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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

1733. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, [started before and continued on] 13 January 1810 ⁠* 

There is a stupid oversight of mine in the first sheet of the Notes. The Zarate [1]  of the old Translators Epistle Dedicatory, is certainly the Zarate mentioned in Ch. XI, – & this never occurred to me till half an hour after the proof was returned. The extract was made eight years ago when of course I could not know who he was, but I am vexed at my own dullness in not recognizing him in time. {However I have sent up an additional note to identify him.} [2]  – Authors in general are more impatient to see their works launched than their friends are for them. I however have learnt to be as patient as the public, – now & then I give Pople a hint to quicken his pace, & sometimes set the Longmen of the Row to goad him on: – you have seen enough of his promises to know what they are worth; – but other Printers are quite as bad in this respect, indeed rather worse upon the whole, & I have never found any one so attentive to his work. The remaining notes I cannot arrange & send off till my sheets are compleated, – they are ready ‘cut & dried’ – & when this expected parcel arrives may be sent off in half an hour. By way of gaining time I will forthwith dispatch what little is to be said in the as Preface – with the title &c. The notes will not I think exceed six sheets in the whole, so that Poples part may easily be finished by the end of this month; & allowing the whole of February to the binders, we may start by the beginning of March. There is no better season for publishing, & xx seasons are of little consequence to works of permanent interest.

I have given Elmsley a commission for Labats [3]  publications respecting Africa & the W Indies, – for Gregory of Tours, [4]  & the Hist. of the Buccanneers. [5]  A Collection of the various works relating to these men, & to the Pirates also, would be very useful & doubtless furnish some information respecting our parts of S America. Dampier [6]  is the only author whom I have. I should be glad of any others which you might happen to meet with. There is a voyage to Brazil by Atkyns [7]  – a surgeon in the navy some fourteen years ago, which I sent for in vain from a Bristol Catalogue. [8]  he published another vol concerning the Gold Coast & the W Indies, – Brazil is mentioned in the title page of this work, – in consequence of which I sent for the book, – & there found myself referred to his former publication. I am at a loss to conceive how he can have filled a seperate volume about Brazil, but his other book is a good one & has raised my curiosity for this. Cuthell, [9]  in that xxxx alley which you pass thro in Holborn, should be forthcoming with a Catalogue about this time, & I have generally found his collection of books the cheapest as well as best of any in town. Dulan in Soho Square has the most foreign books. [10] 

As for Kehama [11]  there is no trouble in sending the sheets as they are struck off, – Sharp expects to receive & forward them, & will be gratified by seeing them as they pass & talking xx {about} them. I have had no proof yet, tho daily expecting one for the last three weeks.

I am at present a good deal interested about an affair in which you can render me some service, & my Aunt perhaps more, women in such cases being the most useful friends. A young Bristol man (boy he might be called) dying at the age of one & twenty, has bequeathed his papers to two young friends [12]  in trust as a legacy to his sister, [13]  to be published for her benefit. It is a dismal story. Roberts was his name, – his father formerly a Brewer in Horfield Lane had failed, [14]  & the sons salary as a Bankers clerk (70£ a year) was so essential towards the support of the family, that since his death they are sinking fast into absolute poverty, the father being disabled by an apopletic stroke. There was every thing that was good in William, every thing that was promising, & as far as I can learn, nothing but what was promising & good. James a Banker of Birmingham (the author of that sweet poem upon the Otaheitian Girl which I quoted in the Quarterly [15]  has the charge of the papers & manages the publication. I have seen them, – & they are as good both the verses & letters as they could be for one so young, – far better I am sure than any of mine were at the same age. – Now I want subscribers for this volume, – a ten or twelve shilling business – to be paid on delivery of the book. This mode of publication is adopted at my suggestion, because he has left nothing like poor White for the Evangelicals, & that reptile generation [16]  have no ears for any thing except Tabernacle music. We cannot draw upon the canters, so we must levy contributions upon the benevolent. The book I am certain will interest all who see it, but we cannot trust to this – such books never sell to any extent unless fashion, or fanaticism, or something worse carry them off. Get me subscribers where you can, – & if they happen to be above the rank of simple commoners get the money too if they offer it – for with such persons it is usually ‘If you will not when you may’ &c –


Saturday 13th. Jany.

Pople is instructed to send you a proof of the Preface, [17]  in which you will make any alteration that you may make expedient. There is a dedi dedication in which I think you will find nothing that ought to be objected to, & which – with your leave – must stand. You will see that I have advertised for the books [18]  which are still wanting, it will probably bring in some of them.

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ with William Burn Esqr/ 7. George Street/ Hanover Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 1810
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Juan Ortiz de Zárate (c. 1521–1575), Basque explorer and conquistador, whose exploits are described in Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, pp. 331–349. Southey had – late in the day – realised that he was the same person as the ‘old Zarate’ (History of Brazil, I, pp. 628–629 n. 14) in the ‘Epistle Dedicatory to Sir Francis Walsingham’, prefixed to The Conquest of the Weast Indies (1576), an English translation of Francisco Lopez de Gomara (c. 1511–1566?), Hispania Victrix (1552). BACK

[2] The new note clearing up the confusion was included; see History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. 649 n. 110. BACK

[3] Jean-Baptiste Labat (1663–1738), Nouvelle Relation de l’Afrique Occidentale (1728); Relation Historique de l’Ethiopie Occidentale (1732); Nouveau Voyage aux Iles de l’Amerique (1722), nos 1578, 1580 and 1582 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] St Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594), historian and bishop. An edition of his Historiae Francorum (1561), was no. 1240 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Alexandre Esquemeling (c. 1645–1707), De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (1678). BACK

[6] The buccaneer and explorer William Dampier (1651–1715; DNB). A 1697 edition of his Voyages Round the World is no. 782 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] The naval surgeon John Atkins (bap. 1685, d. 1757; DNB). He published accounts of his travels as Voyage to Guinea, Brasil and the West Indies (1735). It contained little about Brazil, but there was no earlier volume on this subject. BACK

[8] See Southey to Charles Danvers, 20 March 1809, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Three, Letter 1603. BACK

[9] John Cuthell (d. 1818), a bookseller whose premises were in Middle Row, Holborn. BACK

[10] The London-based booksellers and publishers A. Dulan & Co., who specialised in books in French. BACK

[11] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[12] Paul Moon James and Edward Hogg. BACK

[13] Eliza Roberts (dates unknown). BACK

[14] William Roberts (dates unknown). He had been made bankrupt in 1793. BACK

[15] ‘The Otaheitan Mourner’: ‘Peggy Stewart, daughter of an Otaheitian Chief, and married to one of the Mutineers of the Bounty. On Stewart’s being seized and carried away in the Pandora Frigate, Peggy fell into a rapid decay, and in two months died of a broken heart, leaving an infant daughter, who is still living’, published in Monthly Magazine, 26 (December 1808), 457–458. Two stanzas were quoted by Southey in his ‘Transactions of the Missionary Societies in the South Sea Islands’, Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 50 n*. BACK

[16] An adaptation of Matthew 3: 7 and 12: 34. BACK

[17] To the History of Brazil. It was dedicated to Herbert Hill. BACK

[18] History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, p. vi. BACK

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August 2013