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

1787. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 24 June 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. June 24. 1810.

A Mr George Ridout [1]  (son of a surgeon in Pater noster Row) who went to Spain with Jacob the M.P. [2]  took out a list of books for me, & I have just received an account of his commission. He has got for me Gumilla, [3]  the Noticia de la California of Venegas [4]  – a work edited by the Jesuit Buriel, [5]  – & the Hist. del Nuevo Reyno of Piedrahita. [6]  – a book which I was very desirous of obtaining. These are all of a long list, except an odd volume of the Teatro Eccl. de las Indias Occid. by Gil G. Davila [7]  – there are but two volumes of this work, one relating to N America, the other to South, – & this is the wrong one. – They are all very dear, more than doubled in price since the Revolution, for two obvious reasons, – the supply from Madrid being cut off, – & the number of English who have gleaned the market. Nevertheless I am glad to have obtained them at this rate, & the more so as after the capture of Seville I had little hope of obtain finding any of them. I xxxx not The want of the Paraguay-historians perplexes me a good deal. I must make out a list & get it sent to Paris. I was told by the Douay Tutor [8]  that the Acta Sanctorum [9]  were at this time to be purchased in Amsterdam, – if so it will be worth I my while to offer 25 £ or even 30 £ for a set.

Raphael de Jesus, [10]  who luckily improves greatly when Joam Fera. V. [11]  becomes the hero of his story, has helped me out of a great puzzle. I could not conceive what was meant by calling Henrique Dias [12]  Governador das Minas, – being sure that no mines had been discovered, – or at least that I had not been able to discover any. But it seems the negroes from S Jorge da Mina [13]  were called Minas, as those from Loando were called Angolas. Nieuhoff [14]  comes in as a Dutch guide when Barlaeus [15]  leaves me, & he is a much more satisfactory one, – a plain dealer in matter of fact & documents. I wish much for the Valeroso Lucideno, [16]  & for Ant. Barbosa Bacellars account of Barreto’s campaign. [17] 

I have been reading the whole account of the dispute between the Jesuits & the Bishop of Ascencion, D Bernardino de Cardenas, [18]  – which seems to have begu been the beginning of the xx struggle that continued till their expulsion. I have gone thro the whole narrative in Charlevoix, [19]  & afterwards all the other side the story as given in the Morale Pratique, [20]  for the purpose of making up my own mind upon the subject before I began to write upon it. The Bishops own friends have removed all doubt, & I am perfectly satisfied that the Jesuits were in the right, – tho their own story had disposed me to a different conclusion. Both parties I have no doubt lie stoutly in their pleadings, & it is impossible to decide upon the truth or falsehood of thei any particular point of evidence, except by some collateral chance. But luckily they both afford a sort of measurement for themselves. Both deal in providences judgements & miracles displayed upon the occasion: now all these are lies sans doubt, & therefore we have only to see which side has the most of them to decide which is the greatest liar. In this the Franciscans have beat the Jesuits hollow. It is therefore fair to give the most credit to the Jesuits.

John May has procured for me the Observador Portuguez, [21]  a very faithful & valuable diary of the proceedings of the French for in Portugal from Nov. 27 1807 – to Sept 15th of the following year. As it has come too late for the Register, [22]  which is on the eve of publication I shall probably abstract an article from it for the Quarterly. [23]  The anonymous author speaks of a second part which he has not thought it prudent to publish. I wish it were possible to procure a copy of this manuscript – John Bell perhaps could accomplish this. Whoever he be he is an honest man & a true patriot, & one historian to whom future historians will be most deeply indebted.

Have you seen Frere since his return? There was a verse-history of Ferran Gonzalez in the Escurial, [24]  which he wanted to get copied for him. – I am afraid he xxx had not leisure to think of making this hay while the sun shone. You will see that I have been his supporter, God knows with perfect sincerity, in the register. Thus far it has been only by stating the plain facts, but in the following years volume, when his conduct was made a party question & the subject comes before me in that shape I expect to vindicate him most triumphantly. [25] 

I hope my Aunt has received the whole of Kehama. [26]  It will probably be ten or twelve weeks yet before it is published. – Don Duardos is likely to have a new Cumberland cousin in the course of two or three weeks.

