3074. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 7 February 1818

3074. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 7 February 1818⁠* 

If my Uncle wants a Curate – James White wants a Curacy

Keswick. 7 Feby. 1818.

My dear Harry

If Murraymagne (for so great a man deserves to have his greatness incorporated with his name like Charlemagne [1] ) – If Murraymagne should be going to send me any books shortly, Dobrizhoffer [2]  may go by that channel. But if he be not (& you can ask the question) let them <it> be sent to the Long men of the Row, who I think will be sending off the Italian box [3]  the end of next week, – that is to say xx two or three days after you receive this. This book of which I have been more than ten years in search, comes in the best time possible. I want it both for the Tale of Paraguay (inde <poema istud> derivatur) [4]  – & for a Chapter which I am now writing. [5] 

Tom I fear is at his wits end. He writes me word that “some thing must soon be done by him or for him” – that poor auxiliary verb is very often used in vain, & without any of the potential qualities which it seems to possess. What can be done by him, I am sure is more than I can tell. As for the other part of the alternative I sent him five & twenty pounds yesterday, & he had the same sum from me soon after my return. – & in the twelvemonths preceding he had eighty pounds xxxxxx. – I know not what is to become of him, if I were to die, or lose my health, or have my sight affected, or meet with any ill luck in the lottery of literature events all of them so possible, that any one of them is almost within the sphere of probabilities. I did not know that he had made any application to you. The prospect in that quarter is as bad as it can be, – a heavy load of xxxxxxxxxx xxxx anxiety for me, in all likelihood, as long as I live, & what makes it worse is that I have not the smallest liking for those of the children who are old enough to make any impression upon me, good or bad. The eldest has nothing winning, & the two next set upon my affections as the repulsive end of the magnet upon xxx needle. [6] 

I think of setting him to translate a volume of Travels in Brazil, when my work is compleated. Printed & manuscript there are enough for a quarto volume. [7] 

Perhaps I must have Skiddaw removed, – when next I come to town. somehow I find it troublesome when I am lying on it. Lattrigg is not in the way, & Castlelet grows very slowly. [8] Edmondson would make no demur about the operation, but it is better I think to trust a more experienced hand in a matter which may require some nicety.

Bedford will settle my accounts with you, – so make your demand when you see him. I shall ere long trouble you with a commission for a study carpet, – stating the surface to be covered, the number of yards may then easily be calculated according to the width of the piece; a good one will I believe prove cheapest in the end, – tell me what yours in the drawing room was a yard, & when I sent the measurement; it shall be accompanied by a draft.

I wait for a book from Paris (viâ Murray) before the Peninsula can go to press. [9]  Meantime Brazil [10]  is in great progress; – 80 pages printed, – & more than as much again ahead of the press, – with a large pile of materials huge the whole clearly planned & arranged, – & the end in view. It will be a very curious volume, richer in savage life than either of the foregoing, & with much important matter concerning the extent of the Jesuit settlements & plans – with the dismal story of their expulsion. God willing, I have no doubt of compleating it in the summer, should no ill betide me in the meantime.

Tell Gooch I had a letter from young Dallas, which is not acknowledged till I can at the same say that the MS. is arrived. – I could well have waited till the book was printed, however it is a xx civility in him, & I thank him for it. [11] 

Have you seen Nash since his return? Mrs Vardon is become your neighbour – Hanover Square. I am to be God father in that family – Send Mrs Gonne here for change of air, as soon as the leaves come out.

No news of the books from Brussels, – which is very odd. I have not seen Wordsworth. Ham [12]  I suppose is well, as you do not mention him. Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne & so God bless you


Fresh details from Koster of all that has been doing at Pernambuco. At first there was great barbarity committed by Admiral Lobo who recovered the place, & too many executions since. [13]  Now they have a good & humane Governor, [14]  – & a military Government, – in which, one way or other, anarchy must always terminate. It is a shocking story, but an instructive one.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 15. Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 10 FE 10/ 1818
Seal: red wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 4. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Charlemagne (742–814; Holy Roman Emperor 800–814). BACK

[2] The copy of the account of the Jesuit missions in Paraguay by Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariae Natione (1784), no. 843 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] The box of books that Southey had sent from Milan in 1817. BACK

[4] Southey’s Tale of Paraguay (1825); ‘from that place the poem is derived’. BACK

[5] Chapter 38 of Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 374–441. BACK

[6] Tom Southey had five children: Margaret Hill Southey (b. 1811); Mary Hill Southey (b. 1812); Robert Castle Southey (1813–1828); Herbert Castle Southey (1815–1864), Eleanor Thomasina Southey (1816–1835). They were followed by Sarah Louise Southey (1818–1850); Nelson Castle Southey (1820–1834); Sophia Jane Southey (1822–1859); and Thomas Castle Southey (1824–1896). BACK

[7] Nothing came of this project. BACK

[8] Three growths on Southey’s head that he comically named after local fells. BACK

[9] Jean Baptist Germain Fabry (1770–1821), Le Génie de la Révolution Considéré dans l’Education ou Mémoires pour Servir a l’Histoire de l’Instruction Publique, Depuis 1789 jusqu’à Nos Jours (1817–1818); required for Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[10] The third and final volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[11] Dallas’s manuscript novel, based on his experience in the campaign, was published as Felix Alvarez, Or, Manners in Spain; Containing Descriptive Accounts of Some of the Prominent Events of the Late Peninsular War (1818). It had been sent to Southey via Gooch to assist him in preparing his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[12] Henry Herbert Southey’s son, Robert, born on 1 June 1817. BACK

[13] An attempted revolution in the province of Pernambuco March–May 1817 had been quelled by the Portuguese naval commander, Rodrigo Jose Ferreira Lobo (1768–1846). BACK

[14] Major-General Luis do Rego Barreto (1777–1840), Governor of Pernambuco 1817–1821. He was a distinguished military commander in the Peninsular War 1808–1813. BACK