2478. Robert Southey to Messrs Longman and Co. [fragment], 3 September 1814

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

2478. Robert Southey to Messrs Longman and Co. [fragment], 3 September 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick, Sept. 3. 1814.

Dear Sirs,

... I have had a visit from Mr. Canning to-day, who has offered me his good offices in Portugal, and to be the means of any communication with Henry Wellesley at Madrid. [1]  This new opening is so much the more acceptable, as my main source of information has been cut off, Abella, I fear, being at this time in prison. [2] 

The restoration of the Jesuits is a most important measure, [3]  and not the least extraordinary of the great events which have lately taken place. This concluding volume of Brazil will be the only single work which contains the whole history of their empire in S. America, and of their persevering struggle against the Indian slave-trade, which was the remote but main cause of their overthrow. [4]  I am working at this from manuscript documents, some of which fatigue the sight.

Murray sent me the other day the two first and two last volumes of your translation of Humboldt, which I shall review. [5]  This traveller has so encumbered his volumes with science, that I think you would do well to extract his travels, insert in them the readable part of his other works in their proper place, and thus put the generally interesting part within reach of the reading public. This is what Pinkerton [6]  ought to have done. Can you lend me Humboldt’s Essay on the Geography of Plants? [7]  It must, doubtless, contain some Brazilian information.

Yours very truly,

Robert Southey.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850)
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 80–81 [in part]. BACK

[1] The diplomat Henry Wellesley (1773–1847; DNB), envoy-extraordinary and then ambassador to Spain 1810–1821. He was the younger brother of Marquis Wellesley and the Duke of Wellington. BACK

[2] Southey was actively seeking information for his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) and feared Abella had been arrested, among other leading liberals, on 10 May 1814. His fears were unfounded; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 September 1814 (Letter 2482) and Southey to John Rickman, 9 October 1814 (Letter 2484). BACK

[3] Pius VII (1742–1823), pontiff since 1800, restored the Society of Jesus (which had been suppressed in 1773), in a Bull of 7 August 1814. BACK

[4] Two remaining volumes of the History of Brazil were still to be published, they appeared in 1817 and 1819. BACK

[5] Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent during the Years 1799–1804 (1814). Southey’s copy was no. 1463 in the sale catalogue of his library. This book was reviewed by John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), rather than Southey, in Quarterly Review, 14 (January 1816), 368–402. BACK

[6] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World (1808–1814); no. 2335 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Humboldt’s Essai sur la Géographie des Plantes (1805). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Abella, Manuel (1753–1817) (mentioned 1 time)
Canning, George (1770–1827) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)