1624. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 May 1809

1624. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 2 May 1809 ⁠* 

Whether Orsua’s expedition should or should not be written occasioned me a great deal of perplexity & indecision, [1]  – it does not cost me one minutes deliberation to determine upon omitting it as you advise. Had I never written it I might have blamed myself for xx neglect. It will be sufficient just to mention it among the many events to which the fables concerning El Dorado [2]  gave rise. The next chapter as they are finished off shall be sent you by post thro Rickman & the Grand Parleur, as a Frenchman once called Mr Abbot. This will save time.

I have has a good deal of anxiety of late. Herbert was seized last week with the croop. he was bled in the jugular vein & blistered on the neck, & this God be thanked, has saved him. At present he is suffering from the remedy.

In the list on the other leaf I have marked those books which I most wish for. The Verdadeiro Methado [3]  is a work whose importance I have learnt from Fr. Gerundio, [4]  – you probably knew its history better than I do. Lozano [5]  or Montoya [6]  would be treasures to me, – for I am almost without a guide in Paraguay. The 11th Chapter brings down the affairs of that country to the final establishment of B Ayres, & there I shall leave it till the second volume, & then as soon as the Dutch War is over take up the History of the Jesuits from their entrance & the foundation of their system before I proceed to the insurrection against them in Brazil. [7]  With the civil affairs of Paraguay I need have nothing more to do now that the discovery of the country is completed, – except so far as they are connected with the P. colonies. [8]  This chapter x is transcribed & would have been sent off to night, if I had not some letters to finish which will go in the same inclosure. Make any alteration you deem necessary, – I shall perceive it, & if I can restore the passage if there existed any just reason for it which you did not discover. When you have done return it under cover to John Rickman, – & inclose the whole in a second cover to the Rt. Honble the Speaker &c – xxx. There is no conveyance so safe & so speedy as the Post.

Was there ever so wretched a Book as Pinkertons! [9]  By following political instead of natural arrangement his first edition became obsolete before his second appeared, & now the second is as obsolete as the first, – & such a style no man ever wrote but himself. And But Yet While are all synonyms with him in having no meaning at all.

I have should have had some of your MSS which are in my possession bound, if we had a binder on the spot. Ribeiros Voyage to the Settlement on the R Negro [10]  has been of great use to me in filling up Acunas account. [11]  When the Dutch war is over my printed materials lie in a very narrow compass, – only Vieyra, [12]  Berredo [13]  & the wretched R Pitta. [14]  I shall not be long in transcribing the remainder of the volume, & the omission of this long chapter about Aguirre [15]  will give me room to insert a critical account of my authorities, – which ought to accompany every historical work.

As soon as Pople has finished the 9th Chapter he shall send you the sheets that you may examine them at leisure – & tell me what explanations are necessary in the additional notes (which will extend from 50 to 100 pages) & what amendments should be noticed in a list of errors. I am glad to find that the narration proves more interesting than I had expected – It is so much less so than the history of the mother country – & than part of the Asiatic history, that I sometimes feared it would be found heavy, – but this does not appear to be the case.

It is not very likely that Falkner [16]  left any papers behind him, – if he had they might perhaps be traced. The last book which appeared about Paraguay I suspect to be a fabrication, & have made enquiries which will speedily ascertain the truth.

My fragment of Pombals Life [17]  goes in the Frank-royal tomorrow.

My political news is that Lds Grenville & Grey [18]  are trying to get into power by reestablishing the D of York in defiance of common decency & of the people, [19]  – & that for this purpose a second xx xxxx Coalition of All the Talents is in agitation. The rascality & the folly of such a design does not make it a whit the less likely, considering the persons in question, but I do not believe it, because Wynn has taken so conspicuous a part in the whole proceedings. I wish Ld or rather Lady H. were in power because I believe she would not forget you: – that done xx justice done. I have no other xx wish about both parties, than that hemp enough may be found for the public service, – notwithstanding our war with Russia–

I have written to L. about your parcel [20] 

May 2. 1809.


