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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1487. Robert Southey to John Adamson, 6 August 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick, Aug. 6. 1808.

Sir.

I have never seen the name of Nicola Luiz, [1]  except in Murphy; [2]  and the title of the Portuguese Plautus [3]  which he gives him, being generally applied to Gil Vicente, [4]  thought it not unlikely that he might have written Richard for Robert, as he is apt to do so. Barbosa’s great Bibliotheca [5]  is not in my possession, and I have referred in vain to Nicolas Antonio, [6]  to the Mappa de Portugal, [7]  which contains a copious list of poets, and to the Catalogue of Authors which the Academy printed as the sources from which their dictionary was to be compiled. How it should be that this name is not to be found in either, is to me altogether unaccountable.

It is possible that Antonio Ferreira’s play [8]  may have been originally published under this fictitious name. I have no other reason for supposing so than that it seems almost certain if the name of Nicola Luiz were a real one, it would have been included in one or all of the works which I have consulted; and Ferreira did in one instance practise an artifice of this kind, yet I think you must have seen his play. It begins: –

Colhey, colhey alegres,
Donzellas minhas, mil cheirosas flores. [9] 

Should this be the tragedy in question, I will, with great pleasure, transmit you an account of the author, or send you my copy of his works (should that be more agreeable), which, when you have completely done with it, may be returned through my brother Dr. Southey, of Durham.

The tragedy of Domingos dos Reis Quita, [10]  upon the same story, has been Englished by Benjamin Thompson. [11]  There are two Spanish ones by Geronimo Bermudez (published originally under the name of Antonio de Silva), in the sixth volume of the Parnaso. [12]  Henry K. White had merely begun the first scene of his projected play, and that, as was evident from the handwriting, at a very early age. [13] 

The Portuguese have two poems upon the same story, the Penasco de las Lagrimas, written in Spanish by Francisco de França da Costa, [14]  and the Saudades de D. Ignes de Castro, by Manoel de Azevedo. [15]  This latter I have myself planned a play upon, The Revenge of Pedro: whether it will ever be executed, is very doubtful, [16]  but this part of the story is far fitter for dramatic poetry than the foregoing.

I am, Sir,

Yours with respect,

Robert Southey.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; 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), III, pp. 158–160. BACK

[1] Adamson was the translator of Donna Ignez de Castro, a Tragedy, from the Portuguese of Nicola Luiz, with Remarks on the History of that Unfortunate Lady (1808). BACK

[2] James Cavanah Murphy (1760–1814), Travels in Portugal; Through the Provinces of Entre Douro e Minho, Beira, Entremadura, and Alem-Tejo, in the Years 1789 and 1790. Consisting of Observations on the Manners, ... Trade, Public Buildings, Arts, Antiquities &c. of that Kingdom (1795). In this work Murphy credits Nicola Luiz as the only author of a Portuguese tragedy on the story of Inês Peres de Castro (1325–1355), the murdered lover of Prince Pedro (1320–1367), who, when he became king of Portugal in 1357, was declared to have been his wife and crowned queen as a corpse. The author remains obscure to literary historians: he has been identified as Nicolau Luis da Silva (1723–1787), author of chapbook comedies. BACK

[3] Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254 BC–184 BC), Roman playwright. BACK

[4] Gil Vicente (c.1465-c. 1536), called the Troubadour, is considered the chief dramatist of Portugal and called the Portuguese Plautus. BACK

[5] Diogo Barbosa Machado (1682–1772), Bibliotheca Lusitana (1741–1759). BACK

[6] Nicolás Antonio (1617–1684), the Spanish bibliographer, author of Bibliotheca Hispana Vetus (1696). BACK

[7] João Baptista de Castro (1700–1785), Mappa de Portugal (1745). BACK

[8] Antonio Ferreira (1528–1569), Inês de Castro (c. 1557). BACK

[9] ‘Pluck, gaily pluck./ Young companions, a thousand perfumed flowers’. See Ferreira, The Tragedy of Ines de Castro, trans. John R. C. Martyn (Coimbra, 1987), p. 243. BACK

[10] Domingos dos Reis Quita (1728–1770), Inês de Castro. BACK

[11] Benjamin Thompson (1774–1816), Inez de Castro, a Tragedy, Translated from the Portuguese of Don Domingo Quita (1800). BACK

[12] Geronimo Bermudez (1530–1599), authored, using the penname of Antonio de Silva, Nise Lastimosa and Nise Laureado (1577) on the subject of Inês de Castro. These were included in El Parnaso Espanol (1768–1778), the collection of Spanish poems made by Juan José López de Sedano (1729–1801). BACK

[13] As Southey noted in the Preface to The Remains of Henry Kirke White of Nottingham (London, 1807), I, p. 52, Kirke White had begun a play on the subject of Inês de Castro. BACK

[14] Francisco de Francia y Acosta (17th-century), a native of Porto, wrote ‘Penasco de las Lagrimas’ in ottava rima; he is chiefly known for his collection Jardín de Apolo (1658). BACK

[15] Listed in Barbosa’s Bibliotheca Lusitana as Manoel de Azevedo Morato (dates unknown), Saudades de D. Ignez de Castro. Das ne convertida em, Loureiro. Glojsa a hum Soneto de Camoes (1716). BACK

[16] It was not. BACK

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August 2013