1779. Robert Southey to John Murray, 26 May 1810 *
Keswick. May 26. 1810
My dear Sir
Last night on my return home after an absence of about three weeks I found your letter, which had arrived a few hours before me. An interval of idleness, dissipation, & that sort of discomfort which I always feel when disturbed from my ordinary course of life, has made me hungry after quiet employment. I shall clear off a load of letter writing tomorrow, & begin upon the Tongatabou book, – of which I will send off a reviewal in the course of next week.  That done I will fall to work totis viribus  for your 7th number. 
Believe me I am truly grateful for your assistance in my historical pursuits. The MS. history of Lima  would be a treasure to me, – so would the Descripcion de las provincias pertenecientes al Arzobispado di Lima.  The whole of the Mercurio Peruano  I have seen, & gutted of all that it contains to my purpose. A second volume will compleat the history of Brazil.  I have no intention of treating any other portion of S American affairs, – tho there is ample room for histories of Mexico, of Peru, & of the Nuevo Reyno de Granada,  subjects independent of each other, & rich in interest materials. My plan is confined to Portugal & all its dependencies, & this perhaps is as much as I have any reason to calculate upon life for accomplishing, – if so precarious a thing as life could be calculated upon at all. I have however got thro more th not less than half my task. The history of the mother country  will fill three volumes, – that of its conquests in Asia, two, – & a supplementary one will probably be required for its African & insular possessions. This done, – if I live to do this, my wish is to conclude my historical labours with a history of the Monastic Orders,  – which I think I could render equally amusing & important.
My part of the Register  was compleated before I went from home, but there remain three or four sheets of it unprinted. I have no doubt that the perfect independence with which it is written will be far more beneficial to the work, than any thing could have been which displayed the spirit of a partizan.
Scotts poem  is a very delightful one. I prefer it to both his former stories.  My own  lingers in the press, which I am not sorry for, as people if it came out too close upon his, would be comparing two things utterly dissimilar; – & as I have the disadvantage of a mythology known only to a few, – a story tho perfectly in keeping with that mythology, more wild & extravagant than has ever yet been attempted in prose or rhyme, – & a xxx mode of versification sure to offend because it is original, – these need no other impediments.
believe me my dear Sir
Yours with respect
* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 29 MY 29/ 1810
Endorsement: 1810 May 26/ Southey R Keswick
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
 George Vason (1771/2–1838), An Authentic Narrative of Four Years’ Residence at Tongataboo, One of the Friendly Islands (1810), used by Southey in his review of Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands, Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61 (esp. 36–37); Southey’s more detailed appraisal of Vason is in Quarterly Review, 3 (May 1810), 440–455. BACK
 ‘Descripcion de las Provincias Pertenecientes al Arzobispado di Lima’; no. 3645 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, inscribed in his hand: ‘This book of which perhaps a duplicate is nowhere to be found, was given me by Mr Murray; it contains the fullest account which has yet been published on the old Vice-royalty of Peru, province by province. The information was obtained from the respective Corregidores, and printed for many successive years in the Lima Almanack, from whence some curioso cut out the whole collection, and formed them into this most valuable volume’. BACK