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

1902. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 April 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 12. 1811.

Your letter gives me some consolation for the extent of these Annals which seem to lengthen before me as I adv proceed with them. [1]  There is six weeks work before me, – which brings the time just to the point of your Ladies’ departure. I will set out as soon as possible, & may perhaps write the two concluding chapters at Streatham by way of gaining time. even with this expedient it is hardly possible that I should reach town before the x end of May, – & if your guests should not be gone before we arrive, – it is but halting at Rickmans & making our visit there first instead of last.

Fontanini [2]  does not notice the small edition of Pier delle Valle (so I find the name written). [3]  He describes a quarto in three vol. bearing date Part 1. 1662. P.2. 1658. P. 3. 1663. the first part a second edition, which the others do not appear to be, differing from the first edition which (the note says) is of 1650 in being worse printed & on worse paper, but having a portrait & life of the author. The second vol. is in two parts. If the portrait in my French edition [4]  be a likeness I commend my friend Pier for not placing it in his own edition. – He is one of the most entertaining travellers of his age, – full of valuable historical matter. I know of no other account of the fall of Ormuz than what he gives. [5]  – It is remarkable that the English translation (in folio) [6]  contains only the latter half of the work.

How happy the news from Portugal must make Lord Grenville! [7]  Will it be our turn now to besiege Almeida? [8] 



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Postmark: [partial] 10’oClock
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s contribution to the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811), which turned out to be significantly lengthier and more time-consuming than his work of the year previously. BACK

[2] Giusto Fontanini (1666–1736), Biblioteca della Eloquenza Italiana (1753), no. 940 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This edition of Fontanini’s work was updated and corrected by Apostolo Zeno (1668–1750). BACK

[3] Southey may be referring to the one volume edition of Pietro della Valle (1586–1652), Voyages dans Le Turquie, L’Egypt, Les Indes (1658–1663), published in Venice in 1667, no. 2931 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] A French edition of della Valle’s Voyages of 1745; no. 2239 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. It contained an engraved portrait of della Valle. BACK

[5] The capture of Ormuz, a strategic port on the Persian gulf, in 1622, from the Portuguese, by a combined Anglo-Persian force. BACK

[6] George Havers (fl. 1660s), The Travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta (1664), no. 2894 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Southey’s observation is ironic. Grenville had made a speech in the House of Lords on 18 March 1811 on the futility of British intervention in Spain and Portugal. Southey noted laconically, ‘Two days after these opinions were delivered, the telegraph announced the news of Massena’s retreat’, Edinburgh Annual Register, 1811, 4.1 (1813), 264, referring to the French general, André Massena’s (1758–1817), retreat from Portugal into Spain, which began on 13 March 1811. BACK

[8] The Spanish city of Almeida had been captured by the French in the summer of 1810. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013