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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1673. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 31 August 1809 ⁠* 

Harry two days ago announced to me the birth of my cousin. I am glad you have a child, & also that it is a boy, – I am glad too that the name of Herbert has been taken care of, since you have for the present preferred another.

What I have done to Molina has been very little, – I have only the first volume in the original & have seen none of the translations, – which however the American translated, whoever he be seems diligently to have examined. [1]  It seemed a proper place for abstracts from Agueros [2]  & Falkner, [3]  & accordingly there I placed them, with a few stray notes thro the volume. [4] 

My authority about the Paraguay is your Noticias do Lago Xx Xarayes [5]  – by some nameless traveler who drew up his narrative for the Academy, – I have re-collated what is written with the original, & have certainly made no mistake on my part. The question then is whether xxxxxxx {this} authority is to be relied on, – if you think it is not, I will either cancel the leaf, or state in a note the contrary opinion. [6] 

As for the Anta, [7]  my note about him is certainly accurate; – he is as much an amphibious animal as the Hippopotamus, – & I dare say has upon that score been eaten with a safe conscience upon fast days. Your {two} drawings to which the allusion was made are here. So is a drawing of the Tamandua or Ant-Eater, [8]  whom you seem to Xxx confound with the Tapir or Anta in your letter. – Some of the errata I cannot turn to, my sheets reaching no farther than p 208. I sent off the 14th Chapter about a fortnight ago by way of Mr Perceval ; & have the 15th written & ready to send, – & about half the 16th One more concludes the volume, for I fear there will not be room for Texeiras voyage [9]  which should else come in. it occupies 19 pages in my first copy, which are nearly equal to forty of the printers, & this with the notes & bibliography would I fear swell the book too much.

I have just concluded an engagement with the Ballantynes which will occupy me closely till the end of the year, so that I shall be able to do nothing more than bring out this volume. It is to write the historical part of the Edinburgh Annual Register which they are starting. [10]  They engaged some other person, [11]  & have paid for their sample & cancelled it, – upon which they came to me first for the Spanish affairs, & shortly after for all. Their proposal was that I should regularly undertake it, & receive 400£ a year for the task. – I have consented only for one year that they may see how I suit them, & I how the far it is compatible with better pursuits. The pay is very great, & will come seasonably. They talked of 30 sheets – I stated the folly of spinning out matter beyond what it would bear, & this therefore is at my discretion. How completely unprepared I am for the task I have fully explained to them, – nevertheless they have no remedy. – nobody else would be more xx {prepared} is to them a satisfactory answer, – so I must do my best, which will be a great deal better than, under such circumstances, they can have any right to expect.

Your Angola MSS [12]  I ought to see, & indeed all your papers concerning P. Africa [13]  about which I am very ignorant. [14] 

The running title of my book should have been as it stands upon the first MS. Hist. of Brazil & Paraguay, – I must say something equivalent to this in the Preface, & then all that relates to the discovery of the countries will appear to be integral as they are indispensable parts of the work. Their necessary connection will be manifest in the second volume. when the foundation of the Guarani Reduction [15]  is described, – which I shall enter upon immediately after finishing the Dutch War, [16]  – but it will I fear cost me a journey to some publick Library wherever the Epist. Paraguaica [17]  may happen to be accumulating dust & cobwebs. I am gratified at finding you like the work better upon a continuous perusal; – it pleases me better than I expected, for as you may perceive by the sort of exordium which is prefixed I was fully sensible of the difficulties which were inseparable from the subject. The labour has been very great, every part having been written twice over, & the chapter about the savages three times. What I am doing for Ballantyne will go to press in its first state, & yet you will see that it will be thought a fine style, & a highly polished one, by persons who will call this x careless xxx.

Those Rio Grandes have provoked me, – if I can discover any alias it shall be adopted. [18] 

Your quarto MSS about Genoa was sent to Staunton because I thought you wanted all the books connected with Italian history.

I could have the Derw. Stewardship if it suited me in spite of all the borough interest in Northumberland, – for Lord Lonsdale can command it & his interest would weigh down any two Dukes. But it requires more time than I would sacrifice for any salary. [19]  Canning has sent me word that if he has any influence when Dutens dies I shall succeed him, [20]  – meantime to be Historiographer to Mr Ballantyne is just as good a thing, & so far better as that I have a chance of cheating the Income Tax & a certainty of escaping other deductions, to the tune of about 20 per cent more–The Annual Review is defunct [21] – if the Coroners inquest should set upon its body they may pronounce that it died of starvation.

