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

2605. Robert Southey to Henry Koster, 27 May 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick, 27th May, 1815.

My dear Sir,

I am truly obliged to you for thinking of me in Pernambuco. The manuscript [1]  has arrived, and will be very useful to me, the more so, as Rocha Pitta takes the other side in his account, and omits, as he usually does, the most important points. [2]  The better I become acquainted with colonial history, the more clearly I perceive the natural tendency of all colonies toward Republicanism.

My second volume [3]  is advancing in the press, and I hope to publish it in the course of the winter.

Can you tell me if the Bernardo Vieira [4]  of your manuscript be of the family of João Fernandes Vieira, [5]  the Restorer of Pernambuco? I have not been able to discover how J. Fernandes was rewarded for his services, farther than that he was made Governor of Angola, which seems very much like putting him out of the way. I have another question to ask which you can probably answer. Are the negroes of the Palmares [6]  extirpated, or have you still in the interior of Pernambuco, as of Surinam, [7]  communities of maroons, existing, in a state of something between savages and banditti? The map shows that the interior of that Captaincy is less peopled than any other part of Brazil.

Remember us kindly to all your family, and believe me, my dear Sir,

With many thanks,

very truly yours,

Robert Southey.


Notes

* MS: Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro; text taken from Sousa-Leão
Previously published: Joaquim de Sousa-Leão, ‘Cartas de Robert Southey a Theodore Koster e Henry Koster, anos de 1804 a 1819’, Revista do Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro, 178 (1943), 45. BACK

[1] ‘Guerra Civil ou Sedissoens de Pernambuco Exemplo Memoravel aos vindouros 1710’, no. 3840 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This was an account of the Mascate War (or ‘War of the Peddlers’) in Pernambuco, Brazil in 1710–1711. The war was a conflict between landowners based around Olinda and merchants in Recife (backed by the colonial government). The landowners’ leaders were the first to call for Brazil to become an independent Republic. BACK

[2] Sebastiao da Rocha Pitta (1660–1738), Historia da America Portugueza (1730), no. 3624 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] History of Brazil (1810–1819). The second volume was not published until 1817. BACK

[4] Bernardo Vieira de Melo (1658–1718), Captain-General of Rio Grande do Norte and leader of the rebel landowners in Pernambuco in 1710–1711. BACK

[5] Joao Fernandes Vieira (c. 1613–1681), leader of the Brazilian forces against the Dutch in Pernambuco 1645–1654. He became Captain-General of Paraiba (1655–1657), Captain-General of Angola (1658–1661) and finally took command of all fortifications in North Eastern Brazil (1661–1681). BACK

[6] The Quilombo dos Palmares was a community of escaped slaves in the interior of Pernambuco from 1605 until its destruction in 1694. BACK

[7] As famously described in John Gabriel Stedman (1744–1797; DNB), Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796). BACK

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August 2013