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry./ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [partial] JU 27 1810 / E 27 JU 27 / 1810
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Ridout (1788–1871), later Lecturer and Vicar of Newland, Gloucestershire. He was the son of John Gibbs Ridout (1758–1823), London apothecary, who provided Coleridge with medical advice. BACK

[2] William Jacob (1761/2–1851; DNB), MP for Rye 1808–1812. He made a 6-month visit to Spain in 1809–1810 and published Travels in the South of Spain the following year. BACK

[3] Jose Gumilla (1686–1750), El Orinoco ilustrado y defendido. Historia Natural, Civil, & Geografica de este gran rio y de sus caudalosas vertientes (1791), no. 3488 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] The Jesuit administrator and historian Miguel Venegas’s (1680–1764) Noticias de la California (1757), which deals with the settlement of Baja, California and is a standard source for information about the early Californias. Southey’s copy was no. 3767 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] Andrés Marcos Burriel (1719–1762) extensively revised Venegas’s manuscript before publication. BACK

[6] Lucas Fernandez Piedrahita (1624–1688), Historia General de las Conquistas del Nuevo Reyno de Granada (1688). Southey’s copy was no. 3615 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[7] Gil Gonzalez Davila (1578–1658), Teatro Eclesiastico de la Primitiva Iglesia de las Indias Occidentales (1649). Southey’s copy was no. 3367 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] The priest, historian and tutor John Lingard (1771–1851; DNB). Southey had met him at Ushaw, a Roman Catholic seminary; see Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 May 1810, Letter 1782. Originally founded as the English College, Douai in 1568, it moved to Ushaw Moor, near Durham, in 1808. BACK

[9] Acta Sanctorum (1643–1940), a 68 volume biography of all the saints, arranged by their feast-days. BACK

[10] Raphael de Jesus (1614–1693), Castrioto Lusitano (1679), a history of the war between Brazil and Holland, 1624–1654. Southey’s copy was no. 3621 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] Joao Fernandes Vieira (c. 1613–1681), leader of the Portuguese forces against the Dutch in Pernambuco 1645–1654. BACK

[12] Henrique Dias (1605–1662), leader of groups of freed slaves against the Dutch in Pernambuco. BACK

[13] Portuguese slave-trading base (‘St George of the Mines’), now Elmina in Ghana. BACK

[14] Johan Nieuhof (1618–1672) Gedenkweerdige Brasiliaense Zee-en-Lant-Reise (1693). Southey’s copy was no. 1934 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[15] Caspar Barlaeus (1584–1648), Rerum per octennium in Brasilia et alibi nuper gestarum sub praefectura (1647), no. 233 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. BACK

[17] Antonio Barbosa Bacelar (1610–1663), Relacao Diario do Sitio e Tomada da Forte Praca do Recife (1654), detailing the exploits of Francisco Barreto de Meneses (1616–1688), later Governor of Brazil 1657–1663. BACK

[18] Bernardino de Cardenas (1562–1668), Bishop of Asuncion 1642–1649, who ordered the first expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay. He was a Franciscan. BACK

[19] As Southey had not yet acquired Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Historia Paraguajensis, ex Gallioc Latina, cum Animadversionibus et Supplemento (1779), no. 691 in the sale catalogue of his library, he probably means Charlevoix’s Histoire du Paraguay (1756), no. 645 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[20] Sebastian Joseph du Cambout de Pont-Chateau (1634–1690) and Antoine Arnauld (1612–1694), La Morale Pratique des Jesuites (1669–1694). An edition of 1746 was no. 1511 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[21] Observador Portuguez, Historico e Politico de Lisboa (1809), no. 3556 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[22] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810). BACK

[23] Observador Portuguez was reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 1–24. BACK

[24] The ‘Poem of Fernan Gonzalez’, a thirteenth-century account of the life of Fernando Gonzalez, Count of Castile 931–970. The poem survived in one 15th-century manuscript in the royal archive at the Escurial. See also Southey to John Hookham Frere, 16 January 1815, Letter 2545. BACK

[25] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 434–441; Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 86–108. Southey defended Frere’s advice to Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB) to retreat through Galicia rather than Portugal, especially when Frere was subjected to a motion of censure by the Whigs on 24 February 1809. BACK

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

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August 2013