Harry is beginning to write the History of the Crusades, – a subject which he set his mind upon some years ago, & which is a choice one in all respects. His wife seems to be ambitious for him, – which is a good thing, – & I think when he gets on a little way, the subject itself will keep up xx {his} interest in it. He has both the Bishops & the Chapter-Library at command, [22]  – in which there are most of the main documents, – & Ville-Hardouin [23]  which happens to be one of the rarest I bought at Coimbra. I have given him my plan for keeping his books – which it cost me much experience to discover, & which will save him considerable labour. The chief Arabic documents have been translated into Latin.

If the sources of the Riv S Francisco are known insert them for me in an account of that river which you will find in the 16 Ch. [24]  I expect to send that & the 15th together on Sunday – – The passage about the Paraguay I inserted in the proof sheet, – it is not in the two Chapters which thro Longmans carelessness were not {never} sent you. The note about the Anta was also an insertion suggested as necessary by Rickman. – Do you see Murphys new work announced? [25] 


Keswick. Aug 31. 1809


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

[1] Giovanni Ignazio Molina (1740–1829), Compendio della Storia Geografica, Naturale, e Civile del Regno del Chile (1776). The American edition appeared as A Geographical, Natural, and Civil History of Chili in 1808. BACK

[2] No. 3480 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Pedro Gonzales de Agueros, Descripción Historial de la Provincia y Archipiélago de Chilóe, en el Reyno de Chile, y Obispado de la Concepcion (1791). BACK

[3] Thomas Falkner (1707–1784), an English Jesuit whose papers were published as A Description of Patagonia and the Adjoining Parts of South America (1774). BACK

[4] The English edition, containing these additions made by Southey, was published in London in 1809, entitled Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chile: Translated from the Italian. BACK

[5] The sale catalogue of Southey’s library records the manuscript ‘Noticias do Lago Xarayes’ bound in with other miscellaneous manuscripts in one volume (no. 3849). The Xarayes were an Indian tribe of the Amazon. BACK

[6] Hill was helping Southey copy-edit his History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[7] The South American Tapir (also called the Brazilian Tapir, or Lowland Tapir) is known as the Anta in Portuguese. BACK

[8] The Tamandua is a genus of anteaters. BACK

[9] 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

[10] Southey contributed the ‘History of Europe’ section to the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808–1810. BACK

[11] Either the poet and translator William Steward Rose (1775–1843; DNB) or his brother the diplomatist George Henry Rose (1770–1855; DNB). Their father was the Pittite loyalist MP George Rose (1744–1818; DNB). BACK

[12] Southey later owned a Portuguese manuscript on Angola and the Congo; it may have descended to him from Hill. See no. 3842 of the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[13] Meaning Portuguese Africa. BACK

[14] The Portuguese established several settlements, forts and trading posts along the coast of Angola in the sixteenth century. BACK

[15] The name of the village colonies established by the Jesuits around their missions to the Paraguayan Indians, or Guarani. BACK

[16] The Dutch-Portuguese war took place between 1602 and 1661. BACK

[17] The Jesuit Relations of their missions in South America, published annually from 1632 in Latin, French and Italian. BACK

[18] In the first volume of his History of Brazil (1810) Southey chose as an alias for the river its’ ‘native’ name Potengi, complaining that there were other rivers of that name, a settlement and a province, p. 479. BACK

[19] In July 1809, Southey was informed by Richard Sharp that the stewardship of the Derwentwater Estates (which were owned by Greenwich Hospital) would soon become vacant on the death of the incumbent. Southey asked several friends to intercede on his behalf, including his uncle Hill, Humphrey Senhouse and George Beaumont, but in the end it was considered unsuitable for him; see Southey to Walter Scott, 8 August 1809 (Letter 1666) and Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 August 1809 (Letter 1669). BACK

[20] Louis Dutens (1730–1812; DNB), a French Protestant, held the post of Historiographer Royal until his death on 23 May 1812. Southey’s campaign for the post proved unsuccessful and it went to James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB). BACK

[21] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 17 August 1809, Letter 1670. Southey reviewed at least 103 books for the Annual Review during its publication (1800–1808). BACK

[22] In Durham, where Henry lived. BACK

[23] No. 1135 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Geoffroy de Villehardouyn, Maréchal de Champagne (1148–1213), L’Histoire de la Conqueste de Constantinople par les Barons Français Associez aux Venitients, l’an 1204 (1584). BACK

[24] On p. 535 of chapter 16 of the History of Brazil (1810), Southey discusses the sources of this river. BACK

[25] Southey is probably referring to James Cavanah Murphy (1760–1814), who published 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, in 1795. Murphy spent the last few years of his life preparing his work on The Arabian Antiquities of Spain (1813–16) for the press; only part of it was published by his death. BACK

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August 2013