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

2487. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 October 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick 16 Oct. 1814

Your letter found me at Rydale Mount, & I have been looking with some anxiety for a farther report from the Doctor, but have as yet heard nothing from him since we parted at Ambleside. – Kosters partner (who has an unrememberable name beginning with Gil-) [1]  called on me last week & informed me that the books from Sealy [2]  were arrived at Liverpool. Tomorrows carrier will probably bring them, & I am as impatient to open the box, as the Edithling or Bertha would be if it contained a new doll.

I have franked up the first Chapter of my second volume to Bedford that he may convey it to you. [3]  Send it to Longman when you have done with it. The matter is uninteresting enough, – the next chapter you will find less xxx so; – there are some striking circumstances in the recovery of Pernambuco. I follow it with a chapter De Moribus, [4]  for which my Collectanea are curious & abundant: – Then glance rapidly at the affairs of Paraguay & the Plata, & enter upon the establishment of the Jesuits, which leads me to the Paulistas, the xxx struggles in Maranham &c. –  [5]  The restoration of the Jesuits excites less attention in England than a murder or a new novel. What effect will it produce in Portugal? they begin to pride themselves there on being more enlightened than their neighbours, & it is not impossible that this Bull may embroil them with the Pope. [6] 

Harry will have told you that I am xxx a member of the Spanish Academy, [7]  – being as Abella tells me the second foreigner whom they have thus distinguished. An honour it certainly is, – & yet if Ferdinand [8]  goes on as he seems to have begun, xxx xxx xxx xxx {I may perhaps experience the} greater honour of having my name struck out of the list when my History [9]  appears. If it were safe to travel in such a country I am should be strongly inclined to go to Madrid, & see how much of the mystery could be unriddled upon the spot. In spite of my unwillingness to move from home, & the inconveniences & expence &c – it is so fitting for me to go, that were a suitable companion to offer himself I should probably consent. I have been dreaming over the map in what route to take Covadonga, [10]  how to get at Batuecas [11]  &c. A civil war will most likely deliver me from these temptations.

Abella has sent me a transcript of the Poema del Ferran Gonzalez, a poem not later than the 13th century. [12]  As far as I have yet had leisure to get on with it, it is by no means equal to the Cid. [13]  He sends me also the account of the Bayonne transactions by Escoiquiz Ferdinands tutor, – who is an indifferent poet & a much worse statesman. It is of course an apology for himself & Co. & a panegyric upon his master, – but there are some curious facts in it which had not before been known. [14] 

Longman delays the publication of Roderick [15]  till November, & I who having compleated the poem am very indifferent about every thing farther (except that of improving it) let him act as he thinks best. – I have desired him to send my Aunt a copy of Wordsworths poem, [16]  which I am sure you will read with great delight – the stories in the Church Yard are xxx all real histories – & the whole scenery of the poem sketched from the life. We spent a day last week in visiting the chief scene (Blea Tarn) with Lady Olivia Sparrow [17]  & Lord Calthorpe. [18] 

If the unborn should prove of the more worthy gender I must create him a Viscount. [19] 

Arrowsmith must now put our map in hand: [20]  I shall write to Rickman about it without delay. [21]  – Let me hear of you for I x shall not be easy xxx till I know that your alarms are over.

God bless you


Mrs McTaggart [22]  is in Keswick on her way to visit the Bishop of Sodor & Man. [23] 


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [partial]ock/ OC 19/ 1814 FNn; E/ 19 OC 19/ 1814
Watermark: 1811
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Unidentified. BACK

[2] Richard Sealy (d. 1821), Lisbon merchant and father of Henry Herbert Southey’s first wife Mary-Harriet. BACK

[3] The first chapter of the second volume of the History of Brazil, published in 1817; see Southey to Grosvenor Bedford, 14 October [1814], Letter 2486. BACK

[4] ‘of customs’. BACK

[5] The outline Southey gives here deals with Brazilian history in the mid-seventeeth century and occupies the first two thirds of the second volume (roughly up to Chapter 26). The order is the same, except for the ‘de Moribus’ material, which appeared in Chapters 24 and 30. BACK

[6] 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. However, Portugal did not ask the Jesuits to return until 1829. BACK

[7] The Real Academia Espanola, founded 1713. It regulated the use of the Spanish language. BACK

[8] Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). He had abolished the liberal Constitution of 1812, arrested the leading liberals and restored the Inquisition. BACK

[9] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[10] Site of the Gothic victory over the Moors in 722 that is the traditional date of the beginning of the Reconquest of Spain. BACK

[11] A remote valley, site of many myths and of a famous Carmelite monastery, founded in 1602. BACK

[12] The ‘Poem of Fernan Gonzalez’, a 13th-century account of the life of Fernando Gonzalez, Count of Castile 931–970. The poem survived in one 15th-century manuscipt in the royal archive at the Escurial. Southey had been trying to obtain a copy since at least 1813; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 28 June 1813, Letter 2275. BACK

[13] ‘El Poema de Myo Cid’, the earliest Spanish epic poem, of the 12th/13th centuries. BACK

[14] Juan Escoiquiz (1762–1820), whose Idea Sencilla de las Razones que Motivaron el Viage del Fernando VII a Bayona (1814) (‘Honest representation of the causes which inspired the journey of King Ferdinand VII to Bayonne’) had dealt with the meeting between his former pupil (Ferdinand VII) and Napoleon Bonaparte at Bayonne in April-May 1808. At the meeting, Ferdinand VII eventually abdicated, leaving the way open for French control of Spain. BACK

[15] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[16] The Excursion (1814). BACK

[17] Lady Olivia Sparrow (c. 1778–1863), daughter of the Irish peer Arthur Acheson, 1st Earl of Gosford (c. 1745–1807). She married Robert Sparrow (1773–1805) on 14 March 1797. (Sparrow had bullied Southey during their time at Wesminster School.) The marriage produced three children. A religious woman, Lady Olivia was also interested in the education and welfare of the poor. In the 1830s she established schools and encouraged mission work on her estates, helped by the clergyman Ridley Herschell (1807–1864; DNB). BACK

[18] George Gough-Calthorpe, 3rd Baron Calthorpe (1787–1851). BACK

[19] Southey habitually gave nicknames from the English aristocracy to Hill’s sons. BACK

[20] The first volume of the History of Brazil (1810–1819), p. [vi] announced ‘The map also is delayed’; it appeared in the second volume, published in 1817. The Arrowsmiths were a family of celebrated map-makers and Southey is probably referring to the senior partner, Aaron Arrowsmith. BACK

[21] See Southey to John Rickman, 16 October 1814, Letter 2490. BACK

[22] Unidentified. BACK

[23] George Murray (1784–1860; DNB), Bishop of Sodor and Man 1813–1827, Bishop of Rochester 1827–1860. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013