1782. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 May 1810

1782. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 May 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. May 30. 1810.

The Chronica del R D Rodrigo [1]  is a different book from that forgery of Miguel de Luna’s [2]  of which a duplicate copy was sent with the divinity. [3]  It is also an older book. Morales [4]  mentions it & the Chro. de S Isidro [5]  in such a manner as to make me very curious to see both of them, – from the fables at which he hints, they seem to be in the very wildest strain of fiction. – I am afraid my directions about sending the boxes by canal were not observed, as it is very improbable that they should have reachd you by <at> the same time with those which went by waggon; – but I am forty miles from the canal, & this is not the first time I have felt myself imposed upon by carriers, without perceiving any means of redress. There is not nothing in which clear laws & summary justice are more needed than in the breach of business, where frauds are so easily committed, & in almost all cases with perfect impunity.

I have been three weeks from home since your last letter was written. The two Ediths [6]  were with me & we returned on Friday last. Mary is evidently in very precarious health, & I have little expectation that she will ever be better, – short breath, – pains in the chest & side, &c – manifestations alarming in any personon. & especially so in one of her make. We left Tom there, over head & ears in love, & few jests upon the blockade he was carrying on, (the Ladys name happening to be Castle) [7]  were all that past between us on the subject, – since my return however I have received a letter from him telling me she has promised to marry him, & saying he shall talk over his plans when we meet. She is about 30, – & if fortune were out of the question, he might have seached England thro & not have chosen better, – xxx how money-matters may turn out I very doubtful: but unless there were something I do not think he would have proceeded thus far.

My Register-work [8]  was finished before I left home. At Durham I got at Purchas [9]  & gutted that Roteiro (Rutter it is there called) of D Joam de Castro, [10]  which from its internal evidence was, I have little doubt, written by himself. It is a pity that we have only an abstract of it. An interval of idleness, which is to me more wearisome than any labour, has given me a new appetite for employment, & I am busily occupied upon my second volume, – to which with such alternations of work for the Review as are always wholesome as well as convenient (for over-application to any one subject disturbs my sleep. & I have long since learnt by neutralizing <as it were> one set <of thoughts> with another to sleep as sweetly as a child) – I shall devote the next three months uninterruptedly. My first volume [11]  seems to be well liked by my friends; – they all speak of it as amusing; – which I was at one time apprehensive it would not be. –

Murray the bookseller, with whom the Quarterly has led me into a correspondence, promises to procure for me a MSS. Hist of Lima [12]  written by one of its viceroys. I shall be glad to see it, & am a good deal obliged by this mark of attention on his part, – but those books upon Paraguay would be far more useful at this time, – for I have no other guides than Charlevoix, [13]  & the mutilated translation of Techo in Churchill [14]  – Luckily a very brief summary of historical events is all that I am called upon, or indeed, consistently with the main purpose & plan of the work ought to give, – still it xx is impossible to do this to my own satisfaction unless I feel myself thoroughly well acquainted with the whole series of events. Surely John Bell might get at these books, for they are neither old enough, nor valuable enough to be scarce.

Gifford will have me reviewed as early as possible in the Quarterly, in the next number if he can. [15]  There & in the Critical [16]  I expect friendly treatment.

Scott sent me his poem [17]  to Durham. I like it better than either Marmion or the Lay, [18]  tho its

measure is less agreable, – but the story has finer parts, & xxx is better conceived. The portraits both of Camp & his master are remarkably good. [19]  He talks of a journey to the Hebrides, but if that does not take place of a visit southward, in which case Keswick will be taken on his way, & we are to concert some plans for employing Ballantynes press.

The old Douay establishment is removed to England – to a place called Ushaw, about four miles from Durham. [20]  They began it upon a Bank of Faith system, after Huntingdons manner, [21]  – having only xx 2000£ to begin with, – tho 12000 have already been expended, & pretty near as much more will go before it is compleated. There are 100 students there already, chiefly boys, & preparations <are> making for doubling the number. I rode over with Harry & one of his Catholic friends to look after the library. The philosophical tutor Lingard [22]  showed me a vol. of the Acta Sanct. Benedictorum, [23]  – Saints, as they chuse to call them, said he, bending his head xx upon one side, & glancing up a pair of cunning eyes at me, to show his liberality. In the evening however the Ecclesiastical Antiquities of the Anglo Saxons, [24]  by this very Mr Lingard were put into my hands – & there he relates miracles, & abuses Turner for what he calls his Romance of S Dunstan! [25]  – These fellows are all alike. I asked what the number of the English Catholicks was supposed to be & was told 300,000. This is most likely exaggerated, – I should not have guessed them at half. X

