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

2168. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 November 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov. 2. 1812

I have another daughter, & all’s well.

You would be amused with a letter which I received yesterday from an Evangelical Parson, to thank me for the benefit which he had derived from reading – Thalaba. [1]  It has strengthened his faith, he says, & he requested permission to send me “a sketch of the instruction to be drawn from it”. [2]  I dare say this “Moral” will be as good as a sermon – Kehama [3]  also is in great odour with him upon the same grounds. – Did I ever tell you of a Clergyman at Hull who wrote sent me some papers showing the resemblance between Kehama & Nebuchadnezzar? [4] 

I had a visit from Lord Somerville [5]  about a fortnight ago. He was obliged to introduce himself, for I had forgotten his person & an odd but easy blunder had occurred about his name. While I sat at breakfast he sent to say he would wait on me in half an hour if I was disengaged, & the maid brought in Lord Sunderlins compliments instead – who happens to be our neighbour.

A large cargo of B Ayres Gazettes [6]  are arrived to day from Neville White, who is a very trusty purveyor of materials for me. He has sent me some very curious letters from Sicily, by means of which & of Henry Wynns [7]  which I saw at Llangedwin, I shall be able to give much original matter xx upon that subject. [8] 

This years xxxxx xx Register – or rather last years, will give me room I hope for a chapter upon the negroes in Hispaniola, whom we ought to take every possible means of civilizing. [9]  Those islands were not meant for white men, – if they had white men would have been found there, or certes white men would be able to work there. Ultimately they must belong to that race whose constitution are {is} suited to the climate; wise measures will {may} make this an easy, as it is an unavoidable, transition; – but if things are left as they are, a series of massacres will lead to the establishment of negro states like the Algerines & the other Barbary pirates.

Do you see the Investigador Portuguez? [10]  – D Domingos [11]  has succeeded in getting up a better journal than Hippolyte da Costa’s, [12]  & it is curious to see the effect of the spirit of the times in this publication {which is} avowedly favoured by the P. Court. There are a few curious notices about Brazil in it. Lisbon it seems swarms with newspapers, – & there is a Coimbra Journal, [13]  which seems to be in the manner of a review. What a fortunate country will Portugal be if it obtains all the good of a revolution, without any other suffering than that of the xx war which has led to it!

I am hardly in time for the post.

Love to my Aunt

RS


Notes

* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ 5 NO 5/ 1812
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 294–296. BACK

[1] This had read Thalaba as an allegory of the powers and virtues of Faith, and drawn parallels between events and characters in Southey’s poem and the bible. For Southey’s reply, see his letter to John Martyn Longmire, 4 November 1812, Letter 2172. BACK

[2] Longmire did send the ‘sketch’. For Southey’s response to it, see his letter to John Martyn Longmire, 21 November 1812, Letter 2181. BACK

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

[4] Nebuchadnezzar II (c. 634–562 BC), King of Babylon c. 605–562 BC, conqueror of Jerusalem in 597 BC. He features prominently in the Biblical books Daniel and Jeremiah. Whilst the identity of the clergyman is not clear, it was possibly the Anglican cleric and classical scholar Richard Patrick (1769–1815; DNB), who held a living at Sculcoates, Hull. The ‘papers’ were possibly those mentioned in Southey’s letter to an unknown correspondent, 9 September 1811, Letter 1953. BACK

[5] John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB), agriculturist and third cousin of Southey. BACK

[6] Gazeta de Buenos Ayres, which ran from 7 June 1810 to 12 September 1821. BACK

[7] Sir Henry Watkin Williams Wynn (1783–1856; DNB), diplomat and Wynn’s brother. BACK

[8] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 422–437. BACK

[9] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 192–196. BACK

[10] O Investigador Portuguese em Inglaterra (1811–19), no. 3409 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Domingos de Sousa Coutinho, 1st Conde e Marques do Funchal (1760–1833), member of the Portuguese legation in London 1803–1814. BACK

[12] The Correio Braziliense (also known as the ‘Literary Warehouse’) was a journal in Portuguese. Edited by Hipolito Jose da Costa (1774–1823), it was printed in London and ran from 1808–1822. It was critical of the Portuguese monarchy and advocated liberal ideas. Southey possessed a complete set, no. 3203 in the Sale catalogue of his Library. BACK

[13] Jornal de Coimbra (1812–1820), a monthly journal, no. 3498 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

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August 2013