Fr. Paulo do Rosario. Relacam
da Victoria que honue a Capitan
mor de Paraiba. 1632. [21] 
Pedro de Magalhaens. Hist. de
Province de Santa Cruz. [22] 
x Fr. Pedro Monteiro. Hist. da
S Inquisicam do Reyno de Portugal. [23] 
Ruy da Pina. Compendio das
cousas que ha outré Douro
e Minho [24] 
x Vida do P. Joam de Almeida
por Vasconcellos [25] 
x Verdadeirx Methodo de esti-
-dar – proporcion ado ao estylo
e necessidade da Portugal [26] 
Jeronymo Lopez. Cronica do
Infante Santo D Henrique [27] 
x Montoya. Conquista Espe
-ritual de Paraguay [28] 
x Lozano. Hist. de Paraguay. [29] 
x Piedrahita Hist. del Nuevo
Reyno de Granada [30] 
Duarte de Alboquerque Coelho
Memorias Diarias de la Guerra
del Brazil [31] 
Santuario Mariano [32] 
Fr. Antonio das Chagas. Cartas
Esperituaes. Escola de Penitencia.
Obras Espirit. a Sermoeus. [33] 
Braz Luiz D’ Abreu. Portugal
Medico ou Monarchio Medico-
Lusitana. [34] 
X Comentarios de Ruy Freire
de Andrade [35] 
Foral de Abrantes
Foral do Porto [36] 
Franc. de Almeida Jordaō
Releçam da Serra de Cintra [37] 
Anno Historico. [38] 
X Obras de Gil Vincente [39] 
Ditos de Freira. [40] 
Joam Ferreira Roza. Tratado
Unico da Constituaçam
pestilencial de Pernambuco. [41] 
Ethiopia Oriental [42] 
Agiologio Lusitano [43] 
Lopo de Sousa Coutinho
Cerco de Dio. [44] 
Luiz Felix da Cruz. Mani-
-festo das hostilidades reste Reino
de Angola [45] 
X O Valeroso Lucideno [46] 
Miguel de Castanhoso. Hist.
das Cousas que D Christovam da
Gama fez nor Reynos do Presto
Joam. [47] 


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey took from Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (1559–1625), Historia General del Mundo del Tiempo del Rey Felipe II, desde 1559 haste su Muerte (1601–1612) the story of the ill-fated Amazon expedition of exploration conducted by Pedro de Ursúa (1526–1561) and Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510–1561). However, he omitted it from his History of Brazil and instead published it in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1810, 3.2 (1812) and then separately as The Expedition of Orsua: and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821). BACK

[2] A mythical city of gold, sought by the explorer Francisco de Orellana (1511–1546), who died during a disastrous expedition, on which only 44 of 300 men survived, navigating the Amazon. BACK

[3] Luis Antonio Verney (1713–1792), Verdadeiro Metodo de Estudar, para ser Util á Republica, e á Igreja: Proporcionado ao Estilo e Necesidade de Portugal (1746). BACK

[4] José Francisco de Isla (1703–1781), Historia del Famoso Predicador Fray Gerundio de Campazas, alias Zotes (1758). BACK

[5] Pedro Lozano (1697–1752), Historia de la Compañia de Jesus en la Provincia del Paraguay (1754–1755). BACK

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

[7] The increasing influence of the Jesuits in Brazil, the foundation of their system of missions, and the campaign against it launched by colonists and other colonial clergy jealous of their power, is described in the second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1817). BACK

[8] The Portuguese colonies. BACK

[9] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), editor of A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in all Parts of the World (1808–1814). BACK

[10] Southey had borrowed from Hill a manuscript work by Francisco Xavier Ribeiro Sampaio (1741–1812?), Diário da uma Viagem que em Visita e Correciçáo das Povoaçóes da Capitania de São José do Rio Negro fez o Ouvidor (1775). BACK

[11] Cristóbal de Acuña (1597–1676?), Nuevo Descubrimiento del Gran Río de las Amazonas (1641). BACK

[12] Antonio Viera (1608–1697), the Brazilian-born Jesuit renowned for his preaching and as the architect of the Jesuit missions (Reductions) there. In his History of Brazil, Southey cites both Viera’s Sermões (1679–1748) and André de Barros (1675–1754), Vida do Apostolico Padre Antonio Vieyra da Companhia de Jesus, Chamado por Grande (1746). BACK

[13] Bernardo Pereira de Berredo e Castro (d. 1748), governor of Maranhão 1718–1722, author of Annaes Historicos do Estado do Maranhaō de sey Descivrunebtim, atè 1718 (1749). BACK

[14] Sebastião da Rocha Pita (1660–1738), Historia da America Portugeza, desde o anno 1500 ate o de 1724 (1730). BACK

[15] See note 1. BACK

[16] Thomas Falkner (1707–1784), an English Jesuit whose papers were published as A Description of Patagonia and the Adjoining Parts of South America (1774). BACK

[17] Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Count of Oeiras, 1st Marquess of Pombal (1699–1782), Minister of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1750 to 1777. Southey narrates his period of government in the third volume of the History of Brazil. BACK

[18] Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; DNB), Prime Minister 1830–1834 and leading Whig. BACK

[19] Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798–1809, but was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he had profited by allowing his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB), to accept money from army officers, in return for which promotion was arranged. Nevertheless, in May 1811 the Prince Regent reinstated his brother as Commander-in-Chief of the army, a post which he held for the rest of his life. BACK

[20] Which contained the proofs of the first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810). This letter has not survived. For further details, see Southey to John Rickman, [c. 1 May 1809], Letter 1623. BACK

