operated early in your life-time and 
mine upon magistrates first, who were disposing of other 
people's money. Since that the same feeling has operated 
more extensively, and an imperceptible reliance on this has 
caused undue increase of population. We cannot make the 
poor comfortable without making them increase and multiply, 
and as humanity is not likely to retrograde, poor rates will 
not diminish ; perhaps we ought not to wish it. 

The quarrel between Huskisson and Henries over the 
appointment of a finance committee, and the dissensions 
with the King over the battle of Navarino, brought the 
Goderich Cabinet to an ignominious downfall by the end of 
the year. On January 9, 1 828, the King sent for Wellington, 
and gave him office on the condition that Catholic relief 
was not to be made a cabinet question. He was joined by 



238 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Peel, Huskisson and some of Canning's followers, a mixture 
which was destined to produce violent fermentation. 

Rickman opened the year with a strong comment on 
Southey's review of Hallam's History. 

' 25th January 1828. 

' I have read your review of Hallam's work miscalled 
(as it seems) a History of England. He seems to display 
the thorough-paced Whig to a degree of imprudence con- 
venient to the adversaries of his friends. As they were in 
the beginning, they are now, and I suppose ever will be, 
self-seekers, the enemies of all good men in general, and 
of their country in particular. I observe the Scottish in- 
sertion versus William in. inconsistent with the honourable 
mention of him in the former part of the Review. He was 
not an immaculate character, sure enough, but considering 
the now displayed baseness of that age which left materials 
for other publicity, the actors thinking themselves as safe as 
their ancestors, behind an impenetrable veil, considering that 
all public men from 1660 to 1715 assured to themselves the 
privilege of wickedness in various degrees, Clarendon him- 
self not immaculate (as Agar Ellis 's new book x proves) 
and the Whig inventors of the Popish Plot the most in- 
fernal villains that ever disgraced history, who are and 
must ever be a national disgrace to us all considering 
such an age of public men, W. in. is always to be deemed 
above par. I wish those 9 interpolated pages had been 
filled by a vivid condensed exposure of the Popish Whigs, 
who have never yet arrived at the general detestation they 
deserve. You have good reason to be delicate as to the 
name of Russell, and lucky it has been for the noble family 
that they unknowingly laid out an anchor to windward at 
Streatham, 2 or they would e'er now have drifted (cum 

1 A Historical Inquiry respecting the character of Edward Hyde, Earl of 
Clarendon. 

2 Rickman refers to the fact that Southey's uncle, Dr. Hill, for whom 
Southey had a great respect, was given his living of Streatham by the 
Duke of Bedford. 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 239 

mult is aliis their Whig companions) to the shoals of eternal 
infamy to stick as a beacon for the benefit of future 
ages/ 

The next letter refers to Wynn's disappointment at 
being passed over by Wellington. 

7th February 1828. 

' I received yours of the 2nd : and have since tried to 
learn more about Mr. Wynn's state of affairs. I must 
speak rather from circumstantial symptoms than informa- 
tin, but I suspect that a negotiation existed whether or 
not the Speaker would take office as a Secretary of State 
on the recent changes : and that he did not accede upon 
difference of terms as to his peerage in that case (aiming 
higher than a barony) and perhaps as to amount of retiring 
pension, on quitting his present office, which he has filled 
ten years. While it was supposed he would accept the 

'tis offered, I think it likely that the new Administra- 
tion destined the Speakership for Mr. Wynn, who could 
not be retained at the E. India Board on account of Lord 
Melville not returning to the Admiralty. 

* At present I collect that the Speaker has no thought of 
quitting his office, unless perchance the D. of Wellington 
should see cause for quitting his present unnatural office 
and thereupon Mr. Peel should become the declared Premier, 
(and this is not beyond speculation), in which case the 
Speaker (his intimate friend) might make his own terms, 
or otherwise arrange matters. At present this cannot be 
calculated upon, and Mr. Wynn is applying for one of the 
retiring pensions (3000 per annum) as a Cabinet Minister 
of above 3 years standing, pensions created by the Act for 
abolition of sinecures, and the allowed number is not yet 
filled up. Lord Goodriche applies on behalf of Mr. Wynn, 
but I think the D. of Wellington will not second him, as 
not only Mr. Wynn was become an efficacious friend of 
Canning's, but also by some miscalculation connected his 
official existence with that of Lord Lansdowne, an over- 



240 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

rated Whig. Nobody seems to feel satisfied of the stability 
of the present Government : the affair of Navarino, which 
of course delights the Liberals, and the Whitehall Window 
Question, whether General Burton is really to go as Governor 
to Canada, hanging up all surmise in suspense. Deus 
aliquis viderit ! ' . . . 

Wellington was embarrassed early in the year by a 
quarrel with Huskisson, and by the strong dissent of the 
Whigs from his condemnation of Codrington's action at 
Navarino. His first reverse was the success of Lord John 
Russell in carrying his bill for the repeal of the Test ai 
Corporation Acts, and in May Huskisson and the othc 
Canningites resigned on the question of the disfranchised 
borough of East Retford. The question of Catholic relief 
had not been prominent during the short administrations of 
Canning and Goderich, but after the success of Lord John 
Russell another motion on the subject was brought forward 
by Burdett, which was carried by a majority of six. Then 
all men were electrified by the Clare election. Vesey Fitz- 
gerald, who became president of the Board of Trade on 
Grant's resignation, offered himself for re-election at Clare. 
He was a popular landlord, and held to be certain of support 
by the other landlords and the forty-shilling freeholders. 
O'Connell amazed the political world by standing against 
him. The forty-shilh'ng freeholders deserted the landlord 
for the priest in a body, and the Catholic champion 
O'Connell was elected. The Clare election made Catholic 
relief inevitable. We now know that Peel shortly afterwards 
made up his mind to give way, because in his view civil war 
was the only alternative. But the public at large knew 
nothing of the impending volte-face of the Tory leader ; 
they were chiefly pre-occupied with the fresh proof of the 
shocking state of affairs in Ireland. Thus on Nov. 12 
Rickman wrote to Southey : 

' To be sure absenteeism is a crying evil, but if you ask 
one of those to reside in his country on his estate, the answer 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

always is, he would rather lose it. So that the turbulence 
of the people drives away the landlords, and the absence 
of these reacts upon the barbarism of the Irish. An un- 
pleasant reciprocity, but inevitable until this Island shall 
have been under water for half an hour. You may very 
well interpolate a pamphlet into your R.C. article if Murray 

uks fit and Protestant ears are more open than they 

;c. Plunkett's insidious law, and O'Connell's impudence 
have caused a revulsion, so that things are in a much 
better state than if neither one or the other had existed : 
especially considering that nothing but Protestant spirit 
was left for our defence, Lord P. [Plunket] having R. 
Catholicized the army, which at a distance in Lancashire, 
etc., overawes what it could not resist in contact. 

' I think political economists are dying a natural death, 
and I am collecting poor law matter, though without any 
particular encouragement. I have been thinking that 
there is a good room for a new Laputa, where the said p. 
economists might have a mansion with those who have 
disturbed the nation with new weights and measures such 
as are a glorious defiance of utility the North Pole 
expeditions, Dr. Gall and Spurtzeim * would be there, and 
other worthies, if one turned one's mind to recollections of 
that kind. 

* The Govt. are very much like their predecessors, without 
strong intentions of any kind, who would yield to the R.C. 
if the Protestants had not stirred. So the Turks seem to 
profit and improve from the attack made by Russia ; 
nothing else could have done so much for them. Their 
case is whimsically like that of the Irish Protestants. 
Lethargy at an end with both. . 

' VV, C. R. is to go to Ch. Ch. Oxford and to take orders, 
10 alter not his in ; H 1 11 - of a quiet spirit and fit for 
a quiet profession. . 

Sou they was engaged in writing a Quart' lo against 

1 Dr. Qall and Dr. Spurzoim were the founders of the science of phren- 
ology. 

Q 



242 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

the Catholic claims, for which Rickman had sent him one 
or two long letters full of historical information. He 
received the sum of 150 for the essay, 50 more than usual. 
Rickman had also been meditating an attack on the economic 
school of Macculloch, the ' egregious absurdities ' of whom, 
wrote Southey, ' no man is so capable of demolishing as 
yourself.' The final paragraph in the above letter is inter- 
esting, considering his determination, expressed in his 
will, that his son should not enter the Church. Southey, 
in his answer, rejoiced that Rickman's son, whom he always 
called the ' charioteer ' from his fondness for driving, had 
the intention of taking orders. 

' 24 Nov. 1828. 

' I am glad that my young-old friend the charioteer is 
inclined to a profession which seems to me of all others 
that in which a well-minded man will find most reason to 
be satisfied with his choice. I know not any person who 
can or ought to be happier than a clergyman who is not 
dependent on his profession for a maintenance, and is 
therefore exempt from all anxieties about preferment, and 
may refuse to fix himself in an unhealthy spot or a place 
disagreeable to him on any other account. That the 
Ch. of England will have its existence set upon the die 
in our children's time I think is but too probable : but if 
it be so, his condition will not be the worse for belonging 
to it.' 

Rickman ended the year by writing the obituary of his 
old friend Luke Hansard, whom he had defended earlier in 
the year before a committee of the House. His notice 
appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for December. His 
praise is perhaps conventionally expressed, but it is a 
sincere tribute of undisguised friendship and admiration. 

After bringing the strongest influence to bear on the 
King, Peel and Wellington succeeded in wringing his consent 
to the introduction of a measure of Catholic relief. The 
King's Speech contained some indications of such a course, 
and Peel resigned his seat for Oxford University. He 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 243 

failed to secure re-election, and was subsequently returned 
for Westbury. On March 5 he moved a resolution in favour 
of Catholic relief in a great speech. Rickman wrote on 
that night to Southey. 

' 5 March 1829. 

' A bright day precedes a stormy evening ! Mr. Peel 
however does not venture to-day further than a resolution 
similar to the K.'s Speech, in general terms. However 
he is to tell us what our masters intend ; against which 1 
expect both parties will protest to-day , and vote hereafter. 
There is a subdolous scheme to introduce the concession 
in one Bill, the restrictions in another ; so that the first 
might pass without the last. A sad mishap, would say 
Mr. Peel and Co. ! But we are not quite at their mercy ; 
the Ho: Lords we know are not so recreant as to be 
managed thus. Yet perhaps it may be tried. . . . Your 
petition was presented yesterday, and was a good text for 
Sir R. H. Inglis to descant upon, in denying the universal 
stupidity and uuargumentative obstinacy of all the Anti- 
Caths., largely insisted on by that respectable orator, Sir 
J. Mackintosh.' 

This letter was soon followed by another. 

'9 March l.v 

* The demons, after three days intestine war, have agreed 
to throw over the 40s. men, 1 to which abandonment the 
Opps. and R. Caths. could have no real objection ; their 
vows and promises to defend these wretched slaves in a 
privilege bootless to the possessor kicking the beam, the 
D. of W. being imperative. So I suppose the confederates 
will go on swimmingly, though the Protestants numbered 
about 30 on the divn. beyond expectation, and make a 
er fight than was expected of them. I have begun . . . 
a sketch of Irish history from the flood to 1829 ; Celts, 
Knnbers, and Gaels (Gauls) (the last the generic name) 

1 The disf ranch iaoment of the 40s. freeholder* wtt the price paid by 
O Connoll for Catholic relief. 



244 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

1 take to be incapable of mutual government, I mean by 
juries etc. ; a slave race who must be governed by absolute 
power, and better for them if not by any of their own 
breed. So I arrive at the fitness of military law in Erin, 
because no other law can really exist there. An unhappy 
experiment of James i., who was No. 1 of the Liberals in 
this particular, gave them juries, and the massacre of 1640, 
Cromwell's just severity, the war of 1688-90, all failed to 
take away that misapplied privilege, because they could 
not distinguish the natives from the new settlers at these 
times of just severity. 

6 P.S. Mr. Peel seems surprised that every body does not 
turn with him, specially that his father says he will give him 
no more than the 12,000 a year he has settled on him ; 
and his wife is said to adhere to the opinions which she 
learned from the arguments of the said R. P. forgotten only 
by himself. Yes, his is a mere placekeeping affair ; the D. 
of W. having Huskisson in his pocket, if he yielded not.' 

The Catholic Relief Bill passed the House of Commons 
by nearly two hundred, and on April 4, when Rickman 
again wrote, it passed second reading in the Lords by a 
hundred and five. 

< 4^ April 1829. 

4 . . . The Lords are debating a third night upon the 
R. Cath. Bill. They are as bad as the Commons in yielding 
to undue influence, and the business of the Bps. moves one's 
bile. Yet when the first of their apostasy is seen, they 
will not be unfrocked. 

' I reconcile myself well with the experiment of the R. 
Cath. Bill, thanking God it is not of my trying, yet not 
sorry it should be tried at the peril of those base conspirators, 
who have made concession almost necessary or at least the 
alternative with civil war by encouraging the R. Cath. 
and discouraging the Protestants in Ireland, recruiting 
ready made rebels into the army, etc. If the experiment 
fails, as I expect, may we not hope to see Liberalism 



f.IPE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 245 

repudiated even in our time ? And is that hope worth 
nothing ? The contradictory arguments of the conspirators 
as to the no danger and the great danger of these R. Oaths. 
is worthy of a bad cause, which in point of argument was 
never so low as this year. And the hero of Waterloo to 
profess that he yielded from dread of a bugbear, of a 
ragged mob of his countrymen. I say again the R. Oaths. 
look to ulterior objects so do I with pleasure. The 
Protestants will be on their guard, and put them down.' 

I quote two other comments by Rickman on the session 
of 1829. 



4 ... The Session of Parlt. is arrived at termination of 
business, but the Prorogation comes not, under colour of 
some London Bridge question in the Ho. Lords. In fact 
the Protestants will not vote with Peel, and the Opps. 
laugh at the forlorn fate of their apostate, who has thus 
served 6 months in office dearly. As the result, Govt. 
cannot command 100 votes in the Ho. Commons (even in a 
Buckingham Palace question) and the D. of Wellington 
seems to hope to make a patch-work Ministry by coru-il- 
iating some of the Whigs, and a few great families. But 
patch- work never yet answered well, and the Cabinet 
maker will probably find his work crack upon the first 
wear and tear, dissolve the Parlt. and try a Tory 
Administration hereafter. This is the future ; at present, 
we suppose Parlt. is not prorogued, for the sake of new 
writs upon promotion of those who are expected now to 
have foot in stirrup. . . .' 

7 July 1829. 

4 ... I wish we had a new Secretary for the Home 
Department ... for besides Peel's imbecil (c) concession 
and Liberality habits, his grandeur is become such that 
no man (not a slave) can work with him or for him ; and 
other Cabinet Minister cares to encroach upon t ince 

of the Leader (God help us) of the Ho. Comm. . 



246 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

The two letters with which I close this chapter are con- 
cerned chiefly with a co-operative scheme which was 
started at Brighton, and in which Southey's friend Gooch 
and Southey himself contrived to interest Rickman very 
strongly. He found on visiting the headquarters that it 
was not a satisfactory venture, but his letters show that 
his views on social reforms, if conservative, were not 
unenlightened. 

' 14 July 1829. 

' I thank you for your intelligence de Cooper atoribus 
and propose to visit them. . . . Labour in common produces 
idleness in all, or injustice to the industrious, which they 
will not tolerate. But under modifications, whereby 
individual labour is rewarded (especially by task work) 
I think the co-partnership contrivance not impossible, 
and it cannot but be beneficial, if it open such prospect 
as to encourage thrift and accumulation among the 
numerous classes of society. I have no doubt the world 
might become a place comfortable for all, if (as you will 
observe) the good would be as active and zealous as the 
bad. At present, for lack of proper direction, efforts to 
do good much oftener do evil. Witness the lady's bazaar 
and sundry id genus exuberances of blundering bene- 
volence. If I composed Canons of Benevolence, they would 
appear repulsive and severe. The down-hill path of alms- 
giving and patronage is pleasant to the individuals who 
give and who receive, cruelly mischievous to the com- 
munity in an enlarged view of consequences. Now the 
same mind which disposes to kindness and benevolence 
will not endure discipline and contradiction in what seems 
laudable zeal, and therefore I think it is that evil, which is 
always a down-hill path (patet janua Ditis), prevails so fear- 
fully. However if I could first rectify the administration 
of the poor laws, in which the wasteful expense is not in 
my opinion the greatest part of the evil, I should look 
afield for further work. 



LI Fi: AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 247 

( Miss Lamb is said to be convalescent ; p. interim he 
is here visiting me and enjoys himself well.' 

Those to whom all Lamb's goings and comings are of 
interest will see that the last paragraph supplies a fact, 
which was hitherto unknown. The Lambs were now at 
Enfield, and on May 3rd Mary was taken ill, and did not 
return home till the end of September. Lamb's loneliness 
is described in a very pathetic letter written on July 26 * to 
Bernard Barton, in which he says that he spent ten days 
of his loneliness ' at a sort of a friend's house, but it was 
large and straggling one of the individuals of my old 
long knot of friends, card-players, pleasant companions 
that have tumbled to pieces into dust and other things.' 
So far from * enjoying himself well ' Lamb was in the last 
stage of depression. London, empty of his old friends, 
was not what it was, and it is to be feared that Rickman, 
with his political preoccupations, was changed too. Never- 
theless, it is interesting to know who was Lamb's friend of 
those ten days. 

Southey in his reply sent a message to Lamb : 

( Remember me most kindly to Lamb, and tell him that 
the Every Day and Table Books have given me a great 
liking for his friend Hone, whom I would shake hands 
with heartily if he came in my way, or lay in mine.' 

Co-operation and politics fill the last letter. 



1829. 

4 ... He who seeks to enter into a cooperation c 
must be, or must mean to become, a thrifty character with 
all the due appendages of respectability in his station of 
life : because the new punishment of expulsion which he 
thus creates against his future misconduct will weigh upon 
his mind constantly in time to the creation of propn 
in all his behaviour. . . . Cooperation would also produce 

1 Lucas, Work* of C. and M. Lamb, vol. vii. p. 818. 



248 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

the same sort of benefit as arises (without being generally 
perceived) in every large family of children, wherein the 
natural watchfulness of all for the benefit of each counter- 
balances the seeming difficulty in providing for many. . . . 
The frequent meetings of cooperators would soon lead to 
such rapid intelligence of openings for the entrance into 
life of suitable aspirants, as would preclude those who 
chuse to live in the dark corners of the map from equal 
chance : whereupon they would become worthy candidates 
for admission, and universal society would rely upon good 
behaviour. And this is a good large view of benefit, because 
we should no longer be annoyed by frequent crime. . . . 
Another evil we might abolish, if the lower orders in general 
had recourse to ready money payment the scandalous 
frauds resulting from the Insolvent Debtors' Court. . . . 

' I go to town for the Prorogation of 15th Oct. : as yet no 
govt. exists, and I expect that the Whigs will force the 
D. of W. to their terms of sharing very largely in the power 
he loves to keep to himself. Of the Tory party he can find 
no representatives with whom to negotiate ; for who 
can answer for another that the conspiracy whereby the 
R. Catholic question was carried shall be forgiven, that the 
betrayer will not again betray ? I send you a curious 
proof of the state of things in placable Ireland. The R.C.'s 
are disarming the Protestants, and thereby arming them- 
selves in the South ; and as they cannot do this in Ulster, 
they modestly petition Govt. to disarm the Protestants 
there for them. . . .' 

I omit a very long letter written in October, which is a 
summary of all Irish history for Southey's benefit. By the 
end of 1829 the first political crisis which the two friends 
had so long dreaded was over. Worse was to come. But 
the Reform Bill needs a separate chapter. 



CHAPTER VIII 

1830-1832 

Parliamentary reform Letters purely political Macaulay's maiden 
speech Rickman the political philosopher Calls Southey to arms 
'Monarchy or Democracy* The projected Colloquies Rickman's 
outline Introduction of the Reform Bill Rickman on the debate- 
Dissolution The second Bill An all-night sitting O'ConneB's 
Irish devils Murray and the Colloquies The third Bill Wellington*! 
failure to form a ministry The Bill passes Murray and Spottiswoode 
impede the Colloquies Rickman wishes to retire. 

FROM 1830 till the passing of the first Reform Bill the 
interest of the Rickman and Southey correspondence is 
entirely political, and Rickman's letters during that period 
seem to me to be peculiarly interesting. The Tory Lord 
Colchester died in 1829, and the extant memoirs of the time, 
with the exception of Croker's, are all more or less Whig. 
Rickman's uncompromising accounts of the stormy sessions, 
and of the scenes which he himself witnessed, supply more, 
perhaps, than Colchester could have given us the reflections 
of an intelligent, if bigoted, Tory upon the Reform move- 
ment, of which he did not know the inner political workings. 
I, therefore, only make a passing reference here to less 
important topics that appear in the letters Rickman's 
struggle with the Macculloch school of political economists 
on the occasion of the census of 1831, his article on co- 
operation for the Brighton Co-operator, Telford's building 
of the Clifton suspension bridge, the holiday in 1830 spent in 
examining harbours with Telford, the education of Southey 's 
iu phew, and a second long visit of Bertha Southey. Reform 
and the projected Colloquies, of which further ment 
will be made, take up the whole field of vision. 



250 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

The movement for Parliamentary reform had been in 
existence throughout Rickman's life, though it had received 
a severe check from the outbreak of the French Revolution. 
During the war against France there was a strong reaction 
among the governing classes against reform, and the frenzied 
outpourings of such men as Hunt, Cobbett and Burdett, 
and the riots of Spa Fields and Peterloo, however much 
they may have educated public opinion, only convinced the 
governing classes that reform meant revolution. With 
the advent of Canning and Lord John Russell, the agitation 
took a calmer tone. In 1821 Lord John Russell secured 
the disfranchisement of Grampound, and in 1827 East 
Retford and Penryn suffered the same fate. The Tories 
were apt to ascribe the decrease of violent agitation to a 
general loss of interest in the cause, but in fact the body 
of quiet conviction was growing more and more overwhelm- 
ing. By the beginning of 1830 the air was thoroughly 
charged : the great time was felt to be at hand by the 
reformers, while the Tories were uneasy and painfully aware 
of the weakness of Wellington's Government. Rickman's 
letters up till the dissolution of Parliament in June give a 
very good indication of the Tory nervousness. Sou they 
and he, sturdy Britons both, felt that a last struggle must 
be made, and it was Rickman who first suggested to Southey 
that he should enter the field in defence of law and order. 
The challenge was accepted with alacrity, but it was not 
till later that the plan took shape. 

A passage from a long letter of Rickman's on co-operation 
early in the year may be taken as a preliminary bugle call. 

'Jan. 11, 1830. 

