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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1409. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 January 1808 ⁠* 

Jany. 2. 1808.

My dear Uncle,

You may suppose that the news from Lisbon [1]  has spurred as well as interested me. The books which Arthur Aikin had loaded down to me for reviewing (tho I had formally desired to have none but such as I myself should specify) – have been shifted off to Harrys, & those of weightier matter to Wm Taylor. [2]  I have nothing to impede me except the introduction to the Cid, [3]  & that has for the main part has been done these four years – it requires only to be new-modelled with the new matter which will be found at Holland House.

Were all my documents at hand I could go to press in a month. [4]  If they are to be found in London I will find them, but Longman has in vain sent round to the booksellers with a list of French books not one of which was to be found. I am now trying the provincial booksellers. The Bp of Llandaff offers me a letter to Lord Spencer [5]  – I shall take his letter conditionally, which is – that if his Lordships books are only to be looked at I will not flatter him & tantalize myself by looking at them. If they are to be used, Wynn shall take me to him, & I will carry the Bishops letter. Thevet & Claude d’Abbeville are the {French} books wanted for the first volume – probably neither of them of much value, & yet they ought to be examined. [6]  Some histories of Paraguay are more essential & here I am utterly at a loss – for Charlevoix is good for nothing, & I have nobody but Charlevoix after Schmidel breaks off. [7]  Herreras Hist. of Philip 2 in which he promises to continue his greater work contains nothing to my purpose except the expedition of Orsua & that wretch Lope de Aguirre. [8] 

You did not send me Brito Freire, [9]  I shall wait for him, having got as far as the capture of Olinda, [10]  – & bring up the affairs of Maraham to that time as they are to be found in Bernardo Pereira, [11]  to be collated with Claude d’Abbeville whenever he comes to hand. My first volume will probably end with the final expulsion of the Dutch, – x for all this remaining part there will be neither ma lack of materials, nor difficulty in arranging them. There is a difficulty in the former part – I am now transcribing it, fitting in notes, & filling up chasms. If I can find any old historian of Paraguay the book may go to press as in immediately on my return from town. But the mode of publishing it is worth some consideration; there is no possible risk of loss, & it is hard to pay half the profits as interest for a nominal advance of capital to publish with.

If I can borrow the Spanish Chronicles anterior to Alonso XI, [12]  I shall also be ready with the European branch of the history. It is written down to the death of Joam 3, & from the death of Sebastian to the final overthrow of Antonios projects. [13]  Lord Bute [14]  or Lord Holland will be likely to have what I want. Wynn also tells me that Thomas Grenville [15]  has some Spanish books which he will show me. I was not wrong in working chronologically, but it has turned out unluckily, as Portuguese Asia must now be the last in order of publication, & there is at least a quarto & half of it on my shelf.

Barlœus [16]  is not here for Tom to copy. I have only the small Cleves edition & my Mauritias [17]  contains a fine print of Bahia but no charts whatever. Of what value are those in Giov. Giuseppes work? [18]  if their accuracy be not better than their beauty they are good for nothing, – tho there is the manifest notion of a panorama in one of them. Toms present plan is to leave this place with me, part from me at Sir Edward Littletons in Staffordshire, & strike for Bristol – to put himself under a good surgeon there with whom I am intimate. His complaint is a prolapsus ani [19]  – & God knows whether he will ever be rid of it. He is now at Ambleside with his friend Lloyd, whither I go x Wednesday to meet the Bishop at dinner the next day. He has worked hard at Spanish & Portugueze, & made good progress since he has been here.

Prince Joam [20]  has furnished me with as compleat an end to both histories as a tragedian could desire. He might have made it as fine a one – had the thing been done solemnly. –

x I do not wonder at the expectation there is of your papers. They will surely contain much which cannot be given in a historical form, & which will turn to equal account in some supplementary shape. I wish it were possible for you to pass the whole summer here – But I shall see you & talk with you in February. – My affairs are going on promisingly. there is every reason to believe that Espriella [21]  will fetch up all my lea way in the Row, & that what I have already done will supply ways & means for this new year, & leave the {my} whole time at my own disposal.

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Ludlow/ [deletion and the remainder of the address in another hand] No. 9 Saville Row/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 1808
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] That, on 29 November 1807, the British navy had aided the Portuguese Prince Regent and the Queen, his mother, in escaping Napoleon’s invasion of their country by escorting them across the Atlantic to Brazil. BACK

[2] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 27 December [1807] (Letter 1405) and Southey to William Taylor, [December 1807] (Letter 1408). BACK

[3] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[4] That is, with the History of Brazil. BACK

[5] George, Lord Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766–1840; DNB), politician and book collector, who had his library at his house near Reading. BACK

[6] André Thevet (1516?-1592), Singularitez de la France antarctique (1557); Claude d’Abbeville (dates unknown), a French Franciscan missionary to Brazil, and author of Histoire de la mission des pères Capucins en l’isle de Maragnan et terres circonvoisins (1614). BACK

[7] Pierre Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Histoire de Paraguay (1756); Ulrich Schmiedel (?1510–1579?), a German mercenary in the service of Spanish conquistadors who travelled up the river Plate from Buenos Aires into the interior of Peru and Bolivia. Schmiedel was the author of Viaje al Río de la Plata (1534–1554). BACK

[8] Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (1559–1625), Historia general del mundo del tiempo del rey Felipe II, desde 1559 haste su muerte (1601–1612). Southey took from Herrera the story of the ill-fated Amazon expedition of exploration conducted by Pedro de Ursúa (1526–1561) and Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510–1561), but omitted it from his History of Brazil and instead published it separately as The Expedition of Orsua: and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821). BACK

[9] Francisco de Brito Freyre (1625–1692), Nova Lusitania, Historia da Guerra Brasilica (1675). BACK

[10] Olinda, in Pernambuco, Brazil, was held by the Dutch in the late 1630s. BACK

[11] Bernardo Pereira de Berredo e Castro (d. 1748), governor of Maranhão 1718–1722, author of Annaes Historicos do Estado do Maranhaō de sey Descivrunebtim, atè 1718 (1749). BACK

[12] Among the many chronicles written in medieval Spain are the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris, Historia compostelana, the Crónica najerense and the Crónica silence. Alonzo XI (1311–1350) was King of Castile and Leon. BACK

[13] John III (1502–1557), King of Portugal, and his grandson Sebastian, also King of Portugal (1554–1578). After Sebastian’s disappearance on an expedition to Africa, Antonio (1531–1595), though thought by some to be illegitimate, claimed the throne. He was ousted by the Spanish invasion of 1580. Southey’s History of Brazil was originally part of larger work, which remained incomplete, his History of Portugal. BACK

[14] John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (1744–1814; DNB), son of the 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–1792, Prime Minister 1762–1763; DNB) a literary patron, whose library the Marquess inherited. BACK

[15] Thomas Grenville (1755–1846), Wynn’s cousin, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1806 to 1807. BACK

[16] Caspar Barlaeus (1584–1648), Rerum per octennium in Brasilia et alibi nuper gestarum sub praefectura (1647), a work containing many maps and charts. Southey’s library, on his death, contained an edition of 1660. BACK

[17] Franciscus Plante (1613–1690), authored Mauritias in 1647, a work containing many of the same engravings as Barlaeus. BACK

[18] Giovanni Giuseppe di Santa Teresa (1658–1735), Historia delle Guerre del Regno del Brasile (1689). BACK

[19] A prolapsed rectum. BACK

[20] John Manuel, Prince of Portugal (1537–1554). BACK

[21] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

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August 2013