2789. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 May 1816

2789. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 May 1816⁠* 

I am getting on stoutly with my second volume, [1]  & shall have the volume it thro the press in a few weeks. My spirits indeed are in a deplorable state of depression when I am unemployed. [2] 

The sooner you can get me a supply of the Patriota [3]  & the Jornal de Coimbra [4]  the better, – there is Brazil matter in both, especially in the former, the Patriota must begin with Jany. 1814 (so that there are two compleat years to come) & the J de Coimbra also comes down to the same date. – If possible I ought also to have the Provas to Seabras book, – they must certainly contain something relating to the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil. [5]  Perhaps John Bell could with little trouble procure me a dated list of the Governors General from the year 1724 when Rocha Pitta [6]  leaves me without a guide, – & the Maranham succession also from 1718 when Berredo [7]  concludes. It is very unimportant I admit, still they serve for mile-stones

The numbers of these magazines being so many in Sealy [8]  will send to some of his correspondents, – but Francis Freeling offered me his services when I was last in London for such purposes, & there is no reason why I should not accept his offer, if we can guard against any mistake in Lisbon by explicit directions, I may receive the future numbers regularly as they are published, if the Lisbon publisher will write my name on the cover <number>, & then inclose it to Freeling; – but you know xxx if my name xxx were on the cover it would vitiate the frank. The way would be for Sealy to set me down as a subscriber, make this clearly understood, & pay the subscription there. It is certain that the volumes of the Patriota which are due must contain much matter which will be of great – & perhaps essential service to me, – very possibly when I most want it: so there should be no delay in obtaining them.

Bedford shall frank you down the Carmen Nuptiale, if you should be at Worting when it is published. You know that it was half written three <two> years ago, – or assuredly it would not have been written now. [9]  However I am glad that I took heart to finish it, for it is the best of my minor poems.

My Brussels books are in England, – but whether they are on the way to me I know not. The Acta Sanctorum are not come. [10]  Vanbeast [11]  very properly waits till he can compleat the set, – which an injudicious person would have persuaded him not to do. Luckily the Beast knew better. There are about 120 volumes, among them one or two fine old books, & the originals of Nieuhoff [12]  & Lenschoten, [13]  which I am Dutchman enough to read; some Dutch lives of the painters with heads by Houbraken, [14]  4 quarto, & 5 octavo volumes of considerable value, – tho the nine volumes cost me at Brussels only 100 francs, – nearly £4–4.

John Theodore is in London, – upon no very hopeful errand, trying to get something from government; in which if he succeeds it will be more thro Wm Burn [15]  than any other channel. Anxiety meantime is making sad work upon his eldest daughter; [16]  & Mrs Koster with all her strength of body & elasticity of mind feels the weight of care press heavily. Senhor Henrique is hard at work upon his book, [17]  & Charlotte is closely employed in making drawings for it, which she does with great cleverness. The book without any pretentions xx xxx to style is a remarkable instance of an observing & retentive mind. It will tempt nobody to follow his steps, but it gives a very compleat idea of the worst part of Brazil, & of Brazilian manners.

Our summer is more backward than any within the memory of man. We should not however enjoy it were it more genial. However I reconcile myself to remaining here, – rather than incur the pain of removing from a place where xxx xxx <the> twelve best & happiest years of our lives have been past.

Love to my Aunt & the boys. I hope Edward takes well to his book.

God bless you


Keswick. 15 May. 1816


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ Basingstoke/ Hampshire
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 18 MY 18/ 1816
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 153. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[2] Southey’s son Herbert had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[3] O Patriota, Jornal Litterario, Politico, Mercantil &c do Rio de Janeiro (1813–1814), no. 3641 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. In History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. v–vi, Southey thanked John May for procuring the third volume of O Patriota for him, ‘when it was not to be obtained at Lisbon’. BACK

[4] Southey owned an eight–volume set of the Jornal de Coimbra (1812–1820), no. 3498 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] José Seabra da Silva’s (1732–1813) Deducçao Chronologica e Analytica (1767), no. 2599 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey’s copy only contained the first two volumes of a five-volume work. The final two volumes consisted of ‘Provas’ or documents. The book was an elaborate justification of the suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal and Brazil in 1759. BACK

[6] Sebastiao da Rocha Pitta (1660–1738), Historia da America Portugueza (1730), no. 3624 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Bernardo Pereira de Berredo e Castro (d. 1748), Annaes Historicos do Estado do Maranhao (1749), no. 3613 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821), a merchant at Lisbon and father of the first wife of Henry Herbert Southey. BACK

[9] Southey had begun composing celebratory verse in March–June 1814 when Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent had been engaged to William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (1792–1849; King of the Netherlands 1840–1849). When that engagement was broken off, he had laid the verses aside, only to reuse them in 1816 in an epithalamion, The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816) celebrating Charlotte’s marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) on 2 May 1816. BACK

[10] Southey hoped he had bought the 53–volume compendium of hagiographies, Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794). In fact he had bought the 6–volume abridgement (1783–1794), no. 152 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] Jean-Baptiste Ver Beyst (1770–1849), a famous Brussels bookseller. BACK

[12] Johan Nieuhof (1618–1672), Gedenkweerdige Brasiliaense Zee-en-Lant-Reise (1693). Southey’s copy was no. 1934 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[13] Jan Huyghen van Linschoten (1563–1611), Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schip-Vaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien (1623), no. 1680 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Arnold Houbraken (1660–1719), De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen (1718), no 1455 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] William Burn (1750–1821) was a friend of the Southeys from their days in Portugal. A member of the Lisbon Factory, he was well-known to Herbert Hill and John May and had first met Southey in Lisbon in 1796. He moved to London in 1806. BACK

[16] John Theodore Koster had seven daughters: Harriet (b. 1780); Charlotte (b. 1783); Juliana Elizabeth (1788–1790); Maria Susanna (d. 1790); Lucretia (1795–1822); Emma (1797–1817); and Elizabeth (1799–1875). BACK

[17] Southey favourably reviewed Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil (1816) in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)