' . . . The D. of W. seems to be trying a new system of 
govt. by means of the nominees of the peers in the Ho. 
Comm., in which he will have so little success, I guess, as 
in attempting a military govt. at once. It may issue indeed 
in universal outcry for reform of Parlt. and this cause a 
revolution, which if it happen at all will be on the democrat 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 251 

side entirely. In all dangers however let us keep a cheerful 
heart and a good countenance. . . .' 

Parliament met on February 4, but the session was 

unimportant, except to display Wellington's weakness. 

Political unions in favour of reform were springing up all 

over the country, and several reform motions were intro- 

ed, though defeated, in the House. On April 15 the 

u's illness was known ; on June 26 he died, and 

Parliament was prorogued on July 23 by William rv. in 

person. Rickman's letters during the session need little 

comment. 

'Monday Evening, 2M March 1830. 

' We have spent much time here in long debates, and 
have arrived at nothing useful or agreeable. The Govt. 
began the session knowing themselves to be outnumbered, 
and have been steering their narrow course sometimes 
buffetted, often yielding, and the other day beaten. Of 
course the Whigs and Radicals profit by this, and few days 
pass without some concession so that the Govt. must soon 
to cease to govern by influence, and we shall have to choose 
between arbitrary power, and democracy. I do not like 
either, but the first rather better of the twain. The Adnii n i - 
stration are trying to tide it over the session, and will then 
I suppose try their luck with a new Parliament. But I 
think they will not fare much better than now, as trenchant 
arguments are not admissable, nor anything beyond the 
worn out armour of sham defence, . . . nor is it easy to go 
deeper, to utter any thing adverse to mobbish prejudices 
ig impossible as matters stand here. I daresay we shall 
have reform of Parlt. triumphant in a twelvemonth. 1 
not know whether you could invent any daring truth- 
telling vehicle. Otherwise the prophesies which occur here 
every evening as to the growing power of public opinion 
will doubtless produce their own accomplishment. I assure 
you I see all persons hampered in the web of Liberality 
which has now spread so many cords, that no argument 



252 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

can be pursued to utterance without being stopped 
prudence, which is become obviously necessary to prevent 
being stopped by clamour and hooting. The nonsense 
of free trade and reciprocity is still unchecked, though it 
wants nothing to its overthrow than pursuing the argu- 
ment of selfishness, every man taking care of his own interest, 
whereby the interest of all is pursued, and which by no 
means could be obtained by the care of all exerted in behalf 
of individuals. And if you can imagine a society of twenty 
men in which they very sensibly attend to their own 
interest and that of their families and the twentieth thinks 
only of reciprocity, there would be little doubt that the 
last would be ruined, and that without the least blame to 
the rest. The sooner ruined indeed if they played the 
rogue, but ruined he must be by their vigilance opposed 
to his Liberality and attention to the interest of all. This 
is the true picture of a State pursuing the phantom of free 
trade. 

6 Again as affecting the internal trade (our mutual 
dealings about 6 times as important as foreign dealings) 
the folly and mismanagement is not less. The story of 
the Belly and Members ought to be retold. The free 
trade people set each vocation against some other. The 
abolition of the corn law (already ruinously weakened) is 
still urged and no man could here venture to suggest that 
manufacturers without customers could not prosper. I 
inclose you a whimsical view of their absurdity, and I 
think there are half a dozen other absurdities of the same 
kind, all sacred and intangible, all surrounded by a halo 
of sanctity, of beastly error in the mantle of philosophy. I 
am sick of it, and I shall rebel when I have time and encour- 
agement and of time I shall have more henceforth, having 
got quit of the Hd. Roads and Cain. Canal by which I was 
oppressed. Of another matter. The other day a Commn. 
was appointed on the state of the Irish Poor, I think intend- 
ing an investigation of the fitness of poor rates in Ireland. 
It chanced I fell into conversation with Spring-Rice (their 
Chairman) who said they must make a great effort in 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN ! 

md at agricultural improvemt., but could not without 
advance granted by the Government. This seems singu- 
larly impudent expectation in the sister nation which pays 
no taxes, and I said, I thought they ought to do it on their 
mrces, if they were in earnest. He, who is courteous, 
asked How ? I told him that during some long speech 
evening I could write evidence for his Comran., and I have 
done so, much in the argument of taxing the land for its 
own improvemt., as I think I wrote in the vacation to you ; 
but more circumstantially, as on a single unmixed subject. 
I gave him this, which he took as a God-send at a dead lift, 
and says he has sent it to the printer for the edification of 
his Commn. ; If I get a copy, I will send it you, and if it 
does nothing else, I think it will hinder any quacking in a 
matter very important, and only to be rationally dealt with 
in heavy armour. 

* The Whigs, certainly the Whiglings, expect office forth- 
with and individuals have offered their services to the 
D. of W., but what he will do I know not. He likes power 
but employs inefficient instruments, people who neither 
bring credit to his Govt. nor votes. Yet we are without 
any hope of change for the better, so distracted are politics 
and party, and the mob will break in unless repelled by 
police men and bayonets. Thus you have the fruit of a 
few long speeches. Sir James Graham speaks very elo- 
quently but always in the wrong.* 

The two following extracts the first from Southey, the 
second from Rickman allude to Macaulay's maiden speech 
ich was made on April 5 for the second reading of 
Grant's bill for the remission of Jewish disabilities. Rick- 
man's allusion to Sierra Leone is explained by Zachary 
Macaulay's having been the first governor of Sierra Leone, 
which was founded by Wilberforce and others for liberated 
slaves. On leaving Sierra Leone, Zachary Macaulay set 
n l> as an Africa merchant, in which business the connexion 
witli Sierra Leone was doubtless of considerable benefit. 



254 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

<Ap. 13, 1830. 

* . . . You have a young cockatrice in Bab Macaulay, 
who is in league with the sinners by principle (if the abnega- 
tion of all on which good principles can rest may be 
caDed) and with the Saints by blood. . . .' 

- Ap. 20, 1830. 

c . . . Young Mr. Macaulay threw off with a good specimen 
speech, rather too epigrammatic I thought for good to 
but shewing ability and dexterity of thought. I heard of 
the admixture of saint and sinner in him. The Sierra Leone 
virtual monopoly accounts for the first, native taste and 
appetite, I suppose, for the second half of his character. . 

The next letter is a very interesting clue to the working 

of Rickinan's mind. 



* ... We have had 
Comm. than I ever n 



confinement 
er before Easter, 



in the Dom. 
and I thought 



it no bad set off, to pass rapidly through Hie air during the 
Easter week. Therefore putting post horses to an open 
four wheeled carnage, I conveyed our young ladies to 
Abury, Stonehenge, Sarum, Winchester, ex- 
is I went partly with the aid of the "Celtic 
Druids "the tide of the book above-mentioned and as 
I paid the author with written observations, you shall 
have the benefit of them when copied. 

' Sitting on the hinder seat alone during 262 miles, per- 
haps 26 hours of journey, I hummed my tunes and thought 
over affairs general and particular, in my constrained leisure, 
and arrived at strong ccnduskms in both kinds, so that I 
do not think your Colloquies * of trenchant form enough to 
meet the foe, who unless met steadily front to front will 
demolish the IfrigKah form of Government in the course of 
the next Parliament, in 5 or 6 years. At what time the 



t ^ 



Sir T. Jf ore (1829). 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN KK'KMAN 

English Constitution was in its safest state, best balanced 
I mean between despotism and democracy, I cannot decide, 
but conjecture it already to have inclined to the latter evil 
when the personal character of Geo. m. was requisite to 
turn out Carlo Khan l and his Indian Bill. Pitt's char- 
acter, or rather that of his bolder prompter R. Dundas, 
afterwards attained a decided preponderance on the same 
side, and the grand war carried us on by the necessity of 
events till it was closed at Waterloo ; nor did we feel the 
increase of democracy in or out of Parliament till the troops 
returned home from Flanders occupation, and were dis- 
banded not very long before our tnp to Scotland. Then 
came the influence of Hunt, the field of Peterloo, and the 
outrageous lies about it, indicating the virulent appetite 
which could swallow and propagate them. 

4 In fact we began to feel the want of Geo. m. before he 
died, and in that event the freaks of Q. Caroline n. shewed 
us what a want of ballast we had experienced. The mobo- 
cracy disgraced themselves (even that became possible) by 
the attack of foreign witnesses at Dover and induced the 
necessity of guarding them by land and by water in their 
Cotton Garden residence. The Whig aristocracy disgraced 
themselves (which was possible enough, but not probable) 
in taking part with a woman whom they beyond all others 
had publicly represented, (justly indeed), as a notorious 
Messalina on the Continent, who poisoned Ompteda at 
Rome, and hired assassination for Col. Ward, though un- 
successfully. Even this woman, whom in chanty we must 
deem insane, shook the throne as soon as it was unworthily 
occupied, and from that time to this the Signa labenii* 
Imperil have increased upon us shadily and fearfully ; the 
dark clouds rising from every point of the horizon. 

* It is said, but I do not believe the alledged extent of the 
change, that offices compatible with a seat in Parliament 
have decreased in about 100 years (the beginning of Geo. n.) 
from 250 to 50. If the first of these numbers was tolerable 
and convenient long after the boasted Revolution, the last 

Fox. 



256 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

is defective to the amount of another revolution : and it 
really is so, the zeal of attack rendering the Oppositions 
in Parlt. much better disciplined troops than the Governt. 
party, which is weakened in this respect by the Prime 
Ministers, Liverpool and now Wellington being in the Ho. 
Peers, and not personally suffering from the unceremonious 
inattention of their Ho. Common friends, who unless the 
enemy strike at the throat (a rare imprudence) prefer a 
dinner party or the Opera to a debate and division. Canning 
was still worse, his frequent gout and his constant personal 
impatience granting all minor points rather than endure a 
late debate, in fact buying off by repeated commissions 
and personal gratifications the attacks which ought to have 
been otherwise resisted (as our Saxon ancestors paid Dane- 
geld, till in natural process a Dane became their king). 
This same Canning had long been (for the purposes of his 
own boundless ambition) leader of the defection which pre- 
ferred R. Catholic emancipation to all other political motives ; 
and the Whig Radicals, wise in their generation, understood 
the benefit of having half the man, for making the Church, 
which is or was, half the support of the State. 

' The D. of W. with little more of the statesman than a . 
vulgar appetite for power, succeeds the intriguer Canning, 
who in his year eased himself of a financial statement by 
borrowing 7 or 8 Millions upon the promise of a Finance 
Commee. in the next Session. So the D. of W. in his year 
eased himself of Opposition by conceding the R.C. question 
(for I do not believe in any higher or other motive), and 
upon the strength of this meritorious sacrifice relied on the 
steady support of the Whig Radicals for how long a time I 
know not. But that he did so, is proved by the otherwise 
incredible spectacle of an Administration meeting Parlia 
ment with the weakest party of three in the Ho. Commons ; 
and a flying squadron (Huskisson and Co.) who hate the 
minister that discarded them when they tried the experi- 
ment of a Canning intrigue upon him. 

' And what a spectacle have we seen ! Saved on the 
second night of the session by the aid of Joseph Hume & Co., 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 257 

yielding many points of dangerous importance since, to 
avoid defeat ; saved when Paulet Thompson l aimed at 
the throat, at the management of the Exchequer, saved 
beyond their hopes by the Brunswickers * relenting for the 
sake of their country, and coming down in a phalanx of 50, 
which again saved the Administration. Still more degrad- 
ing sight, that the Govt. party coming to a Vote with 
avowed expectation of beating the Jews 2 to 1, were beaten 
by a sedulous Jew canvas of M.P.s. Thus it is plain that 
the Ministry are actually afraid to enquire which way any 
of their supposed friends intends to vote ; and so much 
are the patrons of boroughs and their nominees at variance 
that 100 M.P.s are known to have been in town on a night 
of pressure and importance, but have absented themselves 
from the House. 

4 Of course the Mob cry of distress, economy, unsparing 
retrenchment, relief from taxation etc. flourishes under 
h incoherent semblance of authority, and the monarchy 
of England is weakened every day by the abolition of offices 
high and low, which will soon leave it without a prop. 
Already a motion is announced for the abolition of the office 
of lord lieutenant of Ireland, and the same arguments which 
have already prevailed as to lower offices, and will be re- 
peated on that occasion, are equally valid against the office 
of kings now shorn of its consistent defenders by their 
disgust at the virtual contempt of all public principle in 
the R. Cath. concession which thus has produced evil 
which seems unremediable, and I am persuaded is so, unless 
good men rally for their own sakes for steady defence for 
what is left ; which indeed I do not think can be merely 
defended, the vantage ground must be regained, or sordid 
turbulent democracy will not fail to overwhelm us with 
vulgar commonplace arguments which from non-resist- 
ance, have assumed the force of axioms of accredited truth. 
supported of course by the spirit of the times, the march of 

1 Poulett Thomson, afterward* Lord Sydonham and Governor-General of 
Canada. 

* The anti-Catholic party. 

R 



258 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

intellect, liberal opinions ; and the schoolmaster whom 
Mr. Brougham has put in motion.' 

On May 4 Rickman begins by lamenting the revolutionary 
tendency of the times, and he continues : 

* ... This has come to pass from the R.C. Relief Bill, 
and more I think from the manner than the matter of what 
was very bad in itself ; but what is stratagem in warfare, 
is treachery in legislation, and all M.P.s who think so, 
have seceded from support of Government, many of them 
venture active opposition, though in doing so they join 
with the inveterate revolutionists, who cannot be kept in 
check, unless the steady part of the House vote with the 
Govt. on all dangerous questions. Properly speaking, an 
attempt to govern without the support of a decided majority 
of the Ho. Commons is unconstitutional, if not revolu- 
tionary, and shows a degree of ignorance, or of dangerous 
intention in the D. of W. which is tremendous in contem- 
plation. It is indeed his ignorance in larger proportion 
than his ambition, and of course he and his colleagues are 
in a ridiculous condition, kicked and cuffed on all questions, 
giving way whenever the Whig-Radicals, or the Bmns- 
wickers do not find motive to help them. . . . Pitiable it is to 
witness their weakness ; last evening they reckoned upon 
the K's illness to carry a Windsor vote, but they reckoned 
erroneously, and had to make shameful retreat. But the 
same state of things which produced this, which hi itself 
imports little, produces also a clear prospect of reform of 
Parliament in the next session ; this appearing a less evil 
to many good men than a faithless Govt., which beyond 
doubt is capable of anything for self-preservation. If the 
D. of W. were not crest-fallen from his discovery of feeble- 
ness in his expected strength (for he had actually counted 
on gratitude in the R.Cs. and the Opps.) he would e'er now 
have undertaken to regulate Church property, and he carries 
on official reform for the sake of vulgar applause of revolu- 
tionists and fools in a manner equally demonstrative of 
unfeeling selfishness, as of ignorance that the influence of 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 259 

the executive Govt. is already so low, that military Govt. 
or democratic anarchy cannot but ensue unless some sound 
defence is built behind the breach. 

' This can only be done by throwing off all disguise, all 
cant ; by allowing that all men being alike and none 
perfect, our kind of Government can only subsist on influ- 
ence : that unless a thorough conviction of this, and an 
open avowal of it can be produced, false defences founded 
on what does not exist (absolute purity) must fail ; and 
the scum of mankind will take possession of power instead 
of those who though they have not realised absolute purity 
have arrived at a higher grade of morality than ever 
occurred before in the history of the world. I question 
indeed, whether the power of wickedness, of profligacy, 
arising from no conscience and no responsibility (you 
understand this well) can be resisted, unless we openly 
distinguish public from private affairs, and confine to the 
latter the strict rule of never doing evil that good may come ; 
meaning by the evil (what Democrats declaim against) 
influence on the conduct of the powerful, as far as to be 
sure of their support of the existing system of Government, 
without which it becomes and must remain matter of 
dangerous uncertainty, how long any Government will 
endure. For instance ; if the K. dies, there will be no 
(1 to move in Parliament, that a K. is an unnecessary 
officer of the State ; but a Democrat might gravely say, 
That a million a year to maintain an unseen monarch in 
his drives to Virginia Water and the cottage in Windsor 
Park, is sadly mispent, and 100,000 a year will be fitter 
allowance : and this would abolish the Civil List revenue, 
and therein monarchy, in the course of 7 years. 

* I aim at proving to you (in desultory manner) that it is 
fit you should shew yourself in the field ; and I think it 
would be far from creating deficiency in your ways and 
means, if you dedicate yourself to this for the next six 
months, so as to produce an 8 VO at Christmas. I can give 
you infinite matter, if I am enabled unseen to do so ; but 
intimate news of essentials, and knowledge of the motives 



260 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and movements of the actors and the public stage of politics 
and Parliament, is indispensable, and you must seem to 
acquire this yourself at some sacrifice : that is ; you must 
undergo the trouble of attending a few debates in the Ho. 
Commons, and spending some time in London intercourse, 
to induce a probability of your knowing aliunde all I know, 
and of your introducing from your so acquired stores all 
the commonplaces I can produce on the effects of 
Parliamentary reform, on the free trade folly, and on the 
frame of human society, all on the same principle of 
developing the naked truth and exposing vividly, but 
civilly, all the vulgar mistakes fearfully current, as being 
in their consequences incompatible with justice and social 
happiness. Finally, for all good purposes, you must call 
for your portmanteau, put yourself in the coach, and visit 
us here for a month at least before Parlt. separates ; say 
you must come in the middle of May, and dedicate yourself, 
R. S., to Parly, observations, with my comments there- 
upon. Are not any of your young ladies in full state of age 
and acquirement, that you could bring one with you as a 
half-feint of motive for coming hither, and without pre- 
venting you from dedicating your time peremptorily to 
what you please ? 

* Consider my large scheme and perpend whether you 
ought not to enable yourself to put into good form your 
own thoughts, and my practical views of men, causes, and 
consequences. The fertility of the subject is such that 
selection, not matter, will be the difficulty. 

4 My time is exhausted, my paper full. Farewell.' 

Southey expressed his readiness to come to London in 
June to gain Parliamentary experience. But owing to the 
King's illness and death, and the prorogation, he did not 
pay the visit till the end of October. Rickman continued 
to furnish him with food for thought. 

' 12 May 1830. 

' The impending Popn. Act for 1831 now in Parliament 
has let loose upon me several of the Pol. Oeconts. besides 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 261 

Maccuiloch ; their habitual insolence, (so habitual that they 
manifestly are unconscious of it) is amusing, but it has 
cost me 3 or 4 days hard work, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 
(all the glimpse of leisure in a week) to fight them by ant 
pation ; for if once they give an opinion, judge whether I 
should be able, unaided by any, to keep their nonsense out 
of the act. This task, and not reaching home till daylight, 
confuses me somewhat, but I think I wrote a few words to 
you on Monday. The K. is in a pitiable state, dying in 
asthmatic and spasmodic misery. W. iv. v nue the 

Ministry, sub modo, which modus, when fully displayed, 
will make them resign. Then Lord Holland, joined by 
Huskisson and Co. will come in. A sincere Whig, and a 
free trade intriguer. Pretty work we shall have ; two or 
three changes, new Parliament and p. interim monarchy 
abolished ; or perhaps only an euthanasia. You m 
attend Parliament enough to render it uncertain whether 
I communicate out of school or not. We expect dissolution 
about the 25th May, say, the end of the month ; 50 days 
go deep into July but when Parliament meets, you must 
be summoned to your duty of inspection.' 

1 Sunday, 23rd May 1890. 

"... Now for our affair, the Ministry are feebler and 
feebler ; and curiously enough (considering your recent 
mention of Bain's limit for libel) this very week Lord 
Morpeth, a promising Whigling, having given notice of 
motion for repealing the law which you know inflicts banish- 
ment for the second offence, was stopped last Tuesday 
from doing so And how ? By Mr. Atty. Genl. under- 
taking to do it himself ; and this mean cowardly insolent 
fellow has done so accordingly. You shall have a printed 
copy of this bill in a day or two. You knew Scarlett t) 
was the tool of the D. of \V. in t\u> or three imprudent 
prosecutions just before Parliament met, when the D. 
thought himself inexpugnable and the Radicals his friends, 
and this is Scarlet [t]'s peace offering, in atonement for 
himself and the Duke, whose crest is fallen ; his ignoi 



262 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

of parties and men, and things not military is marvellous, 
yet I believe it will be expedient to apologise for his mis- 
deeds, and support him, or he will doubtless turn democrat 
first and tyrant afterwards. We will consider this at 
leisure ; which leisure I think will soon occur. For I make 
up my mind now that the K. will live long enough to carry 
the session to its end. If he lives three weeks, they would 
go on three weeks more and end it, leaving much business 
undone. Now if Parliament was dissolved and did not 
meet till November, my purpose of your obtaining 
ostensible knowledge of affairs and especially of the Ho. 
Commons would fail very inconveniently ; so if you please, 
as soon as can be in the month of June leave the hay-fever 
at Keswick, and under cover of that, and of shewing your 
young lady useful novelties, let us expect you and her on 
Thursday week or thereabouts ; you to suffer martyrdom 
in some degree at the Ho. Commons, she to find as much 
amusement and instruction as she can in London. For 
your purpose you must be on a steady visit here, and I 
think you will not say much of your intention of coming, 
lest engagements too much anticipate and embarrass your 
Parly, attendance. I think I shall be tolerably clear of my 
Popn. tormentors before the end of this week, and I shall 
then in the House, during the tiresome debates, oftener 
squabbles, produced by the present state of affairs, ponder 
my schemes of action, and mark down the topics on which 
to accumulate matter. My present notion is, not to prepare 
the book as of any party, but as a warning voice, to prevent 
revolution finding men unawares, because it is not in the 
shape of popular violence. I would treat as a problem the 
effects of various forms of Govt. in England, and let all men 
see that non-resistance against the growing power of the 
Oppn. and non-defence of what is left to the Crown, cannot 
but lead to reform of Parlt., which again cannot but abolish 
tythes, seize Church land, ruin agriculture and the landed 
interest by free import of corn, and under the name of 
" equitable adjustment " pay as much, or rather as little, 
of the interest of the National .Debt, as the tax payers 



II IE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 263 

Property in fact must disappear, and the obvious 
inconvenience of all this, when plainly proved, will form a 
-r phalanx, who ought to enter into steady combination, 
and \rill do BO, if they are heartily frightened. 
4 My notion of title ii 



* Monarchy or Democracy 
and the motto, 

* Ne Quid Detrimenti Respublica capiat. 

