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

1921. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 May 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 12. 1811.

I am in sight of the termination of my work, tho not so near it as I could wish. It will detain me xxx yet three weeks longer. you will see us therefore the first week in June, if no unforeseen evil should occur. 480 pages are printed. When you see the bulk of the volume you will not wonder at the length of time which it has cost me, & when you look at the business of the year you will not wonder at the bulk. [1] 

Your friend Mr Stuart was ingenious enough to send the Valeroso Lucideno by the post, [2]  & it reached Longmans with a charge of sixteen guineas for postage. They referred the matter to Mr Freeling & he in a very handsome manner stretched his authority to the utmost & lowered the charge to one guinea, – the price of the book I guess at 1,200! However if when Mr S. hears this good story of his own talents for sending a dispatch, he should think proper to present me with the book I shall think it well purchased. About half its contents belong to my former volume, & tho it is certainly upon the whole of much less value than Brito Freire’s work, [3]  it supplies many additional & curious facts. I have not xxx xxx {proceeded in} it far enough to compare it with the Castrioto Lus. [4]  in any thing except its style, which is as different as that of a perfectly natural & unaffected writer, from the most affectedly ambitious one.

It seems that the book having been licensed in 1648 was afterwards suppressed by the S. Officio, [5]  – & the prohibition was taken off xx xxx twenty years afterwards. Whether xx it may afford any clue to the history of this prohibition I shall ascertain in perusing it; I fear not. but this long suspension xxx {is} very probably the reason why the work was never compleated.

I sent for a Spanish hist: of the Buccaneers which proves to be merely a translation of the common book, originally written in Dutch. [6]  I have got also another xxx xxxx xxx xxx xxx book worthless in itself but from its subject interesting to us. Relation historique du Tremblement de Terre servenu a Lisbonne &c – avec un detail contenant la perte &c – precedee d’un discours politique sur les avantages que le Portugal pourroit retires de son malheur, dans lequel l’Auteur developpe les moyens que l’Angleterre avoit mis jusques, la en usage pour ruiner cette Monarchie. 1756. [7]  Massenas retreat [8]  & the English subscription [9]  form a curious comment upon this text. The pretended account of the Earthquake deals wholly in generals, fills only a very few scanty pages & is good-for-nothing.

I have neither heard nor seen any thing of Brougham. He probably considers your answer as sufficient. [10] 

Some hopes have been given me of Tom’s promotion. Herries who is Perceval’s sercretary & right hand & who in fact does the out-of-door business of Chancellor of the Exchequer, has spoken warmly in his favour to Croker, & obtained a promise from him to speak to the First Lord, [11]  & if this fails Herries will then use his influence with Perceval. Perceval it seems is greatly taken with my remarks upon the Methodists, [12]  & would probably give me a living if I were in a situation to take one; – this not being the case I shall be glad if he would give Tom the epaulette instead. I had a letter a few nights ago from Dr Bell, requesting to know when I should be in town as he wanted to have some communication with me upon a subject of general good in which I was interested, [13]  & saying he would if possible regulate his movements by mine, xxx that he might meet me. This I suspect refers to some plan for providing elementary books for his schools, & for the people at large, of the nature hinted at in that reviewal. [14]  Bell has had some good preferment given him in the county of Durham, [15]  but it is rather mortifying to see how the credit which is due to him is run away with by a fell man whose vulgar quackery is at least equal to his merits. I hope I may not be too late to meet with Bell in town, for tho I shall have no leisure for executing what he probably wishes me to do, my friend Turner will make leisure, & has both ability & inclination for it. I wish you very much to know more of Turner, who, with an appearance that belies his powers of mind, is one of the soundest & most excellent men I ever knew.

Kehama [16]  goes on, or rather goes off, well: Longman has 109 left, & expects them to go by the time another edition is ready, – in which I think his expectations run a little too fast. Madoc is just sent to the press. [17]  the second edition was a very ugly book because it was left entirely to the printer. I will take care that the third shall not offend my sense of typographical beauty in the same manner.

I shall write to say when we set out & when you may expect to see us – had I been travelling alone it would have saved both time & distance if matters had been so arranged that you could have met me at Woburne –  [18] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ MY 15/ 1811: E/ 15 MY 15/ 1811
Seal: Partial, green wax.
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had invested more time and energy into his work for the Edinburgh Annual Register than he had anticipated and his contributions greatly exceded, in terms of length, those of the previous year. Ballantyne was concerned enough about the length of the historical section to insist that Southey explained himself to the readers in a prefatory note; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[2] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), envoy at Lisbon 1810–1814. He had sent Southey a copy of 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

[3] Francisco de Brito Freire (c. 1625–1692), Portuguese colonial administrator and governor general of Pernambuco, 1661–1664. His writings included Nova Lusitania, Historia da Guerra Brasilica (1675), no. 3322 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] 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

[5] The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, founded 1542. BACK

[6] Alexandre Esquemeling (c. 1645–1707), De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (1678). The Spanish translation, published in 1681, was re-titled Piratas de la America, no. 3462 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Ange Goudar (1720–1791), Rélation Historique du Tremblement de Terre survenu à Lisbon (1756). It was a possible source for the description of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake in Volatire’s Candide (1759). Goudar was a French spy and propagandist and his work severely criticised Portugal’s alliance with Britain and suggested it should re-orientate its foreign policy towards France. BACK

[8] The French general, André Massena’s (1758–1817), retreat from Portugal into Spain, which began on 13 March 1811. BACK

[9] Parliament had renewed its grant to pay Portuguese troops in March 1811, setting aside a further £2 million. The public subscribed a further £80,000, and the government £100,000, to relieve Portuguese distress. BACK

[10] Brougham had suggested that Southey should translate Lucien Bonaparte’s (1775–1840) Charlemagne, ou l’Eglise Délivrée (1814). He refused the commission. BACK

[11] Charles Philip Yorke (1764–1834; DNB), First Lord of the Admiralty, 1810–1812. BACK

[12] Southey’s review of Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

[13] Bell was preparing to set up the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Christian Church in November 1811. BACK

[14] Southey had suggested distributing popular books about the English Reformation. BACK

[15] Bell had been appointed Master of Sherburn Hospital, a medieval foundation in a hamlet near Durham, in May 1809. The Hospital was exceptionally wealthy because of coal-mining on its estates and the post was a lucrative sinecure. BACK

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

[17] The third edition of Madoc (1805). BACK

[18] The seat of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766–1839), Herbert Hill’s patron. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013