[21] Father Paulo do Rosario (dates unknown), Relacam Breve e Verdadeira da Memoravel Victoria, que ouve o Capitao mor da Capitania da Paraiua Antonio de Albuquerque, dos rebeldes de Olanda (1632). BACK

[22] Pedro de Magalhaens de Gandavo (1550-d. late 16th century), Historia da Provincia de Santa Cruz do Brazil (1579). BACK

[23] Father Pedro Monteiro (dates unknown), Historia da Santa Inquisição do Reyno de Portugal, e suas Conquistas (1749–1750). BACK

[24] José Martins Ferreira (dates unknown), Compendio e Summario das grandezas e cousas notáveis que ha entre Douro e Minho (1608), with a frontispiece by Rui de Pina (1440–1521). BACK

[25] Simão de Vasconcellos (1596–1671), Vida do Padre Joam d’Almeida da Companhia de Jesu, na Provincia do Brazil (1658). BACK

[26] Luis Antonio Verney (1713–1792), Verdadeiro Metodo de Estudar, para ser Util á Republica, e á Igreja: Proporcionado ao Estilo e Necesidade de Portugal (1746). BACK

[27] Jerónimo López (16th century), Crónica do infante Santo Don Henrique (1529). BACK

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

[29] Pedro Lozano (1697–1752), Historia de la Compañia de Jesus en la Provincia del Paraguay (1754–1755). BACK

[30] D. Lucas Fernández Piedrahita (1624–1688), Historia General de las Conquistas del Nuevo Reyno de Granada (1688). BACK

[31] Duarte de Albuquerque Coelho (1591–1658), Memorias Diarias de la Guerra del Brazil (1654). BACK

[32] Agostinho de Santa Maria (1642–1728), Santuário Mariano (1707–1723). BACK

[33] Antonio da Fonseca Soares (1631–1682), a soldier who became a Franciscan friar under the name Antonio das Chagas. Southey later acquired a seven volume edition of his Obras (or works) of 1763, no. 3257 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[34] Bras Luis de Abreu (1692–1756), Portugal Medico ou Monarchia Medico-Lusitana, Historica, Practica, Symbolica, Ethica (1726). BACK

[35] Paulo Craesbeeck (c. 1552–1632), Comentários do Grande Capitão Rui Freire de Andrada (1647). BACK

[36] Charters of the towns, Abrantes, published in 1732, and Porto, published as Foral da Cidade do Porto, de 20 de Junho de 1517 in 1788. BACK

[37] Francisco de Almeida Jordão (dates unknown), Relação do Castello, e Serra de Cintra (1748). BACK

[38] Francisco de Santa Maria (dates unknown), Anno Historico. Diario Portuguez. Noticia abbreviada de pessoas grandes, e cousas notaveis de Portugal (1714–1744). BACK

[39] Gil Vicente (c.1465 – c. 1536), the chief dramatist and lyric poet of Portugal. His Works were published first in 1561–1562. BACK

[40] Joana da Gama (c. 1520–1585), Ditos da Freira (1555). BACK

[41] João Ferreira da Rosa (dates unknown), Tratado Único da Constituição Pestilencial de Pernambuco (1694). BACK

[42] Jacinto da Encarnaçam (dates unknown), Summaria Relaçao do que obrarao os Religiosos da Ordem dos Prégadore, na Conversao das almas, e pregaçao do Santo Evangelho em todo o estado da India, e mais terras descubertas pelos Portuguezes na Afia, e Ethiopia Oriental, e das Missões em que actualmente se exercitaõ com todos os Conventos, e Casas, e numero de Religiosos, que de presente tem esta sua Congregaçao (1679). BACK

[43] Jorge Cardoso (1606–1669) and D. António Caetano de Sousa (1652 -1744), Agiologio Lusitano dos Sanctos, e Varoens illustres em Virtude do reino de Portugal e suas Conquistas (1652–1774). BACK

[44] Lopo de Sousa Coutinho (1515–1577), Cerco de Dio (1556–1574). BACK

[45] Luiz Felix da Cruz (dates unknown), Manifesto das Hostilidades que a Gente que Serve a Companhia Occidental de Hollanda obrou Contra os Vassallos d’ El R ei de Portugal no Reino de Angola (1651). BACK

[46] A work celebrating the Portuguese liberation from the Dutch of its colonies in Brazil by Frei Manuel Calado do Salvador (1584–1654), O Valeroso Lucideno e Triunfo da Liberdade na Restauração de Pernambuco (1648). BACK

[47] Miguel de Castanhoso (d. c. 1565), História das Cousas que o mui Esforçado Capitão dom Cristóvão da Gama fêz nos Reinos do Preste João (1564). BACK