' Whether monarchy [is] better than democracy in the 
abstract, and whether it is better in England : and if so, 
what is necessary for maintaining it here in due vigour. 
To prove in a friendly manner to the Whigs, that they must 
oease their habitual attacks on a fortress which they do 
not seriously mean to batter down : to the Tories that they 
must defend it steadily and keep guard as a regular army, 
behind the wide breaches made since the death of Lord 
Castlereagh. They must do more, and strengthen the 
Crown by more numerous officers of Govt. For at present 
the bodily and mental fatigue of all efficient members of 
the Administration destroys them as rational beings. 
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ; and I know 
from my own last fifteen years existence during the session, 
how impossible it is for a harassed man to think his own 
thoughts, or to start into a new field of action. The answer 
which is uttered, or which is kept back, always amounts 
to a plea of impossibility of doing more than what is 
absolutely necessary, that is, of opposing their enemies 
; I o. Commons who during the session make incursions 
o every department. This sort of annoyance goes so 
far, added to the small power of the Crown to remunerate 
service, that we are near in danger of finding anybody to 
take office. At present Lord Althorp. the most respectable 
of the Whigs, professes (and truly) that he does not aim 
at it. So Sir Richard Vyvyan, the most sensible of the 
Tories, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer * (who and 

i Ooulburn. 



264 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Herries, are the only true labourers in office) openly pro- 
fesses his office to be one which he would gladly relinquish. 
So that the Govt. is in danger of dying of the dead palsy. 
Brougham, who I suppose might have any thing, cannot 
take office whether for good or for evil because he cannot 
afford it prudentially. Mr. Peel with his augmented 
wealth will get sick of flummery, whether given or swallowed 
in the midst of his feeble doings ; and I really believe that 
as matter of calculation, I shall see refusals of the highest 
offices, unless the dread of ruin consolidate the Tories and 
all honest men, so as bear down the ignoble assailants who 
now think themselves, and I am afraid politically speaking, 
justly think themselves, of weight and consequence from 
their mere power of annoyance. 

' I hope you will answer that your portmanteau is airing ; 
you know how happy Mrs. R. will be to receive your visit, 
and for my part I have often found your friendship a species 
of nobility, very useful to me, as well as ornamental, so that 
from interest as well as from inclination, I say the longer 
you can give us your company here the better. Yours 
truly always, J. R. 

1 P.S. Monday, the K.'s symptoms recur water collected 
in thorax.' 

' 29 June 1830. 

' Today we are told per Message from King W. iv. that 
Parliament is to be dissolved quam citissimum ; so say I, 
but I doubt whether all the beating and buffetting under- 
gone by the Ministers this session has made them know 
that they cannot yet push in some of the foolish feeble 
trash now before the House : we shall see. I think a 
rattling debate (tomorrow probably) will irradiate their 
obscurity and force dissolution forthwith. I hope so, at 
least, heartily tired of the disgrace of fatigue about nothing 
the Ho: Comm: absolutely contemptible in its ways and 
doings.' 

A tremendous impetus to Liberal sentiments during the 
general election was given by the July Revolution in France. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 265 

Before Parliament met on October 26 fifty seats had 
changed hands, and the Tory regime was doomed. During 
the recess Rickman continued to discuss topics with 
Southey. The following are some extracts from his letters. 



August 1830. 

. If we may judge of our own Govt. by the Courier, 
y are in contemptible timidity, palliating and seeking to 
disguise from themselves the recurrence of the old spirit 
of revolution. . . . Unless there be such a defection of the 
Whigs, and such association of those who have property, 
as at the commencement of the first Revn., our Govt. also 
must change its nature by the obvious mode of reform 
of Parlt. But I think our National Debt will again be our 
sheet anchor. Will. rv. will be better than his predecessor 
in troublesome times. I believe Geo. rv. had not a friend 
in the world ; his odious liability to sudden and capricious 
dismissal of his personal and household friends keeping all 
in uneasiness. Will. rv. may perchance keep the mob in 
huzzaing humour, which will be clear gain. I scribble 
occasionally what occurs for our purpose, and will send you 
(at least) a list of topics fit to be interwoven. I am 
oppressed by the multiplicity of matter which urges for 
delivery, and dissatisfied therefore with whatever preference 
or priority I allow to any part of so diversified a subject. 
Farewell.' 

1 7 September 1890. 

. So of a reform of Parliament, I am not afraid of 

t' it arrived at the height of precluding the populace from 

any share in elections, the qualification to be measured by 

direct taxation : and herein all foreign nations (our imitators) 

have the same advantage of us, as in juries. They can 

establish better (in tabuld ra*d) on view of our imperfect 

rudeness of antiquity ; but what our reformers require, 

and the only alteration practicable, is to throw more power 

the hands of the populace, who already by their 

clamorous interference, exercise great influence, even where 



266 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

they have no vote. Thus if one third of the Ho. Commons 
is created by the aristocracy, a full third are as direct repre- 
sentatives of the mob. ' I am sent here (says Hobhouse) 
for this,' when half laughing at the absurdity of his 01 
assumed violence in favour of his mob Parish Vestry Bi] 
The county representation is also become exceptionable 
from the increase of freeholders. No man could face a 
contested election either in Yorkshire or Lancashire un- 
less meaning to spend 200,000. Accordingly Stewart 
Wortley and Lord Milton have abandoned the former to 
Whig adventurers, who were quite safe from making any 
large expenditure. In fact the forty shilling qualificatic 
ought to be made 40, for the same reason as it became 
40/ when the best land was not worth I/ per acre per annum. 

4 1 really do not know a single place in England whei 
the qualification of voters is unexceptionable ; so that 
though the Ho. Commons as a whole is not a bad repre- 
sentation of all, yet a reform whereby property might best 
protect itself might be safer than the rude manner now 
in practice the antagonism of parties, whence practically 
comes a good result. Against reform therefore we need 
not argue, but against any reform which gives more power 
to the populace, and which could scarcely fail to be followed 
by excessive national degradation for 20 or 30 years. . . .' 



' Friday Morning, 17 Sept. 1830. 

6 . . . The Govt. cannot be in a more contemptible 
posture. If you had seen the D. of W. sitting night after 
night, affecting to listen to the East Ret ford evidence, for 
the sake of credit with the reformers (who little meant to 
carry that point), you would have pitied him. The enmity 
of the D. of Cumb. and Huskisson is a whimsical specimen 
of one poison antidote agt. another, for the contingent good 
of the public. The D. of W. cares nothing about free trade 
nor aught else beyond office ; in which too he is uneasy, 
because he must perforce search for colleagues beyond those 
who have submitted to military sway. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 267 

4 1 hear the Whiggamoree begin to be frightened (Rascals !) 
and to meditate a defection as in 1792. We might make 
thorn an excuse for it. J 

The reference here to Huskisson has a pathetic interest, 
for on September 15, at the public opening of the Liverpool 
and Manchester Railway, he was knocked down by an engine 
and fatally crushed. He died during the night ; but it must 
be supposed that the news had not reached Rickman. 

1 4 October 1830. 

4 ... I think the Government since the Revolution has 
a one of antagonism, the weakest of the two parties 
(the outs) always ready to call in popular help, and thus 
being pledged (a vile system) to yield something on coming 
into office. What the Crown has thus lost: The royal 
negative ; the elective votes of all employees [in the] 
customs, excise, stamps as if proscribed persons ; the pre- 
sence in Parlt. of all offices since 6. Anne prohibited, cum 
multis aliistoT which we must read history. 

4 Is antagonism the best system still ? It is found to 
be so in law, where justice could not be administered unless 
lawyers pleaded on both sides. This seems unfit, until the 
contrary is proved to be more unfit, as may indeed be 
proved. Yet no scandal is more common, none more 
obvious and popular, than the blame of lawyers taking 
fees on the notoriously wrong side. I support then that 
antagonism is also good in political affairs ; spite of Opposi- 
tion increases the responsibility of Ministers by displaying 
everything, and thus injures their good conduct. Yet 
this antagonism, which relies on the influence of the aris- 
tocracy (unless where the useful rotten boroughs intermix 
the influence of wealth) is become scandalous. Every fool 
can gibe at it, and the power of such fools, and their fine 
friend the Press is become so great, through the liberalism 
of the said aristocracy courting popular aid, that antag- 
onism can be supported no longer, and we shall make good 
compromise if in a general reform of Parlt. we can keep from 
voting the populace. 



268 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

' But in treating of these subjects, it will be fair to display 
the good arguments (recondite indeed) in favour of antag- 
onism and influence, which however after nine years 
surrender (I date from the death of Lord Londonderry) 
I think cannot be supported. 

' As to present men, I am not sure W. iv. and the D. of 
W. would not join the mob rather than lose their power. 
Indeed reform of Parliament from the Throne and Prh 
Minister, even by surprise and stratagem, would be bi 
quite in march after the R.C. concession which really was 
but to secure one or two years of power without further 
trouble.' 

Much disappointment was caused by the King's speed 
on November 2, which did not mention reform, and feeLu 
against the government was made still stronger by tl 
Duke of Wellington's speech in the Lords in which he 
roundly declared against reform. This declaration was 
rather embarrassing to the Cabinet, but they stood by 
Wellington. Brougham at once gave notice of a motion 
for Parliamentary reform, but before it came on the govern- 
ment was defeated on a motion regarding the civil list. 
On November 16 Wellington resigned, and Lord Grey was 
asked to form an administration. Meanwhile Sou they 
had paid a long visit to Rickman, lasting throughout 
November and December. During this visit the literary 
plan of campaign was matured. A new series of Colloquies 
was to be written jointly by Rickman and Southey ; Sou they 
was to continue in the character of Montesinos, which he 
had assumed in his published Colloquies, and Rickman was 
to assume some other fictitious name. It was also agreed 
for purposes of secrecy that the copy should be sent by 
Rickman to Robert Lovell, who was in Hansard's, to be 
set up privately, in the expectation that Murray, when he 
was apprised of the scheme, would be willing to carry on 
the printing in this manner. As will appear in the sequel, 
it was chiefly owing to difficulties connected with the print- 
ing that these Colloquies never appeared. After a visit to 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 269 

Rickman's country home, Southey returned to Keswick 
at the end of December. Rickman at once got to work, 
and it was not long before he sent a sketch of the projected 
work to Southey, who was to compose an introduction, 
describing the visit of Montesinos to his friend in London, 
and his return with the friend to Keswick, where the 
Colloquies should begin. 

'3/otinary 1831. 

. For my part, I have once more had cause to re- 
member the old school thesis which has always haunted 
me Dimidium incepti, qui bene coepit, habei. Beginning is 
the great obstacle with me ; the other half I always mid 
easier, and work in good hope and eagerness : especially 
as the materials may serve for something hereafter if not 
now speedily in use. My persuasion that the time presses 
for opposing hitherto unresisted error urges me on and I 

: that I shall work daily in January 1831. Occasionally 
I have remarked to you upon various points of your colloquy 
sufficiently for recognition under whatever name you choose 
to assign to me. You will remain a mountaineer. I 
should prefer a name not significant of anything but manner, 
suppose Instantius a word derivable obscurely from 
insto, instans, instantior, but perhaps you will hit on a 
better name. 

* Supposing you to begin with fit recognition expectant 
of conflict and paradox, and by no means laudatory I 
presume you to remove what you say in your Colloquies 
of my notion in behalf of the National Debt, and to ask 
longer explanation as much needed at present, provided 
it can be given unencumbered with the modern meta- 
physicks of political economy. . . . [Here follow some 
detailed comments.] 

' I know you are well employed, yet you see I do not offer 
a sinecure for your acceptance. Of course you will say 
whether to pursue the Colloquies at this expense for 
though I give needful clue for your interpellations, I bargain 
that you write every word of them, and smoothe the angles 



270 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

of my phraseology (which will grow smoother as I write 
more), in fact, alter as much as you can. If I try to 
furnish bone and muscle, you must be answerable for skin 
and colour. If we can get out a pars prior of a volume in 
February, comprizing (1) Corn Laws, (2) National Debt, (3) 
Free Trade, (4) Poor Laws, (5) Currency, (6) Liberality and 
Selfishness, (7) The Power of Wickedness (you are Kehama), 
(8) Secondary Punishments, or any other more tempting 
subject which may occur in progress of the work, this 
done, the pars posterior may be political to suit the pressure 
of the time not yet distinctly foreseen and unsafe till the 
former part in sale as a shoeing horn which pars posterior 
may also teem with notes (preuves as the French speak) 
in some detail, and presuming largely on the possible 
ignorance of the reader. 

' All this may make a first volume and without difficulty, 
for I find (perhaps you have found) the personification of 
a listener to produce much facility of composition, and 
the conversational form abolishes, as conveniently for the 
author as the reader, the necessity of regular classification 
and induction which costs much, retards much, and spends 
the brains of both parties to little purpose. Farewell. I 
will not now be guilty in that kind and pray write as 
shortly as you please whether and how you wish me to 
proceed. Bertha's cough is exhausted, and she is merry 
with the rest.' 

How much Southey appreciated Rickman's work may 
be judged from the two following extracts. 

* 4 Jan. 1831. 1 

' . . . I will begin earnestly as soon as I get home. . . . 
I cannot work with your iron industry indeed, nor with 
anything like your expedition, yet I will make good haste 
and no ill speed, and polish and inlay when it can be done 
with good effect, taking however care never to take away 
from the strength of a rough hewn style. We shall make a 

1 Selections from the Letters of R. S., iv. 205. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 271 

new sort of Beaumont and Fletcher, to my great gratifica- 
tinn, for I like dearly to think of being held in intimate 
remembrance hereafter with those from an intimacy with 
whom I have derived most advantage and delight.' 

'Jan. 8, 1831. 

* I am so in love with your work that it puts me out of 
humour with my own, because pressure of time prevents 
me from immediately following up my part. You will 
certainly set the public right in very many most essential 
points, and me also upon some, by the way.' 

Two further letters from Rickman show the eagerness 
with which he threw himself into the work. 

'11 January 1831. 

* I have now collected a large stock of materials for 
the series of Colloquies, but cannot write so confidently 
(therefore less rapioUy), while I feel a sensation that much 
of the connecting machinery will be badly patched in 
hereafter, that the spirit of conversation of characters will 
have no natural touches, if it be all penurious interpolation. 

I have been thinking of addl. Mr. persona dramatis. 
I do not see how he can carry you this kind of freight unless 
from London, and therefore that you among your mountains 
shall receive a visit from this gentleman whom you may 
oppose in title to your Montesinos by some Spanish name, 
as if a courtier or employee of some kind of Spanish office, 
who has read your Colloquies with Sir T. More, but from 
much business has been prevented from visiting you many 
years ; who from an impediment in his speech (my situation 
of hearing but not speaking in the Ho. Commons) has com- 
municated his strong opinion to no one unless casually 
and dogmatically, not seeking to impress them, but that the 
prudential errors in all subjects becoming more and more 
practical and dangerous, it may be interesting to MonUsinos 
to hear summarily the conclusions at which his friend has 



272 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

arrived, trusting to general recollections of dates and 
facts (which to be reserved for appx. or notes). 

4 1 don't think a Spanish name will be worse for being 
understood by few. 

' Now I turn to my National Debt heap of materials.' 

' 14 January 31. 

' I received your note, pray remember " When the wicked 
man turns away from his wickedness "and let us give 
him fair chance. He has talents too. May he apply them 
pro bono yublico. 

1 1 see that 12 or 13 sheets will be enough for our present 
purpose ; for there must be appx. or notes after the 2nd 
part of the vol. as much as in your first vol. of Colloquies. I 
find that Messrs Hansard have been employed by Murray 
confidentially in setting up private matter in preparation 
for the Q.R. and R. Lovell being with Messrs H., with 
my influence there we may command all sort of accom- 
modation. I would not consult Murray ; that will be soon 
enough before the book is finally printed ; and if it prospers, 
it can afford to pay the first typed MS. ; if not, I will pay 
it wilh'ngly. I like very well your projected order of battle ; 
provided you do not mix any party politics in your London 
remarks, as I would wish to offend no man in what is really 
not matter of party, but of human society. I shall try to 
be smooth even with Malthus to whom personally I owe 
heavy grudges. 

' Pray let me have an outlandish Spanish name. Is there 
not an office about the Court and the Councils there a 
Camerario ? Would that do ? I send you 3 sheets, and 
put you in sight of my National Debt conclusion. The 
more I send, the more excursively you will think. I doubt 
not your rapidity of execution when you reach home full 
of concocted matter. I reckon on finishing the 8 subjects 
before the Ho. Commons meets.' 

Grey's Government, which included Althorp, Palmerston, 
Melbourne, Goderich and Graham, with Brougham as Lord 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 273 

Chancellor, was considerably troubled by disturbances 
in the south of England, the question of the civil list, the 
revolutionary movement in Belgium which subsequently 
resulted in separation from Holland and an unsuccessful 
budget. Their credit, especially shaken aa it was by the 
budget, was only preserved by the general anticipation of a 
measure for Parliamentary reform. Rickman's letter of 
February 25 strikes the general note of the opposition 

'to February 1831. 

1 1 receive continuation of your MS. and send it to Mr. 
Lovell, through Hansard's. It is not certain the reformers 
will carry the introduction of their expected bill, unless the 
other party play (I think) the better game of letting them 
print the abortion, before they strangle it. This may 
depend on what it is. The present Govt. (so called) is not 
expected to last beyond the Easter holidays by them- 
selves ; others allow shorter term. They place their hopes 
in a war, which may cover over a financial blunder, in 
loans, etc. The disturbances in Ireland will produce active 
union among all men of property, and give us good example 
here. That done, all danger is over, but unless we can 
obtain some large act of reform, in disqualifying all voters 
throughout G. Britain, who are not freeholders, or do not 
pay taxes for a house of 20 or 30 a year value, our calm 
will not be long. It is said, that the infamous Wakley is 
to be brought in for Middx. or Westminster by Mr. Taylor 
Place l and the blackguards at the next general election.' 

On March 1 the Reform bill, \\ hu-h was broadly the same 
as the measure finally passed, was introduced by Lord 
John Russell. After a long debate of seven days, it passed 
first reading on March 9 without a division. Rickman 
sent Southey frequent and spirited bulletins of progress. 

2MordU831. 
. . Great sport we had last evening in the Ho. 

1 Francis Place, the leading spirit of thoWrtmiMt 
and one of the originators of trades unions, was originally a I 

S 



274 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

Commons in laughing at the silly though destructive plan 
of Lord Johnny for reform of Parlt., and the backing speech 
of the Tricolor Donkey Lord was truly asinine. No other 
member of the Govt. spoke ; and there were three good 
speeches against reform, touching the particular plan (for 
which nobody was prepared) but slightly of course. Sir 
R. P. undertakes this to-night. 

' The whimsical mismanagement of this immortal plan 
(for it will remain a scare crow in history) is such, that 
by now excluding all bribeable freemen non-resident, and 
by excluding all such in the next generation, a strong party 
will be furious against it in the large boroughs, and Lord 
Johnny's proposal for improving the small boroughs which 
his lordship spares from proscription by infusion of districts 
round them alienates all the boroughs favoured at this 
expence, this half extinction. And who is to form the 
limits of the districts thus cut off from county elections 
whether they will or nill ? A Commee. of the Privy Council ! 

' I heard it mentioned as opinion (of fact secretly obtained, 
I believe) that these wisemen have enormously altered 
their plan towards Radicality, much within the last week ; 
and it being clear that no Govt. could go on 6 months with 
a Parlt. so reformed, the inference is (drolly expressed you 
will say), that the contemptible failure of budget and their 
mutual recriminations in consequence, have given them 
a near view of exit ; and they had rather blaze out, than 
stink out. Yet in this tactic they continue to blunder ; 
because their declaration of war against all bribeable 
freemen will procure them internecine enemies, fiercer and 
more efficacious than any idle ballot mob can be in their 
favour. 

' I am too closely worked to write Colloquy ; but as I 
am well ahead, I shall be able to fetch up at Easter. A 
speedy war and soon ! ' 

<4 March 1831. 

4 Here we are on the fourth day of reform of Parlt. Mr. 
A. Baring gave heavy fire upon the reformers last evening, 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 276 

a friend of their own. His nephew Baring Wall made an 
excellent speech against reform the preceding evening. 

Deemed as if no Cabinet Minister (except the Tricolor 
the first evening) were willing to speak. At last Lord P. 
[Palmerston] lashed himself up to an uphill speech. A 
Canningite in favour of reform. Then Sir Rob. Peel spoke, 
best speech he ever made, very trenchant on the 
Administration in the first half, very conclusive of reform 
in the latter part. I think to-day the reformers seem to 
resolve on producing the great scare crow ; I feared they 
were scared from it by their looks last evening. It is said 

\' have sent to the City for alliance from bullying C 
meetings, and one of them arrived just now. . 

1 Tuesday, 6 Monk - 

' The sixth night eloquence worn thread-bare. 

4 Majority of " the Reform Bill " anticipated 46. I think 
more. 

' Lord Howick told us last evening that England for lack 
of such reform had been governed wretchedly during the 
last 40 years : and this young Radical is the prime mover 
of his father, Lamb ton the Second/ 

'March 12, 1831. 

. . The Ministers in their desperate humour are 
i 'fitly intriguing with O'Connell, and are rapacious for 
radical aid, although Hunt tells them that he and his friends 
will push on regardless of any such concession as is 

e inimitable bill which is to appear on Tuesday 
unless (as is likely) they break their promise, hit lie mean- 
time, every tool of agitation is at work. We reckon about 
260 or 270 will vote for the bill, 300 to 320 are again*: 
Inn there may be fearful defection by wilfull absentees. 
The Coward of Kent (Sir E. K.) l already shews the white 
in asking a fortnight's "leave of absence," /one- 

Sir Edward Knatcbbull, M.P. for Kent. He had declined office in 
Grey a administration, being unable to go the whole length of the reform 
measure. He did not stand at the general election, but eat again for 
Kent after the bill was paeaed. 



276 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

seeing ill health with careful eye. In fact they hazard their 
elections, as if future elections were desirable, if the bill 
passes. The learned say the bill will be defeated, 46 
majority against the second reading.' 

The debate on the second reading of the bill occupied 
March 21 and 22. In a short note on March 22 Rickman 
announced the result. 

' Ayes 302. Noes 301. 

' The Whigs have had a shout, but their bill will drop, 
without going into Commee., so they seem to allow is 
necessary, because about 30 M.P.'s bullied by their con- 
stituents into yes upon the 2nd reading, reserved opposition 
to details. All has happened in the best possible manner, 
as we shall see.' 

I conjecture that an imperfectly dated letter of some 
length was written next day, Wednesday, 23 March. The 
Government had indeed contemplated dissolution, but not 
on account of the second reading division. On March 16 
they had been defeated on the proposed timber duties, 
and it was only at the King's instance that they remained 
in office. 

' Wednesday Evening [23 March, 1831]. 

' You know that we have arrived at the fit termination 
of Lord J. Russell's bill, for the Whigs do not pretend they 
can proceed with it. Indeed to-day they have held Cabinet 
Council as to immediate dissolution of Parliament, but I 
believe they do not foresee their gain in this, and are going 
on with the Civil List, as decency extorts from them a 
tardy attention to the personal comfort of the King, who 
has had to receive a quarter's salary as Duke of Clarence, 
for pocket money. 

