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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1636. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 26 May 1809 ⁠* 

May 26. 1809

Since last I wrote we have had an affliction as severe as it was unexpected in the death of little Emma. – just sixteen months old. – & as sweet a child as ever was borne by woman. I know not of what disease she died, – it more resembled cholera morbus than any thing else, – xxx nothing could be more rapid in its work. Edith bears up as she ought to do, – but these wounds are long in healing, – & for the future every little ailing in the children will alarm us, tho we were already disposed to be over-anxious. It is however better to lose children than never to have them, – I never lose any one whom I love without feeling that I have another tie with the world to come, they who live long, live to have more ties there than upon earth, – & death is contemplated at last only as that which is to restore them.


I was wrong about Para, & five minutes after-consideration had convinced me that I was so. Respecting the size of the I. dos Joanes Pimentel certainly makes it smaller than the maps. [1]  By the by there is one error of Pimentels pointed out in th a paper upon the Ilheos [2]  in one of the Academys books. It relates to the Barra de Camamû. he says great ships may ascend it for 12 leagues, – but Manoel Ferreira da Camara [3]  {says} that between the 3d and 6th league there is scarcely depth for large launches.

Your papers have arrived this evening, – four & twenty hours only after your letters, – I believe it will be proper in the history of Brazil not to touch upon any other part of Vieyras [4]  xx xxx character than what relates specifically to the subject & observing the full development of that strange mind for th his own times in Portugal. I am sorry to perceive that here is no entire set of Seabras work the Deduccaō Chronol: – I have only a first volume in two parts: – how much more there ought to be you probably know, – the Provas are often referred to, & these are entirely wanting. The work is a useful summary of the evidence against the Jesuits. [5] 

About Vieyra I am not yet competent to form an opinion: – it is very likely that his head may have got a twist in dwelling upon the subject of prophecy. But with regard to the mass of prophecies th at that time afloat in Portugal, & the whole mythology of the Sebastianistas, [6]  nothing is more clear to me than that they xxxx xxx xxxxxx upon it is hard that they should have been imputed to the Jesuits among their offences, – still more so that a Braganzan prince [7]  should have listened to such an accusation. The Jesuits in common with the other religious orders were manifestly labouring to effect the deliverance of Portugal from the first hour of its subjugation; – & like the Illuminati at Avignon [8]  these were some of the powerful weapons which they employed. This is a singularly curious subject, & I hope to elucidate it thoroughly. The Cortes of Lamego [9]  can have had no other origin than this spirit of patriotism, never losing sight of its end, & never scrupulous about its means. – There was a German romance translated many x some twelve or fourteen years ago built upon this notion– It was one of the many imitations of Schillers Ghost-Seër [10]  – I read it at the time, & but whether it was {is} written with any real knowledge of the circumstances of those times I do not remember, – to the best of my remembrance it is not.

It would be well to have Barbosa [11]  at hand, but I can do without it as my bibliography will be drawn from the books themselves, – My next Chapter will conquer Maranham [12]  from the French. I should have transcribed it before this if I had not been paralyzed by one painful circumstance after another.

God bless you


One of your xx xxx xxx xxxxxxx xx I wonder if the Captain Heathcote [13]  who behaved so like a villain to Tom in the Galatea, was {is} related to the family you speak of.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
Unpublished. BACK

[1] On this island in the mouth of the river Maranham, see Southey to the Herbert Hill, 11 May 1809, Letter 1627. 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

[2] Estuary in Bahia, Brazil. BACK

[3] The sale catalogue of Southey’s library records the following manuscripts, bound into one volume: ‘Voyage up the Madeira in 1749, with a MS. map—Relaciaon da Guerre e Successos de Mato Grosso desde 1759 ate 1764—Noticias do Lago Xarayes—Memoria de Observaçoens Physico Economicas acerca da Extraccaon do Ouro das Minas do Brazil, por Man. Ferreira da Camara’. BACK

[4] The Jesuit missionary, diplomat and writer Antonio Vieira (1608–1697). BACK

[5] José Seabra da Silva’s (1732–1803) Deducçao Chronologica e Analytica (1767) included attacks on Vieira and other Jesuit missionaries. Southey later obtained a copy, no. 2599 in the sale catalogue of his library. He was particularly interested in the ‘Provas’, or references. BACK

[6] The Sebastianistas were a messianic sect who looked for the return of Sebastian I (1554–1578; King of Portugal 1557–1578). BACK

[7] After the death of Vieira’s friend and supporter John IV (1603–1656), King of Portugal and the Algarves in 1656, Vieira was imprisoned for heresy and forbidden from teaching or writing by Alfonso VI (1643–1683), King of Portugal and the Algarves 1656–1683. BACK

[8] A hermetic system of philosophy established by Antoine Joseph Pernety (1716–1800) in 1785, and combining Masonic rite with the doctrines of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). BACK

[9] Instituting the rules of succession to the throne of Portugal. BACK

[10] Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805), Der Geisterseher or The Ghost-Seer, an unfinished novel that was started in 1786 and published periodically before being published as a book in 1789. BACK

[11] Diogo Barbosa Machado (1682–1772), Bibliotheca Lusitana (1741–1759). This was the first major reference work of Portuguese publications. BACK

[12] Southey narrates the taking of this Brazilian region from the French in chapter 13 of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[13] Captain (later Admiral) Sir Henry Heathcote (1777–1851) was in command of Thomas Southey’s ship HMS Galatea 1803–1805. In January 1805, he reported to Charles Danvers that his brother had been ‘brought to a Court Martial by his Captain, for disobedience of orders, neglect of duty, & contempt of his superior officer’, though the charges were not upheld; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 15 January 1805, Letter 1021. BACK

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August 2013