1798. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 3 August 1810

1798. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 3 August 1810 ⁠* 

Friday. Aug. 3. 1810.

I had a daughter born last night, & all is going on as well as could be wished.

It vexes me not a little that Ballantyne should have been so negligent in sending the sheets of Kehama. [1]  I wrote to him on the receipt of your last, & instructed him, as the only remedy, to inclose the remaining ones in the first parcel which he should send to Longman. From Edinburgh to London is a long journey for the waggon, – but there was no other means, – for as for making a seperate parcel of them, I am too heavily taxed for such parcels myself ever to expose any body else to such taxation.

Murray has borrowed a book for me which proves singularly curious. In 1760 they began to print accounts of the different provinces of Peru at the end of the Lima Almanack, – & these accounts some curioso has cut out & formed into the present volume. [2]  Tucuman, Paraguay, B Ayres &c – are comprized. in The quantity is little short of two English quartos, according such as the quartos are of these degenerate days, – & <there is> so much curious matt information xxxxxxxx that it will require a fair weeks work to xxxxxx extract it. I would far rather possess this single volume than the whole of the Mercurio Peruano. [3]  Indeed there exists no work containing half so much information respecting thiss part of Sp. America. The N. Reyno [4]  & Venezuela are not comprized in it, – & whether the plan was abandoned, or X whether these provinces were included in some of the years after 1770 is what I have no means of ascertaining. – xxxxxxxx The parts <matter> most immediately valuable to me is the description of the provinces bordering upon the P. possessions, – from which I learn their state & population after the expulsion of the Jesuits.

The Val. Lucideno [5]  should be consigned to Longman. xx Mr Stuart [6]  need not have asked this question, as I of course specified where the books were to be sent when I asked for them.

I transmitted lately an account of my Bottle-letters [7]  to the Admiralty, for the use of the hydographical department. – being advised so to do by Henry Bedford who is employed there. & as he said, Mr Croker has sent me the thanks of the Lords for the communication. My main object was to get Tom entered on this account in the White Book, which it seems they now keep as well as a Black one. [8] 

If it be possible I think of seeing you about the fall of the leaf. My old friend Bedford is here, sent by his physicians for mountain air. – he wishes me much to return xxxxxx travel with him when he returns, & if I can run away from my desk for a few weeks I will, – in so long a journey it is a great comfort to have a companion.

The Hollands were here last week. I asked Lord H. if he did not think the opinions & language of the Edinburgh Review concerning Spain were base & mischievous, & he answered as I wished him to do. My faith in the ultimate success of the Spaniards has never been abated. I have just got down all the Spanish papers laid before Parliament during the last sessions. – sent me by Percevals Secretary, Herries, – a very able & gentlemanly man. On the whole they do great credit to our Government.

I wish it were possible to obtain an account of the Siege of Gerona. [9]  There is one somewhere in town, but I know not how to trace it. The Hollands told me many things respecting your old friend the B. of Beja, whom they saw at his new diocese of Evora. Loison [10]  xxxx destroyed many of the MSS in his library in pure spite for not having found plate concealed behind them.

The Blackburnes [11]  (I think this is the name) are expected here to night to occupy Col. Peachys House on the Island.

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Rev. Herbert Hill/ Streatham
Postmark: 6/ AUG/ 1810
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[2] ‘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

[3] Mercurio Peruano (1790–1795), the first newspaper published in Peru. BACK

[4] Modern Colombia. BACK

[5] Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of Brazil during the period of Dutch rule. BACK

[6] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), envoy at Lisbon 1810–1814. BACK

[7] Letters sent in bottles to Southey by his brother Tom during his voyages. For example, see Southey to Thomas Southey, 6 March 1810, Letter 1754. BACK

[8] The Admiralty kept Black Books that recorded officers’ misconduct and recommendations that they should not be re-employed. The ‘White Book’ may be a reference to the Register of Officers’ Services, kept since 1756. BACK

[9] The city of Gerona had fallen to the French on 11 December 1809 after a siege of nearly seven months. For Southey’s account see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 728–744. He finally did obtain a copy of Juan Andres Nieto Samaniego (fl. 1810), Memorial Historica de los Sucesos mas Notables de Armas y Estado de la Salud Publica Durante el Ultimo Sitio de la Plaza de Gerona (1810). BACK

[10] Louis Henri Loison (1771–1816), commander of a division in the French invasion of Portugal in 1808. BACK

[11] Possibly the family of John Ireland Blackburne (1783–1874), MP Newton 1807–1818, Warrington 1835–1847. BACK