' I believe the Queen is much against dissolution of Parlt. 
at the bidding of the Whigs, whom by this time she cannot 
but detest, and dread : but the K. hesitates between her 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 277 

influence, and his mob popularity, so that perhaps the 
Whigs do not think fit to put their power with W. rv. to 
the test ; and as they are out of office, whenever Sir R. 
Peel's party use the means in their power, perhaps the evils 
of a new Parliament may be averted, which will allow 
time for better thoughts. For it seemed to me that Sir 
R. P. did not speak on the question for 2d reading because 
he could not do so, unless avowing consent or dissent as 
to the necessity of some reform of Parlt. ; most of his friends 
who spoke yielding so far to the popular voice, or themselves 
thinking reform of Parliament necessary ; so do you and 1 . 
but not for other reason than that the present state of 
things is (nationally speaking) dangerous and intolerable, 
the duration of every supposeable Administration being 
much at the mercy of the press, and with no security against 
the chance of any prevalent popular delusion. 

* Lord J. Russell seems to have abandoned in pure despair 
of maintainable attitude the silliest and wickedest whiggery 
of his bill, whereby he and some two or three others of the 
Privy Council were to settle at their discretion the com- 
ponent parts of three fourths of the boroughs which they 
condescend to leave in existence (if in propriety of speech 
boroughs can exist without corporate rights of voting). 
This high function rarely exercised by Parlt. itself in single 
delinquent boroughs, he allows ought to be further con- 
sidered ; but he hopes the Opposition will be so good as 
to invent for him some better mode of doing this a pleasant 
devolution of employment to enemies of the bill, to do for 
him what he cannot do himself, the author of it. Every 
borough and its intended satellites would create a lengthened 
investigation, and if appeal allowed, twenty years would 
elapse before this task (itself a creature for spawning Whig 
influence) could be so finished, as to go to work in meni 
of Parlt. making. Having considered the matter on all 
sides during some of our hours of debate, I am clear in pre^ 
ference of your scheme for electing electors. There is no 
other way of arriving at a definitive sound arrangement 
such as can bear argument, and exhibit impregnable defence 



278 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

if once established, without which ingredient reform is 
but the preface to reform without end, in which process 
the anarchists would not fail to succeed sooner or later in 
their efforts, which are argus-eyed. The baseless con- 
fidence of Lord J. R. that his reform would produce a limit 
of reform, I cannot understand to me an unintelligible 
self-delusion, yet I think sincere, for three months' experi- 
ence of modern Whiggery in office has lowered estimatioi 
of their intellect to this grade, without in the least raisi] 
that of their morality. For their very reform (if human 
nature do not suddenly change) is but their own death 
warrant delayed it reminds one of the exclamation of 
Catiline when he rushed into hopeless rebellion. 

' Things are come to this position : unless the friends of 
good government emulate in some degree the activity of 
the enemies of all govt., no administration can count on 
stability can be useful at home or respectable abroad. 
If the friends of good govt. would combine in a corporation 
society (which seems only to require a first move or move- 
ment among the rich in the city) the press might perhaps find 
its interest in comparative moderation, and the anarchists be 
repressed. The experiment ought to be tried before adven- 
turing on any reform of Parlt. or on a new election. (Saturday 
morning). Supposing dissolution of Parliament not to happen 
immediately as is now currently reported but some say 
not till actually in the Committee on the bill (14 April) 
I will try to put my thoughts in shape to-morrow/ 

The motion for going into committee on the Reform Bill 
was made on April 18, and General Gascoyne proposed to 
move that the number of representatives from England 
and Wales should not be diminished. The division on 
this latter motion, taken on April 19, resulted in a defeat 
for the Government by 299 to 291, whereupon they advised 
the King to dissolve Parliament, the formal prorogation of 
which took place on April 22, amidst considerable uproar. 
This will be sufficient comment on the next three letters 
from Rickman, who remained in the conviction that light 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 279 

would eventually dawn upon the electors. It was a most 
gross delusion. 

' April U, 1831. 

. Our precious reformers expect to be beaten as to 
England retaining 513 members ; but will not be sorry for 
that, calculating on so much more influence, as they have 
more seats to distribute. They really seem in earnest with 
their foolish bill, although it seems impossible (even with 
Whig prejudices) not to foresee their own sure destruction 
following close after the triumphal paean. 

4 I think they will withdraw this, and bring in a new bill, 
or play off some such trick as may keep them in to the end 
of the session, and then they have i year of undisturbed 
official existence in sure prospect. At all events they will 
be unmasked finally, and nothing can be more useful. 
The very mob begin to dislike ten pounder masters, who 
are indeed the basest persons in human society the very 
sharks of bribery in all our election petition evidence, and 
not too numerous to be bribed. The mob of universal 
suffrage men could present the saving quality of difficulty 
or impossibility in their very numbers. . . .' 

Ap. 19, 1831. 12 o'clock Tuesday Morning. 

4 ... Yesterday two rumours were launched by the 
Whigs, one that Parliament should be dissolved on Wednes- 
day, the other that they would modify their bill, meaning 
to tide it over on pretence of the new census in May next. 

'Last week, Lord J. R. fearing the success of Genl. 
Gascoyne's motion, said that if the sense of the House was 
in favour of it, he saw no surrender of principle in accom- 
modating the bill to it. Two days after Mr. Stanley and 
Lord Al thorp said Lord J. R. had been misunderstood and 
that it could not be conceded (this to gratify their wor 
ally O'Connell and other Irish friends, who vote for the 
bill, bribed by the surrender of English franchise, of tox- 
paying England on the principle of pauper populatioi 
Ireland being very numerous). Yesterday after two vacil- 



280 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

lations (at 10 and 2 o'clock) comes down Lord J. R. with 
an amended bill, giving half of what was required ; 31 
members left out of 62 (or rather 72) intended to have been 
retained from England, for trafficking purposes in the 
progress of the Whig bill. But Genl. G. does not swallow 
the bait, and when the discussion closes, it is said that the 
Whigs will be defeated by majority of 26. I should rather 
say half that number. 

4 Lord Grey said this evening in the Ho. Peers how much 
he regretted that Brougham was taken from the Ho. Commons 
before he made his reform of Parlt. motion, which would have 
been mild and acceptable compared with the Whig bill ; 
intended indeed as a shield between the Govt. and the 
failure of budget and desperate in proportion to the necessity 
of the case. Now, in fact, Brougham's threat in the Ho. 
Commons to bring in a Reform bill made him L. Chancellor ; 
Lord Grey sending for him that evening, and making him 
accept or reject the sudden offer without a moment's delay, 
thereby preventing the said B. from conference with his 
hungry party, who had claims in plenty. So that if any 
peer had said to the veracious Premier, you lie, and know 
you he what would the noble lord have said? The 
result of all is, that the Whigs knowing that their success 
in this their attempt at reform is the future ruin of them- 
selves, yet they hate their successors enough to act on 
Catiline's resolve, Med ruind extinguam. 

' Greater wickedness no statesman ever conceived. It was 
bad enough even in the Roman traitor.' 






* Last evening produced the proclamation for dissolu- 
tion of Parliament, and here I am Sunday afternoon writing 
on a large sheet of paper, in recollection of the days of no 
franking, which do not exceed a fortnight, and in the 
interim I have means of receiving letters without expence. 
Our St. Margaret's window 1 will be best as a finale, and I 

1 It was intended to include Rickman's description of the antiquities of 
St. Margaret's, Westminster, in the Colloquies. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 281 

think in fact you must attend the meetimg of Parliament, 
I had nearly said your duty in Parliament for a watch- 
man at hand will be useful in these troublous times. 

' Whether the Radical Ministry will gain numerically by 
the dissolution is not certain. I think they will, but I also 
think that time for truth to break through the artificial 
mist (in which the half-taught and therefore doubly ignorant 
classes are enveloped by the unanimous press) will be 
gained, so that many a man who goes into the House a 
Radical on the 14th. June may find cause in himself or his 
constituents to be a good subject at Xtmas. I believe the 
tactic of the Radical Govt. to be solely directed to dura- 
tion in office, and that when Parliament meets, it will be 
thought by them too late in the year to do more than lay 
on the table a new edition of their bill. If they have a 
majority in numbers, this will keep them in till Xtmas ; 
and my notion of such intention is much fortified by acci- 
dentally knowing that they at first thought of stretching 
the necessary 52 days to 60 for the meeting of the new 
Parliament, which yet seems late enough in the year to do 
no more than gallop through the supplies, and the private 
i>ills left unfinished now. On the whole I congratulate 
myself personally on 7 weeks holiday, which I shall try to 
employ to good purpose. . . .' 

During the holiday the Colloquies proceeded apace. 
Rickman had finally decided to maintain his part under 
name of * Metretes,' which is an allusion to his favourite 
motto, perpov apiarov, 'Moderation is best.* These first 
slips printed by Lovell had reached Southey on March 24, 
and by the beginning of May the project was ripe for com- 
munication to Murray. Southey also wished to show the 
proofs to Wordsworth, as he feared that Coleridge would 
* travel from Dan to Beersheba in the margin. 1 Southey 
sent a letter to Murray, suggesting an interview with 
Rickman, which the latter thus describes on May 6. 

4 ... I sent Murray's letter yesterday evening froi 
Gerrard St. twopenny post. Forthwith he trudged hither 



282 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 






through the rain to inquire of the opus, of which he said he 
formed high expectation from your letter. It happened 
a week since, Mrs. Rickman met him at Mr. S. Turner's. 
I suppose he had taken a glass too much from the manner 
in which he addressed her about you with great admira- 
tion, but lamenting that you did not write for the public, 
in popular form and taste. So I told him Mrs. R.'s report 
of the conversation, and asked if I could be any use in 
giving you a hint. With some little embarrassment he 
confessed he thought colloquy not so acceptable as other 
forms. I said perhaps so noiv, but that I found most 
scholars better pleased with Cicero in the Senectute, etc., 
than in his Offices and formal attempts. He affected to 
know this, and to yield his opinion readily. . . .' 

Meanwhile the elections had proceeded to the cry of 
'the bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill,' and amidst 
great popular excitement. The Government found itself 
with a large majority in the Commons. On June 24 the 
new Reform bill, differing little from the old one, was 
introduced by Lord John Russell. On July 8 it passed 
second reading by a majority of 136. But the Govern- 
ment was not out of the wood. Owing to opposition 
obstruction, and O'ConnelTs quarrel with the Ministry 
over the ' tithe-war ' in Ireland, the committee stage was 
prolonged till September 7. The bill passed third reading 
on the 21st by 109, but after a second-reading debate in 
the Lords lasting five nights it was rejected by 41. On 
the 20th Parliament was prorogued, but Grey remained 
in office with the intention of introducing a third bill in 
the next session. Several letters from Rickman cover 
this period. 

* 26 June 1831. 

4 ... The new Ho. Commons are better looking, and 
better behaved people than the last, and I am willing to 
argue well from physiognomy. The inconvenience to be 
apprehended is just that which Lord A. apprehends in his 
mention of Sir R. Peel, that by reason of his frozen un- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 288 

cordial manner, 1 nobody personally likes him, and as a 
grand apostate he has no right to claim, nor appearances to 
tify confidence in him. I confess that in fact I expect 
he will be in office with the Whigs before Xtmas, for his 
knowledge of Parly, tactics and public business and his 
eloquence (which from out-of-office leisure grows powerful, 
from the opposite cause which ruins that of Sir J. Graham 
and the other Whig Radicals). His eloquence is quite un- 
matched at present, and alone would shame the rogues 
out of office, which yet he. will not take with any chance of 
holding it. I believe long continuance in office, that is, 
in a crowd of business so harassing as to admit no inter- 
ruption from human feelings and unconstrained intercourse 
with family and friends, to create no attachment, and even 
to cease to feel any, has unfitted Sir R. Peel for being the 
focus or polestar of any party, and this at present is sad 
for England, as the Radical party (all volunteers or zealots 
in a bad cause) can only be well opposed by parliamentary 
combination under a good general. Our best hope is that 
in the Committee on the bill, there will be woeful discord 
among those who mean mischief and those who are hitherto 
dupes, the last party being vastly the most numerous. 

'The bill was withdrawn during the 8 weeks recess, 
omitting the division of counties, and the Privy Council 
Office Committee ; but they have been twitted with " the 
whole bill and nothing but the bill," so effectually as to 
have altered nothing but the Committee into Commissioners 
to be appointed by the bill. Not so silly and indecorous as 
other scheme, but of like effect. 

* Sir James Graham having struck off publickly in one 

1 The following IB an extract from Greville's Diary for March 1831 : 

mime to hear great complaint* of Peel of his coldness, moommuni- 

cativeness, and deficiency in all the qualities requisite for a leader, par- 

! irly at such a time. There is nobody else, or he would be desert* 1 
any man who had talente enough to take a prominent pert, so much does 
he disgust his adherents. Nobody knows what are his opinions, feelings, 
09, or intentions ; he will not go en avanl, and nobody feels any 
dependence upon him. There is no help for it and a man's nature oan't be 
altered.' 



284 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

affair, notoriously in a second, and privately in a third, 
now thinks to turn Drawcansir, 1 and to retrieve his valorous 
reputation by saying " unprovoked with ire " that he 
proposes to answer anybody not in the House but in 
private, who shall impugn his character. This was received 
with a grunt, of unpleasant sound to him I daresay. . . .' 

' 29& June 1831. 

' . . . The Whigs have not said that they will not pass the 
Reform bill through the House previously to the recess : 
rather they insinuate that they will allow to the end of 
August for the two Houses to pass the bill (a month each), 
but I think this cannot happen, as the Tories of the H. C. 
mean to resist pertinaciously throughout the Committee, 
in order to give fair ground to the peers to resist and reject 
the bill, as not carried with any appearance of concurrence 
in the Ho. Commons. I suppose by the continuance of 
Lord Shaftesbury as Chairman of Committees there is a 
decided majority against the bill in the Ho. Lords, and we 
may suppose some of them (such as Marquis Stafford and 
M. Cleveland) will open their eyes, so unaccountably 
closed at present, that each of them keeps his son out of 
the Ho. Commons (Lord F. L. Gower and Lord W. Powlet), 
because the young men foresee destruction to their families 
and titles instead of reform in the Whig bill. The Bps. 
are the men most to be distrusted ; their baseness in the 
R.C. bill has nearly destroyed all hope of them, if pro- 
motion of these reverend self-seekers is well managed. 
Still the upshot of all will depend more on uncontrollable 
contingencies than on Parliament : I mean on the lucky 
or unlucky combination of development, when the monied 
interest, the middle classes, and perhaps the landed interest 
open their eyes, and set properly in full opposition to 
democracy and confiscation. Then will the dark clouds 
be blown away, as in 1793. We have other chances in our 
favour, such as a No. 2. revolution in France, No. 3. in 
Belgium, and a continental war in consequence. 

1 The bully in Buckingham's The Rehearsal. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 285 

'I am glad Mr. Wordsworth likes our plain speaking 
colloquies. They ought to be published at Christmas. 
If Murray likes not a daring refutation of popular errors, 
somebody else may be found to venture the brunt. Large 
topics rise before me The praise* of prejudice and of 
selfishness and the odious results of independence. My 
paper is filled.* 

' Tuesday Evening [12 July]. 

'What with the Popn. work, the Highland Churches, 
and the Reform bill, I have more than enough to do and 
little time for thinking. At present moment, we are here 
undergoing the ceremony of successive divisions on the 
411. of adjournment, urged by the foolish portion of the 
Tories, much to the disadvantage of the party, who thus 
early, and on such trivial occasion, cannot agree in their 
mode of resistance against the bill. 

* The Whigs are wholly governed by the newspapers, 
the popular, and Mr. O'Connell a short threat from whom 
has prevented them from disarming his Irish subjects, 
although this was rumoured as the formal and even un- 
willing decision of the full Cabinet as on a matter of clear 
necessity. The Ministry cannot carry their bill in tlu- Ho. 
Peers, and project a Coronation as a fair excuse for large 
creation, and this will vilify that house, so that nobody 
will wish to save it from destruction. Wherefore I think 
n the slaves to the mob and Reform will hesitate before 
they really do thus.' 

' Wednesday (13 July]. 

' You will find we were all night deciding the House upon 
a question of adjournment in which both parties allowed 
ing 7 hours that they were contending for nothing ; 
ergo, both equally wrong in so disgracing the House. 

' Sir R. Peel went home at 12, refusing to be party to 
this ; a sad proof how little the Tories cohere, but his ioe- 
cold distant manner attaches nobody, and I should not be 
surprised if he takes sulk from the defection of last night 



286 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

of | of his adherents, who almost in words abjured him as 
leader. 1 

' Sad work all this ; and intolerably foolish pertinacity 
in that side to which all the blame will be attributed by the 
Press and the populace.' 

' 25/26 July 1831. 

' . . . We go on in the Reform bill about as fast or about 
as slow as expected, but the Government are dispirited not 
only at their own defect of answer or argument, but as fore- 
seeing that their labours will be lost in the Ho. Peers, where 
it is said they already expect a defeat, by a growing majority 
of 65 ; too many for any profligate creation of peers to 
overcome, seeing that such creation is prohibited by the 
adverse feeling of their friendly peers, who like not to be 
thus degraded. They are to venture about three or four 
creations of plebeians, [and] about 15 of eldest sons, pre- 
maturely moved from home to the Upper House. 

' We do not despair of strong opposition on leading 
points ; on 10 voters (in fact, rulers of the realm), the 
division of counties, and the Riding Commission ; and 
moreover the Whigs begin to discover one after another 
that they will not be sure of re-appearing here if their 
monster bill should become law. Candidates of lower 
grade are at work everywhere, and then (unless where 
conquered by bribery) will prevail. 

'It is said the Lords will entertain the bill by deciding 
not to notice it till the Scottish and Irish bills pass the 
Ho. Commons, and this evasion, by whatever majority 
carried, will be sufficient indication of what will happen- 
that is, the Whigs will not find it worth while to plague us 

1 f.;reville alludes t<> this debate in his Dmry for .July 14, 1831 : 
' The el'ieets oi I'ei -I'.-, leaving the party to shift for itself were exhibited 
I ho night before last. He, went away . . and the consequence was that 
they went on in a vexatious squabble of repeated adjournments till 8 o'c. 
in the morning, when the (lovt. at lust heat them. The Oppn. gradually 
dwindled down to ~.~> . . . while the (lovt. kepi 180 together to the last. . . . 
Aft'-r these two nights it is impossible not to consider the Tory party W 
having euoricd to exist for all practical and legitimate urids of pol: association. 
. . . There U still n rabble of Opposition, etc.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 287 

with those additional monsters, especially as the absurd 
novelty of measuring representation otherwise than by 
produce of taxation will overwhelm us with sturdy Irish 
beggars, already strenuous for public grants to Irish pur- 
poses, the said Irish not paying a farthing in direct taxation 
and the collecting of absentee rental costing about 800,000 
in the Irish Establishment.' 

4 Wednesday Evening [Aug. 10]. 

'We have jumped forward on the returning officer 
clause, and I think the ten pound electors will be on the 
anvil in the beginning of next week. ... As to the wide 
door for imitating Liverpool bribery, that argument will not 
be omitted. Perhaps the effect of the extinction of the 40/ 
freeholders in Ireland proves that universal, or at least 
scot and lot, suffrage would allow much more influence to 
the wealthy, than the 10 franchise ; it is plain the landed 
aristocracy in Ireland have lost all their former influence, 
by similar 10 franchise which hits the level of priestly 
influence and half independence, as if by artificial adjust- 
ment. If I opposed the senseless bill, I would move, in 
preference to 10, suffrage to pot- wallopers, or at least all 
rate payers, whereby the 60 Radicals now in the House 
would and must vote against Government and the ten 
pound voters, who are the basest and vilest class of men in 
the kingdom. Nor would my preference be feigned pa 
because it would at least make the quick-sand bill more like 
firm ground, solid brimstone in pandemonium but not 
in perpetual throes and explosion. . . . 

* Farewell, I am in good spirits, although in over work, 
House of Commons and Popn. being two heavy weights, 
but the infinite blunder of the wicked Whigs in foreign 
affairs, paralleled only by their immortal budget, will be 
matter of history, and the Peel currency bill (however ill 

iged concession to the said Whigs) will frighten everybody 
in good time, and turn the tide, for it is plain any man will 
hoard gold, or at least keep such a sum by him, as to half 
ruin all shopkeepers and artizans and give them a salutary 



288 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

foretaste of Reform. Also the Government must forthwith 
suspend payment of the saving-bank men, who thereupon 
must enlist on the right side. Thus good will grow from 
evil. . . .' 

Thursday [Aug. 11]. 

' Last evening O'ConnelTs squadron of Irish Devils- 
he rates them at 40 testified through his mouth their 
sudden quarrel with the Whigs, whom they have driven to 
some unavoidable rebellion against O'ConnelTs wishes. 
I suspect he required all Protestant yeomanry to be dis- 
armed, and this the Whig absentees thought portended no 
increase of their Irish rents. This squadron of 40 are now 
at the service of the present Opposition, and boast they 
can put out or in any party by their weight in either scale. 
This looks well, as it is likely to lead to combination on this 
side St. George's Channel as well as the other.' 

' 17th August 1831. 

4 ... The senseless bill founders in every particular, 
not a word uttered in defence of it. The Whiggery too 
is attacked by the Radical Press, and if Milord Grey not 
speedily out of office, he is to withdraw it as rather cumbrous 
in its machinery ; and after an adjournment of a fortnight, 
reproduce another hopeful chrysalis. I approve of adjourn- 
ment for any reason whatever, you will rightly conclude, 
being insufferably worked to no purpose. Yet in good 
health and spirits.' 

' 25/30 August 1831. 

' We make little way in the senseless bill. As far as it 
went to abolish and beat down, the operation was simple 
though foolish and unjust, but when it begins to create, 
and therein seeks to prove negatives, (that unforeseen diffi- 
culty and mischief will not arise from any clause) the affair 
becomes complex in infinite proportion, and here we are 
likely to sit accordingly. The Coronation is to create 
about 15 peers, but this is only to gratify so many Whigga- 
mores, for I do not think that anybody now fails to foresee 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 289 

entire revolution if the bill passes, and the Whigs tremble 
at the possible success of their own sweet bill. ... 

' In our own affair, I have been thinking, you should 
expunge all blame of the Press, as issuing from the mouth 
of Metretea : in order that when you open your plan of 
reform, we may strike a harder blow at the execrable abuse 
of the Press, by showing that your gradation of representa- 
tion would so completely abolish all chance of usurpation 
in Government, that the licence now held to be necessary 
as a rude corrective, in conjunction with mobs and juries, 
would no longer be needful and therefore without excuse. 
Much I think might be urged on this basis. 

