3135. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 May 1818

3135. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 May 1818⁠* 

Arrowsmith marks in his map, [1]  & in mine, a Diamond Demarcation in Cuyaba, & omits to mark that in Minas Geraes. The omission we know to be an error, – but are there two such Demarcations, or not? Among the Documenta printed with the Latin translation to Charlevoix, [2]  & belonging to the supplement which makes this translation of more worth than the original, is an account of Cuyaba in which it is said that Diamonds are found in one of the lavaderos de oro; mas en estos años antecedentes, porque los diamontes no perdiesen su estimacion, se prohibio por el Rey de Portugal sacarlos de Cuyaba. [3]  This paper is dated 1753. On the other hand there is a tolerably full account of Matto Grosso in the Patriota, [4]  & no mention is made of diamonds or of any such Demarcation. It is indeed possible that there may be a continuation of this paper in the subsequent number of that publication; & as John May has undertaken to have them enquired for at the Rio, [5]  I hope soon to receive them. – I find no mention of any diamonds among all your papers except those of the Serro do Frio. [6]  But Arrowsmith, I think, must have had xxx authority for his map in those mss maps which were entrusted to him. – Mawe evidently knows nothing of any Cuyaba diamonds, [7]  & I know not of whom to make enquiry with any chance of success in England. At Pernambuco the question may perhaps be answered, but only to appear in the notes, as information obtained after it was wanted.

We have printed 24 sheets, [8]  & the QR [9]  has given me so long a holyday that I am far ahead of the press, both with this work & with the Life of Wesley. [10]  The War [11]  I shall probably keep back till Brazil is finished, the end being now in view. Dobrizhoffer came in excellent time for a second perusal when I knew every thing which I should want in it. [12] Coxe when he wrote to me for some books about Pombal [13]  told me he had a ms. about the Jesuits in S America, & that I may lose nothing for want of enquiry, I have now written to ask him for it. [14] 

I have got a new correspondent in General Craufurd, husband of the Dutchess of Newcastle, & brother to that General C. who was killed at Ciudad Rodrigo. [15]  His brothers papers were all lost after his death, but he has sent me what he remembers of his remarks upon the course of his war, & some remarks of his own, which will be useful, as he is a thorough-bred soldier & an able man. I happened to have among my Inscriptions an Epitaph for his brother, which of course I sent him, as soon as I understood the relationship. [16] 

The Geographical Description of Matto Grosso was written in 1797 by Sargenti Mor of Engineers, Ricardo Francesco de Almeida Serra. [17]  – It is an important paper to me – Goyaz [18]  is now the only Captaincy of which I shall be able to say nothing more (except indeed the time of its foundation) than what may be learnt from the map. But on the whole I think there will be more reason to wonder at the information which is collected into these volumes than to blame the condemn the compiler for their unavoidable defects. Can you learn when Rio Negro was made a Captaincy? [19]  – The Engineer seems to demonstrate that Para is the natural port of Mato Grosso; – but probably the establishment of the Court at the Rio or St Paulo (if that report be true) [20]  will tend to keep the trade in its present channel

It would be a great pleasure to me if you were near enough to talk over such things while the information is fresh in my mind. My head is like one of these Kaleidoscopes, [21]  full of all sorts of fancies & notions belonging to them, – when I sit down to any one subject, – it is like turning the glass. Off flies the one set, & the other xxxxxxxxx arranges itself instantly in regular form.

Think of your floods at Brixton & Kennington! [22]  I should as soon have expected one upon Salisbury plain.

Love to my Aunt & as many of the young ones as are with you. Tell Edward when you see him next that I do not fail to inquire think of him often, & to enquire how he goes on with his Latin.

