1612. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, [early April 1809]

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1612. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, [early April 1809] ⁠* 

I am not a little surpized & vexed at what your letter tells me. The MSS set off with the books which were mentioned, directed to Longmans for you. They wrote to tell me it contained some books & no directions what to do with them, – from which I understand that they had stupidly opened the parcel, – but concluded that they had sent the papers by themselves, – & in the persuasion that you had read them, have I corrected the whole eighth chapter, which contains every thing relating to the manner of the Tupinambas. [1]  – & the beginning of the next. The 10 & 11th I have now ordered the printer to send off to you without delay, & you will have looked over them over by the time he is ready for them. The 10th is the most episodical of the whole work, yet half the story belongs strictly to my subject, & being obliged to tell half, I could not leave it imperfect because it led me out of my limits.

Arrowsmith found Dobrizhoffer [2]  at Sir Joseph Banks’s, [3]  I having sent him hunting for his maps. The copy of which I made use came from the Advocates Library, procured for me in breach of law by Walter Scott, – but I am very desirous of obtaining one for myself, as it is incomparably the best book that has ever appeared concerning any part of S America. I have now from the Red cross Street Library, [4]  – the only one in England which is liberal enough to let its books travel to a man who can make use of them; Acosta, [5]  – in whom I do not find much <little> which I did not know before, for his book relates almost exclusively to Mexico & Peru – a Latin translation of Benzo or Benzone [6]  (I know not which is his true name) – & the Imago primi Saeculi Soc-Jesu. [7]  A Secular volume instead of a Carmen Sec. [8]  in honour of the Company, but to which no second was produced.

I almost fear that a parcel from Longmans must have been lost on its way to you, – for Pimentel is advertised, [9]  – & both the Annual [10]  & Quarterly [11]  published <more than> a month ago: & Wordsworths four volumes were I know ready for my Aunt long since. [12]  You had better write & make enquiry.

The Quarterly not only pays sooner but better, than any other mode of publication would do. I do these things with good will & good spirits, but you may be sure I should never do any such things were it not for the sake of that goodly guerdon which there is no doing without. Half my time I write for subsistence, – the other half that I may leave something behind me worthy of remembrance, – had I neither of these motives I should write just as much for my own pleasure, & for intellectual exercise.

My idea of the map is precisely the same xx xx as yours. I have something about the settlements on the Negro, in that Journal of Ribeiros, [13]  of which I have made great use as you will soon see, in the history of Ac Texeira & Acunhas voyage, [14]  – giving there a compleat account of the Orellana. [15]  – We have printed 264 pages the volume will contain between six & seven hundred, & even then there will be no room for the critical catalogue of documents, – that must be reserved for the end of the work.

Could we not employ John Bell to hunt out books at Lisbon, it is a commission in which he could take an interest which no other person can do. – Have you any list of Governors after Rocha Pitta [16]  stops? – Xx I know not where to look for them. I shall get J May to put some questions for me to his brother William [17]  concerning the state of the natives – if there be any, in the vicinity of Rio Jan. the proportion of mixed breed, – & in particular whether any such amalgamation of the Tupe [18]  & Portugueze has taken place in the inland settlements as has xxx xxxx between the Spanish & Guarani [19]  in Paraguay. My history proves to be much more amusing in print than I had expected it to be, & the second volume will be more so than the first.

You do not seem to look upon an increasing family in the light that I do. The more the merrier, is my philosophy, – & I reject the sequel of the proverb. [20]  Brothers & sisters in general, help one another thro the world, – & let me have as many as may come I have no fear for their well doing. My copy right will one day become good property. There will be a law to extend the term, even that will be sufficiently unjust, & I do not despair of having literary property made perpetual, like every other. But at any rate there is a way of renewing the lease to my family, by leaving corrected editions behind me – Harry goes for Mary Sealy in May. I shall visit him towards the end of that month.

Queen Orraca spelt her own name with an O. [21]  Walter Scott who can repeat any thing which he has heard three times, learnt that ballad by making me recite it, & then gave it a fashion in London. He made me copy it for the Princess of Wales. [22]  It is good in its way – but nos haec novimus esse nihil [23] 

I will make up a packet for Mrs H in the same form as the last, from time to time, till there be enough for <to> form a volume. I believe you have never seen my ballad of Bishop Athendio, the Devil & the Pope [24]  – nor some strange stanzas which made a great buzz in the world about ten years ago, called the Devils Thoughts, [25]  for most of which Satan was indebted to me. [26] 


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. AL; 4p.
Dating note: On top of the letter in a different hand: ‘Probably March 1809 April In answer to a letter dated March 31st’. BACK

[1] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil was published in 1810. The Tupinamba, one of the main ethnic groups of Brazilian indigenous people, are described in chapters 7 and 8. Southey had intended that Hill should comment on the accounts; see Southey to the Herbert Hill, 8 March 1809, Letter 1596. BACK

[2] Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariæ (1784). Southey eventually owned a copy of this work, no. 843 in the sale catalogue of his library. It was translated by Sara Coleridge (with Southey’s encouragement), as An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822). BACK

[3] Joseph Banks, Baronet (1743–1820; DNB), naturalist and patron of science, whose house in Soho Square, London held the best collection of natural history and travel narratives. BACK

[4] Dr Williams’s Library, established in Red Cross Street, Cripplegate, in 1729, through the bequest of the Presbyterian minister and benefactor, Daniel Williams (c. 1643–1716; DNB). BACK