' The Radicals are become so troublesome and dangerous 
to Government that I expect the Whigs and Tories are 
trying to coalesce. The D. of W. and Lord Grey have met 
on some fair excuse, and Sir Robert Peel's opposition is 
more and more measured. He grows intimate with nobody, 
and I presume will use no argument which can give offence 
to the mob of any grade. The ten pound householders he 
did not speak against at all, and I suppose he will soon 
say, that trade stagnates so much from the prolonged dis- 
cussion, that it will be better to expedite the bill to the Lords 
for rejection. Thus will he escape the unpopularity of 
strenuous resistance. I do not think that anybody pos- 
sesses more good arguments which he deems unspeakable, 
and perhaps in proportion to their power. Thus I fear 
he is not worth prompting. But he will not do anything 
very wrong, and his eloquence and habits of labour in office 
are indispensable to any strong Government, for all our 
pigmy statesmen in mass could scarcely compose a Govt. 
of decent strength or capacity. We seem to lack some 
stirring event to produce something better, if the whole 
generation of mankind be not really emasculated, by having 
read nothing but reviews ; all the little knowledge they 
have being second or third hand, and reproducing nothing, 
like seed two or three years old, and effete as to procrea- 
tion. How many, or rather how few, M.P.s have ever read 
a folio, nay a quarto author, unless perhaps of travels ! 

T 



290 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Every subject discussed displays mere penury of know- 
ledge and deep thought, and this lamentable symptom has 
been increasing till the race of men, of thinking men, is 
nearly extinct. 

' Mr. Sadler is talking of Irish Poor Rates this evening, 
and says the poor have a right to relief, not to be poor ; if 
the application of this principle is to be judged by the poor 
all property of course is extinct. 

' Per contra, Torrens pours out all the nonsense of political 
economy, of transition, etc. So that we cannot tell which 
errs most widely. My Population goes on well, and though 
I grumble at wasting 12 hours in 24 here, I must allow 
that the dissolution of the last Parliament gave me a precious 
7 weeks, in which I issued infinite instructions and placed 
all the machinery in such order, as nothing else could have 
enabled me to do. Now I have good materials in posses- 
sion, and if I cannot produce results quite so soon as if 
there were no Reform bill, that is of less moment. 5 

A fragment from Southey written on September 1 is 
also worth quoting : 

' 1 Sept. 1831. 

' . . . The bill and the Ministry are likely to go together, 
and I make little doubt that Sir R. Peel will have to gather 
up the fragments of both, and make what he can out of 
them. . . . Never before was poor England so befooled, 
be-pressed, be-whigged, and be-devilled. But it is some 
satisfaction to think that they who have brought things 
to this pass are in a fair way to be for their pains.' 

Meanwhile, in spite of the industry of Rickman and 
Southey, and the fact that six plates views of the Lakes 
had been engraved by William West all, there was a 
hitch in the Colloquies. It seems that Murray on receiving 
his first copy had proceeded to set it in type at his own 
printer's, Spottiswoode's, and had expected to print all 
further copy in this way. Rickman was incensed at what 
he considered a high-handed proceeding, and Southey was 









LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 291 

perturbed, because Murray not only had omitted to answer 
his letters on the subject, but had not paid him for his last 
contributions to the Quarterly. On October 25 Southey 
received news that Murray was in seriously embarrassed 
circumstances owing to the decline of the Quarterly's sales. 
Rickman comments sternly on this information. 



4 1 have your note of the 25 October, which puzzles me, 
because I think Murray more likely to go mad, than bank- 
rupt. To be sure he has thrown away great sums in idle 
expenditure unbefitting a tradesman, and his Representa- 
tive l experiment cost him 14,000. Yet after that I had 
intimate knowledge of his affairs (as I thought) from his 
brother the purser, who speaking with apparent know- 
ledge said, that as Murray's mind had with difficulty over- 
come the failure of a foolish but favourite project, all was 
well, and the loss of little consequence farther than keeping 
him in business a few years longer. Besides, his non- 
correspondence previously to his now supposed pecuniary 
distress was much like madness in a man of his extensive 
business ; and why does his son, who Dooms a man of the 
world, partake of this defect, which must ruinously dis- 
organise all his affairs, though not immediately. The 
whole is a riddle, but does he or not stop the progress of the 
Colloquies ? I suppose Spottiswoode will trust him ; though 
the absurd obstinacy of re-setting types already well set 
(as Murray must have perceived) savours of dependance 
and money due. I see that but one volume can come out 
in time for the Parliament, but that will only throw your 
double distilled representation into the first volume instead 
of the second, and without some of the (Adminicula) 
buttresses which might have helped it by graceful and 
imperceptible induction ; but it may be managed well 
enough. I think Sir James Mackintosh in his brilliant 

1 The morning paper started by Murray in which Benjamin Dbraeli 
originally had a share. It ran from January to July 1826, and coat Murray 
26,000. 



292 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

book of inconclusive generalities (Vindiciae Gallicae) lauds 
the French notions of that kind, and I am convinced more 
and more that no other popular representation is practic- 
able, without inducing sure mobocracy. 

* I know not whether Parliament will meet for a few 
days in December to permit the Whigs to produce another 
bill for the amusement of Xtmas holidays. They have 
fallen low in their own estimation I well perceive, and are 
in a down-hill state with the more honest mob. Farewell. 
I am going to dine with Mrs. Rickman at Windsor, Cras 
rediturus. Let me know what you think of a solitary 
volume ? I think the time critical, for the half-reformers 
Peel & Co. are more than half as mischievous as the Whigs 
and quite as silly to think they could govern with a half 
reform, when they found, in the irksome experience of their 
three last years, they could not govern at all, without the 
degrading concessions of Test and Corporation Reform, 
R. Cath. Relief, Beer Bill, Cheap gin, no prosecutions of 
the Press etc. etc. etc.' 

On November 14 Sou they wrote that the riddle of Murray's 
conduct was solved. In paying Southey for two articles 
he had paid at the rate of 20 per sheet instead of 100 an 
article, pleading the general stagnation of business. ' With 
all his follies and negligence and fits of incivility/ says 
Southey, ' I am sorry for him.' Rickman petulantly replied 
that Murray had better go bankrupt, and that in any case 
he must decide whether ho would carry on the Colloquies 
or not. But the year ended without any definite answer be- 
ing forced out of the procrastinating publisher, though he 
satisfied Southey's demands for full payment for past work. 

The final agitation for reform is too common a matter of 
history to need more than bare reference. There were 
riots in London and the provinces : a great open air meet- 
ing was held at Birmingham, and at Bristol the mob carried 
all before them, owing to the weak conduct of Colonel 
Brereton, who commanded the troops. Behind the scenes 
great efforts were made by the King and the moderate 



LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 293 

peers to effect a compromise, but when Parliament again 
met on December 6 no agreement had been arrived at. The 
Reform bill was introduced on December 12, and on the 
16th passed its second reading by a majority of two to one. 
committee stage lasted twenty-two nighta, and on 
March 23 the bill passed the Commons. The Lords now 
remained to be dealt with. The creation of sufficient peen 
swamp the Opposition was very objectionable to the 
King, and Grey promised to propose no creations at any 
rate before the second reading, which was carried on April 14 
by 9 votes. Two letters from Rickman are interesting on 
this period. 

' Sunday Evening, 5 February 1852. 

. In the meantime their beautiful reform of Parlia- 
ment bill improves in deformity as it proceeds, and the 
infinite ramifications of Whig-jobbery (now that they are 
borough limiting according as Whig property is situate 
near every place) puzzles its parents, and they have now in 
type 600 pp. of what they term " wrong reports " of boroughs, 
which yet we must possess with Whig corrections, before 
we can proceed far with our Commee. on the Bill. The 
introduction of actual value as the criterion of 10 seems 
to me a voluntary felo-de-se of the main principles of the 
bill. Lord Althorp, a diligent Chairman of Quarter 
Sessions, cannot but know from litigated questions of settle- 
ment of paupers that the law has twice declared such 
erion to be impracticable ; and the blunder, worthy of 
I J. Russell, the dullest of men, whereby evidence is 
virtually to be admitted on one side only, that of the 
mant to vote, crowns the mass of litigation in which 
every parish every year is to be involved. After all no 
other Government can come in, and we look forward into 
a beautiful obscurity. It may be enlightened by the torch 

iT. . . .' 

18 April 1832. 

* To-day is arrived your grand volume iii. of the 
Peninsular War. I thank you much for it, but in general 



294 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

times at present, too much harassed, curis et negotio, to say 
or do more. 

' Politics are wilder than ever ; the rebellion in Ireland 
being a palpable concomitant of any such reform of Parlia- 
ment as was madly promised by the Whigs in reward for 
Irish support, their English friends will not go to this 
length, and they must keep touch with O'Connell and Co. 
or quit office. I suppose the strength of the absentees 
now on the alert against obvious consequences of the Iris 
Reform, and the said absentees act in squadron on 
occasions of danger for their dear selves and their dc 
Irish property. 

' If once the Protestants were put down by a Reform 
bill supervening in the open partiality of the new Govern- 
ment to the R. Catholic dictation, they might duly be 
beaten and massacred in due course by their rascal country- 
men, and nothing but force applied on the other side by 
the base absentees can avert this evil. 

' Whigs, Whiggamores, Whiggissimi. I have not thanked 
you for a former book from Murray My distraction must 
excuse this.' 

When Parliament reassembled after a recess on May 7 
difficulties at once occurred. Lord Lyndhurst moved ii 
committee that the consideration of Schedule A. should 
postponed. On this question the Government were beat 
but they decided to make a stand, recommending tl 
King to create sufficient peerages to pass the bill, 
only alternative was for the King to accept their resignation, 
and this he chose to do. Wellington was ready to step 
into the breach, but without Peel he was helpless ; and Peel, 
seeing that reform was inevitable, refused steadfastly 
adopt a measure against which he had so strongly declared. 
Vain efforts were made by Lyndhurst and Wellington to 
make a Government without Peel and his party, but after 
six days of negotiation Wellington was forced to accept 
the assurance of Manners-Sutton and Alexander Baring 
that the attempt was hopeless, and on the 15th Wellington 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 295 

advised the King to recall Grey. It will be seen that 
k man's version of affairs was somewhat distorted. On 
May 15 he wrote to Sou they : 

' 15 May 1883. 

* Here we are, in the midst of political confusion, not 
worth telling of, but that at a distance such tales are 
acceptable. 

* The D. of W. held a conclave of peers before the 06. 
on the Reform Bill, and they manoeuvred so well, that 
Lord Grey professed desperation, and that he would ask 
the King to create Peers Q.S. Then said Lord Ellcnborough, 
professing to speak the sense of his friends (the conclave), 
we are willing to bid a little higher for mob favour and will 
so pass the Bill. 

* Lord G. having made ten times more promises than he 
wished to make peers actual, takes advantage of pretended 
discomfiture, and puts the question to the K. in such 
shape as to invite refusal, and the next day, he and Lord A. 
say they are out of office. The K. has recourse to the D. 
of W. who hesitated till he could try his friends, as to 
forming an Administration. But in this he fails, Sir R. P. 
not thinking fit to turn about so quickly, even Mr. Croker 
declining to lead the Ho. Commons, and respectable men 
not much liking the trickery on both sides. 

* So that last evening upon an unauthorized, I believe 
unintentional, phrase or hint by Mr. A. Baring, it was said 
by many with much more than usual seeming sincerity 
and abstraction from party, that the Whig Government 
ought to carry through their own bill, for good or for evil. 
And I believe the D. of W. sees he can do no better than 
follow this notion. Mundus vertitur sicut mola says some 
Dutch emblem. My own affairs rest till Whitsuntide, in 
a favourable position ; I think more favourably if the 
Whigs are in office than otherwise.' 

Grey's firmness had its reward. Most of the Oppo- 
peers abstained from voting on the committee stage, and 



296 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

by June 7 the Reform bill received the royal assent. 
Strangely enough there is no expression of disgust to be 
found in Rickman's correspondence at this time. His 
feelings perhaps were too strong for expression. Reform 
had come, and no Colloquies had appeared to rouse the 
country, for Murray had defied, possibly of necessity, all 
the efforts of Southey and Rickman to get the printing 
done in their own way. Rickman professes to explain his 
proceedings in a letter of October 17. 

' I have received your letter of 15 Oct., and now write nr 
budget of intelligence of Mr. Murray. Mr. Strahan (King'g 
Printer) died leaving two nephews, Spottiswoodes, in 
business. The youngest, a passable kind of man, died at 
Carlisle a month since of a cold caught on your Lakes. 
Andrew, who remains, was in Parlt. to give the K. Printer's 
Vote (fitly due to Govt.), but he was ousted on petition 
last Parlt. A most odious person, very greedy, but more 
morose and insolent, so that he actually loses much by the 
general aversion he has created towards himself. He 
married the daughter of Longman, her portion [being] 
that he should have all Longman's printing, and he pushes 
his claim far beyond the understanding of the trade in such 
cases. But he is as stout as Shylock and defies ill-will. 
When he came to know of Murray's embarrassment, he was 
ready to extricate him, provided he gave security, and what 
Shylock took in pawn are all the plates of the edition of 
Lord Byron's works, of which Murray cannot sell a copy 
without accounting to A. Spottiswoode, who superadded 
(on the strength of his forbearance in not publishing 
Murray's circumstances) the same conditions as on Long- 
man to print all Murray's publications also. This explains 
the grossness of your dialogue case, and the impossibility 
of Murray's explanation, and of any communing with 
Sp. If Robt. Sp. had lived, I was thinking of making an 
arrangement, but with A. S. this is universally known to 
be impossible. He never answers, yields or compromises. 
I know the man well, and shall amuse you when we meet 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 297 

with scenes I have had with him in presence of his uncle, 

or when he was dependent. 

Whatever the rights and the wrongs of the matter were, 
the Colloquies never appeared, and the manuscript seems 
to have been lost. 

At the end of his letter of May 15 Rick man refers 

to ' his own affair.' This was no less than a project 

of retiring from his post altogether, to devote the rest of 

life to leisurely pursuits. Southey heartily praised this 

ennination to leave the disappointing world of official 
labour, and advised Rickman to betake himself to those 
books from which overwhelming work had long kept him. 
Rickman seems to have anticipated no difficulties at first. 
On January 13, 1832, he wrote : 

' Rejoice with me at my thus deliverance, still more you 
will rejoice, if next week I appear not at the Ho. Comm., 
but this design is a secret yet.' 

And again on February 5. 

5J6. 1832. 

* I foresee no reason which can prevent me from quitting 
my hard service at Easter ; indeed I think I have power 
(in the background) for enforcing it upon those whose 
intrigues stopped me the other day. If they raise any 
feeling beyond the long-lived contempt which they mifltake 
for abstraction, woe awaits them. . . .' 

But for some reason, to which there is no clue, his retard- 
ment was postponed again and again. In May it was put 
off till Whitsuntide, and on June 26 he wrote : ' My escape 
from the H. of C. is impeded by procrastinating manoeuvres 
of which I do not well understand the motive and cannot 
overcome.' Later in the year he wrote in a more 
despondent mood. 

' Ecce iterum ! From some unintelligible jobbery, I 
am now told that as my legal claim for retirement accrues 



298 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

not till a month hence, it is unsafe to go out upon trust 
true, I shall gain 150 a year by this delay. But I hi 
rather quit now. As it is, I have resented the lateness of 
objection so far as to insist on a country trip the rest of 
this week, under colour of fatigue (for I have worked so as 
not to have slept above 3 hours in the 24 since Xtmas) 
but really to avoid personal complaints and civilities upon 
issue of the Popn. Volume ; for the eclat of closing my 
appearance with which, I have so worked. If you hear 
mentioned my proposed retirement, stop the rumour by 
saying it was premature. The Tory party is no more ; if 
they cling together so little as to leave to ruin our victorious 
champion, assailed only by a radical dissenter shopkeeper, 
who can ever serve them ? I do not wonder much ; but 
we now have only to keep as right as we can our Whig- 
Masters. For all, we will do so.' 

Nevertheless, ' unintelligible jobbery ' prevailed, and 
Rickman died in office eight years later. To those 
remaining years a separate chapter must be devoted. The 
vigour of his mind was now on the decline : the success of 
the long drawn out reform movement had thoroughly 
disgusted him, and from 1832 onwards the life seems to 
have left his trenchant pen. He had no longer a cause for 
which to fight. 






CHAPTER IX 



The reformed House of Commons The new Devils and the Whig Derfle 
Lamb dines with Rickman Rickman on Wellington The fire at the 
Houses of Parliament A graphic account Henry Taylor the hero 
Lamb's death Rickman's comment Southey offered a baronetcy 
The Exchequer demolished Judge Jeffreys' house Rickman's ill* 
ness and death Tribute of the House. 

THE election after the Reform bill changed the state of 
parties in the House of Commons less than was generally 
expected. Half of the members were Ministerial : there 
were about 190 Radicals and freelances, including O'ConneU's 
following ; while it was calculated that the 4 Conservatives,' 
as Peel's party was now called, numbered 160, including the 
remainder of the old Tories. The chief legislative task was 
the settlement of the atrocious state of affairs in Ireland, 
which had been inexcusably neglected in the agitation for 
reform. In February the Irish Coercion bill became law, 
and an Irish Church Temporalities bill was passed by August. 
The new House showed extraordinary legislative activity. 
Many measures of social reform, including a bill to abolish 
colonial slavery and the first general Factory act, were 
added to the Statute book. It was a long and tiring session, 
during which the Government, in spite of ite efforts, 
declined in popularity, and there was a slight reaction in 
the country in favour of the Tories. Rickman, as he says, 
had lost all real interest in politics, but several of his letters 
show that his power of caustic comment still remained. 

' Friday Evening [no dato}. 

"... We have seen enough of this Ho. Commons to see 
it will not work, and I suppose everybody will see this in 



300 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 






the month of August. The composition of it is made up 
of about 150 Conservatives, as many Radicals, who not 
very covertly go the length of republicanism and of whom 
about half go the other halfway to anarchy Destructives 
I think is their title invented for them by their heretofore 
allies. I think there are nearly 100 more of the pledged 
men, who will not dare to support the Administration upon 
a pinching question, such as will occur too often for the 
comfort, perhaps to the extinction, of the said Admn. 

* I put no faith in the big words of K. W.'s speech versus 
K. O'Connell as to reform of the Church, and tearing other 
things to pieces, the miserable position of the Admn. will 
make them more than fulfill all that the enemies of order 
expect of them. But I do not despair of a revulsion (a 
reaction will not be enough), and nothing short of the 
abominable state of domestic, and colonial, and foreign 
affairs (what a triad !) and the portentous darkness around 
us as to the future would be enough to alarm (not too late) 
all the holders of property, with regard to which desirable 
end some one of the Conservatives (Sir R. Peel, or Mr. 
Herries) ought to move a resolution on some occasion when 
the House is going into a Committee of Ways and Means, 
or on any motion for repeal of any tax, " That this House 
will in no case consent to any proposal which shall hazard 
the possibility of keeping faith with the public creditor." 
About 100 of our reformed M.P.'s would object to this 
motion and the alarm would perhaps commence, especially 
if the Ministers, in assentation to their dreaded friends, 
were to move the previous qn. x in escape from honesty. 
This might lead to better things, but the absurdly timid 
reticence upon such questions as this is exactly what the 
enemies of all property pray for, until things are prepared 
for suddenly producing their bad-faith as a thing of course, 
prefaced by the sufferance of speeches and actions involving 
the principle of national bad faith towards the public 
creditor. The intention ought to be dragged into daylight, 
and its enormity, with its consequences, fully explained 
1 The previous question is a motion * that the question be not now put.' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 301 

in its operation in all classes above the actual pick-pocket 
rabble. Consider whether you can with propriety say 
thing of the fitness of speaking out and thus making 
the Destructives speak out, so that a line of demarcation be 
well traced, and the plague stayed. . . .' 

' 16 Feb. 1833. 

1 The key to the conduct of the present Govt. (I may say 
of all past Govts.) as to Ireland is the dictation of the 
great absentees. " Thus far shall ye go, and no further " 
is said too potentially for resistance. Unhappy predicament 
of the national happiness ! An absentee expectant from 
his childhood is hardened in selfishness, and joins the secret 
fellowship before he is of age. He sees not the misery of 
exacted high rents, if an English army can secure them. 
In this view we pay about 1J millions p. annum that they 
may receive twice as much.' 

1 18 March 1833. 

4 ... Our Pandemonium would be perfectly devilish 
and intolerable, did not the new Devils cuff and scratch 
and tear to pieces the Whig Devilry beautifully, by making 
speeches in close imitation of the factious speeches of the 
er, and always refuting their arguments out of their own 
mouths, or of the former mouth of Lord Brougham. 

* In time (how soon the tormented Whigs must decide) 
they must resist the Radicals and their enlisted union, and 
I, willing to do good in the day of need, have sent in an 
easy plan for this purpose. It may lye unexecuted till 

.t'dy is too late ; but I have done my devoir ; reckoning 
this, added to bringing into daylight the unavoidable design 
to cease payment of the National Debt, to be the best or 
only practicable steps of proceeding. I inclose copy, 
which however you will not shew, though talk founded on 
it is quite lawful. You will see I have sent it in, and 
through what channel. Not a bad one, as I am in good 
odour, and deserve to be so, at the Home Office. 

* You have perceived by the newspapers, that at present 



302 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

we are doubly harassed by the Ho. Commons, and the Irish 
yells are so fierce and frequent that I can't abstract myself 
so as to write letters etc. at the table, which has prevented 
me from writing this during last week. . . .' 

' Monday Evening, 1 July 1833. 

1 1 am much obliged to you for your letters, inasmuch 
as I give scant return, too much occupied by waste of time 
and attention here and by the better occupation of the 
Popn. abstract, which looks towards its close that is 
England and Wales finished, Scotland begun. This month 
of July will cut deep into the remnant. I shall produce 
three handsome volumes, and not leave much undone. 
To-day I learn from one fresh from the Cambridge meeting 
(your well named Wittenagemote) that next year at Edin: 
they are to commence a statistical Commee., " and who 
the leaders ? " said I. Dr. Chalmers 1 and Mr. Malthus, 
the first an orator fluent of unusual phraseology and in 
strange confusion of ideas and ideal projects about the 
poor a problem which he was attacking practicably, 
when you and I were together at Glasgow. He covered 
his failure by removing to a professorship at St. Andrews : 
I think he has since flitted to Edin. As to Mr. Malthus, 
he has himself profited more than the public by the up-side 
down speculations he began to produce 25 years since ; 
and the success of an impossible supposition (refuted per- 
petually from the creation of the earth to that day), was 
truly surprising, and the well marked comment perhaps of 
the decadence of real knowledge in our time. Since that 
time the Esse quam Videri is quite reversed, and mountebank 
theorists, praters, and puffers have the ascendant, because 
the objects of conversation have increased so much in 
number that no conspicuous man can afford time to acquire 
solid knowledge and to think solidly on any one subject. 
Yet he must pretend to have done so of all, and is not likely 
to dogmatize less because he knows less, and hence innova- 
tions in all things, and even history forgotten. If I look 

1 Dr. Thomas Chalmers, the eminent Scottish divine and philanthropist. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 303 

round me here, how many gentlemen do I Bee with knowledge 
in inverse quantity to their own opinion of their sweet selves t 
To-night they talk of banking and currency, which touches 
upon the new light of political ceconomy , which one of my 

hand debaters just now ycleped a science, without joking 
in the least. 

