1869. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 11 February 1811

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815
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1869. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 11 February 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby. 11. 1811.

I send off a few lines in haste to prevent you from purchasing Azara, [1]  which I have had this year & half, – it is quoted in the notes to my first volume, [2]  & tho full of historical errors is nevertheless a very important book.

– The Arte de Furtar is manifestly written by an Alentejo man, probably by an inhabitant of Villa Viçosa. There is such plain proof of this that I cannot conceive how it should ever have been given to Vieyra. [3] 

I certainly shall not extend my history to a third volume. [4]  It is not possible for me to lay aside for it those works by which I subsist, – for there is no subsisting by any other works than those which are of temporary interest. As soon as the Register [5]  is compleated I shall have a long spell at it, but not sufficiently so to carry me to the Certanistas. [6]  After compleating the expulsion of the Dutch – I go to the foundation of the Jesuit system, & the disputes in Maranhan & Para, – which were the commencement of the struggle that ended in their expulsion & extinction as an order. The expedition of the Paulistas, & the extraordinary revolution in the manners of the nation produced by the introduction of the horse, will follow in natural sequence, & being left to no other printed authorities <after this> than Berredo [7]  & R Pitta, [8]  I see no difficulty in comprizing all within a second volume, which within any unseemly disproportion to the former may be allowed to exceed it by a hundred pages. [9] 

“Holmes’s American Annals” were reviewed in the fourth Quarterly. [10]  I perfectly agree with you respecting Scotts last metre, [11]  & so does Scott himself. I shall probably resolve upon something like the measure of Kehama, [12]  – only less stately in its general movement, Pelayo [13]  is in blank verse – I have written little more than 600 lines – which <but they> are among the best I have ever written

It is hardly possible that you should see me before May – certainly as soon as I can



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ FE 14/ 1811 FNn; E/ 14 FE 14/ 1811
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Felix Manuel de Azara (1742–1821), Spanish solider, engineer and naturalist. Southey was particularly interested in his writings on Paraguay and owned copies of his Essais sur l’Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupedes de la Province du Paraguay (1801) and Voyages dans l’Amerique Meridionale depuis 1781, jusqu’ en 1801 (1809), nos 89 and 90 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The book requested by Hill is the Voyages. BACK

[2] Voyages dans l’Amerique Meridionale depuis 1781, jusqu’ en 1801 (1809), quoted, for example, in History of Brazil, 3 vols (1810–1819), I, pp. 630–631. BACK

[3] Arte de Furtar (1652). Now attributed to the Jesuit Manuel de Costa (1601–1667), but at this time thought to be by Vieira. Southey’s copy was no. 3772 in the sale catalogue of his library. De Costa was from Alentejo. BACK

[4] The History of Brazil was published in three volumes, 1810–1819. BACK

[5] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[6] The Brazilian term for frontiersmen or pioneers. BACK

[7] Bernardo Pereira de Berredo e Castro (d. 1748), Annaes Historicos do Estado do Maranhao (1749), no. 3613 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Sebastião da Rocha Pitta (1660–1738), Historia da América Portugeza, desde o anno 1500 ate o de 1724 (1730); Southey’s copy was no. 3624 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[9] Southey is describing events in the mid to late seventeenth-century, including the defeat of the Dutch in 1654, the foundation of the Jesuit Reductions and their conflict with slave-raiders from Sao Paulo in the 1620s–1670s. This material filled volume two and meant there had to be a third volume of the History of Brazil. BACK

[10] Abiel Holmes (1763–1837), American Annals; or, a Chronological History of America, from its Discovery in 1492 to 1806 (1808). For Southey’s appraisal, see Quarterly Review, 2 (November 1809), 319–337. BACK

[11] Scott’s The Lady of the Lake (1810). BACK

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

[13] The early name for Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)