1838. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 December 1810

1838. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 12 December 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec 12. 1810

I am glad to hear of my cousin Herbert’s arrival, – his namesake is making great enquiries when he is to come here, & when he is to see him. Offer my congratulations to his Mother. I shall be happy to renew them on a like occasion, – it is a xxxx notion of mine that large families do better in the world than small ones, one helping another on. It is a great satisfaction to me to think that my children are likely to have more family connections than I had.

It would be idle to speculate upon Massenas [1]  plans when certain information concerning them may probably reach you before this letter. But if Lord W. be rightly informed when he says that he is sending off baggage towards the Zezere I should think he means to fall back to the frontier, in consequence of his inability to subsist himself longer.

You tell me the M. de Loulé [2]  is with the French army. When did he get there, – for the newspapers say he was seized & sent prisoner to Lisbon at the time of Freire’s death. [3]  Was he released on his way by the French? – – was Gen. Freire related to Gomes Freire? [4]  if so the treason of the one gives some colour to the imputed guilt of the other. I am utterly at a loss to understand upon what plea these men can excuse their conduct to their own hearts, – the desire of seeing the condition of their country improved must be wholly out of the question, its ruin if the French conquer it is not more certain than its reformation must be if it is delivered, when Spain has restored its Cortes & established a free Government. What a termination of their troubles is possible if Buonaparte by destroying her brothers leaves the Princess of Brazil next in the succession, – & thus the Inf. D Antonio without heir to both crowns! [5] 

The Tupinamba Grammar is curious. [6]  The verb which is conjugated, if we may use that phrase in a language which has no conjugations or inflections is characteristic enough. – juca, kill. They have all possible modifications of this meaning, – & they have among their interjections one which is expressive of delight at the sufferings of another.

The MS. Argentina of Ruy Dias de Guzman [7]  supplies me with some facts, & connecting circumstances which I could not make out satisfactorily from the verse – argentina [8]  or from Charlevoix. [9]  But as it was written in 1612 it ends when I would more willingly have had it begin. I hardly know what to do for the works of Lozano [10]  & Montoya [11]  in which the commencement of the Jesuit system in Paraguay would be found.

Tom & his wife depart for Durham on Friday, where in the spring she bids fair to increase the stock of the Southeys. She is a thoroughly good woman, & Tom has found a better prize on shore than he will ever fall in with at sea. – Harry goes on well, I believe, just clearing his way before him. We heard from Mary lately, her letter was chiefly filled with extracts from one of her fathers, [12]  which I found very interesting. He was in high spirits, & if our home politicians had half as much spirit as he has, the peninsula would have been cleared ere this. I am very glad to see that the Spaniards are about to train men under British Officers. This they ought to do exclusively, till they can (as fast as possible) promote men from the ranks up to all the stages of command. Let them once raise a Revolutionary Army, & they will then beat the French in the field.

Wynn sent me a piece of a catalogue containing a good many Sp. & P. books the other day. – & I returned him a commission to procure several of them, [13]  – for there was no name to the leaves, & I had no other means of obtaining them. I hope he will not, more suo, [14]  neglect to look after them in time. – Danvers too has a pretty long list to look after from a Bristol Catalogue. [15]  – I commissioned Longman to get me Du Tertre [16]  & he sent me a copy which must be returned for want of the maps & prints. Meantime however I have it long enough to collect some facts connected with Brazil & acquaint myself with the beginning early part of the history of the French & English establishment in the Islands. I must make a collection of Buccaneer history if Capt Burney will tell me what is the best edition of the hist. of the Buccanean itself, – there being I believe a material difference. [17] 

Edith desires me to remember her congratulations

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] DE 13/ 10 o Clock
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The French Marshal André Massena (1758–1817), one of the commanders of the unsuccessful invasion of Portugal in 1810. BACK

[2] Agostinho Domingos Jose de Mendoca Rolim de Moura Barreto (1780–1824), 1st Marquess of Loulé, was one of a number of officers who were arrested at Braga for being too close to General Freire. He was lucky to escape with his life – some of his fellow officers were murdered by their troops. BACK

[3] Bernardino Freire de Andrade e Castro (1759–1809), Portuguese general, who commanded the army of Portuguese levies that was formed to meet the French at the Battle of Braga, 20 March 1809. Aware that the position was hopeless, but that if he ordered a retreat he would be murdered by his troops, Freire attempted to slip away to Oporto, but was captured, imprisoned at Braga and then murdered. BACK

[4] Gomes Freire de Andrade (1757–1817), Portuguese general, who joined the Portuguese (or Lusitanian) Legion, formed by the French in 1808, and was sent to fight for them in Germany and Russia. He was executed in 1817 for taking part in a revolutionary conspiracy. BACK

[5] Southey suggests that if the French kill Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833) and his younger brothers, Charles, Count of Molina (1788–1855) and Francisco, Duke of Cadiz (1794–1865) – all of them were captives in France and without children – then the heir to the Spanish throne would be their eldest sister, Charlotte (1775–1830), wife of John VI (1767–1826), Prince Regent of Portugal 1799–1816, King of Portugal 1816–1826. In this scenario, their son, Prince Francisco Antonio Pio (1795–1801) would be heir to the Crowns of both Spain and Portugal. Southey had forgotten that the Prince had died in 1801 and been succeeded as Prince of Beira (second in line to the Portuguese throne) by his younger brother, Prince Pedro (1798–1834; King of Portugal 1826; Emperor of Brazil 1822–1834). BACK

[6] Southey was studying this for his History of Brazil and was consulting an edition from 1795 of Luis Figueira (1573–1643), Arte da Grammatice do Lingua Brasilica (1621). Southey later owned an edition of 1687, no. 3396 in the sale catalogue of his library. Southey had been lent a copy of the 1795 edition of this work by the merchant Thomas Kinder (c. 1781–1846), who had lived in South America 1808–1810. BACK

[7] The merchant Thomas Kinder (c.1781–1846) had lent Southey a manuscript of Ruy Diaz de Guzman (1558–1629), La Argentina, y Historia de las Descubrimento de las Provinicas de la Rio de la Plata (1612). Southey had a copy made by his brother Tom; no. 3836 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] The Spanish cleric, writer and explorer Martín del Barco Centenera (1535–c.1602), Argentina y Conquista del Rio de la Plata (1602). BACK

[9] Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Historia Paraguajensis, ex Gallioc Latina, cum Animadversionibus et Supplemento (1779), no. 691 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, or Charlevoix’s Histoire du Paraguay (1756), no. 645 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Pedro Lozano (1697–1752), Historia de la Compañia de la Jesús de la Provincia del Paraguay (1755). BACK

[11] Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1585–1652), Conquista Espiritual hecha por los Religiosos de la Compañia de la Jesus en la Provincias del Paraguay, Parana, Uruguay, y Tape (1639). BACK

[12] Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821), Lisbon merchant. BACK

[13] See Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 December 1810, Letter 1834. BACK

[14] ‘in his usual manner’. BACK

[15] See Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 November 1810, Letter 1827. BACK

[16] The missionary and botanist Jean-Baptiste du Tertre (1610–1687), Histoire Generale des Antiles habitées par les François (1667). Southey later obtained a copy, no. 2828 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[17] Burney recommended a Dutch history by Alexandre Esquemeling (1645–1707), De Americaeneche Zee Roovers (1678). The first English translation of this had appeared in 1684. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)