'How the session is to end, nobody can foresee. To 

>h their business, 24 hours a day till Xtmaa will not 
suffice, so that in some manner we shall arrive at the 
ridiculous but very appropriate termination of the adventure 
of the cat and fiddle, and the reformed Parliament in going 
to its constituents will shew its hinder parts in no honour, 

hmg done. Generally speaking, the Ministry are less in 

chievous mood than they were, so are the Radicals, 
but a light accident might make the latter rampant, and 
their numbers are such that they may gain the ascendant. 
I look on with great indifference, not sorry at present to be 
within view of the process going on before me. . 

' 28 Sept. 1833. 

4 ... I suppose we shall have the world in arms next 
year Monarchy or Democracy and a bit of a revolution 
here, when the Lord Miltonians have matured their resist- 
ance to taxation. So be it, say I, come quickly. It is the 
downhill slide to perdition which leaves no chance, and in 
which the predecessors of the Whigs were blindly (or 
fully) culpable. ... In any case let us keep up our 
spirits. Hard work does much in this behalf, driving away 
demons omnigenous. . . .' 



4 ... At present politics are dull. The Lord 

Miltonians seem to be defeated, and we are in danger 

another confused session of more and more concessions to 

the republican taste of the times. Large steps in this 

ction occurred last session ; the King, the constitutional 

iservator of the peace if he be anything, cannot use 
precaution against a mob meeting for avowed revolution, 



304 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

but that two Commees. of the House of Commons are to 
examine into the conduct of the Secretary of State and the 
police ; a mob jury says that killing is no murder if a 
policeman be the sufferer, and a second jury acquits the 
murderer because the King's Solicitor General adduces 
feeble evidence and says nothing for the prosecution, 
because (said he) a bill was pending in Parliament to enable 
the prisoner to employ counsel to plead his cause, and in 
the interval, till this charming idea shall become law, it 
would be illiberal to speak against a prisoner (if a mob 
delinquent). So the King is supposed to command the 
army. No, said the experience of last session, when we 
had half a dozen courts martial of various dates called in 
question, and some of the sentences remitted, to escape 
further discussion. Moreover we had a Commission on 
Military Governments headed by that loud-voiced thick- 
headed, but eminent Whig Lord Ebrington, but we may 
thank God for these disgusts are forced on army officers, 
who will not forget this in the day of need. 

' Worst of all is the contemptible state of the party 
(if it exist) of the D. of W. and Sir Robert Peel, who have 
never recovered from the suicidal stab of the Catholic 
concession, whereby they became unworthy of trust, 
indeed their perpetual concessions to the popular opinion 
by abolition of offices, diminution of salaries, and other 
varieties of folly, became more dangerous than a Whig 
administration, who may perhaps produce a state of affairs 
so palpably tending to ruin as to unite all the holders of 
property against the already united vulgar who have no 
property. I am not sorry that in France and her cousin 
Belgium the mechanics are producing combinations, we 
shall see the result. It is uncertain whether from dulness 
or evil design Joseph Hume abolished all laws against 
combination, because the masters were not prevented from 
combining, all which was fair enough, provided breach of the 
peace and violation of liberty in the well-disposed workman 
had been effectually suppressed, which being impossible 
till we have military law and cadi justice, combination must 



LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 305 

be rampant, to the injury of the employer and employed 

equally.' 

A committee of the House was appointed in 1833 to 
consider the establishment of the House of Commons 
one of the many committees of inquiry into public 
expenditure for which the ardour of Joseph Hume was 
responsible. A very large body of evidence was given by 
the officials of the House of Commons which revealed a 
good many abuses. 1 Rickman, in common with the other 
officials, made a return of all his emoluments, and was 
also examined upon the question of the Speaker's Secretary's 
salary. It is a proof of his disgust with affairs generally 
that no letter of his contains an allusion to this committee, 
for he must naturally have resented its appointment. 
Some of the old clerks, in fact, took up in their evidence 
Rickman 's own point of view that payment by fees ensured 
better and quicker work than a fixed salary. 

Several of Rickman's letters in this year were short 
treatises on the corn duties for the benefit of Southey, who 
was writing an article on the subject for the Quarterly. 
But he does not mention a fact of more general interest, 
that in July Lamb dined with him at the ' Bell ' to meet 
Godwin and be reconciled after an estrangement. There is 
a letter from Lamb to Miss Rickman, written on May 23, 
in which he says that he is glad she likes the Essays of 
Elia. It refers also to the Rickmans calling on the 
Godwins. 

Southey's daughter Edith was married in this year to 
Mr. Warter, who afterwards edited the Selections from 
Southey's correspondence. Mr. Warter stayed with the 
Rickmans early in 1834, and he pays his tribute to his 
host in the following words : 

* I avail myself of a note to express the high respect I 
entertained for this excellent man. In 1834 I spent a fort- 

1 My article on ' The Officers of the House of Commons * in Blackwood'f 
Magazine for March 1909 contains a summary of the state of affair* revealed 
by this evidence. 



306 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

night at his house, and marvelled at his immense stoi 
of information, and at his facility as well as pleasure in 
imparting them to a willing hearer like myself. I may 
mention, likewise, how, under a somewhat hard exterior, 
there was the deepest sense of Christian charity. I had 
a never-to-be-forgotten opportunity of noticing this in a 
large party at his house, on which occasion (admitting his 
errors) he defended the name and memory of Person, whom 
he knew, from needless censure.' x 

Rickman's attitude to post-Reform politics is well 
illustrated in a passage from a letter of 12 February 1834 : 

* ... I am fortunately arrived at a callous state, and 
feel nothing of annoyance because nothing of interest in 
what is going on around me : and as to result, always relying 
on Shakespeare's text ' Fair is foul and foul is fair '- 
I care not at what rate they travel towards an issue, 
because I do not clearly see what pace is most likely to 
lead to a good issue.' 

The first political event of more than party importance in 
this year was the publication of the Poor Law report, 
which led to the Poor Law Amendment act. Rickman's 
interest in the question, as I have shown, was constant 
throughout his life, and the following passage from a letter 
written three years before this date shows how deeply he 
had considered poor law reform : 



' . . . I hesitate about the best movement towards the 
amendment of the Poor Laws ; there is likelihood I think 
that Sir Robert Peel would gladly try to effect this during 
his absence from office, which would give him a great 
reputation, but which would cost too much attention when 
in office. I could fit up the apparatus readily, having 
not only arguments but clauses ready drawn in store. I 
would propose that he should make a circumstantial speech 
and print the bill in the summer session, and I could hear 

1 Selections from the Correspondence of R. S., ii. 125, note. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 307 

and dispose of all observations (they would not be few) 
in the autumn. . . .' 

Nevertheless, when the report was issued his comment 
upon it to Southey was rather grudging. In common with 
many other people he seems to have regarded the recom- 
mendation to appoint commissioners with great dis- 
favour, as giving an opening for political jobbery a view 
somewhat inconsistent with his defence of sinecure offices as 
a support for Government in Parliament. 

The Government in 1834 was torn by internal dissensions 
over their Irish policy. On July 9 Grey resigned, and for 
a short time Melbourne, assisted by Althorp, carried on the 
Administration. Rickman's commentary on the outward 
aspect of affairs is worth quoting. 

'2 M ay 1834. 

4 ... We have no light here as to the end of the session. 
The ministry cannot carry their imperfect bills unless in a 
huddle, as last session in the month of August, so that I 
anticipate not early liberation. 

' A rumour is afloat that Lord Grey from age and an 
increasing rupture will no longer keep office, and who to 
substitute they know not. Lord Brougham would have no 
objection and the indecorum could not be greater than 
making such a Keeper of the K.'s conscience. 

* I value the D. of W.'s opinion not at all. As bad a 
statesman as he is a good general, and curiously sub- 
stituting one character for the other in the stratagem of 
surprise whereby he carried the R. Oath, question, the 
grossest of all specimens of impropriety in civil government. 
His insult to all Scotland in the promotion of Abercromby * 
was not so bad. But the worst of proceedings from want of 
foresight or pure ignorance of the working of the English 
Government was the abolition of about 20 offices which 
produced the regular squadron in support of Government 
in the Ho. Commons. At present this band of defence is 

1 He was made obief baron of the Exchequer of Scotland in 1830. 



308 LIFE AND LETTERS OP JOHN RICKMAN 

reduced to about 20, they are low enough at 50, and the 
Government now lies open to defeat from any concert of 
50 Democrats on any question ; and by multiplying such 
questions the Democrats and Radicals cannot but succeed 
in course of time. So much for the wisdom of the D. of W. 
If we can arrive at a good military government, the only 
chance left, the said Duke will do well enough, till then he 
is best on the shelf. . . .' 

During this year Mrs. Southey had been gradually sinking 
into hopeless insanity. In June, writing to Rickman, 
Southey refers to ' my poor Edith,' and at the beginning of 
October he left her at a lunatic asylum in York. On 
October 7 he writes to Rickman : c We have an account 
from York to-day, not a favourable one, yet perhaps quite 
as much so as ought to have been expected.' It was the 
great tragedy of his closing years, which had a very marked 
effect upon his spirits and his intellectual powers. Rickman 
very truly sympathised, though he was incapable of ex- 
pressing his feelings. Yet when he found that Telford 
had left Southey a legacy of 500, he offered to advance at 
once any sum up to 450 ' if from recent event (or otherwise) 
desirable.' 

On October 16 occurred the disastrous fire in which the 
greater part of the Houses of Parliament were burnt down. 
As is well known, it was caused by the too rapid burning of 
old Exchequer tallies of wood in a stove. It began in the 
House of Lords and rapidly spread. The Rickmans were 
in Palace Yard at the time, except Ann Rickman, who was 
in the country with her uncle. It is to this fact that we owe 
the graphic account written on the very night by Frances 
Rickman, afterwards Mrs. Hone, to her sister. By Miss 
Lefroy's courtesy, I am enabled to reproduce it. 

' PALACE YARD, 17th Oct. 
' J past 3 A.M. 

1 Thank God, my dearest Anne, after near eight hours 




'A s 
5 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 309 

dreadful doubt, we seem all safe, though I am still partly 
lighted by the still blazing House of Commons ! I fear you 
will hear of the awful fire before this reaches you. ... I 
will give you as collected an account as I can, for my legs 
ache and I could not sleep, so I may as well write. After 
dinner, at f past six this evening, Papa and Mamma taking 
a nap, in came Ellis, " I think, Miss, there 's a small fire 
broke out at the House of Lords." I said "Come with 
me to the leads to see it," and there, even then, a volume 
of flame was blowing towards the Wildes'. Papa at first 
thought it could be got under, but soon it fearfully grew, 
and we had little doubt the Hall would catch. The House 
of Lords we could not see, but some heard that it and Mr. 
Ley's and the Library were destroyed : then the flames 
burst from the House of Commons windows, and sooner than 
I could believe the interior of that was destroyed. Now 
see my view, the west window in bow room my prospect, 
front state rooms of Speaker's remain entire (outwardly), 
red smoke rises from the quadrangle, and the open House 
of Commons arches (ruined like Fountains Abbey) are 
filled with an orange light, nearly the whole of the south 
end of the Speaker's is destroyed. . . . But for the woeful 
effects on us ! I first ran to the Wildes' who -with Mr. 
Gurtkin were in agony that, as first appeared probable, 
they would be burnt ; even then blazing papers were float- 
ing over and in their garden. I brought some valuables to 
our house. But soon the tide turned and we were in danger, 
so Papa thought we should put things together. . . . Poor 
Mamma was much overcome at first, but that made me 
stronger, as I felt I must look to everything, Papa being 
then rather provokingly easy. By this time we had many 
helps and constant knocking at the door. . . . Presently 
in came poor Mr. Manning who had spent the day out 
he saw it in Oxford Street and rushed down. Ellis, Mr. 
Pritt, Apps, James the Dean of Ripon's servant sent to 
help. Mrs. Doctor Holland's coachman and footman here, 
when came a knock, and Henry Taylor answered my 
" your name, if you please," before I let him in. He had 



310 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

a tall, elegant friend with him, Mr. Edward Villiers, 1 and 
they insisted on being active chief managers under me, 
and worked furiously, H. T. getting coaches, taking their 
number, filling them, and sending a servant on the box of 
each to unload ... for the books were tied in sheets, 
drawers emptied, everything dismantled. Here (bow room) 
only a few chairs, sofas and the table remain. . . . Fancy 
the whole house dismantled, H. T. and his friend working 
away, I shall never cease to respect his judicious manage- 
ment and energy. . . . Captain Colquhoun was directing on 
the Speaker's House. They knocked in the roof. The furni- 
ture all thrown out of the windows, even china, mirrors. . . . 
The police order was beautiful. The Horse Guards down, 
and H. T. as he came met Lord Munster, and consider- 

1 This is curiously corroborated by a letter published for the first time 
this year in Mrs. C. W. Earle's Memoirs and Memories. Mr. Edward 
Villiers was her father, and on October 17, 1834, he wrote as follows to 
his mother : 

' Of course the fire is the engrossing topic ; the accounts in all the news- 
papers are so very full and correct that there is no use in repeating them. 
I saw it all, at least from the commencement till one o'clock, and part of 
the time was very actively engaged. I left the Athenaeum where I had 
been dining with Taylor and Rickman, the Clerk of the House of 
Commons, a great friend of his. We went to see if he wanted assistance, 
as his house stands on one side of Westminster Hall, in immediate danger. 
I assisted in gutting his house, and such a scene of confusion never was 
seen. I got also a most splendid view of the fire which was burning all 
around the house. Had I not seen half Constantinople burnt down I 
would say it was the finest sight I had ever seen, and here also there were 
peculiar beauties which the other could not have, such as the lighting up 
of the Abbey, a more beautiful sight than that never was beheld. All 
the attempts to arrest the fire were for hours unsuccessful ; they deserved 
to be, for they were really contemptible considering the age in which we 
live, nothing ready, nothing effective when it was ready, and no manage- 
ment whatever. Nothing of great value is lost, and nothing which 
cannot be replaced so as the glorious old Hall is saved (and it really 
was almost a miracle that it was), I don't so much mind, and nothing is 
known as to its origin, but the evidence which they have had at the 
Home Office is all in favour of accident, some stoppage in the flues. It 
certainly, however, burst forth in three places at once. The people gave 
three cheers when the roof of the House of Lords fell in. The King has, 
I believe, offered Buckingham Palace. This is a true and particular 
account of all I know on the matter. It is still burning but quite sub- 
dued, and they are emptying the Thames upon it. . . .' 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 311 

ately asked for a dozen soldiers to stand at our door. 
What a subject for his next poem ! I am truly thankful 
that I was able to use more energy than I can now believe 
possible. Truly strength is given in the day of trial. Poor 
Hannah was white as a sheet and Jane very frightened. 
Dear Mamma soon became cool and packed in the trunks as 
if going on a journey. Mr. Manning established himself 
in two chairs in the long passage. Papa and Mr. Payne 
took me out to the corner of Palace Yard to see the Abbey, 
such a grand sight as I pray I may never see again ; the 
bright moon in dark clouds, and the clear red and blue and 
yellow light. Oh ! no one who did not see it can picture 
it. ... You will be astonished that H. Taylor should be the 
hero. I should think the Speaker will be up soon. I hope 
the Gobelin tapestry is saved. Fancy the Spanish Armada 
and all etc. destroyed ! . . . The Whigs and Reform 
Parliament will indeed be remembered. We need not look 
for a new lease in this neighbourhood. . . . 

' Half past six. Daylight, and after a hard fight to save 
the Hall, the fire is all out. . . .' 

At the prorogation of Parliament, which occurred soon 
after, Rickman acted as Clerk, Mr. Ley, the Clerk, and his 
son, the second Clerk Assistant, having lost their wigs 
in the fire. Rickman announced the news to Sou they with 
great composure. 

' 22 October 1834. 

* We are all well, and the good of destroying a mass of 
useless incumbrances is equivalent to the repairable evil 
of 1000 1500 in buying books for the upper rooms of the 
library, the contents of the lower room little injured. The 
Ho. Commons (I beg pardon of the improved St. Stephen's 
Chapel) makes an excellent ruin, the crypt and beautiful 
cloister adjoining prove the efficacy of arched roofs, as 
they are imagined, even to the colouring of the keystones 
and bosses, so you must not blame me for vilifying the 
wooden substitute (a kind of architectural fraud) at York, 



312 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

which caught fire in 1829, and has cost 100,000 in 
reparation. 

' Miss F. R. who did not quail in the least will I think 
send you a sketch which will show how wonderfully the 
hall escaped. The populace are greatly interested for that 
in particular, and exulted loudly when the engines seemed 
to prevail. All our books and other valuables were moved, 
and all are safely at home again, the police and military 
maintaining order without difficulty, no outrage attempted. 
Mr. Taylor visited us early in the fire, and distinguished 
himself as commander in chief of our auxiliaries till all 
was over, at half past two o'clock. He will dine with us 
to-morrow with other fire workers to glory in past labours 
and past peril.' 

Rickman's last letter of the year refers to the change of 
Ministry. On Althorp's going to the House of Lords, 
Melbourne found it impossible to carry on. The King again 
had recourse to Wellington, who never disobeyed a royal 
command. Peel joined him, and before going to country 
early in 1835, he issued his famous ' Tarn worth Manifesto ' 
containing the Conservative policy. 

' 26 Nov. 1834. 

* ... So far as political change has gone, I look at it 
with little interest ; the eagerness of the D. of W. for 
office indicates surely enough that he will do anything to 
keep it and in any manner. So much of consistency one 
cannot help ascribing to him after his oblique military 
movement in carrying the R.C. question, whence and from 
his official retrenchments, which abolished half the influence 
of the Crown, followed of necessity Reform of Parlt. 
which, good man ! he then opposed. Was he sincere in his 
blindness ? Posterity will have to decide. And whether 
Sir R. P. was duped or a confederate ? The horns of this 
dilemma are awkward against him. . . .' 

The year 1834 saw the death of two old friends. Coleridge 
died on July 25. Sou they 's coldness on this event is well- 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 313 

known a lapse in an otherwise generous character. Rick- 
man's attitude was very similar. On December 27 Lamb 
followed Coleridge to the grave. Five days before, he had 
stumbled over a stone, and the effects of the fall were fatal. 
Talfourd tells how Mr. Ryle, who was co-executor with him 
of Lamb's will, called to tell him of Lamb's danger. It is 
therefore interesting to read Rickman's letter to Southey 
upon his death. The authority which Rick man had for 
ascribing the remoter cause of Lamb's death to intoxicat 
is, of course, vague. It will be charitable to suppose that 
his severity towards certain human weaknesses had perhaps 
distorted his version of what he had heard. It is certainly 
melancholy to compare his cold words with Lamb's warm 
letter upon their first acquaintance, more than thirty yean 
back. Southey had already written on January 3, 1835 : 

1 . . . Poor Lamb ! It is better that he should have 
gone first than that he should have survived his poor sister. 
She, when she is in a condition to understand her loss, 
will be better able to bear it wisely than he would have been, 
because she will more naturally (as it were) fly to the only 
source of consolation. When the time comes for their sad 
story to be told, I know no author whose writings will be 
perused with a more mournful interest. . . .' 

Here is Rickman's answer. 

' 24 January 1835. 

4 ... Lamb died just before I left town and Mr. Ryle 
of the E. India House, one of his extors., whom I know, 
notified it to me, and promised to call, but he has not yet 
done so, and I believe his letter gave too favourable a state- 
ment of circumstances. He said Miss L. was resigned and 
composed at the event, but it was from her malady, then in 
mild type, so that when she saw her brother dead, she 
observed on his beauty when asleep and apprehended 
nothing further. In like manner, it was said by Mr. Ryle, 
that C. L. died of erysipelas, but induced (if induced at all) 
I now find by some unhappy violence he sustained in a 



314 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

state of reckless intemperance. I always thought such 
must be his end, and am surprised how it was delayed so 
long. The better side of the picture is, that he has left 
about 1200, with which and otherwise, Miss L. will be well 
sustained. I do not know further particulars, which you 
will learn (no doubt) here. 

' The new Tory Government are determined to stand, as 
I believe at whatever expense of concession to their enemies, 
and to outbid the Whigs in reform of Church and State. 
The Whigs on their part, especially the Dissenter Whigs or 
State puritans, seemed to join the Radicals during the 
elections, because otherwise they had no chance of a strong 
party in Parliament. How these worthies will act, we 
cannot foresee. Each will jesuitize for himself I suppose, 
and these will a beautiful medley. Farewell. With good 
wishes to your circle.' 

The end of Rickman's letter refers to the result of the 
general election which was held in January. The Con- 
servatives numbered about 270 in the new House, but a 
coalition of the Whigs and Irish outnumbered them, the 
first proof of which was the election of Abercromby as 
Speaker against the Ministerial candidate, Manners- 
Sutton. In April Peel saw no course open to him but 
resignation. He was succeeded by Melbourne and the 
Whigs, whose government remained in office till after the 
accession of Queen Victoria. Rickman's last letter upon 
politics was written in this year. 

' Jwfc/31, 1835. 

' We at the Ho. Commons are mispending our time sadly, 
but the Rads. and the Whiggery are so nearly matched in 
the Ho. Commons, and have so lost their influence with the 
Vox populi that the Ho. Lords resumes its efficacy, and no 
great harm can be attempted, and less effected. 

' The regular Squad of Rads. had a steady muster last 
evening, and beat the Ministry and such of the Tories as 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 315 

were present. 1 So contemptible is become Government 
influence over their own official men, that they could not 
muster half a dozen M.P.'s, and this against a motion, 
which if pursued to the extent the Rads. expect, annihilates 
the authority of the Crown over the army, inasmuch as a 
Commn. of Rads. would reverse the sentence of a court 
martial after royal approval.' 

Early in the year Peel had written to Southey offering 
him a baronetcy, and asking whether there was anything 
else which he could do in recognition of his literary 
achievements. Southey sent a long and dignified answer, 
in which he refused the baronetcy, on the grounds of having 
no property with which to support such an honour. But 
he pointed out at the same time that his labours had been 
the sole means of supporting the family to whom he was 
so devoted ; and that, since old age was now upon him, 
he would be grateful for anything that could make their 
worldly position more secure. Peel's answer was to increase 
his pension soon afterwards to 300 a year. There is a 
characteristic passage in a letter from Rickman referring 
to the proffered baronetcy, an honour for which he had a 
great contempt. 