God bless you all


Keswick. 15 May. 1818.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ near/ Basingstoke
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 18 MY 18/ 1818
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 167. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Outlines of the Physical and Political Divisions of South America: Delineated by A. Arrowsmith Partly from Scarce and Original Documents (1811) was the basis of the map of Brazil and Paraguay that Arrowsmith had been commissioned to make for the second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). The diamond demarcation was a special area under direct government control since 1772 because of the mineral wealth it contained – it is indeed in Minas Gerais. Cuiaba in Mato Grosso was founded in 1719 as the result of a gold rush, but there were no diamonds in the area. BACK

[2] Pierre Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Historia Paraguajensis (1779), no. 691 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey was using this work to aid his researches for the third volume of his History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[3] The passage translates as: ‘the gold-panning sites; but, in the last few years, the King of Portugal prohibited taking the diamonds out of Cuyaba, so that they would not lose their value’. Southey’s source was Jose Quiroga (1707–1784), ‘Summa Itinerarii adverso Paraguai ad Xauruum’ (1753), Charlevoix, Historia Paraguajensis (Venice, 1779), pp. 514–521 (at p. 518). BACK

[4] O Patriota, Jornal Litterario, Politico, Mercantil &c do Rio de Janeiro (1813–1814), no. 3641 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. A long geographical description of the captaincy of Mato Grosso featured in the issues for July, August, November and December 1813 and January and February 1814. BACK

[5] 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

[6] A diamond-bearing area in Minas Gerais. BACK

[7] John Mawe (1764–1829; DNB), Travels in the Interior of Brazil, particularly in the Gold and Diamond Districts of that Country, including a Voyage to the Rio de la Plata (1812), no. 1864 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Of the third volume of the History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[9] The Quarterly Review. The issue containing Southey and Rickman’s article ‘On the Poor Laws’, Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818), 259–308, had still not appeared and did not do so until 9 June 1818. BACK

[10] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[11] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (London, 1823–1832). BACK

[12] Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariae Natione (1784), no. 843 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. In 1809 Southey had made extensive transcriptions from a copy that Walter Scott had borrowed from the Advocates Library, Edinburgh. BACK

[13] Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquess of Pombal (1699–1782), effectively the Prime Minister of Portugal 1750–1777. BACK

[14] See Southey to William Coxe, 25 April 1818, Letter 3126. In History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. vi–vii, Southey thanked Coxe for the communication of diplomatic correspondence. BACK

[15] Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Gregan Craufurd married in 1800 Anna Maria Stanhope (1760–1834), whose first husband had been Thomas Pelham-Clinton, 3rd Duke of Newcastle (1752–1795). Craufurd did not serve in the Peninsular War, but his brother was Major-General Robert Craufurd (1764–1812; DNB), commander of the Light Division 1809–1812. Craufurd led his troops into one of the breaches in the walls at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19 January 1812, but was mortally wounded by musket fire, dying on 23 January 1812. BACK

[16] ‘For the Walls of Ciudad Rodrigo’; it was not published until it appeared in Southey’s Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, p. 150–151. BACK

[17] Ricardo Franco de Almeida Serra (1748–1809), a sergeant-major of engineers in the Portuguese Army, had authored a long geographical description of his jouneys in the 1780s in the captaincy of Mato Grosso, which appeared in O Patriota, Jornal Litterario, Politico, Mercantil &c do Rio de Janeiro, July, August, November and December 1813 and January and February 1814. BACK

[18] Now the state of Goiás in the centre of Brazil. Southey described it in History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 305–308. It was made a separate captaincy general in 1744. BACK

[19] The captaincy of São José de Rio Negro was established in 1755. BACK

[20] The Portuguese court in exile remained at Rio de Janeiro from 1808 to 1821. BACK

[21] The kaleidoscope, newly invented by Sir David Brewster (1781–1868; DNB), was marketed from 1817. Hundreds of thousands were sold in the first year. BACK

[22] There had been major floods in these areas on 8 May 1818, leading to fatalities. BACK

People mentioned

Arrowsmith, Aaron (1750–1823) (mentioned 2 times)
Coxe, William (1748–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Edward (1809–1900) (mentioned 1 time)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)


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