2863. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 November 1816

2863. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 16 November 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 16 Nov. 1816.

My dear R

I return under a separate cover the map for Arrowsmith, for so small a scale it would be endless – or impossible to attempt to correct it with any accuracy. I have referred to the little sketch of Pernambuco in Kosters Travels for some improvements of more consequence than any others, & desired him to colour the outlines of Brazil & Paraguay. [1]  To do any thing more is out of the question. But I have had the physical outlines copied from his great map [2]  upon the original scale, – dividing it into as many portions as seemed best, – & upon these I shall mark down every point mentioned in the history for use hereafter.

Knowing as you do the way in which things are managed, you will not wonder that I have heard nothing farther in reply to my letter. [3]  The letter itself may meantime be doing some good, – for it was written with that strength which arises from a clear view of the subject, – a decided mode s manner of considering it, & a straight forward sincerity. Mean time you will see that I have said something to the purpose in the Quarterly, – to nights Courier notices it, praises it, garbles it, & steals from it. [4]  And whether any thing farther come from Vangoose & Co [5]  – or not, my mind takes that direction whenever it is let loose from other employment, & I shall ere long gird up my loins & set seriously to work totis viribus, [6]  aiming at nothing less than to a fa give a fair & full view of the evils of the society we live in, the dangers, the means of averting the one & alleviating the other, of securing the good which we enjoy & that attaining that which is deficient. [7] 

One fit means of retrenchment, as being an improvement in policy, is that the Colonies be made to defray their own expences. But upon all such points I shall listen ask counsel of you, – & most probably see you before I print any thing, – for if the work proves what I hope to make it, it will be of sufficient importance to render a journey to London expedient before its publication.

This long volume of Brazil draws very near its termination. I am far advanced in the last chapter de moribus [8]  &c, the most curious in the volume, & far the most laborious. [9]  Have you seen Kosters book? – a good picture of a curious stage in society. [10]  – From him & from a brief account given by Barlæus of a Dutch journey in the same part of the country in quest of mines [11]  I make out the very important fact, – that Druidical monuments – (we must find some other name for them) – exist in Brazil. What he notices p. 90 is proved to be a rocking stone by the Dutchman who found magnæ molis lapides humano labore congesti, quales etiam in Belgio Drentia regio habet, quos nulla vectatione, nulla hominum vi illuc deportari potuisse ob magnitudinem credas; eâ formâ ut Aras referre videantur. And in another place – duo lapides molares exactæ rotunditatis & stupendæ magnitudinis; quorum diameter sedecim erat pedum, crassities vero tanta, ut e terræ superficie vix media pars lapidis pars attingi extremis digitis ab erecto posset, alter alteri superincumbebat, major minori. [12] – We must go farther back than the Tupis & Tapuyas [13]  for these monuments. Koster is going back to Brazil, & will make all possible enquiry concerning them, – as also concerning some sto sculptured sto rocks, [14] of which <(which he mentions -)> drawings of which he has already taken measures for obtaining

Can you let me have the Police Report, & that upon the Forts in Africa, – & that upon the Missionaries in India. [15]  – Did I ever tell you that Hastings was a great admirer of Kehama? [16]  This praise is really worth having, – for if the poem had not been rightly Hindooish he <it> must have offended a man so thoroughly acquainted with Hindoostan.

Remember me to Mrs R

God bless you


I mean in this next number to do the best I can for the Capitaneus. [17]  Can he tell me any thing of a certain D. Joam de Lima who commanded a squadron of pirates in 1685 x off the & cruised about the coast of Cabo do Norte, [18]  – infesting no doubt the West Indies also.


* Address: To/ J Rickman Esqre/ St Stephens Court/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 19 NO 19/ 1816
Seal: black wax, with ‘S’, ‘In Labore Quies’ motto below
Endorsement: 20 Septr. 1816
MS: Huntington Library, RS 296. ALS; 3p.
Note on MS: the endorsement is misdated 20 September 1816. BACK

[1] Aaron Arrowsmith had been commissioned to make a map of Brazil and Paraguay for the second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). It was this map which Southey was dissatisfied with and that he was attempting to improve by referring to the ‘Plan of the Port of Pernambuco’ in Koster’s Travels in Brazil (London, 1816), [unpaginated]. BACK

[2] Outlines of the Physical and Political Divisions of South America: Delineated by A. Arrowsmith Partly from Scarce and Original Documents (1811). BACK

[3] Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 September 1816 (Letter 2839) in which Southey passed on through Bedford and Herries his refusal to edit a pro-government publication. BACK

[4] Southey’s review of ‘Works on England’, had just been published in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–74; at 563–574 Southey warned of the threat of revolution, condemned the radical press and analysed the causes of the current economic depression. The Courier, 14 November 1816, had commended the article calling it ‘a masterly consideration of the present state of the country’ and suggested it should be published as a pamphlet. This did not happen. BACK

[5] i.e. The Cabinet. In Ben Jonson, The Masque of Augurs (1622), Vangoose was a ridiculous figure and ‘Projector of Masques’. BACK

[6] ‘With all my powers’. BACK

[7] Southey was contemplating, but did not write, a book on the ‘State of the Nation’. BACK

[8] ‘on morals’. BACK

[9] Chapter 30 of Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 632–692. BACK

[10] Southey favourably reviewed Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil (1816) in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

[11] In his History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 652–653, Southey discussed these accounts by Koster, Travels in Brazil, p. 90, and by Caspar Barlaeus (1584–1648), Rerum per Octennium in Brasilia et Alibi Nuper Gestarum Subpraefectura (Amsterdam, 1647), pp. 217–218 (no. 233 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library). BACK

[12] The first passage translates as: ‘Stones of great bulk heaped together by human labour, of the kind which the region of Drentia in Belgium also has, which you would think could not have been carried there by any transport or any human strength, because of their great size; and of a shape that seem to recall altars.’ The second passage translates as: ‘Two stones the size of millstones of precise roundness and amazing bulk, whose diameter was sixteen feet, and whose thickness was so great that someone standing on the surface of the earth would scarcely be able touch the middle of the stone with his fingertips, and one of them stood on top of the other, the larger on top of the smaller.’ BACK

[13] Tribes inhabiting Brazil when the Portuguese arrived in the sixteenth century. BACK

[14] Koster, Travels in Brazil (London, 1816), pp. 319–320, detailing some sketches Koster had been given of rock drawings in Paraiba. BACK

[15] The House of Commons Select Committee on the State of the Police of the Metropolis (printed 1 July 1816); House of Commons Select Committee on Papers relating to the African Forts (printed 26 June 1816). A Select Committee had also looked into the affairs of the East India Company, including missionaries, in 1812–1813. BACK

[16] Sir Warren Hastings (1732–1818; DNB), the first Governor-General of Bengal 1772–1785. His library at Daylesford House certainly contained a good collection of Southey’s poetry, presumably including The Curse of Kehama (1810); see Sydney Grier (1868–1933), The Letters of Warren Hastings to His Wife (London, 1905), p. 14. BACK

[17] In Quarterly Review, 17 (April 1817), 1–39, Southey reviewed the book sent him by Captain James Burney, A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean; Illustrated with Charts and Plates (1816). BACK

[18] Southey, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, pp. 616, 623. BACK

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