' 7 February 1836. 

' I have received your letter and am glad to learn that 
I may direct to you as usual. I somewhat dreaded the 
Tuesday Gazette, lest you might there have fallen under 
the description of the some men " who have honours cast 
upon them." You will see by this that H. T. [Taylor] 
had called here, (Sunday evening in fact) and told what was 
threatened. I pleaded against your baronetcy, the fitness 
of landed property, almost of entailed property, and the 
enormous unfitness of making honours cheap by a com- 
pulsory instance. About the more sensible part of the 
double intention in your favour I said what occurred to me, 

1 On a motion to appoint a select committee to inquire into the conduct 
of General Darling while Governor of New South Wale*. The House * 
till after twelve o'clock on the 31st, and the Government were beaten by 
56 to 47. 



316 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

and as H. T. was to dine with the magnates on Tuesday, he 
begged me to write (if time permitted) to him on Monday. 
So I did, and I think urged successfully the impolicy of 
grades of pension, an eternal source it would be of malice 
and spite and dissension where there should be none, and 
the whole affair would be disgraced by personal polemics 
before the public.' 

In September of this year Rickman was finally removed 
from his old house in Palace Yard. It was curious that 
though the old Exchequer had been threatened several 
years before, it had, as a matter of fact, outlived the wholly 
unexpected destruction of the Houses of Parliament by 
fire. As early as 1825 Southey had written : ' My dearest 
associations with London will be destroyed when your house 
and the Exchequer shall be pulled down.' Again on May 
29, 1830 Southey wrote : 

4 ... I almost think if your house in P. Yard and the 
old Exchequer were pulled down, I should hardly ever have 
heart to visit London again, so many, many years have I 
had a home in that corner, or made my first visit to it on 
my arrival in town. From 1788 to 1792 I frequented it 
as a schoolboy, and have frequented it ever since. And 
never have I spent more pleasant or more profitable hours 
than in your society and as your guest. The luckiest 
chance of my life (for mere chance it apparently was) was 
that which took me to Christchurch.' 

However, the demolition scheme came to nothing, and 
on February 5, 1832 Rickman wrote : 

4 The old Excheqr. has a kind of reprieve in the dismissal 
of Sir Henry Parnell, 1 who aimed at establishing himself 
and his coadjutor, or rather bear-leader, Dr. Bowring ... in 
office for life, suspending the old fashioned Excheqr.' 

1 Afterwards Lord Congleton. He was secretary at war in 1831, and 
was dismissed in January 1832 for refusing to support the ministry in the 
Russian-Dutch war question. 








. -. 



JUDGE JEFFREYS' HOUSE IN DUKE STREET, WESTMINSTER. 

{ Fro in a ivater-coloitr by 'f. //. Shepherd in 1853,) 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 317 

Now, however, the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster 
made demolition inevitable, and Rickman found his last 
resting-place in that house in Duke Street, Westminster, 
which was built by Judge Jeffreys, and had once been 
used as the Admiralty. This house, which stood till the 
beginning of last year in Delahay Street, has now itself been 
pulled down to make room for new Government offices. 
Rickman writes of it as follows : 



1 23 DUKE STREET, Wi 
' 17 Sept. 1836. 

' Your letter finds me rather unsettled, in a new abode, 
as we were desired to quit Palace Yard at the end of August 
to make room for the demolition of the old Excheqr., and 
consequently of your ancient haunt. On the pressure of 
the occasion I found a house in most desolate murky con- 
dition, as a receptacle for furniture rather than inhabitants, 
but window-cleaning, whitewashing, etc. have so improved 
appearances that we are likely to settle here. It constitutes 
a fourth part of a mansion temp. Car. n., built I believe by 
Jeffries, who became known and was rewarded for his 
cruelty by the Chancellorship. But the mob caught him, 
I believe, at the Revolution. We possess his central 
staircase and the adjoining rooms, which are sufficiently 
ample. Everybody has worked with zeal, and with good 
help ; yet a month's work will be required (three weeks 
of it already passed) to arrive at convenience. . . .' 

Southey replied : 

'Sept. 20, 1835. 

c So you are unhoused at last, and when I next come to 
London my old haunts of six and forty years will have dis- 
appeared from the face of the earth. Well, they may 
easily make a handsomer building on the Exchequer, but 
pleasanter society than I have enjoyed by your presence 
in that corner will never be collected upon the same 
ground or elsewhere. 

4 1 hope your emancipation is at hand : for otherwise in 



318 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

bad weather and cold nights you will feel the inconvenience 
of the distance from W. Hall. . . .' 

Early in 1836 the two friends had some idea of working 
up the material of their Colloquies. Southey wrote on 
January 31 : ' . . . Two months hence I hope to feel so 
much at leisure as to work up Colloquial materials. John 
Murray is now so utterly regardless of all business or forms 
of business, that there could not be a fitter person to bring 
into the present cabinet.' 

But nothing came of the scheme. Between April 1836 
and August 1838 no letters from Rickman to Southey have 
been preserved. In May 1836 Mrs. Rickman died, and in 
the same year Frances Rickman became Mrs. Hone. In 
Southey's letters during the autumn, which are very short, 
there are allusions to an operation upon Rickman 's eyes. 
Nevertheless, we know that between 1835 and 1837 Rick- 
man contributed several articles to the Medical Gazette. 
In October 1837 Southey wrote sadly : ' Our long tragedy 
is now fast drawing to a close ' ; and Mrs. Southey died in 
November. From then till his death Southey gradually 
sunk into a state of childishness, though at first it was 
only shown in a certain incapacity for concentration. In 
1838 he reviewed the Life of Telford, edited by Rickman, 
in the Quarterly, and in December again spoke of resuming 
the Colloquies. 

In 1839 Southey married Caroline Bowles, but there is no 
allusion to her in his short notes to Rickman, of whom we 
know nothing but that he produced in that year a large 
Return of Local Taxation based upon all his former returns. 
In 1840 he began to be busy with the Population Bill for 
1841 which was brought hi on June 1. On June 2 Rickman 
fell ill. Exposure to the night air after long sittings in the 
House, now necessitated by his no longer living in the 
precincts, caused an ulcerated larynx. It was with diffi- 
culty that he was persuaded to remain away from his work, 
but even on his sick-bed he was able to write a long letter 
of thirty-six paragraphs to the Home Office to defend him- 






LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 319 

self, in the words of his son's memoir, against * a series of 
anonymous strictures ' upon the methods of compiling the 
Population Returns. * The commentary proved to be 
conclusive ' : but the hardy census-taker was not to see a 
fifth census. Rickman's illness was fatal : * a sad painful 
struggle for breath it was,' says Mrs. Lefroy. For two 
months he lingered, and died on August 11, 1840, ' in great 
composure of mind and body.' He was buried beside his 
wife in St. Margaret's, Westminster. 

So died John Rickman in his sixty-ninth year. I cannot 
conclude this memoir more fittingly than by noticing the 
proceedings of the House of Commons on February 2 and 3, 
1841. On February 2 the Speaker called the notice of the 
House to Rickman's death, and to a letter from his son 
relating to a series of papers on procedure collected by 
Rickman, which he desired to place at the disposal of the 
House. Lord John Russell thereupon gave notice that he 
would move a resolution on the subject next day. On 
February 3 the resolution was proposed by Lord John 
Russell and seconded by Mr. Goulburn, both of whom 
spoke of Rickman's services in the highest terms, referring 
especially to the fund of information which he was always 
ready to impart to those who desired it. Rickman's friend, 
Sir Robert Inglis, also pronounced a eulogy, but perhaps 
the most remarkable tribute was from the Radical, Joseph 
Hume, with whose views Rickman was in violent disagree- 
ment, as will have been gathered. He said : * I am unwilling 
to allow this vote to pass without expressing my humble 
approbation of the conduct of the late Mr. Rickman. I 
have never known a public officer so modest, so unassuming, 
possessed of such varied knowledge respecting the affairs 
of Parliament, and yet so ready to afford every information 
to others. The labours of Mr. Rickman generally in 
statistical matters, to which I have paid particular attention, 
have been highly valuable ; and, specially as regards the 
preface to the Population Returns, will stand unrivalled 
in the amount of information and in the concise manner in 
which he brought it before this House. I therefore most 



320 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 

cordially concur in expressing my sense of the value of his 
services. I may add that I had frequently occasion to 
consult him on matters connected with the rules of this 
House, and on documents before it, and I always found him 
most friendly and ready to afford every information in his 
power. I am bound to say that I received most valuable 
assistance from Mr. Rickman in my various duties in this 
House. . . .' 
The resolution, passed nem. con., ran as follows : 

' That this House entertains a just and high sense of the 
distinguished and exemplary manner in which John 
Rickman, Esquire, late Clerk Assistant of this House, 
uniformly discharged the Duties of his situation during his 
long attendance at the Table of this House.' 

The portrait which forms the frontispiece of this volume 
was subsequently published, and underneath was written 
a verdict which Rickman himself would have considered 
the highest praise 

AN HONEST MAN. 



INDEX 



ABBOT, CHARLES. See Colchester. 
Abercromby, James (Lord Dunferm- 

line), 307, 314. 
Absenteeism, Rickman on, 241, 

301. 
Adtlington, Henry (Lord Sidmouth), 

44, 46, 79, 105, 109, 141. 
Aikin, Dr., 49. 
All the Talents, Ministry of, 12, 

136-44. 
Althorp, Lord, 263, 272, 279, 282, 

293, 295, 307, 312. 
Arbuthnot, Charles, 184, 185, 208. 
Astley's Circus, 126, 225, 226. 
Ayrton, William, 128. 

BALL, SIB ALEXANDER, 151. 
Baring, Alexander, 274, 294, 295. 
Bedford, G. C., 51,52, 148, 176,203, 

204. 
BJguinages, 15, 16, 23-25, 33, 39, 

88, 216-18. 

Bell, Dr., 160, 163, 214. 
Bellingham, John, 160, 161. 
Benger, Elizabeth, 76. 
Bennet, Hon. Henry, 212. 
Bilderdijk, the Dutch poet, 231. 
Bourne, Sturges, 191. 
Bristol, Southey at, 24, 25, 44, 81, 

82, 83, 85. 
Brougham, Lord, 12, 13, 167-69, 

185, 189, 190, 203, 206, 208, 

210-12, 224, 230, 233, 234, 258, 

264, 268, 272, 273, 280, 301, 307. 
Brunswickers, the, 257, 258. 
Burdett, Sir F., 12, 13, 82, 125, 149, 

152, 153, 160, 212, 224, 228, 229, 

231, 234, 236, 240, 250. 
Burnett, George, 2, 4, 67. 

his relations with Rickman, 7, 8, 
45, 58, 68, 90-92, 94-98, 102, 
103, 144, 152. 

Lamb's opinion of, 18, 50, 51, 
54-56, 74, 85. 



Burnett, George continued. 
early life of, 44, 45. 
employed by Rickman on the 

census, 46, 48, 49, 64. 
idle disposition of, 49, 50, 83. 
literary work of, 58, 111. 
his relations with Coleridge, 44, 

45, 85, 103, 104, 155, 156. 
Dyer's opinion of, 59, 60. 
scolded by Rickman, 60, 61. 65. 
quarrels with Southey, 61, 62, 82, 

84, 85. 
Southey 's opinion of, 61, 62, 65, 

66, 71. 
tutor to Lord Stanhope's sons, 71, 

72, 75, 82, 83. 
wishes to become a naval surgeon, 

90-92. 
gets a commission as surgeon in 

the militia, 94-98. 
gives it up, 102, 103. 
goes to Poland, 103, 104, 111. 
reduced to misery, 
dies in a workhouse, 155, 156. 
letters of, to Thomas Poole, 8, 

95-98. 

to Rickman, 8, 96. 

Burney, Admiral, 9, 80, 81, 90, 110, 
118, 127,128, 129,139. 

Martin, 129. 

Burton, Southey at, 22. 
Byron, Lord, 163, 219; works of, 
296. 

CALDIB, SIB ROBERT, 137, 139. 

Caledonian Canal, the, 15, 111, 112, 
131, 132, 181, 182, 207, 210, 218, 
219, 220, 223, 252. 

Campbell, Thomas. 181. 

Camelford, Lord, 31. 

Canning, George-, 12, 13, 149, 150, 
161, 214 .'24, 228, M9, 

233, 234, 250, 256; administra- 
tion of, 233, 234, 240. 



322 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Carlisle, Sir Anthony, 91, 94. 
Caroline, Queen, 126, 167-69, 212, 

213, 218, 222, 255. 
Castle JKackrent, 67, 68. 
Castlereagh, Lord, 137, 149, 208, 

214, 221. 

Catholic Association, the, 229. 
Cato Street Conspiracy, the, 212. 
Census, the. See Population Returns. 
Chalmers, Dr., 302. 
Chidham, Rickman at, 76, 226-28. 
Christchurch, Rickman at, 21, 22, 

24, 25, 32, 35, 39, 316. 
Clare election, the, 240. 
Clark, Miss (Marchioness of Ormond), 

22, 198. 
Clerks of the House of Commons, 

the, 10, 78, 133, 305. 
Cleveland, Lord, 284. 
Cobbett, William, 149, 180, 192, 

250. 

Cockpit, the, 40, 58, 70. 
Colchester, Lord (Charles Abbot, 
Speaker of the House of Com- 
mons), 40, 45, 51, 72, 74, 98-102, 
115, 126, 134, 155, 207, 229, 
249, and see Rickman, J., letters 
of; diaries of, 2, 3, 51, 207-10, 
233. 

Coleridge, Samuel Hartley, 27, 34, 
76, 78, 79, 86, 112, 118, 167, 
281. 
his high opinion of Rickman, 2, 5, 

105, 107. 
on Lamb's smoking and drinking, 

6, 157. 
Rickman's opinion of, 7, 88, 102, 

107, 108, 143, 144, 151. 
his relations with Burnett, 8, 44, 
45, 69, 72, 84, 85, 104, 155, 
156. 
works for the Morning Post in 

London, 67. 
Rickman finds him a ship, 102- 

108. 

returns from Malta, 1 43. 
separates from his wife, 144. 
edits the Friend, 147, 150, 151. 
on Parliamentary reform, 162, 163. 
his tragedy 'Remorse,' 163-66. 
defends Southey in the Courier, 

189. 
death of, 312, 313. 



Coleridge, Samuel Hartley contd. 
letters of, to Rickman, 3, 18, 80, 

103-107, 156, 157, 161-66. 
Commercial, Agricultural, and Manu- 
facturers' Magazine, the, 7, 10, 
28, 29, 31, 38, 64, 66. 
ommission for building churches in 
the Highlands and Islands, 15, 

132, 231,285. 

Commission for building roads and 
bridges in the Highlands, 15, 111, 
112, 131, 132, 181, 213, 218, 224, 
252. 

Commons, House of, 12, 13, 14, 15, 
77-79,81,83, 106, 109, 116, 128, 

133, 134, 146, 147, 152, 153, 160, 
161, 162, 167, 168, 175, 184, 185, 
187, 189, 202, 207-12, 220, 221, 
222, 224, 225, 228-31, 236, 243- 
45, 250-54, 256-58, 260-64, 266, 
267, 273-96, 299-305, 307, 308- 
12, 314, 315, 319, 320. 

Conservative Party, the, 299, 300, 

312, 314. 

Co-operation, 198, 246-49. 
Corn Laws, the, 109, 175, 176, 185, 

252, 270, 305. 
Corporation Act, repeal of, 240, 

292. 
Corry, Isaac, 51, 56, 57, 63, 64, 69, 

71, 79. 
Cottle, Amos, 27, 33, 36, 46. 

Joseph, 22, 27, 33, 44, 72. 

R., 33. 

Crabb Robinson, diary of, 2, 44, 

129, 156. 
Croker, John Wilson, 154, 155, 173, 

174, 191, 195, 203, 209, 249, 295. 
Cumberland, Duke of, 266. 
Currency, Rickman on, 80, 235, 236, 

270, 287, 288. 
Curwen, John Christian, 191, 192. 



DALE, DR., 53, 54. 
Danvers, Charles, 44, 47, 82, 89. 
D'Arblay, Madame, 127, 128. 
Davison, Alexander, 137, 138. 
Davy, Sir Humphry, 25, 30, 31, 47, 

72, 80, 81. 
Druitt, Mary, 74. 
Drury Lane Theatre, Coleridge at, 

163-66. 



INDEX 



323 



Dublin, Rickman at, 51, 52, 57, 63, 

68, 72-74, 76. 

Duodas, R. See Melville, Lord. 
Dyer, George, 2, 4, 33, 56, 58, 70, 
74. 

introduces Rickman to Lamb, 7, 

34, 35. 

procures Rickman an editorship, 

7 28 29 
and Charles Lamb, 7, 17, 18, 34, 

35, 39, 50, 93, 94. 

talked by the Lambs into love with 

Miss Benger, 7, 75, 76. 
character of, 26. 
first meeting of Rickman with, 26, 

27. 

poems of, 27, 37, 39, 54. 
and George Burnett, 45, 59, 60, 

83, 84. 
rescued by Lamb from starvation, 

52-54, 60, 63. 

dines with Rickman, 81, 83. 
on Sir F. Burdett's Committee, 82. 
letters of, to Rickman, 7, 17, 34, 

59, 60, 93. 
Dyson, Thomas, 126. 

EAST INDIA COMPANY, the, 106, 138, 

139, 167, 168. 
East Retford, disenfranchisement of, 

240, 250, 267. 
Ebrington, Lord, 304. 
Economic distress in England, 37, 

179, 180, 186, 190-92, 206, 207, 

214, 215, 219, 257. 
Edinburgh Annual Register, the, 154, 

234-37. 
Edinburgh Review, the, 144, 148, 

186, 200, 204. 
Eldon, Lord, 228, 229, 231. 
Election petitions, 77, 78, 83, 132. 
Ellenborough, Lord, 295. 
Exchequer Buildings, 124, 125, 316, 

317. 
Etymology, Rickman on, 80, 12*2, 

123, 130. 

FEES versu* Salaries, Rickman on, 
140, 141, 236. 

Fitz william, Lord, 211, 215. 

Foreign affairs, Rickman on, 46, 63, 
64, 117, 135, 143, 144, 167, 173, 
174, 218, 240, 284, 287, 304. 



Forty -shilling freeholder*, 240, 243, 

266, 287. 
Franking, privilege of, 78, 08-102, 

103. 106, 107. 
Free Trade, Rickman on, 252, 960, 

270. 

Flicker, George, 80, 167. 
Friend, the, 10, 147, 150, 151. 162. 
Fox, Charles James, 12, 13, 79. 

108, 113, 135, 136-38, 141-44, 

255. 

GALL, DR., 241. 

Gascoyne, General, 278, 279, 280. 
George in., 12, 30, 46, 48, 79, 108, 
113, 136, 143-45, 149, 152, 153, 
212,231,255. 

George iv., 13, 109, 126, 137, 138, 
146, 153, 154, 155, 212, 214, 221, 
234, 237, 242. 243, 251, 258, 259, 
260, 261, 262, 264, 265. 
Gifford, William, 154, 155, 191, 195, 

199, 204. 
Goderich, Lord, 234, 239, 272 

administration of, 234, 237, 240. 
Godwin, William, 6, 35, 36, 50, 55, 

80, 305. 

Goulburn, Henry, 263, 264, 319. 
Graham, Sir James, 253, 272, 283, 

284. 
Grampound, disenfranchisement of, 

250. 
Grattan, Henry, 12, 73, 167, 209, 

228, 229. 

Grenville, Lord, 13, 105, 136, 137, 
139, 145, 149, 150, 153, 154, 160, 
168,219,228. 
Grenville's Diary, 283, 286. 
Grey, Lord, 12, 13, 136, 138, 142, 
144, 145, 149, 150, 163, 154, 168, 
263, 272, 280, 288, 289,293. 295, 
296. 307 ; administration of, 868, 
272-90, 292-96, 299-305, 307. 
1 Griffiths, the bookseller, 28. 31. 
Guildford Grammar School, Rickman 
at, 21,22. 

HADFIILD, JAMB, 30. 
Hallaro's CnMtitVional Hitiory, 188. 
Hanover, Rickman on, 143, 144 
Hansard, Luke, 205, 242 ; letter of, 
to Rickman, 205. 



324 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Hansard's printing office, 268, 272, 

273. 
Hazlitt, William, 6, 26, 119, 128, 

129, 156, 157, 166. 
Henries, John Charles, 234, 237, 

264, 300. 

Hill, Dr., 39, 238. 
Hobhouse, J. Cam (Lord Broughton), 

266. 

Holcroft, Tom, 129. 
Holland, Lord, 154, 261. 
Howick, Lord, 275. 
Hume, Joseph, 257, 304, 305, 319, 

320. 

Hunt, Leigh, 128. 
'Orator,' 180, 192, 250, 255, 

275. 
Huskisson, William, 150, 233, 234, 

237, 238, 240, 244, 256, 261, 266, 

267. 

INGLTS, SIR ROBERT, 233, 243, 319. 

Ireland, 30, 44, 46, 47, 51, 52, 57, 
68, 72-74, 100, 141, 155, 223, 229, 
230, 240, 241, 243, 244, 248, 252, 
253, 257, 273, 282, 287, 294, 299- 
301. 

Irish Party, the, 14 ; and see 
O'Connell. 

Joan of Arc, Southey's poem, criti- 
cised by Rickman, 23. 

'John Woodvil,' by Charles Lamb, 
10, 39, 64, 65, 68, 70, 74, 75, 94. 

Journals of the House of Commons, 
the, 15, 133, 134. 

Judge Jeffreys, house of, in Duke 
Street, 317. 

KESWICK, Southey at, 79, 91, 130, 

134, 194, 225, 233, 262, 269. 
Kuatchbull, Sir Edward, 275, 276. 

LAMB, CHARLES 

his friendship with Rickman, 2, 4, 

34-36, 39, 118. 
his Wednesday evenings, 2. 
Essays of, 4, 36, 119, 225. 
and George Dyer, 7, 26, 52-54, 56, 

58-60, 67, 72, 76, 94. 
and Burnett, 8, 54-56, 57, 59, 61, 

72, 84, 85,86, 156. 



Lamb, Charles continued 

his play, 'John Woodvil,' 10, 

64, 65, 67, 68, 74, 75, 94. 
new facts about, 17, 18. 
and Coleridge, 27. 
introduced by Dyer to Rickman, 

34, 35, 39. 
his opinion of Southey's Joan of 

Arc, 36. 
Rickman's news-writer in 1801, 50, 

51. 
writes in the Morning Post, 69, 70, 

71, 72. 

