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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1497. Robert Southey to [Edward Littleton], 21 August 1808 ⁠* 

Keswick. Aug. 21. 1808.

My Dear Sir

Before I have expressed my thanks to you for the notes upon Dr Plot, [1]  you have been kind enough to send me a little books which is highly to be prized on many accounts. The languages of the American-Indians afford very curious matter for investigation, & so nearly connected with my main pursuit at present, that I should willingly enter deeply into the subject, if it were possible to procure materials: but that is impossible, as Rome is probably the only place in Europe where they could be found. This document with which you have obliged me is singularly valuable; [2]  it is unquestionably in the most barbarous language of which any specimen exists: whereas the language of which any specimen exists: whereas the languages of South America, – those at least of which I have been able to find any account, – indicate a far more advanced state of culture.

This evening I have received the last proof of a work upon Spanish history: [3]  my publisher is instructed to send a copy to Teddesley as soon as it is published, .. you will do me the honour to place it in your library as a slight token of acknowledgement from the Author. The book itself is curious, for it is the earliest, as well as one of the most beautiful pieces of chivalrous history in existence; & it contains some extracts from a Poem, certainly not less than six, & probably seven hundred years old, translated by Mr Frere (our late Embassador at Madrid) with a fidelity & skill which I haven never seen equalled. Every body is now interested for Spain. If it be possible I feel a deeper joy than is generally diffused, for I have long loved the Spaniards as a nation, & long foretold their resurrection as a great & mighty people, tho with little hope that the prophecy would so soon be accomplished.

believe me Sir

with great respect

your much obliged humble servant

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Endorsement: Mr Southey to Sir Edward Littleton Bt.
Location: Staffordshire Record Office, D260/M/F/4/8
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Dr Robert Plot (1640–1696; DNB), antiquary, naturalist, writer and the first Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He was also the first Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University. Plot interested Littleton because he was author of The Natural History of Staffordshire (1677). BACK

[2] The Book of Common Prayer … Translated into the Mohawk Language under the Direction of the Missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, to the Mohawk Indians (1787). BACK

[3] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). Three of Frere’s translations from the Poema del Cid were appended to Southey’s edition. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013