Xxxxx Remember me to my Aunt – I long to see D Duardos, & think of doing so either at the fall of the leaves, or before <about> their return, – as may best suit my occupations. We are all going on well,

God bless you



* Address: To / The Reverend Herbert Hill / Streatham /Surry.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E / 2 JU 2 / 1810 / [illegible] JU 2/ 1810 END
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 287–289 [in part]. BACK

[1] Chronica del Rey Don Rodrigo con la Destruycion de Espana, y como los Moros la Ganaron (1587); Southey eventually obtained a copy, no. 3341 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[2] Miguel de Luna (fl. C16th/C17th), Historia Verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo (1589), based on a non-existent Arabic manuscript dealing with the invasion of Spain in 711. Southey owned an edition of 1676, no. 3218 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] Ambrosio de Morales (1513–1591), Coronica General de Espana, con las Antiguedades de las Ciudades de Espana (1791–1793), no. 3557 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Isidore of Seville (c. 560–636), archbishop who was later canonised. His Chronica Majora covers events from the creation to 615, with particular emphasis on Spain. BACK

[7] Tom’s future wife, Sarah. BACK

[8] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810). BACK

[9] Samuel Purchas (bap. 1577, d. 1626; DNB), editor, compiler and Anglican clergyman. Southey had consulted Purchas, his Pilgrimage (1613) or Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625) in Durham Cathedral Library. BACK

[10] João de Castro (1500–1548) Portuguese naval officer. His Roteiros (1538–1541) were the logbooks of his voyages. They were not published in full until 1833. BACK

[11] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[12] Unidentified. BACK

[13] As Southey had not yet acquired Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Historia Paraguajensis, ex Gallioc Latina, cum Animadversionibus et Supplemento (1779), no. 691 in the sale catalogue of his library, he may have had to rely on Charlevoix’s Histoire du Paraguay (1756), no. 645 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[14] The Jesuit Nicholas del Techo (1611–1685). An English translation of his Latin ‘History of the Provinces of Paraguay, Tucuman, Rio de la Plata, Parana, Gualra, Ulrvaica and Chile’ was included in the fourth volume of John Churchill (c. 1663–c.1714; DNB), Collection of Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World (1704). BACK

[15] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810) was reviewed (by Reginald Heber) in the Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 454–474. Southey – despite his public protests to the contrary – was not entirely happy with it, particular Heber’s singling out of his use of unusual words; see Southey to William Gifford, 4 January 1811, Letter 1849. BACK

[16] See, the generally commendatory account in the Critical Review, 21 (September 1810), 27–43. At this time, the Critical was edited by Robert Fellowes (1770–1847; DNB). BACK

[17] Scott’s The Lady of the Lake (1810). It sold over 20,000 copies in the year of its publication. BACK

[18] The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1808). BACK

[19] James Saxon (fl. 1795–1828) had painted a picture of Scott with his favourite bull terrier, Camp, in 1805. This formed the basis of the engraving for the frontispiece of the Lady of the Lake (1810). BACK

[20] Ushaw, a Roman Catholic seminary. Originally founded as the English College, Douai in 1568, it moved to Ushaw Moor, near Durham, in 1808. BACK

[21] The preacher and religious writer William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), whose God the Guardian of the Poor and the Bank of Faith (1785–1802) describes how Providence assisted his early preaching career by supplying him with food, clothing and all else he needed. Southey later condemned Huntington’s account as unparalleled ‘in the whole bibliotheca of knavery and fanaticism’ (Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 482). BACK

[22] The priest and historian John Lingard (1771–1851; DNB). BACK

[23] Acta Sanctorum (1643–1940), a 68 volume biography of all the saints, arranged by their feast-days. BACK

[24] Lingard’s The Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church (1810); no. 1728 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[25] The Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 2nd edn (London, 1810), pp. 394–395: ‘in his account of St Dunstan … [Turner] has improved their incoherent fables into a well-connected romance’. Lingard’s critique was of Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons, 4 vols (London, 1799–1805), III, pp. 132–191. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 2 times)