Rickman on his wit, 39, 71. 
his epitaph on Mary Druitt, 74. 
stays with Rickman, 87, 88, 247. 
goes to Sadlers Wells with Southey 

and the Rickmans, 89. 
Coleridge on, 105, 106, 156, 157, 

165, 166. 

and Edward Phillips, 111, 112. 
on Mrs. Rickman, 119. 
at Rickman's house, 128, 129. 
pleads for Martin Burney, 129. 
writes the Prologue for Coleridge's 

'Remorse,' 163, 165, 166. 
his dispute with Southey, 225. 
Southey's message to, 247. 
dines with Rickmau in 1829, 335. 
Rickman and Southey on his 

death, 313, 314. 
letter of, to Hazlitt, 119. 
letters of, to Manning, 1, 5, 34, 35, 

50. 
to Rickman, 3, 17, 18, 35, 

52-56, 72, 74, 90. 

Frederick. See Melbourne. 

Mary, 6, 9, 18, 59, 60, 65, 69, 

75, 76, 87, 89, 90, 106, 128, 129, 
130, 156, 247,313, 314. 
Lancaster, Joseph, 160. 
Lansdowne, Lord, 136, 239, 240. 
Ley, John Henry, 2()8, 308, 311. 
Liberalism, 11, 171, 176, 183, 184, 
196, 197, 211, 212, 218, 244, 245, 
251, 252, 257, 258, 259, 267, 268. 
Liverpool, Lord, administration of, 
160, 168, 180, 184, 185, 187, 189, 
192, 195, 207, 208, 210-12, 213, 
218, 219-25, 228-31, 233, 235. 

and Manchester Railway, 

opening of, 267. 
Lincoln College, Rickman at, 22. 



INDEX 



Longmans' publishing house, 36, 37, 

38, 47, 88, 89, 296. 
Lord., House of, 14, 139, 140, M7. 
, 229, 231, 244, 246, 

268, 280, 282, 284 f 285, 286, 289, 

293-95,308-12, 314. 
Lord Miltonians, the, 303. 
Lovell, Robert, 204, 205, 268, 272, 

B81, 
Lucas, K. V, 1, 6, 17, 18, 26, 129, 

Lyndhurst, Lord, 294. 

MACAULAY, LORD, 13, 253, 254. 
Macculloch, John Ramsay, 242, 249, 

260, 261. 
Mackintosh, Sir James, 243, 291, 

292. 
Madoc,' Southey's poem, Rickman 

on, 112, 113. 

Magdalen Hall, Rickman at 
Malthas, Thomas Robert, 43, 148, 

167, 203, 204, 237, 272, 302. 
Mannera-Sutton, Charles, 239, 294, 

314. 
Mayor's Universal History, 56, 62, 

70. 

May, John, 25, 36, 39. 
Melbourne, Lord, 209, 272, 307, 312, 

314. 
Melville, Lord, 30, 115, 139-41, 255. 

(son of the above), 239. 

Moira, Lord, 137, 138. 

More, Hannah, 71, 158. 

Morning Post, the, 67, 69, 70, 72, 

105, 106. 

Morpeth, Lord, 261. 
Murray, John, 195, 201, 203, 241, 

268, 272, 281, 282, 285, 290, 291, 

292, 296, 318. 

NAPOLKON, 31, 63, 64, 79, 113, 135, 
143, 144, 145, 169, 171, 173, 174, 
175,215,235. 

Natural beauty, Rickman on, 108. 

Navarino, battle of, 237, 240. 

Netherlands, the, Rickman visit*, 
232, 233. 

Normandy, Rickman in, 231. 

O*COXNELL, DANIEL, 13, 14, 229, 240, 
J 1 1, 243, 275, 279, 282, 285, 288, 
294, 299, 300. 

x2 



oi,,.'.-! i. _:,:,. 
>;,.. Mr, .:n. 
Owen of Lanark. 180, 182. 



CMTOH. Lomo. 210. 272. 275. 

1" Hi 1 -. T.V V 'J.'i It '> ''. 

Parliamentary reforo, 1*2. 118. 138, 

162, 163, 179, 180, 208, 214, 282, 

236,240,349-96,312, 
Parnell, 8ir Heary, 316. 
Peel, Sir Robert, 13. 209. 219. 221, 

228, 233, 236, 238, 239, 240, 242- 

45, 264, 274, 275, 277, 288. 883, 

285, 286, 287, 289, 290. 292, 294. 

295, 299, 300, 304, 306, 312, 314. 

315. 
Penryn, disenfranchiMment of, 206, 

250. 
Perceval, Spencer, 12, 13, 135, 145. 

47, 153, 1GO, 161,228. 
Peterloo' massacre, the, 206, 211. 

250, 255. 

Petty, Lord Henry. Set LaaadowM. 
Phillips, Colonel, 

Phillips, Edward, 111. 112. 11.1-15. 
the bookseller, 52, 53-55, 61, 

95. 
Pitt, William. 12, 22, 30, 31, 37, 44. 

45,46,48, 105,108,109,113. 115. 

135, 136. 138-41, 147, 228, 255. 
Place, Frauds, 273. 
Plunket, Lord, 209, 284, 829, 

241. 

Poetry, Rickman on, 23, 3: 
Poland, Burnett in, 103, 104, 111. 
Political economists, Rickman's dU- 

like of, 241, 242, 249, 260, 261, 

290, 302, 303. 
Poole, Thomas, 3, 78, 80. 81, 86, 88, 

89, 90, 95-103, 105, 118, 136, 

191 ; letters of, to Rickman. 99- 

102. 
Poor Law reform, 15, 80. 86, 88. 89, 

167, 168, 180, 181. 182, 19O-94, 
196-204, 206, 237, 241, 246-48, 

290. 306, 307. 
report of 1834, 306, 

MT. 

Population Act*, the. 40-43. 

returns. 15. 38. 40-43. 46. 48. 

86, 162, 182, 219, 220. 237, 260. 



326 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



261, 262, 285, 287, 290, 298, 302, 

318, 319. 

Person, Richard, 35, 306. 
Portland, Lord, administration of, 

137, 145-47, 149. 
Portugal, Southey in, 5, 29, 30, 32, 

33, 35-39, 45, 75. 
Press, the, Rickman on, 13, 160, 

161, 166, 180, 185, 187, 191, 192, 

194, 202, 208, 211, 213, 214, 218, 

221, 222, 267, 278, 281, 286, 288, 

289, 292. 
Previous question, motion of the, 

300. 

Prison reform, 201, 202. 
Privy Council and the Reform Bill, 

274, 275, 283. 
Pugilism, Rickman on, 136. 

Quarterly Review, the, 10, 13, 148, 
154, 155, 157, 177, 178, 186, 188, 
189, 191, 195, 197, 198, 203, 204, 
219, 225, 234-37, 238, 241, 272, 
291, 292, 305, 318. 

RADICALS, the. See Reform Party. 
Reform Bill, the first, 11, 13, 14, 
147, 188, 248, 249-51, 273-96, 

299, 311. 

Party, the, 11, 12, 152, 186, 

212, 214, 215, 218, 220, 221, 222, 
223, 224, 229, 251, 256, 258, 261, 
266, 273, 280, 283, 287, 289, 299, 

300, 301, 303, 308, 314, 315. 
Regency, Bill, the, 153, 154. 
Religious epithets, Rickman on, 

169-72. 

* Remorse,' by Coleridge, 6, 163-66. 
Representative, the, 291. 
Rickman family, origin of, 19. 

- Ann (Mrs. Lefroy), 119, 120-22, 

124, 125, 130, 131, 147, 166, 198, 
226, 227, 254, 305, 308. 

reminiscences of, 3, 6, 9, 

10, 18, 22, 119, 120, 124-28, 
319. 
-Frances, 119, 122, 123, 124, 

125, 198, 254, 308-11, 312, 318. 
letter of, to Ann Rick- 
man, 308-11. 

John 

introduction passim. 
born in 1771, 21. 



Rickman, John continued. 

educated at Guildford Grammar 

School, Magdalen Hall, and 

Lincoln College, Oxford, 21, 22. 
early idea of entering the Church, 

22. 

life at Christchurch, 22-25. 
makes acquaintance of Robert 

Southey, 22. 
stays with Southey at Bristol in 

1800, 24. 

goes to London, 25. 
life in London, 26-39. 
meets George Dyer, 26. 
becomes editor of the Commercial, 

Agricultural, and Manufacturers' 

Magazine, 28. 
acts as Southey's literary agent, 

29, 36, 37. 
first acquaintance with Lamb, 35, 

36. 
employed in digesting the first 

census, 38. 

his work on the population re- 
turns 1801-1840,40-43. And see 

Population returns, 
meets George Burnett, 46. 
appointed secretary to Abbot, 

Chief Secretary for Ireland, 46. 
goes to Dublin, 50. 
procures Southey a secretaryship 

in Ireland, 51. 
his troubles with Burnett, 57, 58, 

60, 61, 64-67, 90-92, 94-98, 102, 

152. 
appointed Speaker's Secretary in 

1802, 76. 

comes to live at Westminster, 77. 
meeting with Thomas Poole, 80, 81. 
first thoughts of marriage, 83. 
Lamb stays at his house in 1803, 

87. 
Southey visits him, 88, 89, 110, 

136, 147, 268. 
his hospitality, 88, 89. 
visits Sadlers Wells with Southey 

and the Lambs, 89. 
procures work for Thomas Poole, 

80, 89. 
has a tiff with Thomas Poole, 

98-102. 
finds a ship for Coleridge in 1804, 

103-107. 



INDEX 



327 



Rickman, John continued. 
marries Miss Postlethwaite 

1805, 116-17. 
hit family life at We*tmin*ter, 

118-34. 
at Lamb's Wednesday evenings, 6, 

128, 129. 

his views on education, 119-23, 

176. 
his first house at Westminster, 

123-25, 127-29. 
his house as Clerk Assistant, 

125. 

his holiday tours, 130, 131, 254. 
his official work, 132-34. 
his writings, 130, 134, 190-204, 

234-37. 

visits Thomas Poole, 136, 14J. 
visits South ey, 130, 147. 
checks Southey's truculence, 

169-74. 
becomes second Clerk Assistant, 

129, 130, 135, 175. 

his work on the poor rate returns, 

191. 

indexes Hatsell's Precedent*, 196. 
depressed by the political situa- 
tion, 206, 207. 
tours in Scotland with Southey 

and Telford, 210. 
becomes Clerk Assistant, 124, 125, 

130. 
Bertha Southey stays at his house, 

225-28. 

builds a bouse at Chidham, 226-28. 
tours in Normandy, 231. 
tours in the Netherlands with 

Southey, 232, 233. 
witnesses debates on the Roman 

Catholic Relief Bill, 243-45. 
visited by Lamb in 1829, 247. 
rouses Southey to action against 

the reform movement, 259-264. 
his views on Parliamentary reform, 

262, 263, 265, 266, 267. 
describes debates on the Reform 

Bill, 273-90, 291-95. 
wishes to retire in 1832, 297, 

298. 
sends in a plan for combating the 

Radicals, 301. 
witnesses the burning of the Houses 

of Parliament, 308 -U. 



on Lamb's death, 812. 

leave. Palace Yard for Jfjdff 

Jeffreys' hoot* in Duke Stint, 

316-18. 

falls ill and die* in 1840. 818, 819. 
tributes to him im the How of 

'..mm,:.,. 81* * 

his Artistic tMtr* 

his dreas, 10, 78, 83. 126, 127. 

character of. 4, 5.9, 14. 16. 17 
98, lln. 11:, 116.119, 120-28, 
IT 281, 80,80. 

his emolument*, 77, 78, 88, 182, 

his honour*, 43. 

letters of, to hi* daughter Ann, 8, 

9,H I'M 20-22. 
to Lord Colche*ter, 8, 72-74, 

130, 207-10, 224, 226, 282, 

m, 

to Southey, 8, 9. 10, 17. 28, 

24, 26, 27 29, 30-34. 86-89, 
44-50, 57, 58, 08-66. 67. 68, 
70-72, 76. 81, 83-85. 88, 01, 92, 
93. 94, 102, 103, 107-109, 110, 
113, 115, 116, 129, 134. 135, 
14345, 14749, 162-60, 
166 75, 176-87, 188-207, 210-24, 
225-28, 229.31, 288, 284, 286, 
236, 237-41, 243-48, 260-98, 
299-305, 306-308, 311, 312, 
313-17. 

to Thomas Poole, 3, 9, 86, 

87, 89. 92, 96, 98, 109, 110. 
111-17. 136-43,145,146,149-62, 
175, 176, 236. 

political opinions of, 11, 12, 14, 
42,45,46, 47, 48,79, 92, 117, 
138-47, 149, 150. 153 55. 168, 
172, 176, 210-16, 218, 219, 
220 '-' !. 235, 23*. 

238, 240, 241, 243-45, 250-68, 

306-308,314,315. SeaJ> Bur- 
nett, Coleridge, Dyer, Lamb (C.), 
and Southey (R.). 

and Southey, proposed CoUoq*if* 
of, 6, 13, 14, 249. 202-64, 266, 
268-74, 280, 281, 282, 289. 
290,291,292,290,297,318. 

Martha, 119. 

- Mary, 89, 102. 



328 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Rickman, Mrs., 115-17, 119, 126, 
129, 131, 136, 162, 166, 172, 178, 
179, 198, 221, 227, 228, 264, 282, 
292, 309, 311, 318. 

Rev. Thomas, 19, 21, 149. 

William, 19, 20, 21. 

W. C., 119, 124, 125, 198, 225, 

226, 241, 242, 319. 

his Memoir of John Rick- 
man, 1, 40, 318-20. 

Roman Catholic Emancipation, 12, 
13, 48, 113, 144-46, 150, 167, 168, 
209, 210, 222-25, 228-31, 233, 234, 
237, 240-45, 248, 256, 258, 268, 
284, 292, 304, 307, 312. 

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 201. 

Rose, Sir George, 38, 40, 80, 142. 

Russell, Lord John, 14, 214, 240, 
250, 273-80, 2S2, 293, 319. 

Ryle, Mr., Lamb's executor, 313. 

SADLERS WELLS, 89. 

St. Margaret's, Westminster, 1, 130, 

280, 319. 

St. Vincent, Lord, 139, 141. 
Sandford, Mrs., Thomas Poole and 

his Friends, 1, 3, 8, 44. 
Scarlett, Jas. (Lord Abinger),261,262. 
Selfishness, Rickman on, 183, 193, 

194, 196, 230, 252, 270. 
Shaftesbury, Lord, 284. 
Shelley, P. Bysshe, expelled from 

Oxford, 158-60. 
Sheridan, R. B., 12, 145, 146, 153, 

154, 163. 

Six Acts, the, 180, 210, 211. 
Slave Trade Bill, the, 110. 
Smith, William, 188, 189. 
Soutbey, Bertha, 9, 119, 225-28, 249, 

270. 

Herbert, 178, 179. 

Mrs., 33, 34, 38, 39, 44, 47, 72, 

91, 179, 185,308,318. 
Robert 

his friendship with Rickman, 
passim. 

meets Rickman at Christchurch, 

22, 23. 

his work criticised by Rickman, 

23, 79, 112, 113, 136, 169-74, 
176-78, 223. 

visited by Rickman at Bristol, 24, 
25. 



Southey, Robert continued. 
goes to Portugal, 26, 29. 
sale of * Thalaba ' negotiated by 

Rickman, 29, 36, 37, 39, 63, 68. 
introduces Rickman to Dyer, 26. 
returns to Bristol, 44. 
his early connection with Burnett, 

44, 45. 
becomes secretary to Mr. Corry, 

51,56, 63, 66, 69, 71, 75. 
his life at Dublin, 51, 52. 
Burnett quarrels with him, 8, 56, 

82, 84, 85. 
goes to London, 56, 60, 63, 66, 

69. 
his opinion of Burnett, 61, 62, 64, 

65, 66, 67, 70, 75, 82, 84, 85, 

90, 91, 95, 156. 
Dyer visits him, 63. 
his opinion of Lamb's play, 74, 

75. 

quarrels with Godwin, 80. 
leaves London to settle at Kes- 

wick, 79. 
introduces Poole to Rickman, 80, 

81. 
Lamb's opinion of his influence on 

Burnett, 85. 
visits Rickman at Westminster, 

88, 89, 110, 125, 136, 147, 268. 
goes to Sadlers Wells with the 

Lambs and Rickmans, 89. 
loses his daughter, 91. 
praised by Coleridge, 104, 105. 
his poem ' Madoc,' 112, 113. 
on Coleridge's habits, 144. 
his work for the Quarterly Review, 

148, 154, 155, 157, 167, 178, 

186, 190, 195, 218, 219, 225, 

238, 241, 291, 292, 305, 318. 
his work for the Edinburgh Annual 

Register, 154, 169. 
Rickman sends him material, 134, 

144, 191-94, 305. 
describes Shelley's escapade, 158- 

60. 

his Life of Nelson,. 166, 167. 
becomes Poet Laureate, 172. 
on the death of his son, 178. 
invited to write for the Govern- 
ment, 180. 

Rickman's advice on the invita- 
tion, 183, 184. 



I NT) FA' 



Southey, Robert continued. 

his ' Wat Tyler' attacked by W. 

Smith, M.I'., 188-90. 
visited at Keawick by Rickman, 

130, 194. 
Rick man's share in hia publish*! 

work, 197-201, 203, 204, 234- 

37. 
writes to Hansard on behalf of 

R. Lovell, 204, 205. 
tours with Rickman in Scotland, 

210. 
hia Colloquies with Sir T. More, 

213, '-'_' I. 

hia quarrel with Byron, 219. 
writes inscriptions for the Cale- 
donian Canal, 223. 
hia quarrel with Lamb, 225. 
voyages in Holland, 231. 
on Rickman's capacity for work, 

232. 
toura in the Netherlands with 

Rickman and Henry Taylor, 22, 

232, 233. 
elected M.P., 233. 
on Rickman 'a sou intending to enter 

the Church, 242. 
interests Rickman in co-operation, 

246, 247, 248. 
hia message to Lamb, 247. 
on Macaulay, 254. 
roused by Rickman to write on 

Parliamentary reform, 259-64. 
the proposed joint Colloquies, 6, 

13, 14, 249, 262-64, 265, 268- 

74, 280-82, 289-92, 296, 297, 

318. 

on hia wife's illness, 308. 
on Lamb's death, 313. 
on Rickman's house in Palace Yard, 

316, 317. 

marries Caroline Bowles, 318. 
political opinions of, 11, 175, 180, 

222, 250, 290. 
letter of, to Danvera, 89. 

to W. S. Landor, 88, 89. 

lettera of, to G. C. Bedford, 51, 52, 

14S. 

to his wife, 51. 

to Rickman, 3, 6, 18, 24, 

29, 30, 35, 61-62, 65-67, 68- 

70, 74-76, 81, 84, 85, 90, 111, 

147, 156, 158-60,172, 173,175, 



Southey, Robert- ami*****. 

200, 201, 203, 231, 232, 234, 

235, 242, 21 

281, 282, 290. 308, 313, 316. 

318. 
Southampton Buildings, Lamb and 

Rickman at, 34, 35, 39. 
Speaker's Secretary, functions o: 

78. 
Spottiawoode, the firm of, 290, 291, 

296, 297. 

Spring Rice, Thomas, 252, 253. 
Sponeim, IT . -Jl. 
Stafford, Lord, 284. 
Stage, the, Rickman on, 9. 47. 
Stanhope, Lord, 70, 71. 7J. 7.">, 82, 

83, 84. 

Stoddart, Dr., 186,211 
Strathmore, Countess of, 32. 

TALFOURD, SIRGKAKT, 6, 128, 3 . 
Tarn worth Manifesto,' Peel's, 312. 
Taylor, Sir Henry, 130, 232, 233, 

309-12,315,316. 

Sir Herbert, 137, 138. 

William, 45, 49, 94, 107, 118, 

157. 
Telford, Thomas, 8, 15, 131. 132, 

181, 210, 213, 231, 249, 308, 318. 
Ten-pound freeholders, Rickman on, 

279, 286, 287, 289, 293. 
Test Act, repeal of, 240, 292. 
'Thalaba,' Southey poem, 29, 36, 

37, 62, 63. 
Thomson, Poulett (Lord Sydenham), 

257. 
Tierney, George, 152, 153, 208, Jl 1. 

234. 

Tobin, George, 104, 106. 
Tories, 5, 11, 12, 79, 118, 150, 160, 

168, 208, 233, 234. 240, 24 

248,249,250,251,263,264, 

284, 285, 288, 289, 294, 295, 298, 

299, 304, 314, 
Turner, Sharon, letter of, to W. C. 

Rickman on John Rickman's death, 

16, 17. 

ULLOA, DOM, 20. 

V AM81TT A RT, N icHOLAs ( Lord Bezley ), 

150, 207, 208. 
Vesey Fitzgerald, 240. 



330 LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN RICKMAN 



Villiers, Edward, 310. 

Votes and Proceedings of the House 

of Commons, the, 15, 133, 134, 

188. 
Vyvyan, Sir Richard, 263. 

WALL, BARING, 275. 

Ward, Colonel, 255. 

Warter, Rev. J., on Rickman, 305, 
306. 

Waterloo, battle of, 177, 178, 225, 
226, 255. 

Wedgwood, Josiah, 99, 100, 102. 

Wellesley, Lord, 138, 139, 150, 160, 
161, 219, 229. 

Wellington, Duke of, 12, 13, 177, 
216, 228, 233, 234, 239, 240, 242, 
245, 248, 250, 251, 253, 256, 258, 
261, 266, 268, 289, 294, 295, 304, 
307,308,312; administrations of, 
237-45, 248, 250-53, 256, 257, 
258-68, 312, 314, 315. 

Westall, William, 290. 

Westbrook, Miss, and Shelley, 159. 

Westminster, life at, 10, 77-79, 81, 
83, 115, 118-30, 132-34. 

Palace of, 10, 123-26, 227, 

308-12, 316, 317. 



Whigs, 11, 14, 79, 108, 118, 141, 
142, 150, 152, 153, 154, 160, 168, 
174, 208, 211, 212, 215, 218, 224, 
225, 235, 238, 239, 240, 242-45, 
248, 249, 250, 251, 253, 255, 256, 
258, 261, 263, 265, 267, 276, 277- 
89, 292-96, 298, 299, 301, 303, 
304, 311, 314, 315. 

Whiggamores. See Whigs. 

Whitbread, Samuel, 12, 13, 139, 140, 
150, 175. 

Wilberforce, William, 110. 

Wilde, Mr., 124, 126, 127, 309. 

William m., 238. 

William iv., 251, 261, 264, 265, 268, 
276, 277, 278, 293, 294, 295, 300, 
310. 

Windham, William, 141. 

Wordsworth, Dorothy, 89, 194. 

William, 10, 108, 151, 194, 195, 

281, 285. 

Wynn, C. Williams, 61, 189, 209, 
219, 239, 240. 

YORK, DUKE OF, 12, 48, 136, 138, 
141, 229, 231. 

ZAMOYSKI, COUNT, UK 



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