2705. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 31 January 1816

2705. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 31 January 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 31 Jany.1816

Your stocks are on the road, – they are directed to the Doctors, & travel by waggon: the second volume of Mungo Park [1]  is packed with them, & I have taken this opportunity of sending your octavo Joan of Arc (which suffered on the way from Lisbon) – Gibbons Miscellanies, & Plutarch’s Lives, of both which I have duplicates. [2] Edith hopes that your other stocks are in better condition than the pattern one, – as otherwise you will stand in much need of these before they arrive; & she hopes also that my Aunt will forgive her for aiding & abetting you in your continuance of a costume which seems to have xxx few admirers. [3] 

Burn [4]  has sent me the letters which the Committee received from Portugal, containing statements of the sufferings occasioned by Massenas [5]  army: – these are important documents of which I shall not fail to make good use. Sir Hew Dalrymple [6]  also, thro Murray, has sent me some papers, – I am glad the communication has not been more direct, – for tho he will not be spoken of with more xxx severity for the Cintra Convention than Ld Wellington, there is nothing to come after on his part which may put that action out of remembrance. [7]  – At the same time I received a good account of the Douro campaign in a letter from an officer who fell shortly afterwards at Talavera. [8]  This was sent me by Harrys friend Haygarth. [9]  I am rich in materials; & more will be coming in. – I have requested Wynn to procure me information concerning our negociations with the Spanish Court before the battle of Jena, [10]  – when Ld Grenville was minister. [11]  As soon as the Brazil [12]  is compleated I shall go to press.

The 4 Kings must have been an error of the pen, [13]  – I shall adopt your emendations when the proofs arrive. This night I shall finish that chapter, & begin one upon the famous affair of Cardeñas the Bishop & the Jesuits, [14]  this story will lead me by an easy transition to the affairs of Maranham Vieyra &c [15]  – & I shall take a spell which will carry me far on my journey before it be time to think again of my Quarterly ways & means.

Tom is here looking about for a house. He receives bad accounts from home of his wifes health & spirits, – both seem in a sad state, one injuring the other.

My fears concerning the Acta Sanctorum were well founded. [16]  The books which Mr Vardon mistook for them were a selection of those lives which relate to xxx Belgium, chronologically arranged, with additions dissertations &c – in three large quartos, which I got at a waste paper price; – a useful & important work, but the Revolution broke it off. The cargo which has arrived consists of a few books purchased at Ghent, & xxx a detachment from Brussels: the most important among them are Helyots Ordres Monastiques in 8 4tos, [17]  – the Imago Primi Sæculi Soc. Jes: [18]  – & the Anti-Jesuit Hist de Paraguay by their great enemy Bernardo Ibañez de Echavarry, – a book which it was most fortunate that I stumbled upon in time & which has now arrived just as it is wanted. [19]  – My larger purchase of about 115 volumes I have not yet heard of, but have written concerning them. They are perhaps detained till the bookseller can compleat his set of the Acta for me.

The weather is bitterly cold, – but we are all well. My young ones have learnt to look for my ‘bumps’ as diligently as the two elders Bears, [20]  – this is turning an excrescence to some account. – Dr Bell has been here; – he feels at home with us, & we miss him much on his departure –

My poem would have been finished if Toms presence had not interrupted it. It will however be ready before the engravings. [21]  I have heard from Nash, – & he is at work for me –

Love to my Aunt & the whole peerage



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ FE 3/ 1816 FNn; E/ 3 FE 3/ 1816
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 150. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Mungo Park (1771–1806; DNB), Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: Performed in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, with an Account of a Subsequent Mission to that Country in 1805, 2 vols (1816). BACK

[2] The second edition of Southey’s epic poem Joan of Arc (1798); Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB), Miscellaneous Works, with Memoirs of his Life and Writings (1814), no.1100 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Plutarch’s Lives, no. 2267 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Upper stocks were trousers reaching from the waist to the knee; nether stocks were hose reaching from knee to ankle. BACK

[4] William Burn (1750–1821) was a friend of the Southeys from their days in Portugal. A member of the Lisbon Factory, he was well-known to Herbert Hill and John May and had first met Southey in Lisbon in 1796. He moved to London in 1806. Parliament had voted £100,000 in 1811 to relieve the sufferings of the Portuguese people following the French invasion of 1810–1811. The money was distributed by Commissioners, whose report was placed before the House of Commons on 6 July 1814. BACK

[5] The Napoleonic Marshal André Massena (1758–1817) led the French campaign against Portugal in 1810–1811; Southey narrated his actions in the History of the Peninsular War (London, 1823–1832), II, pp. 710–784. BACK

[6] See Robert Southey to Hew Dalrymple, 6 March 1816 (Letter 2732), for Southey’s reply to Dalrymple’s offer. BACK

[7] Dalrymple was one of the generals responsible for signing, on 30 August 1808, the Convention of Cintra, whereby the French army commanded by Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813) and defeated by Anglo-Portuguese forces under Wellington at Vimeiro on 21 August, was allowed to retreat intact, with its weapons, from Portugal. Wellesley, who did not sign the Convention, had been superseded in command by Dalrymple and by Sir Harry Burrard (1755–1813; DNB). These veteran generals, just arrived in Iberia, were content to make peace. After a national outcry in Britain, a Court of Inquiry was appointed, which failed to punish Burrard and Dalrymple. They were, however, never afterwards given command. BACK

[8] The Battle of the Douro occurred on 12 May 1809 when British and Portuguese troops under Wellington defeated French troops and took the city of Porto. The Battle of Talavera took place on 27–28 July 1809 as Wellington’s British forces and a Spanish army met the French on the road from Portugal to Madrid. The officer who provided this letter is unidentified. BACK

[9] William Haygarth (1784–1825), poet and travel writer, son of the physician, John Haygarth (1740–1827; DNB). BACK

[10] French forces annihilated the Prussian army at Jena on 14 October 1806. At this time Spain was allied to France, but attempts were being made in both Spain and Britain to loosen the connection. BACK

[11] Lord Grenville, Wynn’s uncle, was Prime Minister in 1806–1807. BACK

[12] Southey intended to follow his History of Brazil (1810–1819) with a History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[13] In History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, p. 347, where Southey mentions ‘The Three Kings of the East’. BACK

[14] Chapter 25 of the History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 381–448, dealt with the struggle between the Bishop of Paraguay, Bernardino de Cardenas Ponce (1579–1668), and the Jesuits, in the 1640s. BACK

[15] Chapter 26 of the History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 449–500, discussed Antonio Vieira (1608–1697), the Brazilian-born Jesuit renowned for his preaching, and Provincial of the order in northern Maranhao. BACK

[16] Southey had worried that the consignment of books he had bought in Brussels in 1815, now arriving in England, would not include the massive, 53–volume compendium of hagiographies entitled Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. In fact, he had bought the 6–volume abridgement (1783–1794), no. 152 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[17] Hippolyte Helyot (1660–1716), Histoire des Ordres Religieux et Militaires (1792), no. 1183 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[18] Imago Primi Sæculi Societatis Jesu a Provincia Flandro-Belgica (1640), no. 1435 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[19] Bernardo Ibañez de Echavarri (1715–1762), Histoire du Paraguay sous les Jesuits (1780), no. 2090 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[20] Southey was suffering from two growths upon his pate: his children were acting as amateur phrenologists. The two ‘elder bears’ were Herbert Hill’s eldest sons, Edward and Herbert, Jnr. BACK

[21] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) was illustrated by eight engravings of places around which the fighting centred, after drawings by Nash and by Charles Bell (1774–1842; DNB). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)