[5] José de Acosta (1539–1600), a Spanish Jesuit missionary and naturalist who published several works, but Southey is probably referring to his Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias: Vida Religiosa y Civil de los Indios (1590), no. 3220 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[6] Giralomo Benzoni’s (b. 1519), Historia del Mondo Nuovo (1572) was translated into Latin as Recentes Novi Orbis Historiæ (1612) by Urbanus Calveto (dates unknown). BACK

[7] Johannes Bolland (1596–1665), Imago Primi Sæculi Societatis Jesu a Provincia Flandro-Belgica eiusdem Societatis Repraesentata (1640). This was no. 1435 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] A secular hymn, or song of the ages; a title used by the Roman poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus: 65 BC–8 BC). BACK

[9] Manoel Pimentel (1650–1719), The Brazil Pilot; or, a Description of the Coast of Brazil, Translated from the Portuguese of Manoel Pimentel … to which are added, Charts, of some of its most Considerable Ports (1809). This was no. 2331 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Southey reviewed the following in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809): Tour Through Spain and Part of Portugal, Volume 3 of Richard Phillips, A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Voyages and Travels (1805–1810), 56–57; Christian Augustus Fischer (1771–1829), A Picture of Madrid: Taken on the Spot. Translated from the German (1808), 57–60; Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (1808), 127–148; Report of the Committee of the African Institution, Read to the General Meeting on the 15th July, 1807, Together with the Rules and Regulations which were then Adopted for the Government of the Society (1807); Thomas Zouch (1737–1815; DNB), Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir Philip Sydney (1808), 224–235; Robert Drury (1687–1734?; DNB), The Adventures of Robert Drury, During Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar; Containing a Description of that Island; an Account of its Produce, Manufactures, and Commerce; With an Account of the Manners and Customs, Wars, Religion, and Civil Policy of the Inhabitants: to Which is Added, a Vocabulary of the Madagascar Language. Written by Himself, and now Carefully Revised and Corrected from the Original (1807), 253–263; John Finlay (1782–1810), Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads: Chiefly Ancient with Explanatory Notes and a Glossary (1808), 457–462; Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781?-1851), Metrical Legends (1807), 473–473; Francis Douce, Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manners: with Dissertations on the Clown and Fool of Shakespeare; on the Collection of Popular Tales entitled Gesta Romanorum; and on the English Morris Dance (1807), 554–562; Charles Lamb, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, who Lived about the Time of Shakespeare (1808), 562–570; [Howard Luke (1772–1864)], A Brief Apology for Quakerism, Inscribed to the Edinburgh Reviewers (1808), 354–356. BACK

[11] Southey reviewed the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[12] Southey had arranged for Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads and other Poems, 2 vols (1800) and Poems in Two Volumes (1807) to be sent to Catherine Hill; see Southey to the Herbert Hill, 8 March 1809, Letter 1596. BACK

[13] João Pinto Ribeiro (d. 1649), Observações Historicas e Criticas para Servirem de Memorias ao Systema da Diplomatica Portugueza Oferecidas ao Serenissimo Principe do Brazil (1798). BACK

[14] Pedro Teixeira (d. 1641) was a Portuguese explorer who became, in 1637, the first European to travel up the entire length of the Amazon, an expedition which helped extend Portuguese colonial possessions there at the expense of Spain. Cristóbal de Acuña (1597–1676?), a member of Texeira’s expedition, published Nuevo Descubrimiento del Gran Río de las Amazonas (1641). BACK

[15] The initial name of the Amazon river. BACK

[16] Sebastião da Rocha Pita (1660–1738), Historia da America Portugeza, desde o anno 1500 ate o de 1724 (1730). BACK

[17] John’s younger brother, William Henry May (1785–1849), was a Lisbon merchant who, after the French invaded Portugal, relocated his business to Brazil. BACK

[18] An indigenous people of the Amazon. BACK

[19] An indigenous people of Paraguay. BACK

[20] The proverb in full is: ‘the more the merrier; the fewer, the better fare’. BACK

[21] Afonso II (1185–1223), King of Portugal 1211–1223, married Urraca (d. 1220), daughter of Alfonso VIII (1155–1214), King of Castile (1158–1214) in 1208. Southey’s poem on ‘Queen Orraca’ entitled ‘Queen Urraca and the Five Martyrs of Morocco’ was published in the Morning Post in early September 1803, in the Iris, 3 November 1804, in English Minstrelsy. Being a Selection of Fugitive Poetry from the Best English Authors; with some Original Pieces hitherto unpublished, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1810), in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (Edinburgh, 1810), in Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838). BACK

[22] Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1768–1821; DNB) the wife of the Prince Regent, who was Princess of Wales between 1795 and 1820. BACK

[23] From Martial’s (Marcus Valerius Martialis; AD 38–41 to AD 102–104) Epigrams (AD 86–103), Book 13, Epigram 2, line 8: ‘we know these to be nothing’. BACK

[24] ‘A True Ballad of St Antidius, the Pope, and the Devil’, published in the Morning Post in early February 1803 and revised for Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838). BACK

[25] ‘The Devil’s Thoughts’, a political ballad jointly authored by Southey and Coleridge, and first published in the Morning Post, on 6 September 1799. For the complex later publication history of the poem, see The Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. J. C. C. Mays, 3 vols (London and Princeton, 2001), I.ii, pp. 726–750 and Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), V, Selected Shorter Poems, pp. 451–474. BACK

[26] The postscript is written upside down across the top of the first page. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 2 times)
Arrowsmith, Aaron (1750–1823) (mentioned 1 time)
Bell, John (c. 1747–1819) (mentioned 1 time)
Coleridge, Sara (1802–1852) (mentioned 1 time)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)